Advancement has upgraded the human race with high-tech devices, and the world is now depending on them entirely. Imagine you have to click a photo, make a phone call, schedule a ride or access your funds and there is not enough power to do that. As power consumption has reached its peak, highly efficient batteries are the requirement of the present time. But producing highly efficient batteries is not the only challenge as these batteries have to be eco-friendly too; exhausting energy sources will bring scarcity as well. With the urge to bring a solution to the current energy challenges, Kevin T. Loman, CEO of iQ International AG, is combining advancements and innovative techniques to engineering highly efficient and ecofriendly lead-acid batteries.
Kevin sees waste as a resource, and he is disturbed by how the modern generation consumes excessively and then buries waste while it could all be managed in a circular manner. “My personal goals as a business leader center around earning a voice that is impactful enough to effect genuine change in the way we consume energy and manage our waste,” says Kevin.
Energy Efficient Solutions and Products
Today’s vehicles are highly electrified with constantly increasing comfort and safety features. Vehicles with Start-Stop functionality require batteries with around 5-6 times the cycle life of a flooded battery used in conventional ICE vehicles. As emissions reduction targets continue to accelerate, so will the demand be being placed on vehicle batteries. To address this, iQ has solved issues like acid stratification that have plagued the lead-acid battery for decades. The company and its partners have also addressed inefficiencies in the manufacturing and recycling processes that were adopted by the industry during times when the batteries were good enough so improving them only meant reducing sales.
iQ has developed plans for an Advanced Battery Factory that deploys new equipment and IP around grid making, pasting, curing, formation, and oxide regeneration. It enhances the ability to produce batteries in around 1/3rd the time by using up to 90% less water and 25% less electricity, and to reduce waste and emissions in the incumbent recycling process by up to 90% and 85% respectively. All while increasing performance, reducing cost, and potentially improving the energy density of the lead-acid battery by as much as 40%.
Facing Challenges Positively
Kevin opines, “The challenges we face make us stronger, the failures we have and mistakes we make teach us, and ultimately this leads to our success.” He also believes that one truly gets to know someone (and yourself) during times of challenge, not when it’s smooth sailing. He feels the last decade has been nothing but obstacles, so it was a constant learning lesson. Sharing the challenges of his journey, Kevin explains that shortly after he became CEO and a couple of months after listing the company on the Regulated Market of the Frankfurt Stock exchange COVID hit. Because of the global shutdown, the factory generating 99% of the company’s revenues was forced to close. At the same time, the organization lost its institutional equity funding in Europe because of COVID and the company’s largest receivable of almost €3 million failed to pay when it came due. However, the management team at iQ International AG did a great job navigating the pandemic and successfully received funding agreements from a Hong Kong-based institutional fund.
Kevin recalled the moments when weeks before the company’s expected closing the CEO and sole signatory of the fund passed away. It was a challenging time for the team and the company. Kevin states, “Before we even took over the project we had to put money in every month just to keep it out of bankruptcy, then we had to manage COVID, followed by the death of our funder; all in less than 2 years.” Through facing these challenges, Kevin learned the importance of resilience and never giving up.
Heading towards a Global Lead-Acid Supply Platform
Kevin’s vision is to establish iQ International AG with a global lead-acid supply platform primarily through the acquisition of small brownfield factories. It will retrofit those factories with the company’s technologies to both expand capacity within the existing footprint and enhance profitability. The technologies iQ International AG is using allow the team to rethink the conventional supply chain for lead-acid batteries. The team envisions using that ability to reduce inefficiencies and the carbon footprint across the sector.
Kevin wishes to influence changes in the industry through leveraging the global lead-acid battery infrastructure that is not currently leveraged. Doing this will diversify the company into manufacturing and recycling other battery chemistries and providing a systemic solution for other products at end of life; including lithium batteries, electronics and tires.
Ensures Everyone Engages at Same Pace
As a CEO, Kevin ensures the business and people are in a state of readiness so that the team can hit the ground running the moment a funding partner closes. He explains, “This is not an easy task in a turnaround because you are always short of resources and capital, so you need to make everything stretch as far as possible.”
Kevin believes the word that defines him is resilient, and his work at the company is Altruistic. He opines, “When you genuinely put the interests of your colleagues first you attract the best quality of person. I’ve seen how this practice weeds out the people that don’t have the same selfless character as the team. This in turn creates the environment where those sincere colleagues are comfortable standing beside you and supporting your vision as a CEO through the inevitable challenging situations you will face in business.”
Living Happily with Family is Real Success
Kevin believes that the definition of success for him has certainly changed over time. In his 20’s it was largely focused towards achieving financial success. Kevin was raised by a single mom taking care of his sister and him, and seeing her struggle financially rooted a motivation in Kevin to achieve financial security for the family. Kevin is of the opinion that financial success makes people more of who they are. He opines, “If you are a good person, you will use your financial success to make the world around you better, and the opposite is also true. As I get older and grow through life’s various stages, success has become about the importance of family and having the freedom to spend time cultivating bonds that will last a lifetime.”
He further adds, “Reflecting today after almost 12 years of marriage and having 3 wonderful daughters, success is seeing our girls grow up to be kind, strong, healthy and happy, and having an unbreakable bond between them as sisters. Something my grandfather used to say that I glazed over at the time, but which has deep and genuine meaning today is ‘as long as you have your health and family, you have everything you need’.”
A Highly Skilled Team
“I feel extremely fortunate being surrounded by the caliber of people that I am,” says Kevin. According to him, it has taken many years in business developing relationships, many of which have grown into personal friendships, to get to where he is today. At iQ International AG, Kevin is working with people who are not only excellent in their skill sets but who are also exemplary human beings that share a common goal to make this world a better place now and for future generations. He asserts, “When you are dedicated to a cause bigger than any one person, and the people on the team are humble professionals, staying motivated becomes an inherent quality.”
Family First- Always
Kevin considers achieving a work-life balance to be one of the hardest accomplishments to attain for people that are driven and determined to make an impact. He considers himself lucky to have a wonderful family, and he’s made it a precedence to choose family over profession. COVID has created a situation where he could assess the importance of meetings, opportunities and travel with more clarity, and the result for Kevin has been recognizing the significance of saying no a lot more often and narrowing his projects and focus. He says this dedication to family is something that everyone in his extended family has, for which he thanks his grandfather and grandmother.
He states, “They set such an amazing example that it is genuinely ingrained in us and will be in our next generation if we are capable of emulating it”. Also, Kevin is an active member of YPO, and one of the great things about the organization is the way it promotes work-life balance.
Be Resilient towards Your Goal
Kevin’s message to aspiring business leaders, “There will be no success without being resilient so, don’t give up too early. If you are passionate about something and altruistic, your motivation should drive you relentlessly towards your goal. Focus on the triple bottom line; it is the surest way to sustained success.”