JOPLIN, Mo.–(The Joblin Globe)–Feb 18, 2019
Joplin’s ZAF Energy Systems has announced that a significant investment by a Michigan-based manufacturer will allow the local battery-maker to scale up its production and workforce significantly.
Randy Moore, ZAF president and CEO, said in a Monday phone interview that the investment in the company that started up in 2017 will result in it being able to more than triple the number of jobs available there. Moore declined to specify the value of Wirtz Manufacturing’s investment in ZAF but characterized it as a “seven-figure number.”
Moore said Wirtz’s investment is three-pronged, involving cash, equipment and the internal processes it uses in its production. All of that will result in ZAF going from producing hundreds of batteries per month to eventually as many as 2,000, the company said. To achieve that production, Moore said the company’s current workforce of roughly 40 could jump to 150 in 2020 and 250 in 2021.
The investment will allow ZAF to continue producing its nickel-zinc batteries with traditional lead-acid processes, Moore said.
“We have about 21 months of backlog … at our current capacity,” he said. “And when the Wirtz equipment comes in, we could clear this backlog in a month and a half. We’re getting some traction. We think we’ve hit our tipping point, so to speak.”
The types of batteries the company makes in Joplin are those used for cars, boats, recreational vehicles, data centers and heavy equipment.
ZAF’s strategy has been to “seed the market,” Moore has said, with its nickel-zinc technology, which he says can eventually replace traditional lead-acid. He has said nickel-zinc batteries are both more powerful and longer-lasting.
Wirtz’s investment comes after ZAF last summer received a $600,000 investment from the Missouri Technology Corporation, a public-private partnership under the umbrella of the Missouri Department of Economic Development.
“I think Joplin as a home for ZAF, as a home for our manufacturing facility, is working out better than our expectations could have ever hoped for,” Moore said. “(We’re) really pleased with the support that the state and the city and the community has really reached out and greeted us with.”
Randy Moore, president and CEO of ZAF Energy Systems, said that the company’s current location in the Crossroads Center Business and Distribution Park should be able to accommodate the added production.
Written by: Jordan Larimore