NEO Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year
Retail and Consumer Products
president and CEO
Ball, Bounce and Sport, Inc.
In 1982, Jim Braeunig started with Ball, Bounce and Sport, Inc., a subsidiary of Hedstrom, as a factory manager. Through the two decades following, Braeunig moved up in the manufacturer of rubber balls to director of operations, vice president of operations and eventually general manager.
Although BBS historically was a profitable subsidiary of Hedstrom, the majority of the company’s other subsidiaries were not. As a result, Hedstrom went through a rollercoaster of private equity buyouts and bankruptcies in the late 1990s and early 2000s. When Hedstrom encountered its second bankruptcy in 2004, Braeunig and a couple of other local investors decided to purchase the company to focus on BBS.
Upon the purchase of BBS in 2004, Braeunig and his team immediately went to work. They hired back several employees previously let go as a result of the bankruptcy, formed a joint venture with a Chinese manufacturer, obtained the support of retailers such as Target, Walgreens and Dick’s Sporting Goods, and after two years of consistent efforts, began to collect on the receivables of BBS purchased from bankruptcy court.
Today, BBS is still connected to the Hedstrom name, doing business as Hedstrom. Braeunig made revolutionary changes to the company, taking advantage of global resources and developing strategic business relationships.
In 2010, BBS acquired Diamond Plastics, and in 2012, Bosu, New Wave Container and Regent Sports were acquired. As a result of these acquisitions, BBS expanded its product offering to plastic dumpsters and names such as Meiter and McGregor for its sporting good products.
Even though BBS is booming, Braeunig is not ignoring potential future challenges. With increasing labor costs and high inflation rate in China, the company has started to seek an alternative to outsource manufacturing of certain products back to the U.S. or Mexico.
BBS owns 98 percent of U.S. and Canadian rubber ball markets and a growing percentage of the rotational molding market.
How to reach: Ball Bounce and Sport, Inc., www.hedstrom.com