Made in the Northwest: Vullo Bat Company
MEAD, Wash. — The Vullos are a baseball family. But after John Vullo stopped coaching his son, he felt a void for the game while watching from the stands.
“After a couple years of sitting and watching, I decided to try to turn a bat,” recalled Vullo. “So that’s how Vullo Bat Company came about.”
That was in 2014. He knew he was onto something about a year later when baseball players started coming back for more bats.
“That means you have a good product and people believe in it,” said Vullo.
And the difference is in the details. Every Vullo bat is custom made by hand. Vullo says family takes pride, but also feels pressure, in living up to their high standards.
“So when people see it and they recognize it and they hear it, they associate that with me and my family. So it’s our name on there. We can’t hide from it.”
Vullo uses only hand split maple or ash billets from the Northeastern United States.
After a billet is weighed, it’s placed on the lathe and turned.
“We get it pretty precise. We start overturning it first by three to four thousandths of an inch, then we sand it down within a thousandth to two thousandths of an inch,” said Vullo.
Vullo uses five different grits of sandpaper on each bat.
“Take off the most, then take off any imperfections and slowly bring it down to get it as smooth as possible.”
After the ends are cut off with a saw, the bats are then dipped in Rodda Paint, which can do custom colors for any team.
“They give us the color of their jersey, we send it to Rodda Paint and they match it perfect,” explained Vullo.
Finally, the bats are laser engraved. Its engraving machine significantly speeds up the production process, because it no longer has to send their bats off to another company to be engraved.
“It legitimized us,” said Vullo. “We can make a bat, everything in house, start to finish.”
After making 200 bats in its first year, Vullo Bats made more than 900 in 2020. Vullo loves the growth, but says, “We don’t want to grow too fast. We’re not here to mass produce. We’re here to provide a good product.”
Vullo has recently sent training bats to some pro players, as well as the Texas Rangers, Cincinnati Reds and Chicago White Sox organizations. And Vullo says it’ll be a home run when they see one of their bats on television, in the hands of a major leaguer.
“And when it does, it’s going to be awesome.”
And that day may not be too far off.
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