Tom Young has fond memories of sitting in his dad’s tiny wood workshop in Fletcher as a kid, watching him meticulously handcraft baseball bats for his business, Young Bat Company.
“One of my favorite things is to watch him work,” Tom says. “It’s insane. He’s a perfectionist. You kind of have to be in this industry. … You can see how much he loves creating something.”
It’s that passion that drove Tom’s father, Chris Young, now 69, to evolve his full-time sawmill and woodworking shop into Young Bat back in 1993. For 12 years, the company created wooden bats for Major League Baseball players including Barry Bonds, Ryan Klesko and Chipper Jones. But after more than a dozen years of the successful business venture, Chris Young closed up shop in 2005; Tom says his dad was burned out mass-producing about 100,000 bats per year.
Last November, Tom and his childhood friend Cody Siniard, both 31, resurrected Young Bat after a 12-year hiatus with an expanded business plan. The company still sells custom-made bats, which range from $60 to $110 on Young Bat’s website, but added a variety of novelty products such as trophy bats, miniature bats, bottle openers and mugs made out of bat parts. Chris Young recently created a patent-pending bat known as the “360 Woody.” Unlike most wooden bats, the 360 is virtually unbreakable and has a sweet spot all the way around.
Tom previously worked as a teacher in Brevard, while Siniard, a country-music artist, also owns a small Brevard-based business. Chris serves as CEO of the company, Tom is chief operating officer and Siniard is chief financial officer. They each own equal shares of Young Bat.
“I loved the company, and I loved being able to make something,” Tom says. “My dad and I have always made stuff together. We had a real opportunity; there was something missing in the market and the quality [of bats] had gone down. … We started out as a sawmill, so our knowledge of wood gives us a competitive advantage over other companies.”
Tom says Young Bat is already profitable after six months.
“We have a really solid customer base,” he says. “Baseball fans are pretty devoted to knowing the process and understanding the history behind a product.”
Young Bat employs about six people, but Tom says he hopes to add additional employees within the next few months. The business operates out of a family-owned workshop with close to 5,000 square feet in two buildings. It has a functioning sawmill and two conventional kilns. Young Bat uses western North Carolina lumber, in addition to importing European beech, which is MLB-approved for bat manufacturing.
The typical order turnaround is about 10 to 15 business days, compared with most companies that can take several weeks to produce custom bats, Tom says. Young Bat gets orders from around the country, but a majority come from the Southeast and East Coast. Clients vary from baseball fans to players to coaches. A large portion of revenue comes from wholesale orders from teams and companies.
“If you’re not happy, we’ll make it right one way or another,” Tom says. “I’m not in the business of having unhappy customers.”
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