Mike on America

Down... Set... Hut...

Watch every level of football or baseball in the U.S. and there's a name you're seeing without likely knowing it: Schutt.

One of the oldest facemask and helmet companies in America, they make football helmets, batting helmets for boys and girls and, early in the last century, they invented the facemask for football.

They sell to trainers, teams, university and professional leagues -- and they give the product to their players. They've flown under the radar for years, but are making a push now for a little name recognition and a bigger share of the market.

Interesting setting -- a small town in rural America -- for an All-American product, worn by All-Americans!! It's a few hours out of St. Louis, north towards Chicago but not quite to Springfield. Plenty of jobs have been lost in this part of the country over the years, but Schutt has managed to stem that tide and keep making its product -- at least the main ones -- right in the Heartland.

We spent the day watching the product being made, which involved testing with some sophisticated equipment and processes, like a 20-pound weight dropped from a prescribed height on a 'frozen' helmet -- darn thing didn't even crack.

It's a hard-working labor force, making an only-in-America product dead center in the country. Ten thousand folks live out here -- the town next door has 200. It's all corn fields, open sky, straight roads and friendly people.

We're in good shape.

"MOA" finishes up its 'tour' of this part of the country with a stop at the TUMS factory in St. Louis next.

Do I hear a jingle?

Questions?  Comments?  mikeonamerica@nbcuni.com