Continental Battery Systems has grown to be one of the largest battery distributors in the world. But it didn’t start that way. Nine decades ago, Continental had barely grown out of the garage in Dallas where Ralph McCann and his business partner began tinkering with batteries.
Join us as we look back over 90 years of Continental’s history.
The History of Continental Battery Systems
The Early Years: The 1932–1950
- Ralph McCann founded Continental Battery Manufacturing Co. in 1932 in Dallas, Texas.
- Continental’s factory and offices moved onto Washington St. in downtown Dallas.
- Continental supplied batteries to automaker Henry Ford. The company was also recognized by titans of the early auto industry, including Harvey Firestone, who sent McCann a note along with a picture of Ford, Firestone and Thomas Edison.
- The business saw rapid growth during World War II.
Source: The Comanche Chief (Comanche, Tex.), Vol. 80, No. 33, Ed. 1 Friday, February 27, 1953
A New Era: 1955
- Ralph McCann retired, but the company stayed with the family. McCann’s son, Ralph McCann Jr. took over as president.
The Fire: 1958
- On August 9, 1958, Continental’s Dallas factory caught fire. The headline in the Daily News-Telegram read: “5-Alarm Fire Sweeps Dallas.” The blaze, which began in Continental’s motor room, raged through the factory and neighboring company Primrose Petroleum.
- Continental relocated and rebuilt in a new location where the warehouse still stands today on Woodall in Dallas.
Source: The Daily News-Telegram (Sulphur Springs, Tex.), Vol. 80, No. 187, Ed. 1 Sunday, August 10, 1958
Source: Dallas Firefighters Museum Archives
Steady Progress: 1960s and 1970s
- A new location didn’t slow Continental down. The company continued to manufacture and distribute batteries in the greater Dallas area and beyond.
- In 1970, the company advertised in The Alvin Sun for a salesman.
Source: The Leonard Graphic (Leonard, Tex.), Vol. 79, No. 36, Ed. 1 Friday, February 9, 1968
Source: The Alvin Sun (Alvin, Tex.), Vol. 80, No. 4, Ed. 1 Thursday, August 13, 1970
An Operational Change: 1980s and 1990s
- Throughout the final two decades of the 20th century, Continental Battery transitioned from a manufacturing model to one that focused on battery distribution.
- Continental remained involved and invested in the community, as this Dublin Citizen article demonstrates.
- In 1997, Ralph McCann Jr. retired from Continental and handed the reins to his son, Jim.
- Master distributor relationships began, including with Trojan Battery.
Source: The Dublin Citizen (Dublin, Tex.), Vol. 2, No. 10, Ed. 1 Thursday, October 31, 1991
Rapid Growth: 2000s–2020
- Sustained growth created a family of companies with more than 90 locations and a network of 25,000 dealers and customers.
- Key acquisitions expanded the product mix and distribution network. Acquisitions included: PASCO, Battery Joe, Bright Way Group, GNB Systems and Power & Energy.
- In 2021, H.I.G. Capital acquired Continental Battery Company.
Continental Battery Systems: 2021
Continental Battery merged with Battery Systems to form Continental Battery Systems. In addition to a new name and logo, the company gained an experienced partner with a wide reach.
“The collaboration of our two strong companies will empower customers and employees to move forward into a highly successful future,” said Eric Royse, CEO, Continental Battery Company. “Partnering with a company like BSI accelerates the Continental plan of growth, giving us unparalleled national reach and the most diverse battery company in the market.”
An Eye Toward the Future: 2022 and Beyond
Continental Battery Systems stands on the same principles and ethics it was founded on. As the company looks toward continued growth, employees and customers remain the central focus.
Today, wholesale and retail remain the priority at Continental Battery Systems. The company is the premier distributor of batteries and battery-related accessories in the United States and has grown to include more than 200 nationwide branches and distribute to more than 45,000 dealer locations.
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Battery Systems History
When Continental Battery Company and Battery Systems joined forces in 2021, the merger represented two company histories coming together. This year marks Battery Systems’ 67th anniversary.
1955: Founder Harry Streelman began rebuilding and recycling batteries in Southern California.
1955–1990: Battery Systems grew to more than 30 locations across California.
2000s–2020: Growth included the acquisition of Royal Battery, distribution of EXIDE batteries and the introduction of lithium batteries. This growth led to distribution in all 50 states and more than 100 locations.
2021: Merger with Continental Battery Company to become Continental Battery Systems.