A Hancock County company has been manufacturing some of the most popular drum sticks for 25 years now. Friday night "Hot Sticks" will be honored as Hancock County's Industry of the Year.
"We went from maybe making 25 to 30 thousand pair a year to now we're making over 150 thousand pair a year. Every year it's growing more and more," Hot Sticks Manager Thomas Rose said.
The late Chris Torgerson and Kevin Pokallus started the company after Torgersen suggested her drummer friend paint his drum sticks.
"So she painted a pair of his sticks. A lot of his drummer friends were real impressed with them, so Kevin got the idea that, wow, there may be a market for this."
It wasn't long before that market turned global. The company's foil wrapped sticks are hot sellers at Hard Rock Cafes.
"They have a 105 locations around the world and we're in all of them."
You can also find the company's drum sticks in Disneyland, Dollywood, and Elvis' mansion, Graceland.
"As production has picked up, our business has grown and our employees have grown. We're now at 12 employees and probably by mid summer we'll be looking to hire three or four more people."
As the company grows, it brings more jobs for people like Hancock County native Jason Homer, who used to work as a cook.
"Oh, a lot more money. Over there I was only making minimum wage, $5.15 an hour, so it's definetly helped with financial. It's a big step up from where I was."
Another big step is on the way for Hot Sticks. An expansion project is underway that will nearly double the size of the plant and put more Mississippi made drum sticks into the hands of musicians around the world.
Hot Sticks are already in the hands of many famous drummers. Groups like Alabama, The Pointer Sisters, and The Cars have, at one time, used the Hancock County made drum sticks.
by Al Showers
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