Local News

Triangle Company Caught in NCAA Hoopla

Posted March 28, 1997 12:00 a.m. EST

— Here's a little NCAA trivia: What North Carolina town couldn't help but be represented at the tournament? Here's a hint, the involvement is symbolic, but incredibly necessary.

Year after year, one Triangle company is always in the middle of the NCAA hoopla.

When you watch a game, everyone's attention is on the basket, right? But how often have you really looked at it? Have you ever noticed the name?

You'll find only Hydra-Rib backboards in the NCAA Tournament games, as well as quite a few in the pros, and for teams in 63 countries. So where does this backboard industry leader call home? Fuquay-Varina.

25 workers put together backboards for the world to see. Each one, a precise molded piece of metal, weighing 3,200 pounds.

According to company president Bill Austin, here in Fuquay-Varina, "March Madness" begins in January. "And we go through 30 to 45 days of March madness preparations and then it's on to the big game."

Since 1960, Hydra-Rib has been in the big games. Austin says the company worked with N.C. State engineers to develop a backboard that withstands the extreme force basketball players put upon it. "We're kind of the Timex of basketball, takes a licking and keeps on ticking." But that doesn't mean they don't break...occasionally.

Oklahoma State's Bryant Reeves, known to fans as "Big Country," broke the first one in 1993. Another shattered during a tournament game against Carolina last year.

But you can count on one hand how many Hydra-Ribs have broken over the years, and their reputation for stability makes this Wake County company stand tall."To be able to look out on the end court of a premiere sporting event, such as college basketball, the fact that we're on tobacco road ads further excitement to it, and it does put goosebumps up your spine to know that you were directly involved in making all that happen."

The Hydra-Rib crew has been hard at work, getting new backboards up in the RCA Dome, in time for the Final Four. They placed locks on the nets to make sure no one practiced on them yet. In the unlikely event either of these break, they do have a backup.