Mark Thorsby announces retirement from BCI

Mark Thorsby is to step down at the end of December as executive vice president of Battery Council International. A replacement for this key position within the North American battery community is being sought.

‘I’ve had a great seven years,” he told Batteries International. “But I hit 65 in February and what with a hugely increasing workload, I thought it was about time to pass the baton on to another.”

Thorsby may continue working for BCI — not as an employee but working on a contract — until a replacement is found.

Realistically this would be unlikely to happen before April. This means that he again will help organize the annual BCI meetings, an event which he has revitalized in recent years. This year it will be held in Tuscon, Arizona at the end of April,

“I’m more than happy to ensure a smooth transition for my replacement,” he says. “It would be an honour in Tuscon to introduce my successor to some of the great people he or she will be working with in the years ahead.”

Thorsby, a popular figure in the industry best known for his good-natured friendliness as well as his huge contact book, leaves behind a substantial legacy. He, with Andy Bush, the head of the ILA, has been one of the key movers in a huge re-awakening — both within and outside the lead battery industry — to the importance that lead can offer in a world where energy storage will be the pressing issue of the next generation.

Certainly BCI has successfully beaten off many of the challenges that have threatened to cripple the industry in recent years. Thorsby has been deeply involved in blocking disruptive Californian legislation that threatened to effectively shut down the use of lead in the state.

He has also led the way in tackling issues such as blood lead levels, promoting greater research into the issue as well as leading the campaign to generate industry acceptance of the need to do so.

Thorsby’s time at BCI will best be remembered for him being one of the driving forces in the internationalization of the lead community. Working in partnership with the ILA, he helped formulate the strategy behind the promotion of lead in a communications campaign that kicked off this September. As part of this he has helped double BCI’s operating budget to $3.6 million.

This initiative seeks to raise awareness of the importance of lead batteries, as well as inform and educate stakeholders on the need for continued investment in sustainable battery technologies.

“Some NGOs [non-governmental organizations] have an enormous sway of influence and we intend to be able to show them the true facts about our industry,” he told Batteries International in September.

“We’re looking to communicate this to regulatory, judicial and environmental groups. This will happen in various ways but we’ll certainly be giving briefings to specialist media outlets such as Politico, which are hugely influential in informing US Congress opinion.”

Market expectations are that a similarly influential campaign will operate in Europe when the ILA starts its own initiative in January. Eventually the communications campaign is likely to spill over to Asia, with Japan and Korea following suit and then potentially China and India.

So what next for Thorsby? “I don’t want to say that I’m going to live on the golf course after I retire — though I do want to play a bit more,” he said. “I’d like to stay involved in some capacity with this industry.”

Thorsby will be sorely missed.

“He’s not just a great guy to work with but a motivator, someone who gets things done,” said a leading industry figure. “It would be a shame if someone with his skills, contacts and experience were to be lost to this industry.”