Timothy (Tim) D. Vargo is Chairman of the Board and Board Member, President and Chief ExecutiveOfficer of Exide Technologies, a global provider of stored electrical-energy solutions for transportation and industrial markets. Mr. Vargo retired from Kele Incorporated, a leading distributor of building automation and HVAC products, in April 2017 where he served as President, Chief Executive Officer and Director since 2010. He brings more than 40 years of leadership and managerial experience in capital allocation and restructuring, automotive supply chain and process improvement. Previously, Mr. Vargo served as President and Chief Executive Officer of TruckPro, Inc., a heavy-duty truck parts distributor. Under his leadership, TruckPro significantly improved sales strategies and store operations. Prior to TruckPro, he was the President and Chief Operating Officer of AutoZone where he was instrumental in formulating and executing the growth strategy that took the company from 1,000 stores to 3,250 stores and sales from $1.5 billion to over $5 billion.
How did you get involved in the lead battery industry?
I've had the pleasure of knowing Exide as a business for most of my entire professional career in the automotive aftermarket. Having served on the Board of Exide for a couple of years prior to becoming CEO, I became very familiar with the lead battery industry overall.
I've also been a car guy my whole life and using reliable batteries was always an important part of enjoying that experience. I learned a lot about lead batteries at a young age when I sold them in an auto parts store as well.
What is the biggest change you’ve seen in the industry?
Innovation is critical in our industry to ensure that batteries continually become “smarter” to meet new demands from customers, markets and environmental regulations. We are not operating in a “one-size-fits-all” industry, meaning that we have to develop the best battery for each market we serve, taking into account numerous industry trends and factors that impact battery operation.
We are seeing a shift for continuous innovation in the lead chemistry in both the transportation and industrial markets in order to increase efficiencies and to be more environmentally friendly.
On the transportation side of the business, in Europe there has been a focus on reducing CO2 emissions. Exide has been a leader in introducing innovative lead batteries to meet those new environmental requirements. In fact, in 2004 Exide was first-to-market with the AGM battery technology in Europe for Start-Stop applications, which significantly helped car manufacturers improve fuel economy. We have also successfully brought to market the Enhanced Flooded Battery (EFB) in the European market and recently in the Americas market to give our customers even more choices in battery technology to enhance fuel economy and reduce emissions.
On the industrial side of the business, utilizing other battery chemistries to meet the unique energy requirements of our customers has changed the product portfolio the industry offers. At Exide, lithium-ion options have been a part of our offering since 2013, leading the way in both Europe and the Americas markets. Additionally, we have incorporated IoT (Internet of Things) capabilities as a means to better understand our customers' energy challenges and to design customized solutions from our wide bench of motive power technologies. This is truly an innovative approach to helping our customers find better solutions.
In the future, I see our industry using IoT and other data-enabled tools to bring new opportunities to add value to our battery technologies across all chemistries and applications.
On the environmental side, Exide has worked hard to make sure that we have fulfilled our obligations to change our processes to meet current standards. We are committed to providing clean air for our employees and we embrace the current standards for air quality, water quality and soil quality. We work hard every day to make sure we are good stewards of the environment.
What do you value about BCI?
BCI brings our industry a platform from which we can unify and amplify our efforts to communicate the value and importance the lead battery industry brings to the world’s energy needs. The lead battery industry has been around for a long time and has quietly powered cars, forklifts, submarines and aircrafts. BCI helps us tell our story and share the success of the lead battery industry in terms of innovation and the circular economy with a 99% recycling rate. BCI also provides a forum for our industry to stay up-to-date on important legislative matters and other policy changes.