MADE IN KENTUCKY: Ebonite Bowling Balls

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) - Ebonite International is about 170 miles southwest of Louisville.

"We are the largest producer of bowling balls in the world, right here in Hopkinsville, Ky," said Vice President of Operations, Brian Hickey. The company produces 2,500 bowling balls per day, which amounts to 600,000 bowling balls each year.

It didn't start that way. At the beginning, in 1905, the bowling balls were made on the east coast. That is until owners were captured by the allure of having a centralized shipping spot here in the Bluegrass.

"The company moved here from Mass in 1967," said Assistant Production Manager, Mike Goode.

Since then, it's picked up three new brands. In addition to Ebonite, the company also owns Columbia 300, Track and Hammer, all of which attract different types of bowlers.

WDRB got a look from start to finish at the production. People might be surprised to learn it starts with a piece separate from the ball itself called the core. "It's the engine to the bowling ball," said Goode.

It's poured, hardened, then put in the center of a mold which will eventually become the outer layer of the ball. Then it's onto painting, where machines mix several colors that are applied to the ball, which are then dried to give the ball its iconic look.

Up next in the process comes grinding, polishing, branding and boxing.

The loading and delivery of the bowling balls won't happen until the balls are tested at Ebonite's "in house" alley. "Performance testing is a big deal," said Hickey. 

Reliability and durability are musts. Pros come in to make sure each ball makes the cut before they're delivered all over the world.

"It's very satisfying to me to make a product that can bring enjoyment to people," said Goode.

The people at Ebonite International are keeping the good times rolling-- with no signs of encountering a gutter anytime soon.

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