We love when an entrepreneur combines a market gap with innovation and hard work.
Florida SBDC at UWF client Reed owns Battery Guyz in Pensacola, and while his persistence and business savviness has taken him from start-up, growth, and shrinking with purpose to Shark Tank, Bloomberg Television, and Walmart — he’s become a shining example of small business drive and resilience.
Al’s business reconditions old batteries, from vehicles including boats and RVs to mobility wheelchairs and solar options. The team can take junk batteries off your hands as well as provide a better-than-new product plus delivery, installation, and warranty plans. This small business recycles batteries and, in the process, helps both your wallet and the planet.
“Five years ago when I met with the SBDC, it was me and one other full-time employee,” Al shares. “I remember Christa (his SBDC consultant) saying we need to get you to the point where you are working on the business instead of working in the business.
“That is exactly where I am now today. I have three full-time team members and two part-time team members. I work on the business now. My visits with the SBDC have helped me achieve that goal.”
At one point Al had three locations including one in Alabama and another large one locally in Florida, but during the height of the pandemic he streamlined and regrouped.
“It was the best decision I made,” he says of his pivot point, and notes how if a business owner doesn’t learn that point and make a decision “you go out of business.” He acknowledges it can be a very difficult choice, with an entrepreneur’s ego and pride making that an emotional determination.
As Al’s made his journey, he’s weighed options and wondered how he could complete against national competitor chains; these have an online presence as well as the brick-and-mortar ability of customers being able to walk in and get what they need. He also explained how selling his product to them doesn’t work presently, because it doesn’t give those big businesses the margin they need nor the guarantee they require.
Al also leaned on the SBDC for help developing a pitch for the show Shark Tank. Even though his segment didn’t air, he describes how accessing the judges was extremely valuable. He gained their immense wisdom from a 45-minute conversation, and he soaked up every bit of their knowledge, expertise, and recommendations.
It all started in 2015 when he began working on the business idea more and delving into the battery reconditioning process, “messing with powders to see what works and what doesn’t” plus researching equipment.
He connected with an industry professional in China who was making what he needed, and he flew the expert out to learn how to work the machine as well as develop custom branding and protections for it.
Al continued to mess around with the formulas, teaching himself engineering and “just playing around with science,” he says with a laugh.
Getting familiar with the technology and running experiments, a refurbished battery wasn’t testing as high as it needed to be. He grinded along for two-and-a-half years.
“I finally got it right,” he says.
The batteries began testing higher than a new battery.
Al emailed Walmart, a man in purchasing.
He got special hazardous material transport training from FedEx.
“I have been a full-time entrepreneur going on eight years now,” Al shares. “I have had many failures and wins along the way. I learned to focus on the failures, meaning what did I learn from the mistakes I made. Learning from my past mistakes has helped me pivot to the next win.”
You can now find his product online via Walmart in addition to his location going strong at West Fairfield Drive and Hollywood Avenue.
Al is now looking deeper at franchising his business, making his environmentally friendly and economical batteries more accessible and plentiful. Overall he wants Battery Guyz to bring a great product and service to communities.
He says of his recent successes how timing definitely plays a part and also that “this is how God works.”
Al adds he realizes as an entrepreneur, it’s when you look back on what you’ve done that you feel successful.