WEST OCEAN CITY — Tucked away in a little workshop behind his West Ocean City home, Ben Greene is making a living doing what he loves. Greene, a former auto mechanic, devotes his time to making and repairing pool cues.
“There’s nothing I’d rather do than this, and to make a living at it is fantastic,” Greene said.
For the last seven years, Greene has been working full-time in an avocation that started as a hobby in the 1980s. Back then, as an avid pool player, Greene occasionally repaired pool cues for his fellow players. After noticing flaws in some of the cues fellow players shot with, he decided to try his hand at actually making his own sticks.
“I thought I might be able to do it better,” he said, explaining that he wanted a cue that would last forever, play straight and look good.
Greene used his background experience with machines and his knowledge of the game of pool to come up with a product he could be proud of.
“I want these cues to be around in 40 or 50 years,” he said.
While there are endless types of cues available through the Internet, Greene says after a year or two many of those will begin to wear and warp.
His cues, however, are made with precision and will stand straight, he said.
“I’m the only one that touches the wood from start to finish,” he said.
Because, locally, pool is played mostly in bars, which typically surround tables with tight spaces, Greene has come up with an innovation to make his cues handier. He has created a cue with a removable bottom that can be unscrewed to shorten the stick when a player is in a tight spot.
“When it’s together you can’t even tell it comes apart,” he said.
Greene says he stays busy with his new occupation, making between 30 and 40 pool sticks a year and doing repairs. He said word of mouth has given him plenty of business, with tourists — who see his sticks in local bars — making up much of his custom work.
Greene said he loves working with customers to help them decide exactly what they want in their new cue, down to the type of wood. Based on the time and materials involved, his cues typically range from $300 to $3,000.
While customers can have him build them a simple model, there are also those that want something higher-end. So Greene is currently working on a cue that will have gemstones inlays.