Industrial Battery Solutions: 2022 SmallBiz Editor’s Choice Award Winner – Industrial
Their niche is batteries for forklifts, which “move everything that you eat, buy (and) touch.”
Interstate Powercare decided in 2018 to close its forklift battery division nationwide and lay off its employees – including those at its Hawai‘i branch in Waipahu.
Hank Benson had been an operations manager there and he and his wife, Kathleen, bought the local branch and have operated it ever since as Industrial Battery Solutions. Hawaii Business Magazine liked how they saved local jobs while continuing to serve their customers, and picked the company for this award.
“It is not glamorous, but it is an essential business,” says Kathleen Benson, who serves as president. “It’s a very niche, little business.”
Industrial Battery Solutions sells, installs and services motive batteries for industrial forklifts and other material handling equipment.
Battery-operated forklifts “move everything that you eat, buy, everything that you touch and everything that touches you,” she says. “The batteries are very large, expensive and need to be professionally installed, so you can maximize their life by having professional services. That’s what we do.”
Kathleen Benson says that since May 2018, Industrial Battery Solutions has been the only company in Hawai‘i that sells and services forklift batteries. She says annual revenue has remained relatively consistent, despite Covid.
The company was labeled an essential business, so it remained open throughout the pandemic and only took a small hit financially. “In 2021, our annual revenue was $1.57 million, which went down by 4% from the year before,” she says.
And it did not lay off any of its three employees. “We owe all to our employees. They’re like family and we love them so much,” she adds.
Hank Benson leads the employees and provides technical expertise on the batteries, while Kathleen Benson performs all the other business functions: finance, human resources, legal and more.
“When you’re a tiny business, you wear a lot of hats,” Kathleen Benson says. “But it’s fun because you are exposed to different situations, and you learn to figure it out on your own.”
Industrial Battery Solutions was named in 2021 as one of eight Hawker Dealers of Excellence in Hawker’s nationwide network of forklift battery dealers.
“Working with my own husband turned out a lot better than I expected,” Kathleen Benson says. “He is an expert in his area, and I am good in my area, so we complement each other well.”