NORTHVALE, N.J. – Marc Bourgeois began playing baseball when he was four, and he's translated his love of the game into making professional hard-maple bats. He'll be visiting Northvale this weekend to give folks a look at his products.
Bourgeois, a Montreal native, got a full scholarship to play ball in the States, first in southern Florida, then in southern Mississippi. He was then recruited to the Arizona Diamondbacks' farm team.
He's now making a career out of making custom hardwood bats, after trying out his degree in engineering in the corporate world.
"I was unhappy and missing baseball quite a bit," he told Daily Voice.
"I grew up on the land, working with wood, so I decided to start a business. I had contacts and the confidence to get it started."
He founded Märk Lumber Co., still up in Montreal, in December 2015. He'll be making the six-hour drive to Northvale on invitation from Rob DeBrino.
"We're both ex-professional baseball players," DeBrino said. He's a former pitching star for Old Tappan High School who then pitched for the Minnesota Twins for five years. He now runs Rob DeBrino's Baseball and Softball Academy, where folks will be able to give these hardwood bats a swing.
He first connected with Bourgeois through a players message board, and then offered him the opportunity. In the meantime Bourgeois sent down a couple custom-made bats, telling DeBrino, "Let the kids use them, let me know what you think."
And the kids love them, DeBrino said.
All these kids go out and buy these wood bats, so why not buy one that they can customize – even put their name on – and why not 'keep it in the family'? His quality is going to be amazing, because he came from the sport. We're a big baseball family. If I can help someone else that's starting out, that's great.
DeBrino also emphasized the importance of swinging a bat before buying it. Bourgeois said he'll be bringing a range of bats. The academy will have batting stations set up, so kids can try them out.
Bourgeois isn't bringing an inventory to sell, but he'll be taking orders – and offering a 20 percent discount for orders made during the event.
Many of the company's bats are highly customizable, including length, weight, paints or stains, and engraving. There's 2-4 week turnaround on orders.
The company is also working on a hardwood softball bat, which DeBrino added is great for strengthening your swing.
Bourgeois said the business is a lot of work. And also a lot of fun. He also gets a helping hand from his wife, who he calls the cornerstone of the company. She's an architect by day and helps with the business' graphic design and marketing.
"He's putting together something amazing," DeBrino said.
The event will be from 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. Rob DeBrino's Baseball and Softball Academy is located at 100 Stonehurst Court, in Northvale.