BREAKING: Brunswick Bowling Acquires Ebonite International

Brunswick Bowling Products Acquires Ebonite International

Breaking news in the bowling industry today, it has been confirmed that Brunswick Bowling has acquired all assets of Ebonite International. In a recent press release from Brunswick:

Brunswick Bowling Products announced today that it has acquired the assets of Ebonite International including all of Ebonite’s brands, trademarks, and technologies. Brunswick, the worldwide market leader in bowling products is based in Muskegon, Michigan. The acquisition includes the Ebonite, Hammer, Columbia 300 and Track Brands.

“Ebonite and its associated brands have an extraordinary history in bowling,” said Corey Dykstram Chief Executive Officer of Brunswick Bowling Products. “we look forward to continuing the tradition of producing outstanding bowling products for loyal Ebonite, Hammer, Columbia 300 and Track consumers.”

Brunswick announced it will continue to market products under the Ebonite brands and will honor all warranties on existing Ebonite International bowling balls.

“The Ebonite acquisition allows us to leverage all our consumer products resources and will allow us to continue to invest in the development of new bowling ball technology,” said Brian Graham, Brunswick’s Vice President of Consumer and Aftermarket Products.

Randy Schickert, Ebonite International’s CEO, commented, “Ebonite International has built a strong 109-year legacy in the bowling industry. We believe that Brunswick Bowling Products is the right partner at the right time for continuing the traditions of the Ebonite, Hammer, Columbia 300, and Track brands.”

Brunswick CEO Corey Dykstra on Ebonite Acquisition

“The four brands that we acquired are amazing consumer products with a great heritage, and we are really excited to be able to drive innovation with now seven brands of bowling balls,” Dykstra said of adding Ebonite, Hammer, Track and Columbia 300 to Brunswick’s fold of brands that includes its DV8, Radical and Brunswick lines of balls, “and I am confident we’re going to deliver outstanding products to the bowlers.”

In his conversation with BJI about a transaction that has generated considerable buzz throughout the industry and on social networks since it was announced Friday night, Dykstra also addressed that numbers problem.

“I don’t know how many people are aware of this, but both manufacturing plants [Ebonite’s in Hopkinsville, Ky., and Brunswick’s in Reynosa, Mexico] were operating at less than full capacity,” Dykstra said. “That certainly creates challenges.”

When Brunswick began planning its Reynosa plant more than 15 years ago, Dykstra said, “the market was well over 2 million bowling balls, whereas today it’s probably in the 1.6 to 1.7 million range at best. If you go back even further, into the 1990s, it was well over 3 million.

“The decline in league bowling over the past 20 years certainly has made it a challenging business, and challenging businesses are hard to invest in,” Dykstra added. “When you have more efficient use of manufacturing capacity, it enables us to invest more in people and technology than we did in the past.”

The “people” side of that equation very much involves EBI employees who lost their jobs when the Hopkinsville plant shut down Friday afternoon. Adding four additional brands to Brunswick’s line puts the company in a position of needing people to manage, market and deliver those brands. Who better to do that than the people who know them best?

“We need help in sales, marketing, and research and development to try to manage those brands now,” Dykstra said. “We’re certainly excited to bring many of the Ebonite International team onto our team if they’re interested and it works for them. We are certainly open to and excited about talking with as many of those folks who are interested in working for Brunswick as we can and plan to do that as soon as possible.”

In addition to expressing an interest in bringing aboard EBI employees with experience in sales, marketing and research and development, Dykstra emphasized that part of Brunswick’s purchase of EBI’s assets specifically includes “bowling-related contracts, which includes pro-staff contracts.” He said those contracts will generally be honored and that, “We are excited to work out the details with the outstanding team of professional bowlers EBI has.”

Those employees Dykstra is open to bringing aboard from EBI would fill U.S-based positions.

For Dykstra, the deal presents an exciting opportunity for Brunswick to not settle for slapping its own coverstocks and cores onto EBI balls, but instead to learn as much as possible from Ebonite and to make informed investments in technology that will position Brunswick to ensure differentiation between EBI-brand balls and Brunswick’s DV8, Radical and Brunswick equipment.

“I am extremely confident that we’re going to develop outstanding new technologies,” Dykstra said. “We’re going to continue to differentiate our products across seven brands as we do now across three … The more you invest, the more technology you have, the more you can differentiate. It certainly becomes more complicated with seven brands, but we have the ability to do that.”

Dykstra added that, “Our plants operate a little differently. It’s urethane casting and polyester casting. We just have equipment that is a little different [from EBI’s], so we’d certainly love to learn from them what they have learned from more than 50 years in manufacturing … I’m hoping that if we put the right people in the room, we can learn from each other, and that creates some pretty outstanding new products.”

The bottom line for Dykstra, both as someone who works within the bowling industry and as someone who has observed its evolution over his 16-year career in bowling, is that having two major manufacturers each with plants operating at “double the size of the industry” was untenable.

11 thoughts on “BREAKING: Brunswick Bowling Acquires Ebonite International

  1. Matt Koplowitz says:

    I have been throwing Hammer equipment for almost 8 years. I have had lots success with them and it just hit me like a truck. I wish I knew more info if Hammer will still be making bowling balls because they are the best.

  2. Raymond Woody says:

    Moving it to Mexico means Brunswick only cares about the almighty dollar. Forget about putting 170+ people out of work. I hope the U>S. puts a hefty tariff on these balls and equipment. They say they will continue to make stuff under the Ebonite name but it still be a Brunswick ball and NOT made in the U>S.

  3. Ryan Fogle says:

    I think this is a very bad idea first off what has Brunswick done for bowling in last 15 years if you can’t beat them buy them ebonite has commanded the bowling world for last couple years and now there not going to be made in USA anymore well with that said I will be looking for new ball company want my bowling equipment made here in the USA

  4. FERNANDO CHEA says:

    my fellows bowlers are very mad about the idea that our equipment be made in mexico, for now we are looking to change to another bowling company that makes bowling ball in the good u.s.a.

  5. Brian Tucker says:

    Looks like STORM weather in my household! Always loved Hammer products and them being made in the USA. Being a veteran of the US Navy, I WILL NOT SUPPORT ANOTHER COUNTRY’s infrastructure!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  6. Richard Robert Crist says:

    People I know who have bought bowling balls from Brunswick are not pleased with Equipment time after time I hear pro shops saying that the core is not placed in the right position in the balls from Mexico and poorly made. I really like Hammer balls but won’t be buying any from now on. Have Brunswick ball and only a year old and has small cracks starting i n outer cover

  7. Mister Timberwolf says:

    I was upset to hear this news here in Germany a few months ago.
    Started Bowling with four in 1972, and after playing my great idol Earl Anthony (RIP !!!) in 1981 at the “Golden Bowling Ball” in Wuerzburg – as the youngest player – there was no other company I bowled with.
    Also if I call at Hopkinsville, I only have to howl (my name wasn´t required), so they knew, *Mr. Timberwolf* wants to speak again with Mike Q., my best friend in the US.
    Missing these times, and now searching another company until my end …

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