Lake Mills duo starts Black Widow Bats
Twenty-seven-year-old Nate Keller played baseball all his life. From little league, to high school, to college, Keller dreamed of making the big leagues. In college, Keller suffered a shoulder injury and had to face an all-to-familiar reality.
“I realized I wouldn’t be playing ball for too many years to come, so I just hope I can stay in the baseball world.”
Two years ago, while playing Home Talent baseball in Lake Mills, Keller started making his own wooden bats. Friends took notice of Keller’s creation and started buying the bats.
Sixteen months ago, Keller and his wife welcomed their son Kannon into the world and when the new father needed work, he had baseball on the brain.
“I love hand crafting stuff out of wood. It just kind of fit. I did a lot of research on wood bats and how to make them, and came up with a good product.”
Keller knew he had something special, so he called former classmate Andrew Pickhard. Years ago, when they attended Lake Mills high school, Keller and Pickhard shared a computer business, so Keller made his pitch to his old partner. Pickhard never played baseball past little league, but what he lacked in brawn, the mechanical engineer made up for in brains. Pickhard helped design a bat using his computer.
“We make a 3-D model of the bat. We look at how it’s going to turn out, as far as weight goes and where the strength is in it. Then we get a template based on that that we can use to produce it on our lathe.”
Black Widow Bats started swinging in Dec. 2015. According to Keller, the bats have been a huge hit.
“Everybody who’s hit my bats have loved them, so we have no bad reviews. I’m just trying to get my bats in everybody’s hands to hit.”
Keller still dreams of the majors, but today he dreams of making the bats instead of taking at-bats.
“I think that’s the American Dream.”