Pool cue chalk company weathering tough economy

Even though Steve Hobby has had to downsize and keeps a watchful eye on his fax machine for orders, he has at least one thing going for him during this sluggish economy.

He has a fairly exclusive business.

Hobby is owner of Silver Cup Billiard Chalk Inc. in south Macon, one of only two companies in the United States that makes small cubes of chalk that pool players rub on the tips of cues.

As a small business owner, Hobby is able to cut his overhead and keep a tight rein on inventory. But the exclusivity of his business doesn't mean everything is hunky-dory.

Hobby normally would have six to seven employees during full production, but after the economy took a nose dive this past fall, he's down to two people.

"It's a down, down economy, and it affects everybody," he said. "Business is down about 30 percent from five years ago. I guess I'm fortunate to be one of those guys that sees the glass half full. I'm not a dreamer, so I don't get disappointed too often."

Hobby was born and raised in west Macon. His father bought the former Georgia Baking Co., which was founded in 1869, in the late 1940s. Hobby started working at the bakery as a preteen. He didn't know what he wanted to do when he grew up.

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