Bad Boy may be known for its lawn mowers, but the Batesville-based company will get to grow its brand thanks to a recent expansion.
The company celebrated the opening Wednesday of its new 121,000 square foot facility, where workers are building the new line of Intimidator Utility Vehicles, or UTVs.
"We've got seven new models [of UTVs] coming out," said Robert Foster, the co-owner of Bad Boy. "Within a four-month period, we'll have seven new models out, and we're working on three other models."
Foster says Bad Boy sent out its first shipment of UTVs after the event wrapped up Wednesday. Before the company did that, however, it chose to give the first Intimidator to Arkansas State University in Jonesboro.
Dr. Tim Hudson, the ASU chancellor, accepted the keys to the university's new heavy-duty work vehicle. He then drove through the ribbon with Governor Mike Beebe riding shotgun to officially open the new facility.
"It seems like I'm here every couple of months for some good announcement," Governor Beebe said during the event, "and I'm just here again to say congratulations to the people of Batesville, the people of Independence County and to [co-owners] Phillip [Pulley] and Robert [Foster] and their team."
The expansion has already allowed Bad Boy to grow its workforce. Foster says the company has hired 40 new people this year, and he expects the plant to employ at least 200 in the next five years.
"We're up to building four to five machines a day right now," Foster said. "Hopefully by next year, we'll be doing 20 to 25 a day, and then the year after that get to 30 to 35 a day and just keep growing it that way."
He says Bad Boy owes the completion of its expansion partly to the Arkansas Economic Development Commission as well as the Independence County Economic Development Commission. Both groups gave the company money to finish its project. The funds provided by Independence County came from its economic development tax, which Batesville Mayor Rick Elumbaugh championed Wednesday.
"Our citizens stepped up. They were behind this," Elumbaugh said. "They came back, and they passed an economic development tax that helped support our local industries, such as Bad Boy's that we're sitting in here today.
"They've helped Future Fuel, Flowers Bakery, Peco Foods, White River Medical Center and Arkansas Access One and many others," the mayor added, "and there will be many others to come."
Foster says he was happy that he got to celebrate his company's progress Wednesday with the community as well as local and state leaders.
"You have the feel that they want us to do good," Foster said. "It's such a good feeling when the community is rooting for you to do good."
Sen. Mark Pryor, a Democrat, also congratulated Foster and his business partner Wednesday for all the success and growth they've experience since they started Bad Boy in 1998.
"We've had a front row seat to see what's happened here with Bad Boy just in the last few years and let me tell you — it is a prime example of a great American success story," Pryor said. "It's a great example of an Arkansas success story."