Gerts retires from ENTEK after 35 years in battery separator business

Gerts retires from ENTEK after 35 years in battery separator business

Gerts retires from ENTEK after 35 years in battery separator business 150 150 Batteries International

July 16, 2020: Steve Gerts, sales and marketing manager, Eastern Europe and North Africa, for separator firm Entek, has decided to retire after 24 years with the company and almost 35 in the battery separator industry. He left the company on July 1.

“I don’t miss the responsibility of my job and my function, but I miss the friends and the marketplace,” Gerts told BESB. “But I can do without the responsibility of getting the job done.”

Gerts has worked in the battery industry since 1989, when he joined Lydall, the US manufacturer that makes, among many other things, separators. He was director of sales and marketing for the company’s Axohm Industries subsidiary, increasing the company’s market share of battery separators to 55%.

Before that, he had decided to move to France simply because he wanted to become proficient in another language — and he chose French, having studied it at college in the 1970s.

Seven years later, he headed to Entek, staying with them in France until transferring to the UK office in 2008.

“I’ve been close to the industry for a long, long time. I was there at the very beginning of AGM separators, when they were starting to take off,” he says. “That experience gave me exposure to the battery world, as from there it moved on to PE battery separators.

ENTEK has now begun to manufacture separators for lithium batteries as well as lead, with an eye on the market trend towards the newer chemistry.

“Sure there’s a lot of interest in lithium batteries and what they can do and whatever applications, but lead is the inexpensive choice and on specific jobs does it well, can do it in a lot of harsh climates and is almost completely recyclable,” says Gerts.

“I don’t think there should be worries about anything in the lead battery industry over the next 10 years. With lithium I wouldn’t call it a threat but it’s a presence in our minds — all of us in the OEM and battery world.”

As well as his work colleagues, Gerts says he will miss interaction with his customers.

“The most important thing and the most gratifying was to help when I could — offer what I could,” he says. “I hope I was able to contribute a little bit to the strength my customers have now.”

So what now?

It’s not going to be all riverside walks or holidays in the sun — he already has dates in his diary for him and his guitar to play open mic sessions in various watering holes around Newcastle-upon-Tyne.

Gerts will play covers of American heroes such as James Taylor and Neil Young, and also one of his musical favourites John Prine, the American folk and country singer who became one of the tragic victims of Covid-19 in early April.

Gerts has handed his sales work to Richard Towns, a technical sales professional with a PhD in polymer chemistry.

“I was able to impart to him everything I knew and he’s going to be great for the customers and for Entek,” said Gerts. “We couldn’t have found anybody who would have been better than Richard to take over, and he’s off to a great start. I wish him and the company all the best for the future.”