What was the smartest thing your company did in the past year?
"Although economic recovery has been slow in our industry since 2008, the smartest thing we have done in the past year is reinvesting in the company to improve and streamline our communication systems, as well as invest in a fleet of vehicles that has significantly lower operating costs. These investments are already producing results for us and have positioned Remy Battery for growth as our industry and the overall economy begins to recover."
What's new at your company?
"After the economic downturn, we have been very busy repositioning Remy Battery for continuation of our planned growth. Our reinvestment in the company has resulted in a new e-commerce solution for our website that improves the online shopping experience for our online customers, incorporates social networking, and will help position the site as an industry leader. Our industry, and business, has been a closed loop system that has had battery recycling rates as high as 98 percent well before recycling and 'green' were hot topics of conversation. To continue in this tradition, we made an investment in a new fleet of compressed natural gas vehicles that use domestically produced sources for fuel, has significantly lower emissions and has lower operating costs. Finally, as part of our growth plans, Remy Battery opened a new location in Escanaba, Mich."
Do you plan to hire any additional staff or make any significant capital investments in your company in the next year?
"It is our plan to invest in one, possibly two, new branches and to increase staff by about 10 to 20 percent in fiscal year 2013."
What will be your company's main challenges in the next year?
"There will be two main challenges for us over the next year. First will be to manage product costs and customer pricing due to continued volatility in commodity prices that go into manufacturing the products we sell and distribute. The industry has been struggling with increased pricing and slimmer margins as a result of this volatility and recent increased fuel prices have also started to compound this challenge. Our investments in information technology and our fleet will allow us to react quicker to market changes and better forecast and control our distribution costs. Our second challenge will be to finish working with the state of Wisconsin on updating battery recycling legislation that has become counterproductive to the environment, consumers and the industry. This bipartisan bill has been passed in the Wisconsin State Assembly and is now waiting for the State Senate to pick it up for consideration. I have been working with the industry and the state to get this accomplished since 2008 and I hope to see this bill passed when the State Senate reconvenes for the January 2013 session."
What's the hottest trend in your industry?
"Electric vehicles. Over the past five years, everyone has been talking about EVs, whether it is a fully electric, hybrid, micro-hybrid or a battery operated electric assist bicycle, which is becoming popular with an active and aging population. If it runs on batteries, people are talking about it."
Do you have a business mantra?
"Let's make something happen today."
From a business standpoint, who do you look up to?
"Alan Mulalley, president and CEO of Ford Motor Company."
What was the best advice you ever received?
"Always consider contrarian investment and the black swan theory before investing."
What's the funniest thing that ever happened to you in your career?
"Probably the funniest thing that ever happened to me was early in my career, which involved an industry convention, my birthday, a few too many drinks, a dance competition and a gorilla suit. Those reading this who were there know the story. Those who were not there, I would rather leave it to their imaginations."
What do you like to do in your free time?
"I enjoy spending any free time with my family, which usually includes waterskiing, downhill skiing and a long list of other outdoor activities."