Making a Wiffle Ball

Source: Wall Street Journal

SHELTON, Conn.—The complete tour of Wiffle Ball Inc.’s one and only factory takes about 20 minutes. And that is with all the technical details left in.

The top floor of the two-story cinderblock building off Connecticut’s Route 8 is devoted to packing and storage. The ground floor has an aging wood-paneled office with five desks. And in the next room lies the heart of the 15-employee operation, where two injection-molding machines hum along to produce thousands of Wiffle Balls every day.

The wiffle ball mystique has been entertaining hundreds of backyard, summertime players for many years now.

In fact, every single Wiffle Ball that will sail across backyards this summer was produced here. Just like every single Wiffle Ball that has sailed across backyards since the factory opened in 1959.

“You’ve got to stick with what works,” said Stephen Mullany who, along with his brother, David J. Mullany, runs the company that their grandfather started in 1953.

That philosophy is how three generations of the Mullany family have built a company—and kept it thriving—around a single, unchanging product. The ball has always been white plastic. It has always had eight holes. These facts are immutable.

Lori Tonucci, left, and Cindy Pompa assemble Wiffle Balls at the company’s factory in Shelton, Conn.
Wiffle Ball has hardly ever felt the pressing need to diversify its line. At various points, they have tried flying discs, plastic golf balls, and even silk ties with pictures of Wiffle Balls on them. But each time, they were reminded that people did not have much use for anything beside the bat and ball.

“What do you need? You need a Wiffle Ball, a bat, and another kid to play with,” said David J. Mullany. “And really that’s it.”

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