Made in Michiana: Paddletek
It's a sport ABC 57 News first introduced to you back in 2016.
It's the fastest growing sport among senior citizens in the United States, thanks in large part to brothers Curtis and Cody Smith who are the owners of Paddletek.
"In 2010, my brother was in findley, Ohio and got introduced to the sport of pickleball. He became obsessed with it," said Curtis, who is co-owner and CEO.
That’s when brother, Cody, garnered the idea to make the game easier.
"Well back then all of the paddels were made out of either a nomex, which is a resin reinforced paper, honeycomb or aluminum. He was replacing his paddle every six months and he said there has got to be something better," said Curtis.
So in 2011 the brothers set out to create that something.
Initially Cody created a paddle and sold about 10-15 a month out of his own garage in Scottsdale.
Curtis wasn't entirely sold but helped where he could.
"I went to the demo event. Got there late, poo-pooed the whole thing. I get there and there was about two to three hundred people. Somebody yelled out 'Paddletek is here' and the room just swarmed around me and started pulling paddles out of the boxes. At the end of the two and a half hours I have a stack of orders and my throat is sore from talking and talking, so I get in the car and call him up and I said it went really well, give me half of the company and I'll run it for you. And he said 'OK'. So then I said 'what’s Pickleball," said Curtis.
A year later Curtis moved the company to Michiana where business has boomed, growing the sport of Pickleball right along with it!
"The growth was due to three things: Technology. We changed the sport. Paddletek technology can be found in 80 percent of premium Pickleball paddles on the market today. We back our paddles. We gave them a five year guarantee. No dead spot. This thing will last for five years. And our customer service. It changed customer service within the sport," said Curtis.
With 17 employees in house every paddle is maticulously hand crafted.
"Every paddle we are trying to hit a specific spec. A weight a pliability. That starts with a panel. The panels we use are construction panels. They use in aerospace, boating, campers. The panels first get cut on an XYZ, a shape. Then they get prepped. Then they get decorated. Then they get the branding put on there. Then it gets assembled. Most of what we make is already sold," said Curtis.
Don't' expect the growth of the sport and the Paddletek brand to slow down anytime soon.
"We just acquired Prints Pickleball, which is a global brand. That will help us grow even more because it will give us access to some high level engineering and manufacturing processes that maybe weren't available to us before.So with the two companies we are looking at easy double our growth, 18 months to 2 years. We should be twice the size we are right now," said Curtis.