Mickey Leech is the Chief Executive Officer of Schumacher Electric Corporation, a power conversion company that specializes in creating, patented, award-winning technology that serves professionals and consumers in all parts of the battery charging, boosting & portable power market, including automotive, recreational home, and garden and more.
After leading several divisions at MTD for more than 17 years, Mickey joined Schumacher in 2021, as it approached its 75th anniversary. In his new role, Mickey has been working to expand Schumacher’s line of products into new and upcoming areas of the market. He hopes to continue Schumacher’s legacy for innovation by entering new product categories and channels of distribution.
Connect with Mickey on LinkedIn.
What You’ll Learn In This Episode
- Schumacher’s 75th anniversary – years of innovation
- Recent products
- Cater to all lifestyles (automotive, Overlanding, RV, boating, etc.)
- Tips for car maintenance heading into winter
- Discuss the future of the company
This transcript is machine transcribed by Sonix
Intro: [00:00:05] Broadcasting live from the Business RadioX studios in Dallas, Texas. It’s time for Dallas Business Radio. Now, here’s your host.
Lee Kantor: [00:00:18] Lee Kantor here, another episode of Dallas Business Radio. And this is going to be a good one. Today on the show, we have Mickey Leach with Schumacher Electric. Welcome, Mickey.
Mickey Leech: [00:00:28] Hello, Lee. Good to be with you.
Lee Kantor: [00:00:30] Well, I’m so excited to learn more about Schumacher Electric. Tell us a little bit about what you’re up to. How are you serving folks?
Mickey Leech: [00:00:37] We are serving folks in a lot of different ways, but primarily around power conversion. We are celebrating our 75th anniversary as a power conversion company. And we we essentially empower people to enjoy the benefits and freedom that comes with mobility. And we make sure that everybody’s vehicles, no matter what type of vehicle or what type of power needs they have, they can meet them. And for example, jump starters for cars, battery chargers, for motorcycles, ATVs, boats and so on and so forth.
Lee Kantor: [00:01:10] So 75 years ago, was that the business that you all were in, or is that been kind of an evolution over the years?
Mickey Leech: [00:01:17] It’s always been power conversion, but it’s been an evolution as to how we apply that. We were based in Chicago on the Schumacher family founded this business. You may be familiar with Don Schumacher, the Hall of Fame race driver. Drag racing particularly. And we were primarily in power conversion for the television and audio industry back in Chicago. And then when that industry and technology changed, Don transformed the business into an automotive power conversion company. And that’s really when we got we’re ubiquitous when it comes to jump starters and battery charges for all types of cars. And I’ve been with Schumacher now a year and a half, and Mr. Schumacher sold the majority interest to a private equity firm in 2021 and brought me and leadership team in to transform the business into a power conversion around energy independence and electric vehicle charging.
Lee Kantor: [00:02:15] Now, are you seeing is the level of adoption of electric? Is it at a pace that you anticipated or is it faster or slower?
Mickey Leech: [00:02:24] We are developing as fast as we can because there are opportunities everywhere. So the market opportunities for EV is accelerating very quickly. And I think what we’re going to find is consumers are going to adopt the cars as they become more available and more affordable price points. And the automotive OEMs are making sure that that happens. So really there is the foundation is being built for it, and I think you’re going to see some really tremendous acceleration in 2023 and 2024.
Lee Kantor: [00:02:57] In terms of individuals buying electric cars or electric vehicles.
Mickey Leech: [00:03:02] Yeah, Yeah, exactly. And we’re Schumacher’s role really for the community and for the environment is really to help improve the adoption of an electric vehicle. All right. So we are focused on developing chargers for people’s residence so that essentially like your cell phone, when you go go home at night, you plug in your cell phone and it’s ready to go for the next day. And we provide a range of chargers for your home that will provide you fast charging and then a slower charging, if that’s what you want.
Lee Kantor: [00:03:35] And then it’ll be kind of vehicle agnostic.
Mickey Leech: [00:03:38] Correct? Correct. Yes, a vehicle agnostic. There’s just really there’s Tesla has a type of adapter and then everybody else has their own. And then our business in Europe, it’s actually one type of power adapter to the car for all vehicles. So you’ll start seeing more consumers in your neighborhood driving electric vehicles and enjoying the benefits of that comes with it.
Lee Kantor: [00:04:01] Now, our other vehicles and other kind of modes of transportation, at least using electric a little bit are they’re electric boats or they’re electric, you know, ATVs or RVs. Are there other kind of vehicles that are moving towards electric?
Mickey Leech: [00:04:18] Absolutely. And as an example, I spent 17 years at a company called MTD Products, which makes brands such as Cub Cadet and Troy built. And over the last probably ten years, we were developing lawn mowers, riding tractors, string trimmers, leaf blowers that are battery powered. So the outdoor power equipment is definitely electrifying. Here in town, in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, there are entrepreneurs and businesses, electrifying boats to make actually boating more safe. If you think about all the issues about personal boating, it can get dangerous out there. And there’s really a use case for using technology to improve that. So we’re collaborating with a group who’s a. Electrifying boats. And then there’s a big company here in the area that’s also electrifying motorcycles and ATVs.
Lee Kantor: [00:05:11] Now, do you see a point in time or maybe you’ve identified a point in time where, you know, like kind of electric charging stations will be as ubiquitous as gas stations, or will it be different where they’ll be? Because it takes the time to charge that. It’ll be like maybe they’ll be at coffee shops rather than standalone convenience stores or gas stations. So you have something to do while you’re charging.
Mickey Leech: [00:05:36] Yeah. So our our perspective is that we’re only going to get busier and our calendars are going to be filled with more to do. And we are all consumers and creatures of convenience. And we we see that charging at home is going to become more prevalent and actually going to be part of a grid ecosystem. So here in Dallas two years ago, we had a huge storm and, you know, everybody lost power for or most people lost power for days, if not weeks. And there’s a way to be able to create some resilience in complement the grid. When you when you connect your vehicle, which is a basically a huge energy storage device with your home power, you may have a home power standby generator, you may have solar panels and a battery bank. So your vehicle connected to your home power connected to the grid becomes this ecosystem that creates a little bit more resilience. So we really see it going to home charging and not so much. They’ll definitely be public charging, but I don’t think you’re going to have to worry about standing around coffee shop for 20 to 30 minutes.
Lee Kantor: [00:06:53] So the range for these vehicles will be such that you’ll just charge in the evening and that should be good for 90% of the people that are using electric vehicles.
Mickey Leech: [00:07:04] Right. Right. So much has been talked about with road trips and that is going to be solved. Right. There’s a lot of government investment going in that to make sure that you could go on a road trip in your electric vehicle. You know, that’s that’s a minority of the big minority of the time you spend with your car. So if you get to 300 miles on a charge, you’re easily going to meet all your needs from charging at home.
Lee Kantor: [00:07:30] Because most people during the course of their day or are driving well under that. Right. It’s probably 100 ish at the moment.
Mickey Leech: [00:07:37] Dallas-fort Worth area.
Lee Kantor: [00:07:38] As far as probably bigger because you’re so spread out, Right. So you’re probably pushing it 200.
Mickey Leech: [00:07:44] Yeah. Yeah. And you know, whether or not you have to go from empty to full is, you know, you just quite easily top it off. Every night when you get home, you get out of your car, you plug it in and you’re good to go, right.
Lee Kantor: [00:07:56] It’ll just be just that’s how you handle arriving home and leaving.
Mickey Leech: [00:08:01] Mm hmm. And, you know, we’re we’re introducing a lot of technology that, you know, you hear a lot about smart homes and home automation, and we’re creating a lot of technology and partnering with firms who are providing more. You’re putting more tools into consumers hands so they could manage their own home in the sense of a lot of areas or regions charge for electricity at different rates throughout the day or at different demand levels. So we’re creating smart tools. You know, the in our case, an EV charger that would say if you’re doing your laundry and charging your car, you know, you’re going to be maxing out on power. We’re going to be able to to spread that demand out so it evens out. And you get your car, your car charged at a time when you’re not using your laundry.
Lee Kantor: [00:08:51] So you have your own kind of bank, your charging bank that you can use as you needed in your own home.
Mickey Leech: [00:08:59] Yeah. So we sell the wall mounted EV charger and then technology that then integrates into a lot of the smart power systems that are coming into homes these days.
Lee Kantor: [00:09:11] Now, does it work kind of where like say, there was a power outage? Could you use your car to like, power your refrigerator?
Mickey Leech: [00:09:19] You you will in the future? Not today, but you definitely will in the future.
Lee Kantor: [00:09:25] So everything will work symbiotically because you know it’s the same. Do you have the charge? You have the electricity. It’s just in a car rather than in your home at that moment.
Mickey Leech: [00:09:35] Yeah. And of course, you know, then you’re like, Well, wait a minute, now I have I still have my cold beer in the fridge, but my car can’t go anywhere. Right. So you still are going to need to recharge your car when the storm is over. So, you know, you may need a standby generator or you may need solar panels, but at all, it’s going to work together.
Lee Kantor: [00:09:52] Now, are you seeing more people embracing solar?
Mickey Leech: [00:09:56] We’re seeing it in a lot of the regions where we’re seeing higher EV adoption and it’s really around that ecosystem between being able to generate solar electricity through solar stored in my battery and then when I get home at night plugging that into my car and not using the grid to charge your vehicle.
Lee Kantor: [00:10:17] So right now is the adoption like primarily like a certain person of a certain mindset? Is is that kind of I’m the solar person. It’s not gotten to the point where everybody that has good clear view of the sun is saying, hey, this is a no brainer. Let me just pull the trigger on this.
Mickey Leech: [00:10:35] Right. Well, there’s a couple of things. There’s. Local building ordinances are some markets where new homes have to have solar. So that is a requirement, some areas, particularly in California. And then also they’re cost prohibitive for many people right now. But that’s going to continue to improve and you’ll see a higher adoption of it. So right now you’re seeing most electric vehicles are out of the price range for most of the market. And I think in a lot of cases, so is the solar battery ecosystem. But that I think is going to continue to change as time goes here.
Lee Kantor: [00:11:15] So now for you, what is the most rewarding part of this job? It must be exciting to be kind of on the kind of the edge of technology here. Like you can kind of see the future that other people aren’t really participating in yet.
Mickey Leech: [00:11:29] Well, what’s most exciting about this is. Really preserving the core business that we have. We have a tremendous rich legacy with the business and our traditional automotive charging, jumpstarting and so on, and leading leading the organization with working through automotive aftermarket and continuing to serve our base customers while we go and try to create the future comes to home electric vehicle charging. So working with the team is really the most exciting part of that because there’s this natural tension between keeping the old going and improving the old while we really participate in creating the future.
Lee Kantor: [00:12:13] Yeah, you don’t want to forget who got you here.
Mickey Leech: [00:12:16] It’s it’s a tremendously successful business and we’ve got a lot of customers who rely on us to keep very safe, high quality, very reliable products to keep vehicles on the road.
Lee Kantor: [00:12:30] Speaking of which, do you have any kind of advice or tips for folks as we head into winter when it comes to car maintenance?
Mickey Leech: [00:12:38] I would say, and this is not a plug for us, I would say every person for the account of safety and security in your vehicle should have a lithium powered jump starter. These devices are no bigger than maybe two books from the library. And well, for those younger people, the library is a place where you used to get paper books. But so you have a lithium jumpstart. It’s pretty small. It’s like size. Let’s call it two cell phones and it’s got jump starter cables. And you’ll never be in a position when your car doesn’t start when it’s cold or your battery has failed you. You can start the vehicle without relying on somebody to come help and some stranger come to your vehicle and help you jumpstart or sit in there waiting for a tow truck driver to arrive. So my advice is get a portable, lightweight lithium jump starter and put it in your trunk.
Lee Kantor: [00:13:32] And for parents listening out there, that’s a nice gift for your kid when they go away to college or leave the home.
Mickey Leech: [00:13:40] Great point. Great point. I’ve got two adult daughters and that was exactly what they got for Christmas last year.
Lee Kantor: [00:13:46] So what’s next for Schumacher as you kind of grow in the Dallas Fort Worth area? Is do you need more talent? You need more opportunity in the automotive space. I mean, you’re a household name there. I would think. So. What do you need more of and how can we help?
Mickey Leech: [00:14:04] We there’s a couple of areas. I think one is, you know, how can we help? Right. We’re we’re the new kids on the block. And I think this community has worked, works really well together. And it’s a very friendly business environment. So we’re here to participate and be a good corporate citizens. And one of the things that attracted us to the market is the growth and the growing number of people in very talented positions. So we have a design engineering center here, our customer service organization, marketing finance and our corporate headquarters, essentially. And, you know, we’re continue to grow and we continue to looking for talent and helping us develop products in in the electrical conversion space.
Lee Kantor: [00:14:47] And if somebody wants to learn more, have a more substantive conversation with you or somebody on the team. What’s a website.
Mickey Leech: [00:14:54] Schumacher electric dot com.
Lee Kantor: [00:14:56] Well, Micki, thank you so much for sharing your story today. You’re doing important work and we appreciate you.
Mickey Leech: [00:15:01] Thank you very much. It’s nice being with you today.
Lee Kantor: [00:15:03] All right. That’s Lee Kantor. We’ll see y’all next time on Dallas Business Radio.