The Greenville News from Greenville, South Carolina on June 6, 1993 · Page 194
Get access to this page with a Free Trial

A Publisher Extra Newspaper

The Greenville News from Greenville, South Carolina · Page 194

Publication:
Location:
Greenville, South Carolina
Issue Date:
Sunday, June 6, 1993
Page:
Page 194
Start Free Trial
Cancel

5 Wilson. Continued from Page 8 Here and there throughout the factory, stray balls in various stages of evolution bounce to and fro like lost frogs. The felt, which is 50 percent wool, is the most expensive component of the ball. Another amazing number: The felt from a year's production could pave a highway from Greenville to Washington, D.C., ""Garvais said. The yellow-green color of the average tennis ball is called optic yellow. The choice of color is no accident, since optic yellow is the color the human eye can pick up best with peripheral vision. As the legend goes, Garvais said, the color was first employed in a special dye by the U.S. Navy for use in the ocean during search and rescue missions. Today, Garvais said, 98 per- optic yellow. ! After the felt is applied, the balls are cured, the felt is fluff-j ed and the Wilson name is i ironed on, along with a number i from 1 to 8. j Then the balls are put in pres-j surized cans, which extends ! shelf life. Garvais said Wilson ; wants the balls to have two l. years of shelf life. Each can runs through a so-i nar detector that picks out any can that has lost pressure and boots it into the discard bin. (JLabels are put on the good cans, just like pop bottles. In all, the balls go through 40 quality assurance tests in the production process. A lot of balls don't survive the manufacturing process. Large bins marked "T to 19" are filled with balls with minor cosmetic ; flaws. These will be sold as teaching balls to clubs and pros. The demand for teaching balls far exceeds the supply of these rejects, Garvais said. As more automation eliminates : waste, the supply of teaching i .balls will sink even further. The Wilson factory imports ; its natural rubber, but other-! wise the plant is heavily depen dent on local suppliers. Sonoco Products supplies the plastic cans, the same material Sonoco makes for its soft-drink bottles. Milliken & Co. supplies about half the felt. The canning machines are made by Hart-ness International in Greenville. The Charleston port is used to bring in the rubber. The plant has a ball and can testing lab, kept at 72 degrees ,and 50 percent relative humidity, according to industry testing standards. In the lab, machines test for leaks in cans. Balls are knocked around inside test boxes with in teriors resembling hard or clay courts. A ball crusher tests for durability. And a bounce tester drops the ball from precisely 100 inches. The ball hits a pad and pops up above the 55-inch mark. From a 100-inch drop, the ball must rebound between 53 and 58 inches, according to United States Tennis Association standards. Garvais said Wilson's standard is a 55 to 57-inch rebound. . The cans are also tested to see how they stand up to heat. Wilson determined that a can of balls ought to withstand lying in the rear window of a car all day without deforming. That means a test of 145 degrees for eight hours. Garvais said Wilson responds to every letter. The company conducts dealer surveys and checks with every customer who registers a negative comment. All of this quality control is in place to ensure reliability a critical factor in the tennis ball wars. 'People don't lay awake at night worrying about finding a better way to put adhesive on felt, but we do.' " People don't lay awake at night worrying about finding a better way to put adhesive on felt, but we do," said Garvais. While Wilson says it has 40 percent of the U.S. market, Penn lays claim to 55 percent. Dunlop Slazenger says Wilson and Penn together have 90 percent of the market, while Dunlop Slazenger has 7 percent. The May issue of Sporting Goods Dealer magazine placed Wilson tennis balls in the No. 1 spot over No. 2 Penn in a survey in which dealers rated manufacturers. A new study by the Tennis Industry Association showed that among those playing tennis four or more times a year, Wilson tennis balls had the highest name recognition. In a test of "unaided awareness" of tennis ball brands, the Wilson name was recognized by 75 percent of the people in the survey. Penn was named by 66 percent, far ahead of third place Spalding with 19 percent. According to the Association, Penn leads Wilson by a narrow 42 percent to 40 percent as the brand bought most among all players. "But this understates Penn's lead as it beats Wilson by 47 percent to 39 percent among the most frequent players," the survey said. The Tennis Industry Association estimates that there were $102 million in wholesale tennis ball sales in 1992, down from $107 million in 1991. Unit sales are down, too, with 136 million tennis balls sold in 1992, down by 2 million balls from 1991 . Unit and dollar sales were up 11 percent in 1991, based on industry interviews, and up 7 percent in 1990 over 1989. Wilson balls come in several grades. The "U.S. Open" is Wilson's most consistent, long-lasting ball. Although it can be bought at most retail sports shops, it's the same "Tournament Select" ball used at the U.S. Open tennis match in New York. Then there's the slightly cheaper Wilson Championship and Pro Staff. A new product is Peppers, which are regular balls painted in a swirl of bright colors. The plastic can is 100 percent R'lChSrd Garvais Wilson plant manager recyclable. Wilson's all- aluminum top also can be recycled. The cans are partially made from recycled materials. Wilson Sporting Goods Co. sells a variety of tennis, golf, baseball and football equipment, including the official NFL football. Wilson is owned by Amer UPSTATE BUSINESS STOCK CONTEST Pet Nome 106 GREENVILLE-TERRY BISHOP 94.7 GREENVILLE-JAMESSBARR 85.6 GREENVILLE-MARIE RBARR 71.3 GREENVILLE-PHILCOGEN 64.6 GREENVILLE-JOE ROYE SS.2 GREEN VI LLE-JERRYSAAD 48.0 GREER ROBERT FRAMPTON 46.4 GREENVILLE-PEGGY BRAMLETT 46.2 GREER-RENIEHALL 42.0 TAYLORS-ESTHER BEST 42.0 GREENVILLE-CLIFFORDFGADDY JT.UbKCtNVILLC-DILLKtlU 39.1 GREER-ALAN BUSH 37.8 GREENVILLE-RAYTUMBLIN 34.4 GREENVILLE -DARYLRENSHAW 34.6 PIEDMONT-BRIANCGUZIK 34.5 GREENVILLE-ODERRA SMALL 33.9 ANDERSON-FSPRUITT 33.3 GREENWOOD-PETE FABER 33.3 TAYLORS-CONNIE TANKERSLEY 33.1 GREER-PAULCRAVEN 32.5 SALEM-EDWINSWAIN 32.2 TAYLORS ANNVREYNOLOS 32.2 TAYLORS-BRENT BULL 30.1 TAYLORS-ANNAS REYNOLDS Hand-wrlHenentrlesarKlslmllarltleslnstocknameswIllresultlnm THE NEWS ALAN OEVORSEY From rubber slug to pressure pack container, the Wilson tennis ball must meet quality tests at every stage of Its evolution before it's shipped to market Group Ltd., of Helsinki, Finland. Competitor Dunlop Slazenger has its North American racket division based in Greenville. The company closed its Hart-well, Ga., tennis ball plant last year, costing 132 jobs, and moved production to the Philippines. Perm has a 450-employee ten- nis ball plant and its Racquet sg which makes tennis balls and little else, has a plant in Ireland that supplies the European market. Penn spokeswoman Judy Zuber said Penn has one-third of world market share. The company is planning to open a tennis ball plant in Jonesboro, Ark., where the company once had a plant. Oddly enough, Garvais . ' r j , Largest percentagesalnslnce April 1 Slock AOI CmpRg CmpRg Nthgotg Angeles Boomtwn Xlcor Berk Ha SteinMrt Pet Stock -20.0 RepGlda 154.5 Mlnven 154.5 Minven 84.6 Mlnven -25.0 Bullion 18.2 PresRvt 50.0 SEEQ 18.1 MGMG -2.7 CasMog -4.3 TCBY 4.1 UsalrG 66.7 Glamit 11.6 WMS 20.2 BatlMt 16.7 ClneOd 16.7 ClneOd 33.3 Llnlum 23.3 SunMn 66.7 TVXGId 33.3 BullRun 6.7 StorTch 17.8 Merck s 0.4 VlrolTst 36.8 Mlcrolg 120.4 VlrolTst Pet Stock 453.9 Genlsco 100.0 AngSwIst 100.0 AngSwIss 100.0 EchoBv 111.1 EClEnv 93.8 GrdCosn -4.2 Romtek 26.1 CaslnAm 100.6 Svnergn 1.5 CmpRg 1.2 CaslnAm 58.1 SonMpt 38.8 LasVDsc 36.8 ABarcks 100.0 Intlag 100.0 LVI -5.5 Invltwt 66.7 ChfCon 50.6 EchoBv 23.3 Glamls 59.2 AmFB 1.1 TubMex 30.6 HmeDpt -8.3 Genus Carlisle CravCm SUflMO Cadence ASA Ltd Brooke Brooke For Id wl A GlobM SunMn Blyvoor T2Med FthlllG SPORn PhxNet Invltwt 30.6 CopCIIs i ' doesn't play tennis. He's a baseball lover and a Red Sox fan, having played a high-school tournament game in Fenway Park. A painting of the Boston ball park hangs in his office. Garvais has a degree in engineering from Wister Polytechnic Institute in Wister, Mass., and a master's in business from Syracuse. In his eight-year career with Corning Glassware, the company moved him seven times. Feeling like he wanted a little more control of his destiny, he took a job with Wilson in 1976 and worked in a racket factory in New York and then for a short time at corporate headquarters in Chicago. When Wilson decided to open a ball plant, he jumped at the chance to get back into manufacturing. He's smelled success ever since. Pet Stock -33.3 Chiles 33.3 GldQual 33.3 GldQual 76.5 SunMn 225.0 IRTCp 54.8 CasMag 150.0 Mitel 102.3 IntlGme 15.1 PresRvt 154.5 SunMn 102.3 CasMag 50.0 FMCGd -25.0 Ramtek 25.3 EchoBy 57.1 LVI 0.0 Mitel 120.4 MrRotr 25.0 EchoBy 76.5 TelefMex 58.1 SunMpf 15.5 ImunRsp -9.3 ChmCSwt 11.2 CapCltl 25.0 Ault Pet Stock 28.0 BanyHI 100.0 WstPAc 100.0 Brkwta 66.7 LAC 9 -12.9 Tortel 100.6 Gtechn 47.1 Semtch 98.5 VideoL 93.8 Promuss 66.7 Blopool 100.6 EdcAlt 35.9 Zapata 150.0 Wotrln 76.5 Hmslke 0.0 Mediplx 47.1 UnvMed 30.8 I nfonw wtA 76.5 Explors -12.5 SaltMax 50.0 TCBY 114.0 Revcon Pet 99.9 85.7 40.0 28.8 25.0 8.4 2.7 13.7 24.1 -8.1 1.0 -11.1 20.0 30.2 8.4 9.1 33.3 -22.2 -14.7 1.5 14.3 26.3 120.4 125.0 14.3 128.6 ENSCO -1.6 Invltwt 17.6 Saitec 13.3 Abatlx -1.6 PetroUn PAGE 10 THE GREENVILLE NEWS 8UNDAY, June 6, 1993 t

Get access to Newspapers.com

  • The largest online newspaper archive
  • 21,900+ newspapers from the 1700s–2000s
  • Millions of additional pages added every month

Publisher Extra® Newspapers

  • Exclusive licensed content from premium publishers like the The Greenville News
  • Archives through last month
  • Continually updated

Try it free