Another day, another interview. It's been a pretty crazy summer for Bear and BRUCE BOLT. It just so happened that a local sports reporter with the Austin American Statesman, Leslee Bassman, came across the KVUE interview we'd done a couple of days before and wanted to write an article on Bear and the company. Leslee was so professional and wrote a very flattering article about the company and Bear. Here it is.....
Lake Pointe teen pitches new batting gloves
By Leslee Bassman Contributing writer
When rising Hyde Park High School senior Bear Mayer returns to class later this month, he won’t have to dig for material for a back-to-school essay. For Bear, growing his baseball batting glove business consumed not only his summer but may actually be his future.
In 2018, then 16-year-old Bear, with help from his father Gard Mayer, started Bruce Bolt, a company that specializes in manufacturing and selling high-quality leather batting gloves. The Lake Pointe teen also enlisted the aid of his mother and younger sister, a Lake Travis High School student, in the business.
Over the past few months, the Mayers said, interest in the product has soared.
“Every morning this summer, (Bear) wakes up and he has to be in the office,” Gard Mayer said. “He spends at least seven to eight hours a day at the office working, whether it’s going to get supplies, bringing the deliveries to the post office, putting the orders together ... before he goes to train for baseball.”
When Bear turned 16, Mayer told him that if he wanted to buy a car, he had to pay for half of it himself. Bear was able to cough up $3,500 which his father matched for a 1993 Toyota Land Cruiser, a vehicle Mayer referred to as “the coolest truck ever.” But it guzzled a lot of gas.
About a week later, Bear approached his dad for gas money. Mayer asked him to pay for it.
“I said, ‘You’re either going to have to get a job or start a company,’” Mayer recalled. ”‘You have to figure out a way to pay for your own gas.’”
Bear reasoned getting a job would be difficult given his school and baseball schedule. After all, he’s played the sport since he was in elementary school. With no other choice, he told his father his favorite thing to do was play baseball and the two discussed a problem the young man — a pitcher and middle infielder with Hyde Park’s Panther Baseball program — wanted to fix in the sport: batting gloves that easily tear and lack wrist support.
So Bear photoshopped a glove together to create a design prototype for an improved batting glove and contacted Jeff Beraznik, a big name in the field of sports gloves, having sold a football receiver glove company he co-founded and later purchased Texas-based Nokona American Ballgloves, a baseball glove manufacturing company that’s been in business for more than 80 years. Bear was introduced to Beraznik through mutual friends and the “glove king” set him up with a manufacturer in Korea, beginning Bruce Bolt’s upward climb.
“This is something I really wanted to do,” Bear said. ”(The business) started becoming my passion.”
After rolling out its first glove in September, Bruce Bolt offers a uniform short-cuff baseball glove and a long-cuff batting glove that Bear designed.
“It has two straps so you can make it as tight as you want because (the strap) is elastic (and) give yourself the support you need,” Bear said of the long-cuff glove. “But it goes further down your wrist and acts kind of like taping your wrist, like most baseball players do.”
Since Bear is a pitcher, in addition to batting and playing infield, the long-cuff glove provides strength to his batting wrists.
“Every time I’d come into pitch, I’d have to take off the wrist tape because you can’t pitch with it on,” he said. “So when I’d get up to bat, I wouldn’t have that same comfort and support of the tape and (the Bruce Bolt glove) helps because it’s like having your wrist taped without actually having to tape it.”
The leather used is a heavier grade of the soft, sheepskin Cabretta leather — at 0.9 millimeters thick — than what usually comprises batting gloves, Mayer said. This type of leather is used widely in golf but difficult to find in the thicker form of the hides that create a batting glove, he said. Local physiologists helped the Mayers create the glove in a way that mimics a player’s hand and conical shape of his or her fingertips for a better fit.
The short cuffs sell from $69.99, with the long cuffs starting at $89.99. Pricing increases with the addition of trim color, and the elite tan, or natural, series is also more expensive, Bear said.
The company name is a combination of Bruce — the first name of Bear’s grandfather, Gard’s given name and Bear’s middle name — and the bolt symbol, a nod to two lightning bolts that struck Bear’s grandfather, Mayer said. The bolt also pays homage to Roy Hobbs’ legendary bat “Wonderboy” in the classic baseball movie “The Natural,” he said.
At 11 months old, the company has sold “thousands” of pairs of its gloves to baseball players and a few female softball players, Mayer said.
“This has been far more successful than I had ever envisioned,” he said. “We’re on our third batch of gloves and we’re about to order our fourth batch.”
Although it took a little while for the gloves to catch on, Mayer said the product is currently “moving off the shelf.” And now, some professional ball players have taken notice, with Kansas City Royals right fielder Brett Phillips, New York Yankees left fielder Terrance Gore, Tampa Bay Rays pitcher Trevor Richards and Miami Marlins pitchers Pablo Lopez and Caleb Smith all donning Bruce Bolt batting gloves.
The business has a philanthropic aspect to it, donating gloves to RBI Austin, the local branch of a national nonprofit organization aimed at mentoring disadvantaged youth “through faith, education and baseball,” Gard said. For every pair of the tan gloves sold by the company, Bruce Bolt donates a pair of starter gloves to RBI Austin, a project that incentivized more professional players to don the product during play and support the cause, he said.
Sales of the gloves have been worldwide, Bear said, and available at select stores throughout the Midwest and Texas, including SteelLocker Sports on RM 620, and on Amazon and brucebolt.us.
Although college is looming, Bear is considering taking a gap year following graduation to see how far the business can go.
As for Bear’s car? It’s running on a full tank now.