EaglePicherʼs community is one that is hard to achieve. Based in Joplin for generations and founded in 1843, the company has been a leader in battery production since the 1940s, when America entered World War II and the need for the types of batteries EaglePicher could produce grew exponentially. Now, EaglePicher Technologies is a worldwide supplier of batteries to some of the biggest industries in the world. If someone in aerospace needs a battery, theyʼll likely get it from EaglePicher. The same is the case for the military. EaglePicher is a part of the major industrial complex, establishing a reputation for ingenuity and reliability, all in the heart of southwest Missouri. “Over time, there have been different divisions of EaglePicher that have been added or developed within the company and have been sold for one reason or another,” says Ron Nowlin, Vice President and General Manager of Aerospace Systems. “It used to be much more diverse. Now we’re focused on the batteries and power systems.”
A big point of pride for the company is its headquarters. Itʼs based in Joplin, and 750 of its 950 employees are employed there. There are also branches in Vancouver, Rhode Island and San Francisco, but Joplin is by far the biggest. “If you talk to anybody [in Joplin], there’s a tremendous amount of pride, particularly when you think that the company’s been [in Joplin] for such a long period of time,” Nowlin says. “There’s a lot of people that, they’re in their third [family] generation working at EaglePicher. When you think about sending product into space or sending astronauts into space or protecting our soldiers from harm’s way, that you’re making products that are key pieces of systems that help protect our soldiers, that’s a really big thing.” Just because EaglePicher is specialized doesn’t mean that it has a small reach or impact. "Anyone that lives around the Joplin area, they know EaglePicher," Nowlin says. It's been a steady force here for a long time. It helps the economy with high-paying jobs."
EaglePicher has been around for almost two centuries, and although it focuses on batteries now, it traces its history back to two different fields: white lead processing and mining. In the early 1900s, the Eagle White Lead Company merged with the Picher Mining Company, and EaglePicher was born. Its roots are in zinc and lead-based mining. From there, it was a sort of natural progression. “Around the 1920s, the company started doing a lot of different research activity around lead and zinc-based products, and that’s what led the company to start thinking about batteries that were based out of those compounds,” Nowlin says.