Hillerich & Bradsby (H&B) is batty for baseball. Maker of the venerable Louisville Slugger, the company has been a bane to pitchers for more than a century: Honus Wagner, Ty Cobb, Babe Ruth, Ted Williams, and Alex Rodriguez are among the tens of thousands of players who've wielded the company's baseball bats. In the 1970s and 1980s, little leaguers, softballers, and colleges began using newfangled, more durable metal bats; H&B was slow to adjust and nearly went out of business. Today metal bats are H&B's biggest moneymaker. The company also sells Bionic baseball and softball gloves, hockey equipment, and PowerBilt golf equipment. The Hillerich family and H&B employees own the company.
The Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory, which is part of the company's corporate headquarters, sports the world's largest baseball bat (yes, a Slugger) leaning against the building. The museum has attracted some 2 million visitors.
To stay competitive with its rivals, Hillerich & Bradsby has been moving its nonwood production operations to China. The company in 2008 closed the last of its nonwood US facilities, an aluminum and composite bat production plant in Ontario, California. To this end, Hillerich & Bradsby followed the lead of its competitors (such as Rawlings and Easton-Bell), which have also relocated manufacturing operations to the Asia/Pacific region. The company still produces wooden bats at its plant in Louisville, however. – less