We’re grateful for strong relationships with our suppliers and the vital part they play in our ability to deliver quality machines. One such supplier is Berendsen Fluid Power, who we’ve worked with since our very first harvester. Mark Thorum, Regional Field Sales Manager at Berendsen, has been part of that partnership from day one. Having worked at the company for 43 years, Mark has a wealth of knowledge about components and programming solutions for any equipment that moves. We’ve seen his dedication and tenacity in his service to FireFly, and now we have witnessed these attributes in Mark’s sport career as well.
Last month, Mark competed at the Ironman World Championship in Nice, France, alongside fellow competitor Andrew Aposhian, who is a son of FireFly founder Steve Aposhian. Andrew showed a lot of tenacity to qualify for the world championship on his first attempt at Ironman Texas this spring. For Mark, it was a long road to achieving this accomplishment, and we couldn’t be more impressed with his generosity and grit.
Mark is a lifelong competitive swimmer, finishing with a water polo scholarship at the University of Utah. He is also active in bike racing and qualified for the Gran Fondo nationals this year. He decided to try his first triathlon in 2005 and was humbled by his finish. In 2010, he returned to triathlons and for the first time, in 2014 he won a 70.3 Ironman (1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike, and 13.1 mile run). He currently coaches all three sports and is active in the local triathlon community, where he gives back by supporting both athletes and race directors.
A full Ironman distance (140.6), at the world championship Mark and Andrew would swim 2.3 miles, bike 112 miles over 8,000 ft of elevation gain into the Maritime Alps, and finish with a 26.2 mile marathon run. As if the race itself wasn’t challenging enough, Mark had an additional obstacle (literally). One week before the race, he started passing a kidney stone, and he spent his race prep days struggling to get enough nutrition and sleep through the pain.
Mark and Andrew supported each other through health and equipment challenges as they prepared for race day. Steve drove the athletes on the cycling course multiple times so they could preview the terrain and practice technical sections, and he cooked a delicious pre-race dinner. Just as FireFly and Berendsen value teamwork to accomplish complex processes, it was a true team effort in France.
Starting the championship just after 7 am, Mark finished the swim in 5th place. However, his rough week caught up with him on the bike climb. Despite the toll his health challenges took on his race time, Mark decided to enjoy the journey. Andrew also battled through difficulties, as he fought to maintain his hydration and nutrition through the long bike section, and he came in with a strong finish. Mark continued his race long into the night, but not willing to quit, finally finished the grueling distance with a well-earned medal just before midnight.
Just as Mark persisted through his Ironman race, he has stuck with FireFly through supply chain challenges over the past few years. “FireFly is an amazing company,” Mark said. “With its fast growth, it remains to be an electrifying and progressive market leader. FireFly is a company that exhibits ethical values and principled standards that build great relationships with their suppliers like Berendsen. I have witnessed FireFly grow into a world class business, while still having a very down to earth feel. I continue to be excited about FireFly’s future and having the opportunity to work with such a great company.”
Thanks, Mark Thorum and Berendsen Fluid Power for your outstanding partnership. And well done in France!
UPDATE: Mark bounced right back from the world championship with a second place finish at Ironman California on October 22nd. Unstoppable!