By Liz Verley, Staff Writer
Located in Brooten, MaxBat, a spin off of Glacial Wood Products, sends its product worldwide.
Baseball bats are the only product MaxBat produces, and they are all made from wood.
Paul Johnson, a co-owner along with his father Richard, said, “We produce over 400 different models out of three species of wood.”
Maple, ash and birch, grown and harvested in New York and Pennsylvania, are used in creating the bats.
Johnson said, “MaxBat is dedicated to the great game of baseball, and the millions who play it. We manufacture professional grade bats from a superior wood selection. Our meticulous craftsmanship and engineering produces a bat with great balance, tremendous power and outstanding feel. MaxBat is one of the most popular bats in professional, amateur and youth baseball worldwide.
“We do not compromise on wood quality, finish quality or service. It is manufactured from start to finish right here in our state-of-the-art facility,” said Johnson.
It takes approximately two days to create a bat —from start to finish.
Rock maple is the most popular wood species used for bat production. Johnson said, “We use only the best. Because maple is such an extremely hard and dense wood, players often comment that the ball jumps off the barrel of their maple bat like no
other. Maple creates bats that are extremely hard, with little or no flex.”
Yellow birch is a fibrous hardwood that many players prefer. “This hardwood is a shade lighter than its maple counterpart, which allows us to utilize this species when turning full barreled bats that require a lighter weight,” said Johnson.
The Northern ash had been the preferred hardwood used for bat production for close to a century, before maple hit the scene in the late 1990s. Ash is still a popular choice among baseball players because of its ability to flex more than other hardwoods. Johnson said, “We make our bats for the individual customers. Whether they order one or several dozen, they get what they ask for.”
MaxBat is the number one bat in the Mexico Professional League system.
“We just received an order for 200 dozen from them,” said Johnson. They also ship bats to Australia, the Netherlands, Italy or
almost anywhere baseball is played.
In 2011 MaxBat supplied approximately 1,000 bats each per minor league team for the Dodgers, Phillies and Kansas City Royals. The Twins purchase about one-half that amount for their minor league because they order maple bats. MaxBat also supplies about 25 percent of the bats used by the Texas Rangers and Washington Nationals
minor league teams.
Johnson said, “Forty percent of our business comes from professional players. Sixty percent comes from amateur players.”
Each year, a sales representative attends the spring training camps to expose the product to prospective consumers.
Johnson said, “At the professional level, most sales are done by word of mouth. If you put out a bad product, you won’t be out there very long. We have at least one person from each major and minor league team that uses one of our bats,
created just for them.”
At the major league level, usually a franchise will pay for a player’s custom-made bat. At the minor league level, the individual player usually will have to pay for his own.
Johnson said, “Each bat will be sanded and cupped to weight, hand stained, robotic laser spray finished with a high solids lacquer and laser engraved with the model number, species of wood, weight, length and if it is a customized ordered bat, it will be personalized per customer request.”
Orders in 2011 exceeded 36,000 bats. The business grew approximately 25 percent in revenue and is expected to grow at least that much in 2012.
MaxBat has eight employees and operates five days a week. “All our employees are great. They all work hard, and we actually work a lot of overtime,” said Johnson.
Bats may be purchased from MaxBat’s showroom in Brooten, open five days a week, or from retail stores where one would normally find bats.
In his spare time, Johnson enjoys golfing and spending summers at the lake with his wife, Paula, and sons — Torii, Hunter, Paul Jr., Levi, Benjamin, Harley and Xavier.