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Louisville baseball bat company taking swing at making PPE masks to battle COVID-19

By Tom Latek
Kentucky Today

A Louisville company known for making sporting goods equipment hopes to “go yard” against the coronavirus.

The global need for personal protective equipment created by COVID-19 has inspired Hillerich & Bradsby Co. to enter the non-medical face mask market. The historic company has introduced Maskonic antibacterial masks, which are reusable, water repellent, and treated with a bactericide that lasts for up to 10 washes.

“Given the current health crisis and the need for protective equipment, we’re joining hands in the fight against the spread of COVID-19,” said H&B President & CEO John Hillerich. His family-owned company manufactures wood baseball bats for Wilson Sporting Goods’ Louisville Slugger brand, operates the renowned Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory, and produces and sells award-winning Bionic gloves.

The announcement of the new product line comes just after Gov. Andy Beshear announced that everyone is going to have to wear masks when he begins to re-open the economy on May 11.

Maskonic is ready for purchase through the Louisville-based Hillerich & Bradsby Co. (Kentucky Today photo)

“We’ve channeled our Bionic glove production and supply chain to offer Maskonic non-medical masks for the general public,” Hillerich said. “Our factory’s expertise is in cutting and sewing materials, so this was a natural progression, particularly in a time of global crisis.”

The face masks are sold in four-packs for $16.99 with no shipping costs, and are available at www.maskonic.com and www.bionicgloves.com. A portion of proceeds from sales will go to Feeding America food banks which feeds more than 46 million Americans in need.

“Offering quality masks that were also affordable was a key goal for the company as we explored this market,” Hillerich said. “The four-pack pricing equates to $4.25 per mask, and they can be worn multiple times, further increasing the value.”

Will this be a continuing and sustainable business for them? “We don’t know the answer to that yet as this ‘new normal’ world evolves,” Hillerich said. “Either way, H&B looks forward to the day, soon hopefully, when we can get back to making wood bats and re-open our museum.”

H&B started in 1856 as a woodturner making butter churns, balusters, and porch railings. Some 28 years later, the company made its first baseball bat, the world-renowned Louisville Slugger. Sixty years would pass before H&B made its first golf club. The company would pivot to make gunstocks, tank pins, and Billy Clubs for the military during World War II.

H&B started its Bionic gloves division nearly 20 years ago when a chance encounter with orthopedic hand surgeon Dr. James Kleinert of the world-renowned Kleinert Kutz Hand Care Center happened during a museum visit. Now, because of COVID-19, H&B adds Maskonic to its product line.

H&B will be shipping masks to the homes of all of its employees for their families’ protection during the COVID-19 crisis.

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