Posted: Tuesday Sep 24, 2013
Sept. 24, 2013
Recent Saint Vincent College graduate Joe Aul of Pittsburgh is pursuing an exciting business venture that he is hoping will literally be a hit, maybe even a homerun.
The business is the Aul Bat Company, a baseball bat-making operation that started in the garage of his father, Jack, more than a decade ago. “I used them in practice throughout high school and college,” the younger Joe Aul said. “Teammates would constantly pester me, asking to have dad turn them a custom bat. Very few players were ever successful in their request because it takes time to carefully turn a bat by hand and because dad was a busy carpenter and contractor, he just didn’t have the time.”
Over the years, the Auls got better at bat making and Joe took them to several professional tryouts and used them in practice as he amassed more than 240 collegiate hits as a four-year starter at Community College of Allegheny County-South and Saint Vincent College. With several individual awards and all-conference selections as well as a 2009 JUCO all-American, Joe attributes a great deal of his success to his father and the bats he made. Joe, who had worked with his father since he was young, inherited his father’s mechanical and technical know-how as well as the ability to build things with his hands. So, when Joe’s coach approached him to see if he would make bats for the local semi-pro wood bat league, Joe agreed to make them for his team. Before long there were orders coming in from all over the league for the new Aul Bats. Joe jumped at the opportunity to turn his passion into a job and decided to turn the father-son hobby into a business. With satisfied customers ranging from individual players who play in the affiliated minor leagues, others who have signed independent league professional contracts, a small contract with a local university and a few high schools, Aul Bat is making bats for several semi-pro leagues and Legion programs this summer. Customers reach from Pennsylvania to Texas to California and the Frontier League. “I plan on being a major player in the evolving wood bat revolution,” Aul predicted. “However, our goal is to remain a local company. While we will not turn down customers from other areas of the country or professional baseball, we want everyone in the Pittsburgh and western Pennsylvania area to be using us. There is no reason players from this area should be swinging anything else.”
Aul, who graduated from SVC with a bachelor of arts degree in liberal arts in 2012, recently sent one of his bats to Saint Vincent as a token of his appreciation for his education. “I haven’t quite made it yet in the business world but my name is starting to get out there,” Aul commented. “It has been an exciting ride and I have so much work to do but I have enjoyed every minute of it.” The bat that he sent to Saint Vincent is a 33” maple bat that weighs about 30 ounces.
Aul credits his Saint Vincent education with preparing him for the entrepreneurial challenge. “The reality is that I definitely would not have been prepared, nor would I have had the confidence in knowing that I will be successful someday without Saint Vincent’s invaluable help,” he said. “Even though I am busy, there isn’t a day that goes by that I am not thankful for the tremendous liberal arts education that I received at Saint Vincent. It taught me how to think, not what to think. That objective approach to education is essential to attaining success not only in business but in life.”
While Aul can more than accommodate big contracts and bulk orders, his mission is to provide high quality custom hand-turned bats at an affordable price coupled with superior customer service. “Because we are a family-run company, we will work with clients to personally meet their demands and provide them with the best product available from start to finish. Many bat companies are wood workers first and baseball players second but I think we are able to combine first class experience in both baseball and bat making to produce a superior product.”
Photo: Joe Aul demonstrates one of his Aul Bat Company products.
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