The Crown Battery Story
William J. Koenig, a German immigrant who came to the United States at the age of seventeen, founded the company in Fremont, Ohio in 1926. Initially, the primary function of the business was to repair and distribute car batteries and radiators. As the battery rebuilding portion of the business flourished, demand for new batteries also grew so all the component battery parts being produced by Mr. Koenig were soon being used in the production of new Fremont brand car batteries which he sold in Fremont and the surrounding area. In the 1930's, the battery business continued to grow beyond the vicinity of Fremont. Mr. Koenig was proud of the batteries he built and decided to change the company name to "Crown Battery Mfg." derived from the German translation for Koenig, which means " king." The business remained small and was still truly a family run operation with Mr. Koenig, his wife, daughters and sons all working at the shop to produce the best possible quality batteries.
In 1947 the new North Fifth Street plant was built to house the increased manufacturing facilities. During the 30 year stay at this location, the Crown Battery factory grew on five occasions, the first being a 4000 square foot addition and concluding with 30,000 square feet of manufacturing facility.
During the 1950's, ownership of the company was transferred from William Koenig to his son Lee Koenig and the two men worked together for a number of years as Crown Battery continued to grow. In 1958 Crown Battery became affiliated with the Independent Battery Manufacturers Association (IBMA) receiving and sharing valuable information and assistance in the battery marketing and manufacturing processes. The IBMA was important to the business and the family. Lee Koenig served as it's volunteer president on numerous occasions.
Throughout the 1960's Crown Battery expanded it's sales and distribution warehouses to the cities of Chicago, Fort Wayne, Detroit, Toledo, Columbus, Cleveland, Erie, Pittsburgh and Buffalo. It also entered into the industrial battery market, which required establishing an Industrial Battery Manufacturing Division. Industrial batteries manufactured by Crown Battery now range in weight from 20 pounds to over 20,000 pounds and are used in mining equipment, electric lift trucks, solar power applications and a variety of other battery powered vehicles.
The growth trend continued through the 1960's and into the better part of the 1970's. Again, the demand for Crown manufactured batteries made further expansion necessary. All available land had been consumed at the existing plant so in 1976 plans were put in place to constructa completely new 76,000 square foot facility on Majestic Drive in Fremont, over twice the size of the previous plant. Clean air,water and energy saving techniques were paramount in the designof the new factory. Employee environment was vastly improved to include state of the art production equipment, functional work areas, and pleasant, convenient staff cafeteria, locker rooms and shower facilities and expanded paved parking areas. This new plant was designed to accommodate the needs of the company for 8-10 years but again by 1983, increased sales dictated a further 46,000 square foot increase in production space and by 1990 another 48,000 square feet was added to accommodate growth in the Industrial Battery Division.
While the company grew through many expansions, Crown Battery Mfg. and the Koenig family maintained their commitment to Fremont, Ohio, a centralized location within the industrial belt of the United States, midway between Chicago and New York. The single site manufacturing facility provided access to a proven quality labor market and allowed for easier control over the environmental issues inherent in operating a battery plant producing both SLI and industrial steel case batteries.
The most recent years have seen continued growth and improvement at Crown Battery Mfg. The successful implementation of ISO 9001, MRPII and other quality programs like SPC and TQM are reflected in the quality of the batteries now built. New warehouses in Waterbury, Conn. and Birmingham Ala. have increased U.S. sales and distribution into Europe, South America, Australia and a company owned warehouse and sales operation in Toronto, Canada makes CrownBattery Mfg. truly a "World Class" supplier of battery service and supply programs.
In 1998, Lee N. Koenig, Chief Executive Officer and President of Crown Battery Manufacturing Company announced the completion of the sale of Crown Battery to a small group of loyal Crown Management Employees. Mr. Koenig stated further that the sale transaction was conducted "with the best interest of Crown's Management, employees and the local community in mind."
Fremont resident, Harold F. Hawk Jr., who has assumed the post of Chief Executive Officer and President, heads the Management group. Mr. Koenig remains affiliated with the company in a consulting role.
In recent years, numerous inquiries about Crown Battery pertaining to the sale or financial participation from outside purchasers and investors have been received. It has been determined that the current Management Group with their present leadership capabilities would be best qualified to maintain Crown's growth while at the same time continuing the legacy established by the Koenig family.
It is tempting to make all this growth and expansion of a privately owned battery manufacturer seem like a natural course of events, but there were hard times and tough decisions required to keep the company on the right growth path. Producing a quality product and gaining wide customer confidence in an extremely competitive market is no easy task. Crown Battery has been fortunate to have excellent cooperation from all of its dedicated employees who contribute their time, energy and skills to help the company prosper and grow.
Over 76 years Crown Battery has developed from a small, successful battery repair shop to a growing and profitable company with 170,000 square foot manufacturing facility. Backed by a large and loyal customer base and 325 dedicated employees producing the best quality battery on the market today, the name "Crown" was truly an appropriate choice.
Great People, Great Service, and Great Products have been and will always be the main ingredients in the Crown Battery History.