June 21, 2018
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Maine drumstick maker to add 14 jobs, percussion mallet line

Kevin Bennett | BDN
Kevin Bennett | BDN
Nylon-tipped drumsticks wait in a container for the next step of processing in this 2008 file photo taken at the Vic Firth's drumstick facility in Newport.
By Lori Valigra

Newport soon will be home to two prominent percussion parts makers when an Illinois mallet company moves its production there.

Avendis Zildjian Co. of Massachusetts said Thursday it has purchased the Mike Balter Mallet Co. of Prospect Heights, Illinois, for an undisclosed amount and will move its production into the Newport factory of Vic Firth, the world’s largest drumstick maker and another Zildjian-owned company.

The acquisition will create 14 new jobs in Newport, the company said.

“Over the past 40 years, Mike has developed the broadest selection of mallets in the industry, including signature series models for such renowned artists as Louie Bellson, Joe Locke, Tony Miceli, Christos Rafalides, Keiko Kotoku and Emil Richards,” said parent company CEO Craigie Zildjian.

The Balter brand will be be kept and transitioned to Zildjian over the first half of this year, including sales and marketing operations.

Vic Firth started as a wood-turning company that also made pepper mills and rolling pins. Gov. Paul LePage was a vice president there from 1994 to 1996.

Musician Everett Firth, who died in 2015, originally made the drumsticks for his own use, but they quickly gained popularity and have been used by drummers ranging from jazz legend Billy Cobham to Queen’s Roger Taylor.

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