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Rayovac

Contributed by , President

Rayovac has grown from a humble, one-man attic business to a hyper-successful brand with worldwide recognition. Rayovac makes several types of batteries and, today, it's one of the top-sellers of hearing aid batteries around the world.

French Battery Company

Rayovac has long-established roots in the U.S. and its founders were unique individuals. In 1906, entrepreneurs Alfred Landau, James B. Ramsay and P.W. Strong combined forces to create the French Battery Company. Ramsay was already an entrepreneur who showed promise back in his high school days when, as a junior, he convinced the University of Wisconsin to admit him, and he attended and graduated without ever receiving his high school diploma. Ramsay started a lumber company in Medford soon after college, became the town's mayor and then sold his business and moved back to Madison at the age of 35. He met up with his old friend P.W. Strong who had a business idea to partner with Alfred Landau, a Chicago man who was making and selling batteries out of his attic.

Rayovac makes hearing aid batteriesThe dry cell battery was invented in France in the 1800s - hence, they named their venture French Battery Company - but it didn't become popular and sought out in the U.S. until the early 1900s. Starting with $30,000, the men began working together in Landau's Chicago attic. When they needed more space at less of a premium, they moved to Madison soon after in March 1906. After three months, the business was thriving and almost becoming unmanageable because the men never predicted they would have such immediate success. Twelve more investors joined them with $60,00 more and they moved again, employed 24 workers and produced 37,000 battery cells in the first year alone, which they sold for 13 cents each. By the summer of 1907, the company had four salesmen.

But, the company had a few upsets as some of the materials proved unreliable and costumers wanted their money back. By the end of 1907, the company was operating on a deficit. Though Landau gave up and returned to France, Ramsay committed himself even further to his company. The French Battery Company struggled for a few years but turned its first profit in 1910. However, the building was soon leveled by a fire and then struck again by a fire in 1915. Still, even with a few fires and several changes in management, the company had record sales of $889,880 in 1916. And every year after, the company scored more than $1 million in profits. In 1918, Ramsay was at last elected company president.

Ray-O-Vac: Early History

During World War I, battery sales soared and the French Battery Company expanded around the U.S. It barely took a hit from the depression, thankfully, due to the development of the radio in the 1920s, which relied on batteries. During this time period, the company produced its first successful batteries for radio - the Ray-O-Vacs, for flashlights - the Ray-O-Lites and for vehicle ignitions - the Ray-O-Sparks. In 1923, sales were at $3 million and orders were coming in from around the globe. The company expanded and employed 1,300 people. After the development of an electricity powered radio, sales dropped again. Ramsay resigned in 1929 and was replaced by Bill Cargill, though he remained on French's board until his death.

In the 1930s, the company, led by Cargill, adopted the name Ray-O-Vac due to the brand recognition as these batteries remained its most popular. Rav-O-Vac began a period of innovation: It's research team developed the first portable radio in 1933 and, in 1937, it patented the first wearable vacuum tube hearing aid. The company continued to prosper. It developed a leak-proof dry cell battery that the troops used during World War II. And in 1949, Ray-O-Vac made its second important hearing aid breakthrough with crown cell alkaline batteries for hearing aids.

Ray-O-Vac branched into several different types of batteries, changed its name to Rayovac and is very successful today. But one of its most successful branches is hearing aids.

Rayovac Hearing Aid Batteries

As mentioned previously, Rayovac was the first company to develop a wearable vacuum tube hearing aid in 1937, and it developed a crown cell alkaline battery in 1949 as well as a dial pack for hearing aid batteries in 1964.  Since that time, the company has been a leader in innovation in the hearing aid industry. The first production facility for hearing aids opened in 1963 in the U.S., and the second was opened in the UK in 1989.

In 1977, Rayovac developed a zinc air hearing aid battery cell and continued to make strides in innovations through the 1980s and 1990s as well. In 2006, the company launched Rayovac ADVANCED, which offered much more power than other batteries on the market. In 2006, Rayovac introduced its first battery for cochlear implants, and in 2008, it launched a hearing aid that is mercury-free.

Rayovac also made inroads in waste-reduction through new types of packaging. Today, consumers can buy long-lasting hearing aid batteries in sizes 10, 13, 312 or 675 in packs of eight, 16 or 24, depending on their preferences and the type of hearing aids they use. Rayovac also makes eco-friendly, long-lasting Proline Advanced Mercury Free hearing aid batteries that rival many other mercury-containing batteries on the market today. Rayovac offers a rewards program to consumers and an excellent customer-service hotline for troubleshooting and other issues.

What Sets Them Apart

Rayovac is set apart from the others by its long-standing hold on the market, quality batteries, unique innovations and industry knowledge to meet consumers' changing needs. Many hearing aid professionals around the world trust Rayovac for its world-class manufacturing techniques, long-lasting mercury-free batteries and proven zinc air cell design.

This content was last reviewed on: July 7th, 2014

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