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December 8, 2008

Battery Man


Portable Rechargeable Battery Association executive director George Kerchner sat down with us at his 1776 K St. NW office in between international jet setting to tell us what to do when your members face government regulations that differ from country to country. As chief spokesman for companies producing Lithium ion batteries used in cell phones, laptops and electric cars, George knows his industry is on the cutting edge, and he has to make sure regulations don’t slow the growth.


Last year, the industry produced 3 B Li-ion “cells” or individual battery units. That’s up five-fold from five years ago, when the newer lightweight, high energy density cells started replacing other battery technologies like nickel-cadmium. George says “A lot of times the train has already left the station,” for example, when Argentina suddenly set recycling requirements for the used cells. George’s response is to meet with local regulators and work with industry officials in the country to discuss the practical details of implementing the laws.


George has a lot of time to catch up on his reading with all the trips he makes to attend meetings with the seven other battery associations around the world. George says the key to helping your members is to “get involved at the beginning of the regulatory process.” To do that, he ensured PRBA had a seat at the table at the UN and, since many batteries are transported by air, at international aviation panels. Having the ear of high-level government officials lets George rest assured that they understand his industry. It also helps to bring along a few FAA officials to foreign meetings, like he did recently to Beijing when he was answering questions from 300 Chinese battery manufacturers.


Having just returned from meetings in Beijing, Tokyo and The Hague, George is off to Switzerland and New Zealand for more battery meetings. To keep up with those relationships, he uses e-mails and bi-monthly conference calls. When traveling, his Blackberry tagline is “Sent from my Blackberry from somewhere on the planet.” To keep up his energy level for his foreign trips, George trains for triathlons. In September, he finished 31st out of 200 individual participants in the 2nd Annual Chesapeake Eco-Trialthlon run-bike-kayak competition. Next June, before he turns 50, he hopes to complete the 4.4 mi. Chesapeake Bay Bridge Swim.

Does your association have a jet setter who keeps the global network in line? Association Editor Abraham Mahshie wants to meet him or her; please e-mail him at: Abraham@bisnow.com.

Arent Fox
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