When the first Batteries Plus store opened in 1988, few people would have guessed that it would go on to become the nation’s largest and fastest-growing battery franchise.
After seeing much success in the original Green Bay, Wis. store, Dan and Susan Manwaring wanted to learn more about the opportunity to own their very own Batteries Plus location. In 1992, they became the new concept’s very first franchisees, and have since opened 15 additional locations throughout Indiana and Kentucky.
Here’s a look back at where it all began and what’s still to come.
The First Batteries Plus Franchise
In 1992, the Manwarings opened the first Batteries Plus franchise location in Fort Wayne, Ind. Like many franchisees, they had always been interested in opening their own business. However, with no previous experience, they knew that franchising was their best opportunity. With this decision made, the only step left was choosing which franchise would be best for them.
The couple became interested in Batteries Plus after Dan became stranded when his golf cart died mid-game. After discovering the cause was that it had the wrong type of battery, Dan knew that learning about and investing in batteries would benefit them.
“[My parents] appreciated the uniqueness of the concept,” explained Matt Eberly, the Manwarings’ son and co-franchise owner. “No one else had a battery franchise yet. They also knew that as the world became more portable, batteries would become increasingly important. Fortunately, for them, it was an untapped market.”
A mutual friend connected them with the original owner of Batteries Plus, who just happened to be interested in franchising. Within a few months, they opened their first store. They had already quadrupled locations just a few years later. As of 2021, the Manwarings own 16 locations around Indiana and Kentucky, including Mishawaka, Indianapolis, Evansville, Lafayette and Louisville. Being the first franchisees, they collaborated with the original owner to develop the unique, effective and profitable franchise model implemented across the country today.
Like this 29-year partnership, long-term franchisee relationships have allowed Batteries Plus the time to perfect its franchise training and business model. The brand’s franchise support combined with a recession-resilient business model has allowed franchisees to stay open throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We were able to stay open the entire time due to the experience we’ve gained throughout the last 20+ years,” according to Matt, who now helps to oversee the operations of his parents’ 16 stores. “Going through such a stressful situation made our leadership team closer. We have all become more grateful and appreciative of what we have.”
The Legacy Continues
Thanks to the Manwarings, becoming a Batteries Plus franchisee is much simpler than it was in 1992. Although the Manwarings are unique in being the first franchisees, their success is not.