Founded in 2002, Baton Rouge-based Marucci Sports produces elite baseball bats and gear for some of the top performers in Major League Baseball (MLB). Co-Founders Kurt Ainsworth, Jack Marucci and Joe Lawrence have grown the company into one of the hottest names in baseball merchandise, due in part to their wood bats that are shaped, painted and hand-finished with precision. Ainsworth, who serves as CEO for the company, shares Marucci Sports’ innovation story:
[Q] What inspired you to develop Marucci Sports?
[A] My founding partners and I shared a love for baseball. One of those founding partners, Jack Marucci, was the head athletic trainer at LSU who crafted wood bats in his shed as a hobby. The other founding partner, Joe Lawrence, was also a professional baseball player. We came up with the idea of starting a bat company together when Joe and I were rehabbing injuries with Jack as our trainer. My arm wasn’t responding to therapy, and Joe’s knee was going to limit his sports career as well, so we decided to give the bat company a shot as our next step out of pro sports while still staying in the game.
[Q] What is your Marucci Sports doing that no other company is doing?
[A] From spending time in MLB clubhouses, Joe and I knew there was a niche we could carve out among players. We saw an opportunity to outperform the competition by providing only top quality bats – we call them “gamers” – to all MLB players, while our competitors were only sending a few good bats out of a dozen. We continue to deliver only top quality wood bats to our customers, and those MLB players have become not only partners in our company, but also help us design and test other product lines. There is nothing better in our industry than having players design products for players. MLB players are the best in the world, so if the products are perfect for them, then we will have the right products for amateur players as well.
[Q] How does Marucci Sports impact the Louisiana economy?
[A] With approximately 60 full time employees based in Louisiana and with our eyes on significant growth ahead of us, we believe that we are doing our part to attract, hire and retain top talent in the state. Having the No. 1 wood bat in Major League Baseball that is 100-percent “Made in Louisiana” doesn’t hurt. Having a company like ours that is succeeding in such an interesting and exciting business will hopefully help the state of Louisiana to continue to attract innovative companies here.
[Q] When did you realize that Marucci Sports would be a success?
[A] We were always confident that we had the best product, but scalability while maintaining top quality was always the expected challenge. Our first glimpse into our future success came when we were able to secure our wood source by purchasing our wood mill. Having control of the highest quality raw materials continues to set us apart.
[Q] What would you say to aspiring Louisiana entrepreneurs and innovators?
[A] I would say to develop your ideas, stick with it, and aim to be the best in whatever field or market you’re in. Continue to grow as efficiently as you can, take advantage of opportunities when they present themselves, and never become complacent.
Louisiana has afforded us many opportunities to prosper as a company. Not only do people from here want to stay here, but because of the quality of life in Louisiana, we have successfully attracted talent from across the nation. The economy is growing in Louisiana, and we’re proud to call it home for our company.