Mineral Oil Alternative Spurs Results for Sunbelt Solomon, Customers
A business relationship established more than a decade ago has blossomed into a major partnership for Sunbelt Solomon and Cargill, a global food and agricultural producer.
Sunbelt Solomon is the largest volume service center partner for Cargill’s FR3® natural ester fluid, which is used in place of mineral oil in both new and retrofilled transformers.
Derived from >95% vegetable oils, a renewable resource, FR3 fluid offers several advantages over mineral oil, including improved performance, fire resistance, environmental benefits and long-term cost savings. “FR3 was developed as an alternative to mineral oil, which in comparison, is highly flammable and leaves a transformer vulnerable to hazards like explosions and fires,” said Linda Lott, North America channel manager for Cargill. “In the more than 25 years FR3 has been used in transformers, there is zero history of fire, in part because it’s self-extinguishing.”
Replacing the mineral oil in existing transformers with FR3 fluid can extend asset life up to eight times longer, improve load capacity by up to 20 percent and provide significant environmental benefits. “Although it may cost more than mineral oil up front, the benefits of using FR3 include reduced overall costs over the life of a transformer,” Linda said. Cargill’s initial focus was to promote FR3 fluid to utility companies. Eventually, the need for a partner with expertise in the commercial and industrial markets became evident.
According to DAN SWEENEY, executive vice president of Sunbelt Solomon, that’s how the relationship with Cargill began in 2012. “We began purchasing FR3 at Sunbelt Transformer,” said Dan, who was Sunbelt’s president before the merger with Solomon Corporation in 2019. “By 2015 we had become an authorized service center for the product, which helped Cargill expand its footprint in the industrial space.”
That same year, Solomon Corporation became the second authorized service partner for FR3 fluid. “When the merger took place in 2019, it was ideal for us, because we already had relationships with both,” said Linda. “Since then we’ve tripled our volume with the company. In 2022 we saw significant growth in the sale of FR3 to Sunbelt Solomon, and sales project to be even higher in 2023,” she continued.
Founded in 1865, Cargill remains family-owned and is the largest privately held corporation in the United States, with more than 155,000 employees in 70 countries and regions. Linda said it’s that family culture that makes Cargill’s customer relationships so strong and enduring, including its partnership with Sunbelt Solomon. “There are many similarities in our corporate philosophies and the way we approach business,” she said. “Because of that, I feel that the relationship is going to keep growing stronger in the years ahead.”