ALLAN GUTCHER – OWNER, BEACON BATS
Ever Since my middle school shop teacher took me under his wing, I have been enthralled with woodworking. I guess he saw something in me and wanted me to always work toward perfection in everything I did. Little did I know how his influence would affect my lifelong passion in woodworking.
My father was an artist. He provided for our family by painting portraits, murals and teaching art classes. He always said all good seascapes have to have a lighthouse in them. As a family growing up in Tampa, we have always been around the water and I grew particularly fond of Florida history and it’s many lighthouses. Now that I have my own family, we always try to visit a lighthouse when on vacation somewhere in Florida.
It is those lighthouse paintings and the guiding light my father gave me growing up that I try to honor him in the Beacon Bats logo. The top of the lighthouse where to light shines from is the beacon. It leads the way. We want our company to lead the way also, not to follow.
My son plays baseball, and when he was 11 years old his travel ball team won the Pony World Series in Chesterfield, Virginia. During this time, there was a changing of the guard, so to say. The older players began hitting balls harder and father than ever before. It became apparent that something had to be done for player safety. Baseball had to get back to it’s roots. So a process began to start bringing the bats back towards how a wood bat contacted the ball. A study determined that wooden bats had to get back into the game. Baseball is the only sport where you can learn how to play as an amateur with one particular type of equipment; but if you are fortunate enough to be drafted to play as a professional, you cannot use the same bat you grew up playing with. In recent years, there is a transition back to wooden bats.
As my son began playing in weekend bat tournaments, I started looking at the bats for sale in the big box retailers. As a woodworker, I realized these bats were not always the best quality and were expensive to boot. So I tried my hand at making my first bat, knowing that I could purchase more superior wood than what they were selling in the stores. It took me almost 3 hours to turn my first bat. My son took that bat to every practice to show it off. As his teammates asked where he got it, he proudly told them his dad had made it for him. Soon, other parents were asking me to make bats for their children. The bats got better with each one I made.
A few days before Christmas in 2013, a good friend asked if I could make a bat for each of his sons. When he came to pick them up on Christmas Eve, he just stared at the bats for what seemed like several minutes. My friend finally said, “These are so beautiful, I don’t know if I want the boys to swing them.” After he left, my wife turned to me and said, “This is your calling. This is what God has meant for you to do.”
It was shortly after that that we created a business plan and began what would become Beacon Bats. As Beacon Bats continues to grow and prosper, we want to remember our humble beginnings and never forget why we started making bats in the first place. It is the joy on the face of a ball player who receives his/her own personalized bat that makes it all worthwhile.