After spending more than three decades in the battery industry, Joe Fisher along with Christian Ringvold founded Lithium Werks in 2017 to enable the energy transition from fossil fuels to clean renewables, such as solar and wind power. The goal was to create a sustainable, modern life by providing safe, reliable and mobile energy solutions. Realizing the growth potential in the lithium iron phosphate (LFP) market, due to its outstanding performance, safety, and cycle life, the pair set out to bring industry expertise and the right technology together. Lithium Werks provides safe, reliable and mobile energy solutions through energy storage and transportation.
Currently, Joe serves as the Chief Executive Ofﬁcer of the company. He has envisioned and executed the management buyouts of the assets of Valence Technology, Inc. and the Industrial Division of A123 Systems, creating a $50m revenue global company while amassing a patent portfolio of over 400 patents including a world-leading portfolio of lithium iron phosphate batteries, as well as several other game changing cathode materials, cell designs and battery management systems. Not only this, but he has also been instrumental in raising $25m in new capital to fund the acquisitions and position the company for both fast organic and inorganic growth, leveraging many global contacts, relationships, and experience in the industry. He has held various senior management positions in leading companies and has overseen a range of restructuring and growth initiatives in this fast-changing sector.
“I believe in the three T’s: Technology, Team and Timing. One needs to have all three in place and then provide clear goals and support.”
Considering the proﬁciency and persistent efforts of Joe in revolutionizing the portable power vertical, CIO Look recognizes him as one of the “Innovative Business Leaders Making a Difference, 2021”. Let’s ﬁnd out more about his entrepreneurial journey in an exclusive interview:
Kindly take us through your journey on becoming an innovative business leader.
I have been fortunate to have an interesting international career that has prepared me for the current opportunity with Lithium Werks. I started my career in ﬁnance and controllership with Union Carbide, then a multinational in the Dow Jones Industrial Index. I then moved into general management with international assignments as country managers in South Africa, Argentina, and Spain. And then had the unique opportunity within Energizer to set up two new global businesses within the corporation – one being in specialty batteries and the other in rechargeable batteries. Both allowed me to travel extensively in Japan, Korea, and China as well as all continents of the world, making extensive and long-lasting friendships and contacts and experiences.
Finally, I took a leap of faith and set up my own consulting business, which led me to oversee several turnarounds of battery companies, and ultimately led to the founding of Lithium Werks leveraging all the previous experiences and to manage a buyout of the A123 Industrial division, and then followed up with a leverage buyout of Valence Technology.
Describe the company and its extensive energy solutions which address all the needs of its customers.
Lithium Werks is a global lithium battery company focused on providing portable power solutions to help in the move away from fossil fuels to the clean energy transition. Our product portfolio includes cells to battery modules to large battery systems.
Have you drawn professional inspiration from other business leaders? Tell us about someone who has inspired you.
I was particularly inspired by my grandfather, who only had an eighth-grade education, but went onto build a successful tire and service station business in a small mid-western town. He always focused on honesty, ethics, and excellent customer service.
What have you learned about leadership, entrepreneurship and mentoring in your three-decade experience in the battery industry?
Treat people the way you expect to be treated. Also, I have learned not to give up; do not be discouraged. If it was going to be easy, other people would have done it before you. Plus, the battery industry is not like the semiconductor business, but is one of many small, incremental improvements, not like Moore’s Law.
How do you achieve work-life balance?
I must admit this is one thing that I have struggled to do over the years. First, I do not consider what I am doing to be work because I enjoy what I do. I always try to put my family ﬁrst and am fortunate to have a very supportive wife who was willing to give up her successful career to be willing to move over twenty times in 40 years of work.
Several of these were international assignments. We just celebrated our 42nd wedding anniversary, so she has helped make it possible.
How do you cope up with capricious technological trends to boost your personal growth?
I am constantly keeping abreast of many industry newsletters, and daily Google updates of competitors, suppliers and new technology developments and attend conferences. I often wonder how we did things so effectively before we had the internet. But we used the telephone, telex, and fax machines, as well as just had face to face meetings. Just good old-fashioned communication.
What values are important to you as a business leader?
I put a real importance on honesty, truthfulness, and open communication. I like to manage by walking around, which has been difﬁcult the last year with the global pandemic. But we use Microsoft Teams meetings and Zoom calls. Innovation, setting clear goals, and follow-up is also important.
What would you tell emerging business leaders who are just starting to work?
Do not be afraid to ask questions to your supervisor. Volunteer for the tough assignments. Get a mentor. Be willing to go the extra mile. And set goals and work toward them.
What would you like them to know?
It will be a lot of tough work. It will not always be easy. There will be defeats, but do not give up. The sun will shine again. And learn from your mistakes. Just do not make the same one twice.
What are your future endeavors/objectives and where do you see yourself in the near future?
We are in the middle of a major fundraising within Lithium Werks. It is my goal to help enable the global move away from fossil fuels and to drive towards clean energy and to leverage our core technologies into better, long-lasting, and safe products.
“We want to enable the transition from fossil fuels to clean energy by providing reliable energy storage”