Marucci Sports names CEO; adds Duck Dynasty star to board

Kurt Ainsworth, co-founder of Marucci Sports, has been named the Baton Rouge bat and equipment maker’s new chief executive officer.

The company also expanded its board, adding Willie Robertson, CEO of duck-call maker Duck Commander and star of the A&E reality hit series “Duck Commander,” and others with expertise Marucci’s management can draw on to help the company reach its goal of being No. 1 in every product line for baseball.

Ainsworth and board Chairman Reed Dickens said the company expects to double in size in the next two years.

“With the addition of all the new people and the groundwork we’ve laid in different categories — aluminum bats and now the apparel line — we’re definitely poised to make some big gains in the sporting goods industry over the next five years, for sure,” Ainsworth said.

Marucci has leveraged the reputation it built in the past decade with its wood bats, favored by many of the top Major League players, to move into more lucrative retail areas.

In the past few years, Marucci has developed and launched a line of batting gloves, fielding gloves, equipment bags and aluminum and composite bats.

This summer and fall, the company will release a full line of uniforms and accessories, from sliding shorts and practice tops to pullovers, pants, tops and socks.

The company recently added three executives to help the company realize its ambitious growth plans. They are Chief Financial Officer Michael Uffman, who was CFO for Red Mountain Resources, a publicly traded energy company in Dallas; Senior Vice President of Sales and Marketing Shelly Moore, an expert in outdoor clothing; and Director of Apparel Robert Kopkin, a former Mizuno executive.

Meanwhile, adding Robertson to the board will help Marucci, as it enters the outdoor/hunting clothing market.

Hunting and baseball fit together. When baseball season ends, hunting season begins, Ainsworth said.

Marucci’s Big League clients have always asked about camo clothing, so when the company decided to move into apparel, adding hunting goods seemed only natural.

The annual market for soft and hard baseball goods is estimated at more than $1 billion.

Marucci plans to lay claim to a big chunk of that.

Ainsworth said he doesn’t know if there’s any limit on how big the company can become.

Marucci is privately held and does not release sales figures. However, the company has about 75 employees and probably added half of them in the past 12 months. Two years from now, the company could be at twice that level.

“We would love to see this thing grow into a major sporting goods brand, much as Under Armour has in the Baltimore area,” Ainsworth said.

It will not be easy, by any stretch of the imagination, Ainsworth said, but Marucci has the opportunity to do some great things in the next five to 10 years.

Dickens said growing as rapidly as Marucci plans will be difficult, but management will benefit from the experience and expertise of board members.

In addition to Robertson, new members of the board include Jim Burke, CEO of TXU Energy; José Bautista, all-star outfielder for the Toronto Blue Jays; Ryan Stromsborg, co-founder and managing partner of Parq Advisors; and Ben Bordelon, chief operating officer of Bollinger Shipyards.

Former CEO Brett Stohlton will remain an adviser to the company.