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How You Built It: Bigger Than Before ft. BluePrint Engines

Small Business Appreciation Week is September 20-26 so to celebrate we are highlighting a few business members who volunteered to share their stories.

The categories are:

  1. Breaking Barriers

  2. Small Store, Big Heart

  3. Out of the Ordinary

  4. Home Grown

  5. Bigger Than Before

Today we are sharing our final category - Bigger Than Before featuring BluePrint Engines.

Hi Norris! Thank you for taking a moment to share the story of BluePrint Engines!

First question, can you share a bit about you?

"My name is Norris Marshall. I am from Elm Creek, Nebraska and I started an engine rebuild business in a rented garage in 1982."

A local! We love that you chose Kearney to grow your business. Tell us more about BluePrint Engines.

"Since the original business, which was called Marshall Engines, that two-person shop has transformed into a massive 150,000-square-foot plant at 2915 Cherry Ave that employs a more than 150 people from the Kearney area. BluePrint Engines is an original equipment engine manufacturer for Performance automotive engines.  BluePrint Engines are sold to auto enthusiasts around the world, primarily through catalog companies such as Summit Racing, JEGS, and Speedway Performance.  A second division of the company, Origin Engines, provides industrial-grade off highway engines for power plants, oil and gas fields, agriculture and forestry equipment, marine applications, and other industrial uses.

The company has been in business for 38 years, originally providing machine shop services for local auto repair shops. Eventually the company became a significant supplier of replacement remanufactured engines to auto parts stores across the county. Over time, the focus has always been engine related. The exact type of product and customer has evolved as the market place has. We are proud that so many of our staff members have been along for the ride for 20 and 30+ years. Our search has always been to be involved with a market place that has potential for growth. For example, in the year 1995, over 3 million engines were remanufactured in the USA. Those engines provided new life for vehicles. By 2015, the engines from the new car manufacturers were better built, had computer controls and fuel injection and seemed to last forever. Today as few as 250,000 engines are rebuilt in the USA. That caused us to completely exit the remanufactured engine market place about 9 years ago."

That is a lot of very interesting information! The way you were able to forecast the market change and adapt your business is neat to see.

Because of that adaptation and your company growth over the last (almost) 40 years, we are sure you have some great advice for aspiring business owners. What would you share?

"I would advise anyone wanting to be in business to make sure there is a need and demand for what you do. How large the market place is will define how much you can grow. It's easier to take market share away from a competitor than is to create a market that doesn’t currently exist."

That is great advice for any type of business!

So the changes you made have grown your company to become a large scale manufacturing facility, just as your segment is titled, Bigger Than Before. What changes have you made since you started in 1982 to be the size you are today? Adding to that, do you have future goals for continued growth?

"Today our focus is on aftermarket performance engines for people restoring cars and on new engines that are used in industrial applications. A goal I have for the company is to be an engine supplier for on highway vehicles. This could be a performance engine for a very niche, small volume car manufacturer or it could be an alternative fuel (like Compressed Natural Gas) for city buses. Being a supplier of engines to a new vehicle manufacturer seems like a reasonable step for us."

You've definitely found your niche with your small business! So tell us one last thing, what has been the best part of being a small business?

"By far and away the two best parts of BluePrint (my favorite parts) are the people I work with at the company, and the ongoing challenges that force all of us to grow. We are a great team, I’m proud of the people I work with and there is a genuine respect for each other."

That was a wonderful way to wrap this up! Thank you for sharing some of your story today. Happy Small Business Week!

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