Bad Boy Mowers Moves From Garage to High-Tech Factory

by Jan Cottingham  on Monday, Feb. 20, 2012 12:00 am  

Throughout this expansion of products, Bad Boy's footprint has grown to include three facilities with a total of about 650,000 SF under roof. The facilities are the Batesville plant, where the mowers are manufactured; a Melbourne (Izard County) plant, where the multi-terrain vehicles are built; and a distribution center, also in Batesville.
Bad Boy has about 450 to 500 dealers in 47 states. In addition, it has distributors in Canada, Denmark, Australia, the United Kingdom and New Zealand.

The company declined to release annual revenue figures, but Foster said Bad Boy was "still growing tremendously. We've had a record year every single year."

"We're growing about 3,500 to 4,000 machines per year," he said. "We did double every year for a long time, but once you get doing so much volume you're not going to be able to double it anymore. I think we'll be up about 5,000 machines this year. When I say ‘up,' this is not up from a bad year; this is up from a record year."

Fireworks, Tires, Mowers
Foster and Pulley have been business partners for about 26 years. They started in the fireworks business. Their Fireworks World Inc., based in Batesville, operates retail fireworks locations in several states, including Arkansas.

Together they opened tire stores in Batesville and, later, in Searcy. They sold the tire stores after Big Boy Mowers took off, which didn't take long.

In 2000, Foster built a 5,000-SF facility in Tuckerman, moving from his 1,200-SF shop in Diaz. Big Boy relocated to Batesville in late 2001, building a 26,000-SF plant in the city's industrial park. "We just got through adding on our 17th time since 2002," Foster said.

Batesville was a natural choice because it has a wealth of skilled craftsmen, people with experience in metalworking and fabrication, Foster said.

The city is home to a handful of race car makers, including Larry Shaw Race Cars and Danny Nelson Race Craft Chassis. "And there's so many kids who when they get out of [high] school there, they go to welding school," he said. "And so we were able to get a lot of really, really good talent."

Foster, the garage tinkerer out to build a better mower, loves the manufacturing, technological side of the business. "My hobby is equipment. I love equipment, so we have the best equipment in the world," he said.

Bad Boy Mowers makes use of high technology to build its products, including lasers and robots. "We have lots and lots of robots," Foster said. Among other tasks, the robots weld the multi-terrain vehicle frames. "While an employee is loading one side of the welder, the robot is welding on the other side. These robots, it's unbelievable how fast they are."

As for the recession, Foster said he saw no effects, adding that the downturn may even have benefited the company.

"In a down economy people look for a product that's the best value, so I almost think that the recession has helped us because it made people be more price-conscious. And we feel like we're hands down the best for the money that you can buy."



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