By Ben Rodgers
ASHWAUBENON – A local business that started here 30 years ago this month has opened more than 738 total stores in 47 states and Puerto Rico, and serves more than 13.7-million customers annually.
The first Batteries Plus opened at 850 Hansen Road in November 1988.
The company is now known as Batteries Plus Bulbs, as services offered have grown with the times.
“As Batteries Plus’s reputation for solving battery problems grew, and the demand for supplying specialty batteries increased, we made a strategic decision to grow through franchising,” said Chris Beres, the company’s digital marketing manager. “We opened the first franchise-owned retail store in Fort Wayne, Indiana, in 1992. Today, Batteries Plus Bulbs has over 660 franchise locations and nearly 80 corporate-owned locations, with more locations planned to open across the country in the future.”
Batteries Plus was started by Ron Rezetko, Mark Hein and Art Epstein.
Hein and Epstein are from the area and knew the concept would be of value here.
“With many retail brands challenged by growing competition from online businesses, Batteries Plus Bulbs has secured a foothold by being nimble in a changing retail climate and providing unmatched category expertise and immediacy,” Beres said.
The company evolved lockstep with technology in order to make life easier for its customers.
From the first day, it has helped customers with car batteries and any other odd batteries they may need.
In 2010, the company added light bulbs and started to work with home and business owners.
“The decision to add light bulbs to its existing battery and related accessory product line was an initiative that began in 2008, after the 2007 Energy Independence and Security Act was enacted to phase out production of all incandescent light bulbs by 2014,” Beres said. “Batteries Plus realized that as retail and business customers were being asked to look for new lighting alternatives, there existed a true opportunity within an assisted sale environment to educate consumers about the many energy-efficient and money-saving lighting options available to them.”
In 2014, Batteries Plus Bulbs launched smartphone and tablet repair services to fix broken screens and of course replace batteries.
In 2017, the company began rolling out key and key fob services for customers.
“Our stores offer more than 60,000 types of specialty batteries, light bulbs and retailed category accessories,” Beres said. “It has been no small feat making sure our selection is current and constantly aligned with the needs of our customers. For example, our most recent expansion into automotive key cutting and key fob programming is the latest way we are responding to the growing demand for retail and service convenience.”
Aside from offering a wide range of products and services, Beres said the best part is giving franchisees the opportunity to make a difference.
“They get the pleasure of fixing their customers’ problems and having them walk out smiling,” he said. “Additionally, these franchisees have been deeply involved in their communities and have paid it forward during challenging times, like hurricanes, tornadoes, wildfires, floods, etc., as well as positive times. While we are nationally known, we are locally owned and invested in the success and well-being of the communities we serve.”
Beres also said the company that started on Hansen Road isn’t done growing.
“Over the last three years, we have experienced a 12 percent growth in store locations,” he said. “We plan to build on that momentum and are primed for continued growth in 2018 and beyond. Thirty years is a long time, which is why it is so special that we have reached this milestone.”