Phoenix Bat Company
Louisville Sluggers aren’t the only professional baseball bats on the market. Just outside of Columbus, the Phoenix Bat Company is a professional-approved wood bat manufacturer that creates baseball bats for big leaguers and amateurs alike. The company was started in 1996 by local Charley Trudeau, who played 19th Century Baseball for the Ohio Historical Society.
“The tour is definitely a hands-on experience,” said Seth Cramer, owner and general manager at Phoenix Bat Company. “This isn’t a watch-a-video or watch-behind-a-glass experience.”
The comprehensive tour starts in the showroom, where numerous vintage and modern bats are displayed and discussed. Guides talk about professional players who use their bats, such as Ohio native and Chicago White Sox outfielder Adam Eaton, and let guests hold bats that have been used by some of those players.
Guests then see the woods used in bat creation. A behind-the-scenes look in the office area gives a glimpse into the design process.
Seth noted that getting out on the floor and seeing the bats being made is a favorite part of the visitor experience.
“Visitors love the machine,” Seth said. “It’s such an advanced piece of technology that you’re not going to see at any other bat company in the world.”
The machine is an Italian lathe that automatically cuts and sands the bat in two minutes. Another special feature of the tour covers the way the company disposes of wood waste, some of which is recycled as cattle bedding.
At the end of the tour, visitors see the finishing area, where a bat goes through its final stages and is engraved. Every guest receives a small bat souvenir.
Anthony-Thomas Candy Company
A tour of the Anthony-Thomas Candy Company factory will satisfy any sweet tooth. The family-owned candy company has roots in a small soda shop in Columbus, and today, the Trifelos family owns 13 stores in central Ohio.
“The factory was built with tours in mind,” Candi Trifelos, a fourth-generation family member and director of retail operations, said. “It’s great because people can see what a great operation we have. The main production is on the second floor, and a catwalk looks down on the production from the third floor.”
Visitors see candies, such as the Ohio favorite buckeyes, being created from start to finish. On the molding line, candies are made into a variety of shapes for different holidays and events. Candy bars are created with a five-stage machine.
“As automated as our facility is,” Trifelos said, “there are still things we do by hand. Cherry cordials are still placed in molds by workers.”
A funneling system of pipes transports different chocolates to a variety of lines, and visitors see the kitchen where candy centers cook in large kettles. Enrobers cloak candy centers in chocolate, and a separate “dainty enrober” for pecan dainties, also known as turtles, sends the candy through a chocolate tunnel.
To wrap up the tour, visitors see the packaging area where finished products are put into stock or gift boxes or are wrapped by a machine. At the end of the tour, guests return to the retail store, where they receive a free sample.
In the summer, the factory is open three days a week for drop-in tours that require no reservations.