Since their launch in 2012 B3 Cricket have become one of the fastest-growing cricket brands around – thanks to their unique high-tech approach to making custom-made bats for the discerning amateur player.
In June 2015, however, the Nottingham-based business was hit by a blaze that ripped through a neighbouring industrial unit and spread to their factory. B3 managing director Michael Blatherwick arrived at the site after a call from the Fire Brigade. “I expected a small fire,” he says, “but when I arrived and saw six fire engines outside, it was obvious it was quite serious. We just sat there for about five hours watching the firefighters battling the flames. All I could think was: ‘That’s it, it’s gone’.”
But like a phoenix from the flames, B3 is back on the rise. Despite a 12-week period in which they couldn’t make bats and a total cost to the business of around £200,000, the company are in new premises and have taken delivery of a new state-of-the-art CNC (computer numerical control) bat-making machine. Blatherwick believes they are now stronger than ever. “On a positive note, the fire gave us time to step back and streamline things. Our production processes and brand new machinery mean our bats are even better than before the fire.”
WHAT MAKES B3 UNIQUE
B3’s ‘Pro Custom’ service has made them one of the most talked about bat-makers in the world in a very short space of time. Their investment in the B3 factory and its state-of the-art bat-making technology means that they can make custom bats on an individual basis for every customer. “We cater for fussiness,” Blatherwick says, “for players who know what they want from a bat: shape, weight, even the number of grains in the blade.” Their customers can design their own bat in 3D online, with a mind-boggling 600,000 possible combinations available – everything from weight, bat-handle size and shape, profile, edge width, spines, grips and stickers can be changed to suit individual preference, and prices fall within a sensible range, from £99 to £350.
No stone is left unturned in B3’s bid to make the perfect bat. Their founding principle is to give the discerning amateur cricketer a level of control, quality and service normally reserved for professionals. And by operating through direct sales rather than retailers, they can offer a highly personal service and great value for money. As Blatherwick says: “We want to build on the principle of giving our customers as good a bat as the professionals get, but at the right price.”
GREAT TECHNOLOGY, GREAT BATS
The key to B3’s methods is the use of CNC machines to carve the bats, as opposed to more old-fashioned ‘pod-shaving’ methods. B3 production director David Bacon – a man with a PhD in materials engineering and over 10 years of experience of cricket bat design and manufacture, explains: “The use of CNC machines and lathes has been around for some time now. However, they have only really been used in mass production and that doesn’t give the individual player the flexibility to design their perfect bat. At B3 we slow the whole process down and, using our expert willow knowledge and CAD (computer-aided design) skills, we can literally make the perfect bat to suit each player.” If you take in your old bat, they’ll even assess the area you hit the ball most often and build a swell and balance to suit your particular batting style.
Even after tweaking your bat’s design to your heart’s content, there’s still B3’s ‘No Quibble Guarantee’, so if you get your bat home and decide it isn’t right, they’ll change it for you, no questions asked. And it’s fast, too. A new bespoke bat can be turned round in four to five days, and if you send them a bat for modification or repair on a Tuesday, they’ll have it back with you by the Friday ready for your weekend match – or failing that, provide a loan bat for the game. From start to finish their focus is giving every customer exactly what they’re after – no matter what it is or how long it takes.
RISING AND RISING
Now, after everything, B3 Cricket’s heartening rise from the ashes is complete – and looks set to go even further. Because with unique, quality products and unbeatable customer service at a fair and realistic price, B3 have damn near exactly what every recreational cricketer is looking for.