Multi-unit owner Julie Kurasek never imagined that a product she sold in her stores – and the relationship that she had with one of her customers – would literally make the difference between life and death during the deadly Northern California wildfires in October.
Paul Mathisen, an XPO Logistics driver who periodically delivered to the Batteries Plus Bulbs store in Petaluma, had been admiring Rayovac's® The BEAST rechargeable flashlight for weeks. With an $80 price tag, he wasn't quite ready to make the purchase – until Julie offered to give him a "friends and family" discount.
A week or so after the fires first broke out, Paul came back in the store to thank Julie for helping him purchase The BEAST, which he says saved his life. Paul lived in the Coffey Park neighborhood of Santa Rosa, where 1,300 homes were destroyed. When the fires began, they moved so quickly that Paul barely had time to get his family out to safety. Paul felt compelled to try and save his house so he ran to his backyard to grab the hose. He quickly realized this was a futile effort, but when he tried to go back through the house, Paul was trapped.
Paul had been using The BEAST, and in desperation, he turned the flashlight to strobe mode and started waving it at the last fire truck he could see evacuating the area. That last fire truck saw the strobe light from The BEAST and stopped, rescuing Paul. They told him that if it wasn't for that bright strobe, they would have kept on going.
Ironically, Paul dropped The BEAST as he was being rescued, and when he stopped in to Batteries Plus Bulbs to share his story with Julie, he was sad to be without it. Julie insisted on gifting Paul with a new one, and after much protest, he finally accepted.
Throughout the weeks that the fires raged, Julie opened her location early – she couldn't sleep because she knew that her community needed batteries, flashlights, and other supplies. She had large quantities of phone chargers overnighted to the store, and anyone who said they were a fire victim received a discount.
Although Julie has only been a franchise owner for little more than a year, we want to commend her for going the extra mile for her customers, not only in times of need. Batteries Plus Bulbs owners connect with their customers, building relationships and supporting their community. Our products – from batteries to bulbs, flashlights to phone repair – powered by franchisees that care, provide solutions that impact everyone's lives.