Battery veteran Michael Mayer passes away

michael-mayerMichael Mayer — known to almost three generations of lead battery veterans — died suddenly in the early morning of Tuesday November 1. He was 82.

He had worked for the lead acid battery industry for most of his life, spending large amounts of his early career with Johnson Controls in the US and later with the Lead Development Association (now the International Lead Association). He joined the LDA in 1979.

Michael is best known as the original inspiration for the creation of the European Lead Battery Conference (ELBC) in 1988. What was reckoned as a slightly improbable venture for the Lead Development Association (now the International Lead Association) —he joined the LDA in 1979 — turned out to become perhaps the most successful lead battery conference in the world.

At the last ELBC meeting in Malta this September the conference attracted close to 800 delegates and around 100 exhibitors

“He was an ideas man through and through,” says David Wilson, the former head of the ILA. “And some of his ideas proved to be gems. It’s people with ideas that drive things forward and a good example of this was the way he created the ELBC and spent time in ensuring that the subjects that needed to be addressed by the industry were on the programme.”

While working at the LDA/ILA, Michael played a key role in breaking ground for newcomers to join the international lead community. His contribution was particularly noticeable in the years following the collapse of the Soviet Union and the emergence of eastern and central Europe.

Michael was awarded the International Lead Award at the Edinburgh 2014 ELBC meeting for a lifetime’s service to the industry.

Speaking to Batteries International that summer, he said: “I’ve been profoundly grateful to this industry for all that it has given me — it’s been more than a way of earning money, it’s been about forging long and deep friendships with people from around the world.

“It’s been also about trying to get the best out of batteries and the best they can do for all of us, but mostly it’s the friendships.”

“Michael got on with everybody,” says David Wilson, “ he was personable and the life and soul of the party. It may sound like hyperbole but he probably knew more people in the lead acid battery business than anybody else in the world.”

Michael is also fondly remembered as the co-founder of The Electric Boat Association. A seminar on electric boats that he gave for the LDA in 1981 turned into the association the following year. (For the next seven years the boat association had its headquarters in the LDA offices in central London.) The EBA continues to flourish and is devoted to the use of electric-powered boats for quiet recreation on the UK’s waterways. Michael was passionate about sailing for most of his life.

Michael was known to his many friends as the ‘Fixer’ for his legendary ability (some said inability) to ‘fix’ complicated machinery with highbrow improvisations that “offered the potential for being workable — at least in theory!”

He is survived by his son, Kirk, daughters Sian and Juno and his granddaughter. His wife, Kim, passed away two years ago.