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Former Farmer's Now A One Man Battery Builder
"The big manufacturers have become so inefficient a one-man shop can make batteries as much as 50% cheaper and still realize a good profit," says Ron Kent, Bolivar, Mo., who got into the battery business after leaving the farm.
Kent makes and sells his batteries out of a main street shop he calls the Battery Barn. He uses the identical raw materials, casings and molds used by battery manufacturers and says he can duplicate any 4 to 24 volt battery on the market. "Some of my batteries are even better than comparable commercial units because I add extra plates for added storage capacity," says Kent.
He learned the battery-making business from a fellow in Indiana running a similar business. After about a week he said he'd learned enough to get started and opened his own shop last December. Now, he makes and sells batteries and teaches others how to get into the business.
The actual work of constructing a battery takes about half an hour. The first step is to melt lead to pour into molds for posts and connecting straps. The posts go into plastic cases which he buys from a parts supply firm. The cases are fitted with "sandwiches" of lead-oxide plates and fiberglass separators. Straps attach to the plates and the plastic lid is fastened into place. Ron then fills each battery with sulphuric acid diluted with water and lets them cool down for a couple hours due to the heat generated by the chemical reaction between the lead oxide and the sulphuric acid. Then he puts the batteries on a charger and he's ready to go.
Prices on Kent's batteries range from 15 to 50% less than comparable commercial batteries. One heavy-duty Deere tractor battery, for example, that normally sells for $60 is just $36.29 at the Battery Barn. A battery that's nearly identical to Sears' heavy-duty Diehard battery, which normally sells for $57, sells for $47 at the Battery Barn, according to Kent. He offers the same warranties as commercial manufacturers, including a 5-year warranty on his Diehard look-alike.
"It's amazing how many types of batteries there are. You have to maintain a lot of inventory in order to service all needs," he says.
Kent has begun teaching others the battery business on a one-to-one basis. He charges $3,700 for the basic course, which involves simply working with him for about a week in his shop. Once a prospective battery builder has learned the trade, he must buy molds, which cost in the area of $1,300, and about $5,000 worth of raw materials, which is enough to get started.
For more information, contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Ron Kent, Battery Barn, 205 E. Jackson, Bolivar, Mo. 65613 (ph 417 326-3008).

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1985 - Volume #9, Issue #4