It's all about alkaline
There's some real electricity at Duracell. The Bethel-based company is the number #1 producer of alkaline batteries in the U.S., claiming 45 percent of the market, while it lags only Eveready in the global market. International brands include Superpila in Italy, Daimon in Germany, Sunpower in South Korea, and Tudor in Scandinavia. While the company is best known for its stalwart "copper top" alkaline battery, Duracell is leading the charge toward other forms of batteries as well. The company makes Duracell Ultra and Duracell alkaline batteries, long-lasting "Duracell Ultra Photo" lithium batteries, environmentally sound zinc air hearing aid batteries and rechargeable nickel metal hydride batteries for camcorders.
Harnessing the power of Duracell
The company got its start in the 1940s as P.R. Mallory & Co., a battery and welding company, 135 years after Alessandro Volta had invented the first lead battery. P.R. Mallory continued to manufacture new products, introducing the Duracell brand in 1964 and its eye-catching black and copper design in 1972. Mallory became Duracell Inc. in 1978, first merging with Dart Industries in that year, then with Kraft in 1980, before KKR purchased Duracell for 1.9 billion dollars in 1988. Throughout, Duracell proved to be a real powerhouse, claiming 36 percent of the U.S. market in 1989, while zapping rival Eveready's share of the U.S. battery market from 60 percent in 1986 to 40 percent in that year. In December of 1996, Gillette decided to harness Duracell's energy for itself, paying 7.3 billion dollars for the company. Duracell's newest product, the Duracell Ultra battery, reportedly lasts up to 50 percent longer than ordinary alkaline batteries in such high-drain devices as flash cameras and minidisc players.
Battling the bunny
Duracell halted the bunny that "keeps on going" in May 1999 after a federal judge ruled that the Energizer Bunny had beat its drum against the wrong battery. Based on a Popular Electronics article, Energizer's parent company, Ralston-Purina, launched an advertising campaign claiming that its batteries were better than Duracell's - a claim that Federal Judge Denny Chin found unsubstantiated as the magazine's tests were not scientific.
Sales and profits in 2000 are already proving to be less promising than last year. The setback should only be temporary, however, as it is most likely due to the consumer freak-out last year over potential Y2K malfunctions. It seems many people have stocked up on batteries for the year, and let's hope it's not longer than that.
Duracell offers a wide variety of positions, ranging from assembly-line box-folding, to finance, to international business management slots. To apply, send a resume to Duracell's HR Department at: Berkshire Corporate Park, Bethel, CT 06801.
0Time, money, and really weird earplugs
Employees report a "family atmosphere," albeit one with "strict deadlines", where "they don't care what you do as long as you get the work done." The pay scale is "extremely competitive" and benefits are "generous." "It's a great place to work," but you may "need to know someone" to get your foot in the door; "they'll turn you down in a heartbeat." Applicants should call after applying, otherwise "no one will read your resume." Dress ranges from "casual" to "businesslike," with assembly floor workers required to wear "eyeguards and really weird earplugs." "Opportunities for growth have increased substantially" since the Gilette buyout of Duracell, with stock doing "incredibly well," but some employees are nervous about the loss of "final say about how the company is run" and the uncertain "future focus" of the firm.
Berkshire Corporate Park1
Alkaline and other consumer batteries
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