Why You Need to Know Them: Because their company controls the largest market share of replacement brand batteries in North America. Last year, Dallas-based Interstate sold 17.5 million batteries and recycled another 25 million. The father-son duo has a combined 73 years at the company, with Norman serving as chairman, and Scott taking the helm as president and chief executive in May.
Scott replaced Carlos Sepulveda, a 23-year company veteran who spent the last nine as CEO. “The timing worked out well,” Scott says. “Carlos had a number of opportunities in front of him and had done an incredible job. He mentored me extremely well.”
Not that the 44-year-old didn’t know his way around the privately held business, where his dad has worked since 1962. He has been working his way up the corporate ladder since his first part-time gig at a Dallas distribution center at age 14.
Back in 1991, the company was selling 7.5 million batteries—all for transportation purposes—and pulling in about $280 million in revenue. Forty percent of its business today comes from national accounts like Firestone and Costco. The company has 200,000 dealers, and privately brands products for 20 of the 24 automakers that sell vehicles in North America.
Revenue for the fiscal year ending April 30 hit $1.6 billion from five business units, which include the legacy transportation business, 290 company-owned and operated distributors, franchising, power care, and lead recycling.
Norman remembers being excited about when the company captured 9 percent of market share. “It has been really rewarding to see us creep up to 17 percent,” he says of the highly fragmented industry.
Interstate’s battery offerings have proliferated, and now range from hearing aids and laptops to bulldozers and power tools. Admittedly, batteries are more of a “grudge buy,” as they’re usually purchased at inconvenient moments—when they stop working.
“You can’t turn somebody on to buy batteries like you buy [potato] chips, but you have to be top of mind,” says Scott, who notes that the company’s 21-year relationship with NASCAR has boosted brand awareness. “It’s not sexy—we don’t try to be. We try to have fun with our brand. It’s part of our culture. We like to take our work seriously, but not ourselves.”