Helmut’s Marine Service Celebrates 25 Years as Volvo Penta Dealer in California

Volvo Penta Congratulates West Coast Power Center for a Quarter-Century of Excellence.

SAN RAFAEL, Calif.) March 18, 2013 – Helmut’s Marine Service of San Rafael, Calif., is celebrating its 25th year of business as a Volvo Penta dealer this month.


“We congratulate the superb team at Helmut’s for their successful achievement of a quarter-century of business,” said Ron Huibers, president of Volvo Penta Region Americas. “As our Power Center in California, Helmut’s has established an unmatched reputation as an industry leader and has played a vital role in Volvo Penta’s success on the West Coast over the years.”


Helmut’s Marine Service was founded in March 1988 by Helmut Ahollinger and Lieselotte (Lisa) Ahollinger-George as a Volvo Penta dealership serving the San Francisco area. Five years later, the company moved to its current waterfront location on the San Rafael canal. It became a Volvo Penta Power Center under a pilot program in 1999.

Today, Helmut’s Marine Service has grown to include eight docks, a Travelift, two warehouses for engines and parts, workshop and offices, with a 14-person workforce, including a service team of five. As a Power Center, the company provides engines, parts and technical support to dealers in California, Utah, Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico, Hawaii and Guam. Helmut’s also directly services recreational and commercial vessels in the San Francisco area.


“We pride ourselves on always going the extra mile,” said Helmut Ahollinger, company president. “Our guiding principle is always to treat our customer as we would treat our best friend.”


“One of the keys to our success is maintaining a comprehensive inventory, enabling us to deliver Volvo Penta engines and parts to our dealers and commercial customers when and where they need them,” Ahollinger added.


Helmut’s business is about 60 percent leisure marine and 40 percent commercial marine. Engine sales are about 80 percent diesel and 20 percent gas powered.


“Helmut’s Marine Service was one of our first Power Centers and set a high standard of excellence for other Power Centers to follow,” said John Garvey, Volvo Penta regional sales manager. “Helmut’s knowledge of boats and diesel engines is held in the highest regard by his customers and peers. He is the fabric of Volvo Penta and Lisa is the seamstress. It’s great to see the second generation of the family coming in. They’re learning the business the old fashioned way, working their way up through the tough jobs.”


Lisa George has many fond memories, including annual Oktoberfest parties for retail customers and herring parties for commercial fishermen. “Our daughter Nadine’s first rocking horse was a showroom display of a 2001 auxiliary engine, and now she’s running the service office!”


Helmut’s Marine Service had an opportunity to display its capabilities on a wider stage during the recent America’s Cup World Series sailboat races in San Francisco Bay. Helmut’s was responsible for pre- and post-race servicing, commissioning and technical support for the six new 46-ft power catamarans custom designed to serve as course markers and VIP viewing platforms. The vessels’ twin Volvo Penta D6-330 engines and IPS450 pod drives are linked to the onboard GPS for precise position keeping when serving as a course marker, even in strong currents and wind conditions.


“The talented service team at Helmut’s went above and beyond the call of duty to ensure the new marker boats performed flawlessly throughout the series,” said Huibers. “With this level of technical expertise and dedication to excellence in customer service, it’s easy to see why Helmut’s business has been so successful over the last 25 years.”