Drumstick maker buys from Demopolis

Published 7:32 pm Monday, June 28, 2010

Drummers all over world owe a debt of gratitude to Demopolis thanks to a four-decade old relationship between the Demopolis Hickory Mill and the J.D. Calato Company, one of the leading manufacturers of drumsticks.

“With Demopolis Hickory Mill, we have been doing business since the Turners owned it,” said company president Carol Calato.

No one is exactly sure how far back the business goes. Carol began working with her father in 1973. At that time, the relationship between Calato and Demopolis was already fortified.

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“We’re real fussy about the mills that we got to,” said Calato, who took over the company from her father J.D., the man who invented the rubber tip at the end of drumsticks. “And the best hickory for drumsticks comes from the Southeast. Every good drumstick starts with a good piece of wood.”

Calato, a native of Niagara Falls, N.Y., recently paid just her second visit to the Demopolis mill. The trip is one she said she enjoys.

“First of all, there’s a big difference in temperature,” Calato said. “I’m jealous of you all in the wintertime. There’s a Southern hospitality that you feel when you come down here. And then, there’s the food.”

But Calato’s favorite thing about Demopolis is still the hickory. And her company gets plenty of the wood from Demopolis each year.

The Demopolis mill sends Calato shipments once a month, loads that range between 40,000 to 60,000 pieces at a time.

The mill takes in the timber and then works it down to board form before converting it into dowels and shipping them out to Calato, the oldest customer for Demopolis’ hickory industry.

“Obviously we work well together,” Carol said of Calato’s relationship with Dan Lawrence, head of the Demopolis Hickory Mill.

Lawrence, who took over the mill in 1988, said the Calato account is the facility’s biggest.

“They’d be the No. 1 (customer),” said Lawrence, whose mill also produces wood for axe, hammer and sledge hammer handles.

“We make drumsticks for drummers all around the world,” Calato said. “Drummers around the world owe Demopolis a ‘thank you.’”