An investigation is underway into the fire that killed 10 people last Friday at the Launch Technologies golf ball factory in Pingtung City, Taiwan.
Launch Technologies is one of the largest golf ball manufacturers in the world, producing approximately 20 percent of the world’s supply. Launch Tech works closely with Callaway, notably producing the ERC Soft and Supersoft balls. The company also makes all the balls for Topgolf. Additionally, Launch Tech supplies other OEMs with two-piece balls, including TaylorMade, Bridgestone and Mizuno. It also services many direct-to-consumer companies.
Its customer list also includes OnCore, Odin, Sugar, Seed and Penfold.
More Than 100 Injured
The fire started Friday and was followed by two separate explosions that caused portions of the building to collapse. While the cause of the fire is under investigation, the Associated Press is reporting that Launch Tech has already been fined $75,000 and could face criminal charges for public endangerment and negligent manslaughter.
Specifically, AP is reporting that Launch Tech had more than 3,000 tons of organic peroxides stored at its factory. Only 100 tons were permitted.
Highly flammable organic peroxide is used to manufacture golf ball cores. Taiwanese law requires organic peroxide to be stored in a separate warehouse. But Launch Tech kept the material on the first floor of its factory, according to the AP report.
Taiwan’s Ministry of Labor is launching an occupational safety investigation. The Launch Tech factory had previously been fined for other safety violations.
In addition to the 10 people killed, more than 100 suffered injuries including firefighters and other first responders.
Callaway released the following statement over the weekend:
We are aware of the fire that occurred on Friday at the Pingtung City golf ball factory and are working directly with Launch Tech and local authorities to gather more information. Our thoughts are with all the first responders, employees and families of those who have been affected.
Launch Tech has become the go-to supplier of golf balls for many smaller direct-to-consumer brands. The company is listed on the Taipei Stock Exchange and shipped more than 260 million golf balls last year. Roughly 80 percent of its business is in the United States.
One source told MyGolfSpy that the factory will likely be out of commission for up to a year.
MyGolfSpy will have more information as it becomes available.