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St. Joseph Company Contributes to Final Four

Hillyard, Inc.'s products are used from middle school gyms to NBA arenas.
(ST. JOSEPH, Mo.) The NCAA Tournament isn't usually grouped with cleaning products, but the event that captures the nation's attention for three weeks out of the year reaches the stage with the backing of a St. Joseph Company.

The late Newton Hillyard changed the way basketball is played today.

"His passion for basketball has always been part of the Hillyard family," Bob Roth, Newton's great grandson and chairman of the board at Hillyard, Inc., said.

Newton, the founder of Hillyard, Inc. in 1907 in St. Joseph, took an interest in basketball -- the sport his son was fond of growing up -- and saw a need for the game's playing surface.

"In the 1920s, the way they treated gymnasium floors was with pine oil," Roth said. "Pine oil got very slippery, so he decided that he needed a safer finish on the floor for his son to play basketball on. That's how he came up with the modern day gymnasium finish."

That small venture into basketball led to a relationship with legendary Kansas coach Phog Allen and even the start of Newton's own basketball team. The Shine-Alls, named after one of Hillyard's cleaning products, won the AAU championship in 1926 and 1927.

"The Shine-Alls would travel around. They'd play Kansas, Missouri, Kenosha Motors in Wisconsin, the Phillips 66ers in Oklahoma. From my understanding, every time the Shine-Alls played it was a full house."

The Shine-Alls no longer exist in St. Joseph, but the Hillyard name has stuck around basketball ever since. From a company that started with just a cleaner and a disinfectant, their products are now used in arenas from the NBA all the way to middle school courts across the country. This weekend, the company's Surefoot Gym Floor Mop will be in action at the Final Four.
  
"We're very proud of that. All 850 employees and everybody here in St. Joseph and throughout the United States takes great pride in watching those games where they're played on a Hillyard floor."
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