With the help of PeoplesBank, a basement battery repair hobby has grown into a thriving company in Red Lion, Pa.
MTO Battery owner Jason Abel began repairing batteries in his basement in 2006. He’d buy cheap materials off eBay, give old batteries new life, and resell them online. He never imagined that 17 years later, he’d be using high end materials and have a thriving battery repair and sales business—MTO Battery.
At the time he started, Jason was working full time as an engineer at a candy factory, a job he loved. The dream of being his own boss had a certain electric appeal though.
Slowly and steadily, his basement battery factory expanded to a website, then out of his basement into his garage, then to a pole barn then two pole barns, and, in 2017, into his current space in a former J.C. Winter & Co. cigar factory in Red Lion, Pa.
From just him working solo, Jason’s team has expanded to include Lorie, his wife of 23 years, and three additional employees.
His offerings grew alongside his space. What was once just power tool battery repairs now encompasses Segway, RC car, photo equipment, utility company, and Department of Defense batteries. While his sales are primarily online, the walk-in MTO Battery shop in Red Lion offers an array of automotive and power tool batteries, as well as drop-off battery repair service.
“It’s sort of anything under the sun,” says Jason, noting that he hasn’t yet stepped into the world of electric car batteries.
A provider in time of need
As the COVID-19 pandemic was brewing in late 2019, Jason began receiving numerous requests to repair ventilator and respirator batteries.
“For six to nine months, we could have literally lived here and done nothing but ventilator batteries, and we would have stayed absolutely busy on top of everything else,” Jason says.
Jason and Lorie would work 12- to 14-hour days, then go home feeling guilty because we’d hear on the news that people couldn’t get ventilators and respirators, and here their building had dozens of batteries that they hadn’t been able to rebuild yet.
“We’ve had our burned-out phases,” he says. “Every time you bump into trying to grow and trying to do more, it just takes more effort and more time.”
A partner that fosters growth
As the pandemic waned, Jason turned to PeoplesBank to refinance the MTO Battery building and fund repairing the roof. He quickly realized that PeoplesBank would be a great partner for his business.
Shortly after switching to PeoplesBank, MTO Battery received a 75% increase to its line of credit.
“We import our materials from overseas,” Jason says. “So that enabled us to import more materials consequently at a better price. We’ve lowered our cost of goods. It’s helped us take on bigger projects on a whim where previously we would have had lesser inventory here to be able to do so.”
MTO Battery has grown steadily over the years, and Jason expects it to continue to grow five to 10% per year. While opportunities for rapid expansion have presented themselves in the past, Jason prefers the more surefooted slow and steady approach as a means to maintain control and avoid inefficiencies in the company.
Owning a business is not without its challenges, but Jason is grateful for the opportunities that have come his way. What started as a small hobby turned into a thriving business. With PeoplesBank’s help, Jason plans to continue to hone his craft and expand MTO Battery’s offerings.