Richert combines two passions into one business
So the Springfield graduate decided to take his passion and use it as a hobby and he’s starting to make a name for his brand.
Richert launched JRichertbats.com and he makes custom wood bats for baseball players as well as trophy bats and other unique options.
He started his bat making company in 2018 and he’s got quite a few customers in the Tomahawk East League.
“I wanted something to do to keep me involved, other than just playing amateur baseball,” Richert said. “It kept me involved in the game and I’ve always enjoyed doing woodworking stuff, too, so it’s kind of best of both worlds. It’s something that’s practical for me because I swing wood bats all the time in amateur, it’s kind of fit everything at once.”
He kicked the idea around quite a bit before fully getting involved. He’s used two different bat-making machines since he’s started and he does custom engraving with a laser that puts the finishing touches on the final product.
It was a learn-on-the-fly process for him in the beginning, but he admits he’s getting much better with new projects that he’s been able to work on other than the bats.
“I played around a while before I knew what I was doing,” he said. “It was a lot of trial and error and a lot of frustration went into it right away, but now I’m at the point where I feel comfortable that I know what I’m doing, if someone has questions I feel comfortable where I know what I’m talking about after I started in the spring of 2018. This will be the third summer where I’ve done it.”
Because each individual bat is different, it took him a little while to get everything perfect for each bat.
“My uncle and cousin do some woodworking, so I started over there and purchased some billets to make the bats. I tried copying a model that I had already had,” he said. “I made a good bat, it was 100% usable, but the problem I ran into was when I had a customer and I made one for them, they might want another one exactly like the first one. So I ended up getting a machine that would produce the bats with a computer so everything was accurate. I would have everyting saved on the computer so I could make another one exactly like it.”
He later purchased another machine and that has helped his business. His first machine left a lot of wasted billets so that became expensive for him in the long run.
“The first machine, I could do some laser engraving, names and that kind of stuff, but I had troubles with the company so I had to switch,” he said. “I now have two separate machines, one does the laser engraving and I can do so many things with that. I haven’t even explored all of the things I can do with that.”
He purchases the billets, which run anywhere from $20-25 or $30-35 apiece. After they arrive, he begins to work on the custom job for each bat.
He said that he makes about 20 bats per month, or about one per day during the baseball season. That slows down typically during the winter months, when he starts working on trophy bats and bats designed for gifts. He estimates he’s made about 250 total.
“You get in the middle of the dead of winter, it’s going to be two or three a week,” he said. “But with the separate laser engraver, I’ve done a lot of trophy bats, usually for moms looking for Christmas gifts. Father’s day, end-of-the-season awards, I’ve probably made as many of those as actual game bats, and with those I do coloring and the engraving itself. It’s a cool thing that I can do outside of the baseball season.”
Once he starts production of the bat, it takes the machine about an hour to get the correct size and weight for him.
“It’s very accurate, the only difference is that it takes longer [to produce a bat],” he said. “At this point, it’s totally fine, if it keeps doing its job, I don’t see the need for being faster.”
And while he’s always had an interest in woodworking, he’s now becoming quite talented in engraving as well. It’s become quite the hobby for the baseball player who wants to have the game be a part of his life for a long time.
“It takes a little while to get the hang of it, but like I said, if you said you need it right away, I feel like I can do it,” he said.