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Meet BCI's New Board Member: Chris Pruitt, President and CEO, East Penn Manufacturing Co.

Posted By BCI Headquarters, Thursday, September 27, 2018
Updated: Thursday, September 27, 2018

Chris currently serves as President and CEO of East Penn Manufacturing Co. maker of Deka Batteries. East Penn Manufacturing is the largest privately held battery manufacturer in the world with over 10,000 employees. Chris also serves on the Board of Directors of East Penn Manufacturing Co., and the company’s Family Council and Foundation. He has been with the company since May of 1994. He joined East Penn as the Controller and has held numerous financial positions including Chief Financial Officer.

Prior to joining East Penn, Chris was a CPA at Ernst & Young for ten years holding the position of a Senior Manager in the Audit division. While working at Ernst & Young, he earned his Certified Public Accountant designation. Chris earned a B.S.B.A degree in accounting from Shippensburg University in 1984.

Chris is currently on the board of Flinchbaugh Engineering located in York, PA. Flinchbaugh is an ESOP owned Company. He currently serves as the Board Chairman of the Wyomissing Foundation

Formerly, he was a Board Member of YMCA, Chairman and Board Member of The United Way of Berks County, President and Treasurer of The Children’s Home of Reading, Board Member of Big Brothers/Big Sisters, Board Member of the Children Advisory Center, Treasurer and Board Member of The Reading Area Community College Foundation, Audit Committee Chairman and Board Member of the Berks Community Foundation, and Board Member of the Shippensburg University College of Business Advisory Board.

In December of 2016, Chris received the Eugene L. Shirk award for Community Builder. This annual Community award is given by Berks Community Television (BCTV). In December of 2015, Chris received the Sydney D. Kline award for Outstanding Community Service. Chris was also honored by the YMCA in 2013 for his Community Service. In 2013, he was named CFO of the year by the Lehigh Valley Business Journal. In March 2011, Chris received the Wilburn H. Doran award in recognition of his outstanding work with the United Way and in the Berks County Community.

Chris and his wife, Robin (also a Shippensburg grad), have two children, Kelly and Lindsay, whom both attend West Chester University

How did you get involved in the lead battery industry?

In 1994, East Penn’s former CEO, Dan Langdon, who was the CFO at the time, was promoted to the President of East Penn. This prompted a search for a new CFO, which is how I was introduced to the industry. What attracted me to this opportunity was the company’s reputation as a family-owned organization with a great company culture. It was a simple decision to move forward with the company. Prior to East Penn, I was at Ernst and Young for ten years (1984-1994).

What is the biggest change/challenge you’ve seen in the industry?

Recently, the lead battery industry has been going through a great deal of technological changes. The market is asking lead batteries to be used in ways they haven’t been utilized in the past to meet new demands in automotive, energy storage and motive power sectors. The rate of change is fast and furious. We’ve experienced more change in the last five years than in the previous ten years. The lead battery industry has always been keen on innovation, but the rate of innovation we are experiencing today is much greater compared to what it was before. While we have been challenged to advance, these innovations are creating unbelievable opportunities for the lead battery industry.

The bulk of the challenges we’re experiencing revolve around the perception of lead batteries. For example, government regulators are currently looking to replace the need for lead batteries with other chemistries capable of energy storage. In California, some regulators are seeking to list lead batteries as a Priority Product under the Safer Consumer Products Program. Lead batteries present one of the greatest recycling stories of our time. Our goal is to make the public aware of the safety of lead battery use and the closed-loop recycling story that makes our industry so sustainable and supportive.

What do you value about BCI?

BCI is a wonderful organization that has allowed the lead battery industry to get together with their peers and discuss the challenges we face. The opportunity to gather groups of small, medium and large companies that face similar challenges is a powerful vehicle for working together to tackle those issues. The association provides a great forum for us to progress the industry and work as a team. The organization is run by high-class professionals who help us navigate those challenges, and I’m continually impressed by the structure of the annual meetings.

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