I've been a machinist and welder most of my life. I have so many certifications for welding that you can't fit them all in a box yet alone a billfold. I'm a current up to date, Nuclear Certified welder, for atomic energy plants. My story as a cue maker is more what you want to hear, so let me take you back to 1971 in Tampa, Florida. I had my Harley Davidson's, ran the roads and shot pool. Shooting pool was like a side job and what I used to play the game with was my shooting iron. Another long name for a cue stick. My shaft was in need of repair, so in asking around about where to go, this man named, Rocky Tillis, was highly talked about. After finding out where to go, on the Harley I went with my cue. I was impressed with the small shop at Rocky's home and was instantly overtook by this man's vast knowledge, of not just cue making, but to be one who could make anything.
I devoted many hours over the next five years to learning from this master cue maker. By 1976, his growing business made me start helping him full time turning out the Tillis Cue's.
For the next seven years, we worked tirelessly building the reputation of the Tillis Cue. By 1983, Rocky moved the shop to a larger building and the orders rolled in. The large number of professional players who visited Florida yearly for the winter tournaments helped spread the reputation of a cue you could break and shoot with. The Tillis cues were what the Player's wanted.
In late 1983, Rocky suffered a severe stroke and his health became a factor and only a limited number of cues were made by Rocky during the later years of his life. I returned to my old trade of welding. I wanted to buy the shop, but I lacked the finances.
Rocky decided to sell his shop to a friend that was no stranger to the shooting end of pool. T.R. McIntosh, a big time pool stake horse, had bought Rocky's shop. T.R., after becoming owner, made me a partner.During the next two years, Derby Cues became my second home. The company grew and employed such well known professional pool players as Buddy Hall and Steve Cook as representatives. But by 1986, T.R. McIntosh, originally from Kentucky, became thoroughly involved in raising race horses. Reluctantly, I was back to welding.
The equipment was then sold to Charlie Robertson of Robertson's Billiard Supply, the oldest billiard supply business in Florida. Charlie immediately set the shop back up and I was running a new cue company again.
During the next two years, My fame as a cue maker grew, and almost every major player
came to me for cue needs. Orders came in as far away as Germany for my famous Sneaky Petes with their hand-spliced butt and micarta ferrell. Pros came from all over the country to have shafts build for their cues. You would think things was good, but I wanted to be totally on my own. In 1989, after thirteen years of working for someone else, I wanted my own shop. I mortgaged my home, drew out my savings, and dove head first into the business that I loved. My new shop was at Baker's Billiard Academy. Late in the 90s I moved my shop out of Baker's Billiard Academy in Tampa, Florida, and decided to take a break for a while.
Since 1993 I've been back at it
again with a very good friend of mine.
Terry McEniry, or Mullet, is what I've always called him for he was and still is a commercial fisherman. Mullet is the other one, that since he was a little one, grew up being taught by Rocky Tillis. He knew that new Florida Laws were being passed banning nets and with all the new restrictions being put on the fishing industry, he also was falling back on his cue making.
So now we want you to know,
We Aint Dead Yet,
We look forward to supplying the needs of other cue maker's as well as making cue's for the players. We would be very glad to help you out in any way. Now you know why a welding and fabricating shop is in a saw mill full of logs for our cue making.
Again, to all of the players out there, thank you so much for all of your support and trust throughout the years, I really do appreciate it.