Superior, the Superlex battery brand and the company’s new, revolutionary PFX™ Technology.
Collins praised Superior Battery for effectively utilizing federal and state resources — such as State Trade and Export Promotion grants and the U.S. Commercial Service’s Gold Key matching program — to help boost export sales from only 3 percent of total revenue five years ago to more than 30 percent today.
“I think Superior Battery has done a tremendous job,” Collins said. “This is not just a group of employees. This is a team. And I’m a firm believer in a team because I know that teams when they pull together can get almost anything done and overcome great odds.”
Superior CEO Randy Hart introduced his team at the event, and told attendees about the many challenges they have faced in the company’s three decades in business. An industry that once boasted 300 American battery manufacturers now only has 30 — and despite fierce competition, a fire that destroyed Superior’s plant and a devastating economic recession, Superior has remained a major player.
“Diversify, diversify, diversify,” Hart said. “It doesn’t matter if it’s diversification in a product, a process, sales, whatever it is, we needed to diversify. That’s why Superior took a serious look at the international market.”
Superior’s impressive portfolio includes its branded Superlex battery line and a custom label, or “black box” program for regional battery distributors and original equipment manufacturers. Both feature PFX Technology. PFX is a unique advancement in flooded cell battery technology, utilized by no other battery manufacturer. Extremely clean, proprietary lead and Superior's patent-pending continuous paste mixing technology work with other elements to deliver maximum performance and increase the overall life of the battery. “Exporting and investing in technology have been key to remaining viable,” Hart said.
Ray Goodearl, vice president of international sales and marketing, told the group that Superior is now exporting to approximately 28 countries around the world.
“For us, exporting has allowed Superior to not only sustain jobs, but at a time when a lot of industries are laying people off, we can sustain and actually add people on to help us take care of the added business we get from exporting,” Goodearl said.
Superior has been honored with three prestigious export awards and will participate in a trade mission to Canada this year. The company received the Kentucky World Trade Center Governor’s Award for International Trade Excellence in 2010, and was named 2011 Exporter of the Year in Commercial News USA. In February, Superior received an Export Achievement Certificate from Undersecretary for International Trade Francisco J. Sánchez.
In her role as ambassador-at-large of international trade for the Kentucky Chamber, Collins said she, in cooperation with partners at the World Trade Center Kentucky and U.S. Commercial Service, is trying to encourage companies to begin or expand exporting efforts to benefit the state’s economy. She travels county by county to educate businesses on the resources available to make that happen.
“I’m here today because I want to encourage people,” Collins said. “I want to encourage the ones who are already trading, already exporting, to continue to do that and to grow. But I also want to encourage small and medium-sized and even bigger companies that haven’t really put a big emphasis on exporting. I think it’s important for our state. I know the potential is fantastic.”
Collins said she is concerned about Kentucky’s growth and will continue to pursue avenues to help the state grow through exporting. She said studies show companies that export, particularly those that are small and medium-sized, grow twice as fast and pay higher wages on average.
“There are so many countries out there that need the products we have,” Collins said. “... We have to go out and look for opportunities for our companies and our people.”
The invitation-only event included a tour of Superior Battery’s manufacturing facility.
Randy Hart (left) explains the battery formation process to event participants.
Former Kentucky Gov. Martha Layne Collins talks to a group of more than 30 local and state dignitaries about the importance of exporting to Kentucky’s economy at Superior Battery Manufacturing’s Innovation in Exporting event March 20.