In 2013—eight years ago, now!—GENEREX embarked upon a new endeavor, into a new frontier: America.
After several years’ successful export trade into the US market, the demand for our products and services increased to such an extent that the decision was made to found a subsidiary office for GENEREX operations, there. Initially established in 2013 in Florida, today GENEREX SYSTEMS Inc. is based in Charlotte, North Carolina, and with production based out of 2 locations within the continental US it supplies all GENEREX products, under license, for use within the North American market.
Already in 2013 the USA was home to the world’s largest datacenter market, and while the American Critical System Infrastructure market had long since been inundated with battery monitoring systems (BMS), they’d not made much of a clear impact – then, like now, “battery monitoring” was understood to be a "luxury" service. The difference between these monitoring devices and GENEREX’s BACS - a Battery Management System - was difficult to convey to potential clients at first, and it became all too clear that to establish our foothold, we would need to doggedly compete. Even so, we were game for the challenge.
US Manufacturing and B2B Distribution
Our overarching goal was then—and still is—to provide a product superior to its competition at the same cost. It was clear from the outset that we could save on production capital by manufacturing our products in China or Mexico, but GENEREX’s priorities were firmly established: to maintain high quality and low lead times. GENEREX US was planned and subsequently set up to the effect that all manufacturing, distribution, and support would be based within the USA. It was clear as day to us that „Made in the USA“ would be a vital and powerful statement; it runs contrary to the ideology of the vast majority of our eastern-based competition, and it has since become the foundation for BACS’ success, and thus also the success of GENEREX in America.
The Monitoring Versus Management Dilemma
The US market in 2013 was already saturated with Battery Monitoring systems. Each of the several existing manufacturers of such systems could boast unique features, but they nonetheless offered the same results to the end-user, “Add more cost to my battery system so that I can more clearly watch them fail!”.
Datacenter standards and service level agreements pushed the user to implement a battery monitoring system (BMS) or traditional quarterly maintenance. There are advantages and disadvantages to both options, but having a BMS that provides a 24/7 status of your batteries—and nothing else!—is unfortunately little more than a costly luxury—a screen door in a storm. More bells and whistles were being added to these monitoring systems, but the problems inherent to the systems being monitored remained unaddressed. Batteries kept failing and NEVER reached their Design Life!
It was under these stagnated market conditions that GENEREX began to introduce the BACS BMS solution to the US data centers—and immediately, BACS was a game changer. The product fulfilled the requirements for monitoring but also had the key and unique added management function that promoted a higher capacity and service life on the battery system, far beyond simple monitoring. As the “new guy” on the scene, GENEREX and BACS began to instigate pilot programs with different end-users, with study periods ranging from 90 days to up to 2 years.
An influential American financial data center performed such a pilot of the product on two different UPS systems, wherein each UPS system had two strings of sixty 12V VRLA batteries. At the start of the pilot, the batteries were already 5 years old and had a design life of 10 years. Industry practice would suggest replacing these batteries. BACS was installed and successfully found and identified failing batteries within the strings. As a reaction, newer batteries were then introduced into the strings and due to the voltage balancing management of BACS, there was no jar interaction. Subsequently the system was left in place for two years. At the end of this extended use period the UPS and batteries at this site were to be decommissioned, so the end-user decided to perform a final discharge test to determine if BACS could definitively extend the service life of batteries. Now, at the seven-year mark, both battery systems still test at 100% capacity. Because of such dramatic and lasting results, the end-user then decided to specify BACS as the standard within their facilities.
This was not simply data for data’s sake. Based upon the results of this study and others like it BACS has been established as THE standard for all critical banking datacenters in the USA – and later worldwide!
As compared to the luxury of battery monitoring, battery management with BACS has been determined to be a complete necessity for longer service life, higher capacity, and higher availability of critical battery function.
The message was clear: BACS was and is the most complete system for battery monitoring and management, dramatically increasing the reliability, capacity and service life of batteries at the same or indeed lower cost as compared to the traditional battery monitors. Frank Blettenberger, the CEO for GENEREX Germany, said, “We wanted to illustrate that our BMS had more to offer than the competitors. In doing so, we gradually realized its broader value. Equalization (in the US called Balancing) has a dramatic effect on the performance of batteries and extends the service life of batteries used in strings. The more batteries in the string, the higher the positive effect with an increase of at least 30-40% seen in most cases”.
Sales and Growth
Suddenly and dramatically the word was out on BACS, and this led to the development of additional channel partners in strategic portions of the NAM (North American Market). The goal for GENEREX US was to remain a business-to-business company, and to find companies that would buy, resell and provide quality and trustworthy installations of our products.
Although GENEREX US operates in a market capacity through channel partners, we remained active in the data center community with memberships to 7x24 Exchange, Afcom, and Data Center Dynamics. This has provided positive opportunities to connect with end-users in an effort to market our products. This has also resulted in GENEREX’s being specified as an approved BMS product, thus enabling access for our channel partners to bid on specific projects where they otherwise might not be able. Daniel Baileys, who is the CEO for GENEREX SYSTEMS Inc. put it like this: “All we need is the opportunity to compete against the other BMS vendors. I have no doubts we can beat them all through our product performance, price, and support.” In some cases, companies like Verizon, Flexential, and other large New York Financial data centers choose GENEREX as the only vendor for their BMS requests—such is the strength of our reputation and critical performance.
In successfully establishing the BACS product specification as a known entity and indeed in some cases the BMS standard within key companies, the sales revenue naturally began to grow. This higher demand resulted in the necessity of a second manufacturing facility; it also resulted in GENEREX US moving into a larger distribution center. This has also enabled GENEREX US to double its staff over the intervening period.