Lead Battery Industry Proudly Supports Our Veterans!
Sunday, November 11th is truly a special day. It marks the 100th anniversary of the end of the First World War. In the U.S., it will be observed on November 12th as an official holiday: Veterans Day, a time to honor all those who have served, or are serving, in the U.S. Armed Forces and honor their courage, honor, patriotism and sacrifice.
Like so many industries across our nation, the lead battery industry relies on the dedicated men and women who have served our country and, now, our workforce. We talked to several battery manufacturers and suppliers, all who greatly value the active duty and military veterans who make their companies stronger.
East Penn Manufacturing: Founded by Air Force Veteran
East Penn Manufacturing is a private, family-owned company operating the largest single-site, lead battery manufacturing facility in the world. It is unrecognizable from its humble launch in 1946 by DeLight E. Breidegam Jr., an Air Force veteran. After discharge at age 20, he returned home to Pennsylvania and started a small battery manufacturing business with his father. In the post-war years, materials for new batteries were scarce, and the men found great demand for rebuilt batteries. (Their business would become the precursor to the industry’s remarkable sustainability story of recycling 99 percent of lead batteries.)
Seventy years after its founding by a veteran, East Penn continues to support the hiring of veterans and their careers. Consistently ranked as a best place to work, East Penn received the Above and Beyond Award for Support of the Military through the Department of Defense.
The award recognizes employers who support members of the active reserves while they serve and still maintain civilian employment. East Penn Assistant Plant Manager Barry Frain, is just one of veterans working at East Penn who have experienced this support. Last year Frain retired from the U.S. Marine Corps after serving for 30 years, including the first Gulf War, several tours of duty in Iraq and U.S. posts for homeland security.
“East Penn has supported my military career for about 25 years,” says Frain. His East Penn career began as a vocational tech student, and he then joined the company full time in the machine shop. After a year he joined the Marines for four years of active duty; when he came back, his seniority and benefits were as if he had never left. “When I was deployed, East Penn continued to contribute to and maintain health insurance for me and my family. Normally, you would switch to military insurance during deployment, but East Penn’s philosophy is that when you are deployed, they don’t want you worried about what’s happening at home, but instead focus 100 percent on where you are. While I was away, the supervisors and management also checked in with my family to see if they needed anything. It’s a support network that’s tremendous.”
Frain noted that as his responsibilities and rank within both East Penn and the military grew, the company supported his additional time away beyond the normal two weeks for service. When he retired from the Marines last year, two senior executives and other employees traveled to New York to attend the ceremony. Frain pointed out that these high levels of support are companywide and not just for him.
Johnson Controls: Seeking Veteran Work Ethic
As the Johnson Controls talent acquisition lead for military programs, Ray Cuttino believes he’s come full circle in a career that began decades ago as a military recruiter. “I started on the opposite end, talking to students about the benefits of joining the military – explaining the career skills and training they would gain. Now, I’m helping them apply those skills and knowledge from their military training to corporate America.”
Cuttino helps ensure that Johnson Controls demonstrates its commitment to veterans through its focus on recruiting and outreach. Some examples:
- The company partners with more than a dozen organizations committed to the military community, like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s Hiring Our Heroes.
- In 2016, Cuttino visited the White House as part of the Joining Forces Initiative to encourage the public and private sectors to support service members, veterans and their families.
- Cuttino has been instrumental in forming a Veterans Resources Group that reaches out to local communities and offers mentoring and employee opportunities.
For Johnson Controls, Cuttino said that military training provides the foundation for an excellent employee. “The number one reason in my mind for recruiting military is the work ethic; the ability to show up every day and give 100 percent.” In addition to the employees’ mission mindset, Cuttino added, “Their leadership ability, flexibility and drive to get things done fits well within the culture.”
Exide Technologies: Intentionally Recruiting Veterans
Exide is one of 22 manufacturing companies recognized as Military Friendly®. That means it has met (and exceeded) a standard that measures an organization’s commitment, effort and success in creating sustainable and meaningful benefit for the military community.
Melissa Floyd, the company’s corporate communications director, said they intentionally recruit veterans. “We’ve found that the skills they learn in the military are very transferable and applicable in both the manufacturing environment and management environment, not just in the plant, but also at the corporate office.”
In addition to employment opportunities, Exide provides philanthropic support to local veterans in a partnership with Green Veterans, an organization near Exide’s Atlanta corporate headquarters. Earlier this year Georgia State Senator John Albers commended Exide for donating iPads to veterans. In a press release, Senator Albers noted that, “The donation of iPads to our heroes may seem like a small gesture, but it is truly life-altering for these men and women.”
Interstate Batteries: Hiring Veterans is Part of “Values Mission” Hiring Initiative
Hiring veterans is a natural extension of Interstate Batteries’ purpose and values, said Chris Montoya, corporate recruiter. “We want to enrich lives as we deliver the most trustworthy source of power to the world.” This is a cornerstone for the company’s Values Mission Hiring Initiative that provides potential career opportunities to active military, veterans and military spouses. In June, Interstate was honored by the Department of Labor for its leadership in veteran outreach. Interstate partners with about a dozen military-focused service organizations like Allies in Service, Folded Flag, Hiring Our Heroes, and the Bush Foundation.
For Veterans Day, the company will host a breakfast for its vets. “We’re thankful for the people who have worn the uniform to protect the freedom we enjoy. We want to recognize them and their families for the sacrifices they’ve made.”
Hammond Group, Inc.: Supporting Veteran Appreciation Day
This year, the company is a corporate sponsor of Hammond, Indiana’s 5th Annual Veteran Appreciation Day Parade to honor veterans and active military personnel. The company’s contribution will help support the popular local event that features antique military vehicles, honor guards and a flyover by the entertaining Lima Lima Flight Team. Stephanie Smith, corporate marketing coordinator, noted that, “As a member of this community for nearly 100 years, we are active in a number of civic programs. But it’s a point of pride to recognize of our country’s veterans.”
How You Can Thank a Veteran
We encourage everyone to follow the lead of these companies. Attend Veterans Day event or visit a veterans hospital; donate to a veteran-related cause; ask a vet about his or her service history and give thanks, or fly a flag (correctly, of course) to show your patriotic pride.
- Green Veterans
- Military Friendly®
- Sen. John Albers Commends Donations of iPads to Veteran Organization
- Joining Forces
- Hiring Our Heroes
- Heroes Make America
- Military Spouse Employment Partnership
- Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve