Tag Archives: american jobs

Working With Dad

Nobody was better with a wrench than Dad…

As we celebrate Father’s Day, we here at Backyard Buddy can’t help reminiscing about learning to work on cars with our dads, and thinking about some of the ways we can pass a love of wrenching on to our kids. A lot of us had great times working with our dads, whether it was handing him tools while he did routine maintenance on the family’s Olds 88, or him helping us keep the pile of junk that was our first car running so we could go out on a saturday night.

For a lot of us, it seems like nobody was better with a wrench than Dad, although we suspect that he thought the same thing about Grandpa. If you’d like your kids to think the same thing about you, there’s no better way than to have them help you take care of your vehicle, whether it’s the family minivan or your fully-restored 58 Vette, or for you to help them take care of theirs.

For young kids, or kids without much interest in “how things go”

Take them on a “tour” of your family’s vehicle. They’ve likely never given much thought to how a car works (Mommy or Daddy sit up front and we get where we need to go!), but if you ask them how they think a car goes, they may suddenly be very curious about how it works.

The key is to keep it simple and fun. Show them that the gas pedal makes the car go and the brake makes it stop (you can show them the clutch, but good luck explaining the transmission. There’s plenty of adults that don’t get how that works), let them turn on the wipers and the turn signals, and as long as you’re sitting in the driver’s seat, let them turn the engine on and off. For the finale, let them pop the hood (if they can) to hear the satisfying “thunk” of the release, and lift them up to look into the engine bay. If they’re still curious, you can talk with them about how the engine works and show them the major components.

Once you’ve shown them the basics, Invite them to “help” whenever you’re working on something, but be fully aware that they’re probably going to wander off or stay and ask 100 questions, so be prepared to not get much done.

For school kids

This is the classic “hold this flashlight for me. No, point it there. No THERE” age that we all survived. Unfortunately, this is not the best way to get kids to fall in love with wrenching.

Instead, try holding the flashlight for them. Give them simple tasks that you know they can manage (break a lug nut free and then let them take it all the way off, have them check the pressure on the tires, let them pour the oil in during an oil change), explain carefully what they need to do to complete it and what tools they need to use, help them if they get stuck, and encourage them when they are successful. It can take the patience of a saint, but the worst thing to do is to take over the job from them when they’re too slow, or doing something wrong. The investment in time and patience will be worth it!

When you’re working on a project, bring them over and explain what you’re trying to do (“I need to change the parts that make the car stop”) and give them a simple overview of the steps you need to take to do it, then ask them if they’d like to help. Odds are they’ll wander off in 5 minutes anyway, but it can be hard to tell what will strike a child’s curiosity. We’ve seen a first grader with no interest in cars suddenly decide that she was going to be an expert in changing out a dead brake light bulb after asking her dad what he was doing to the car, and she became a lifesafer getting into the confined space with her little hand.

Also, don’t overlook teaching them to fix their things. Instead of fixing a flat tire or squeaky brakes on their bike, work with them to help them fix it.

Like most skill building with kids, the keys are to be patient, explain things thoroughly, and let them learn from mistakes (this may not be the time for them to help with the Vette mentioned above), while celebrating their successes. They’ll have plenty of time to curse at a stuck bolt when they’re older. For now, try to keep it fun and enjoyable.

For older kids

Hopefully by now you’ve sparked an interest in wrenching, but don’t be disappointed if your teenager doesn’t want to get a junked car and rebuild it for their first car.

Many of our households had a “you drive it, you fix it” rule, and while we may not have appreciated it at the time, we learned a lot from it. Although modern cars are getting harder and harder for backyard and shade tree mechanics to repair, you can still help your kids do basic maintenance on their own vehicles. Again, be patient, but teach them how to change oil, change air filters, swap out a battery, replace dead bulbs, check tire pressure, and fix the basic little problems that come up with their car. Always be there to help, but make sure they’re the one doing the work. Even if they’ve never shown an interest before, once their ride is on the line, teens may suddenly be all ears about how to maintain and fix their car.

After all this, your kid may not end up being the type that can tear down an engine or fix anything with spit and bailing wire, but they will at least know the basics of working with their hands to take care of their own vehicle. That’s a Father’s Day gift for all of us.

As always, we’re here to help you work on your vehicles with lifts and accessories that even the youngest mechanic can appreciate. Give us a call at (800) 837-9353 from 8:00 to 5:00 Eastern time so that we can help you find a lift that your kids are likely to inherit.

5 Things to Consider When Buying the Best Car Lift

Buying a new car lift is not exactly as exciting as a buying a new car. However, picking the best car lift is nearly as important as picking the car you’re going to put on it.  There is nothing worse than thinking you’ve picked a quality product, only to learn later that it is substandard in design and, crucially, safety.

But with so many companies and brands of auto lifts to choose from, making the right choice for your auto needs can be difficult.  It’s necessary to understand the differences between lift designs, and make decisions based on the quality of the lift and its manufacturer.  Just like a car, if you want find out how well your auto lift will function, you need to “pop the hood”!  Whether you’re a mechanic working in a full-scale garage or a car collector who needs a car lift for the home garage, you’ll want to consider these 5 things to buy the best car lift:

Car Lift Column and Lock Design

The Column and Lock design is one of the most important things to consider as relates to the safety of your auto lift.  The leg and slider combo of a lift determines its rigidity— will it wobble, or will it stand firm under the pressure of your vehicle? To know for sure, all you really need to consider is whether the column and lock is designed as an “inside plastic slider” or an “outside steel sleeve.” The inside plastic slider is the design to avoid! These designs have a smaller plastic material block that rides inside an open-sided, bent thin gauge leg, to keep the sliders and lock inside the leg. Unfortunately, this means the legs can also pivot and wobble where the sliders meet the leg. On the other hand, outside steel slider joints are engineered much differently, because they use steel tubing to wrap around the outside of the leg instead of plastic blocks on the inside. Steel equals rigidity! An outside steel slider creates a solid joint that eliminates wobble and keeps your vehicle secure.

Power Unit

Picture this: you push the button on your lift to engage the power unit, and begin lifting your classic car. You’re approaching the garage ceiling, and it’s time to shut off the power. But instead of stopping, the motor keeps running— and your car keeps rising. In a matter of seconds, you’ve turned your classic into a crunch of scrap metal. How could this happen? Probably because your lift’s power unit came from an overseas distributor whose power units are prone to failure. A lot of Chinese units pull upwards of 30 amps, and only offer a 90-day warranty on the life of the power unit. You’re probably planning to own your auto lift for more than 90 days… so you should have a power unit that is also designed to last for much longer.  Before making a lift purchase, do some digging to find out where the power unit has been constructed. For companies like us at Backyard Buddy, American-made power units (and our 5-year warranty) are the standard put into all our auto lifts.

Construction

What kind of stuff is your lift made of?  From the cables to the lock linkage to the shape and material of the metal, how your auto lift is constructed will speak to its quality and safety.  In considering cables, a respectable rule of thumb is: if you cannot see cable coming out of the lift’s threaded end cable, they aren’t good cables.  Good cables have flexibility, strength, and intelligent design. Since cables are responsible for hoisting the weight of your car, these are three vital components you want your cables to possess!  Lock linkage is another little detail that will give you a good indication of a lift’s quality, but it’s also one of the most underrated. Steel rods that are 3/8 inch, with precision rod ends, offer positive locking and a smooth quality feel. This kind of rod engages properly so your lift locks every time. In contrast, cheaply-made lifts usually use 1/4 inch rods with cheap ends; these rods can bend and fail to activate the locking mechanism on a lift— a safety hazard waiting to happen. Don’t overlook those little details! Finally, what metal makes up your lift determines the lift’s durability.  American-made steel lift frames have been proven to outlast foreign steel, and be much stronger, because they lack the impurities that make “off-shore” steel difficult to weld properly.

Functionality

No matter what you intend to use your lift for— working on your car, storing multiple cars, conserving space in the garage— you want a lift that has functionality within its space, and also compatibility with accessories that can increase lift functions.  For example, if you’re a city dweller, where real estate is limited and storage is expensive, a residential car lift should afford you an increase in storage by stacking two vehicles safely on top of each other (so
you’ve got room for the minivan and the Maserati!). But what else can your lift do? Being able to add accessories, like hard rubber casters, increase functionality by making that auto lift easy to move around your space, so you can work in or organize your garage efficiently.  The more customizable the lift, the better it’ll suit your lifestyle.

Warranty

As mentioned earlier, you’re probably planning to own your car lift for a long time. Which means it needs to maintain working order for a long time.  Any distributor that has a warranty full of caveats and asterisks, or a “ship and wait policy,” should automatically raise a red flag.  An auto lift that offers a free, no-questions-asked policy, or has an extended warranty period, is going to give you the best (and most long-lasting) bang for your buck.  For example, at Backyard Buddy, we offer a warranty of 5 years top to bottom, with no fine print to wade through.  Extended warranties are also available at the time of lift purchase.  When buying your lift, always ask about the warranty!

Once you’ve considered these 5 things while buying a car lift— column and lock design, power unit, construction, functionality, and warranty— you’ll be on the right track to choosing the best lift to fit your needs and your life.  When it comes to car lifts, you truly get what you pay for. Considering the key elements that go into an auto lift, from the initial construction to the after-purchase warranty, will help you determine what is worth the most— a lift’s price, or its value? When you’re driving your car, you want that car to be safe, reliable, and maybe a little bit impressive. You should expect the same from your car lift!

Let’s Work Together

I don’t know about you, but if I never see another political ad again, I’ll die a happy man.  This was one of the most tumultuous presidential elections I’ve ever witnessed, and I’ve been around for a little while.  Whichever side of the aisle you stand, you have to admit that there was far too much negative rhetoric being hurled at the other side.

The result of this election stunned “the establishment,” shocked the mainstream media, and left the pundits asking, “How could we have been so wrong?”  Even The New York Times’ publisher, Arthur Sulzberger Jr. admitted the paper failed to appreciate Donald Trump’s appeal.  He is quoted as saying, “After such an erratic and unpredictable election there are inevitable questions: Did Donald Trump’s sheer unconventionality lead us and other news outlets to underestimate his support among American voters?”

He’s not the only one asking those questions.  And there are a large number of people who are pretty damn angry about him winning.  But the Electoral College spoke volumes on election night; it was a sea of red.  Our president-elect is a candidate who appealed to Americans who felt unheard.  He listened.  They voted.

I employ nearly 30 hard-working, blue collar workers; many who have families to support.  During this economic decline; they’ve had no voice.  I stumbled on an explanation of this year’s presidential election outcome by Mike Rowe, former host of “Dirty Jobs” on The Discovery Channel.  He wrote a Facebook post comparing Trump’s White House win to his 2003 “Dirty Jobs” pilot on The Discovery Channel.  His reasoning sure makes sense to me.

This is an excerpt from a November 11, 2016 article in The Washington Times, titled, “Mike Rowe Explains the Real Reason Donald Trump Won” —

“It wasn’t pretty or careful. It took place in sewers and septic tanks, and featured a subversive host in close contact with his 8-year-old inner child who refused to do second takes,” the 54-year-old wrote. “Everyone agreed that Dirty Jobs was totally ‘off-brand’ and completely inappropriate for Discovery. Everyone but the viewers.

“Dirty Jobs didn’t resonate because the host was incredibly charming. It wasn’t a hit because it was gross, or irreverent, or funny, or silly, or smart, or terribly clever,” he continued. “Dirty Jobs succeeded because it was authentic. It spoke directly and candidly to a big chunk of the country that non-fiction networks had been completely ignoring. In a very simple way, Dirty Jobs said ‘Hey — we can see you,’ to millions of regular people who had started to feel invisible. Ultimately, that’s why Dirty Jobs ran for eight seasons. And today, that’s also why Donald Trump is the President of the United States.”

You see, the silenced finally found a voice; they found someone willing to listen.  Celebrity elitists just don’t represent a majority of the electorates.  (Have any of them packed up and moved out yet?)

There are lots of angry people out there; some of them are still protesting.  And because they live in this country, they have that First Amendment right – the rights that allow us to march in the streets, to worship freely, and to share our thoughts through blogs like this one.

Speaking to supporters at a victory celebration, Trump said it best, “It’s time for America to bind the wounds of division.  I say it is time for us to come together as a united country.”

I agree. Let’s start working together.

Stand Up, America

It’s obvious that there’s a lot of turmoil going on in America right now. In the past few years, we’ve seen riots over race and officer-involved shootings, an extremely divisive presidential race, and a growing feeling that something’s just not right.

At Backyard Buddy, we’re proud to be a business that is keeping Ohio’s strong manufacturing tradition alive. We’re proud of our commitment to building our lifts and accessories using American-made raw materials assembled by American workers. But what we’re most proud of is what we all are: American.

One of the core, fundamental values of being an American is that we are all responsible to and for our country. We are all in this together. This is our country, and together with our fellow citizens, we will keep her strong and work to solve any problems that we run into along the way. This spirit has kept our country strong even through a Civil War that almost tore us permanently apart, and through all of the ups and downs over the past 240 years. Even though we are facing some tough issues right now, every one of us should be proud to be American, and committed to working together for our future, even if there are many different visions of that future.

Unfortunately, not everyone feels this way. This summer and fall, we’ve seen athletes from the NFL to high school teams, and even American Olympians taking a knee for the national anthem. While we respect everyone’s right to free speech, this is a deliberately disrespectful act and we cannot support those who do it. Our flag and our anthem are symbols of the rights and duties that each and every one of us has as an American, and disrespecting them is disrespecting all of us, especially the veterans who fought and died for everything these symbols stand for.

We understand that the people doing this may feel that they don’t have a voice, but they are wrong. Each of us has a voice. Our collective voice is heard every time we vote. Our individual voices are heard through a free press, and thanks to the internet, everyone can share their opinion with the rest of the country. If we want to commit to deeper change, any one of us can participate in local politics by attending and speaking at local government meetings, or even running for office. In most places, running for local elective office is far easier than people think, and often only requires that you be well-respected in the community.

One of the greatest things about being an American is that each and every one of us has the power to change our country, but none of us can do it alone. We can organize our neighbors to change a neighborhood. We can work with others to change an entire city. A select 44 of us have inspired their peers to be given the honor of helping change the entire country.

Instead of protesting the symbols of our country, those who want to change it the most should celebrate that they are given the opportunity to do just that. No matter how much you disagree with what may be happening, stand tall and proud that you are an American, and that you have the power to create the change you want to see.

Let’s Make America Great Again

Normally, I wouldn’t dedicate a blog to the U.S. presidential race, but this year we have the choice of someone who isn’t the normal candidate. This year, I ask that you join me in supporting Donald J. Trump, because he is not just another politician, and he is the best candidate that American businesses and workers have had in their corner in years.

It’s no secret that I, along with many other American business owners, have to constantly fight against a tide of cheap, crummy, low-cost foreign products. For most of my adult life, I’ve watched good manufacturing and industrial jobs leave the United States for Mexico, China, and everywhere else but here.

As a patriotic American who served in the U.S. Marine Corps, as someone who loves my country, and as a businessman who is trying to provide for my family and the families of all those who work at Backyard Buddy, it pains me to see good jobs leave the country. Our hometown of Warren, Ohio, like many other small cities and towns across America, has been devastated by the mass exodus of manufacturing jobs over the past 40 years. I’m sick of watching the “American Dream” fight for its life.

For the first time in a long time, I have faith that a presidential candidate will actually live up to his promises. Trump has repeated one simple pledge over and over: to make America great again.

Here at Backyard Buddy, I’ve spent decades doing my small part to keep America strong. To keep good jobs in America. To help my fellow Americans make a decent living while producing an excellent product. To keep good jobs in the Rust Belt. It hasn’t been easy. It seems like every politician for the past two decades has sold out hard-working Americans for international trade and a flood of foreign crap coming to our stores.

Trump is the first presidential candidate in a long time to set himself apart from this tide of globalization that is hurting America. Trump knows that Americans are getting ripped off in trade, watching our hard-earned dollars flowing to Asia and South America. He knows we’re losing millions of jobs and thousands of businesses. He has pledged to help stop this tide by taxing cheap imports, making it less attractive for companies to leave the United States and undercut American wages by hiring people living in poverty in the third world.

Trump will stem the tide of illegal immigrants coming from the Mexican border and taxing our social services while undercutting American workers. He has also pledged to be the greatest job producing president that the country has ever seen, and to develop a tax plan that grows the U.S. economy and trims the debt.

I would urge you to vote Trump even if I only agreed with him on these critical issues that will help American businesses and workers, but I stand with him on so much more. He has pledged to uphold the Second Amendment, to keep our military the strongest in the world, to fix our education system, to stop the flow of illegal drugs coming from over the border, to respect our law enforcement officers, to end the tyranny of political correctness, and to make America a better place however possible.

I ask you as a fellow American, as a small business owner, as a veteran, and as someone trying as hard as he can to provide good jobs for my workers: Vote Trump!!

Thank you,
Larry Gross, Owner, Backyard Buddy

Your Guide to American-Made Products Online

We proudly proclaim that Backyard Buddy is an American company, using American steel and American workers.

For years, you also know we’ve been helping to promote other companies that can also stake that claim.  Given the state of our economy and the high unemployment rates, it’s crucial that we all make a conscious effort to search out American-made products.  We want every American to know that they have the power to fix the economy, provide jobs for themselves and their neighbors, and to increase the quality of the products they buy.  Vote with your wallets and purchase high quality, American-made products – Be American, Buy American!  There are many online resources for shopping “Made in the USA” products so we’ve gathered a few here for you to peruse:

Made in America Store

This is an excellent source for a huge assortment of merchandise, including clothing and accessories; groceries; toys and games; hardware; stationery; and outdoor, home and pet products.  The site offers free shipping on orders $100 and over.  And be sure to check out there amazing “American dream,” comeback story – “The Beginning, The Crisis, The Opportunity, and the Future.”
http://www.madeinamericastore.com/

USAonly.US
This site is all about “Gettin’ America Back in Business” by asking Americans to commit again to buying products from our neighbors.  There are 24 product categories, and it’s easy to search alphabetically for the nearly 1,300 businesses listed under company bios, with a link to each of those sites.  Mark Reasbeck, founder and patriot, said it is his hope that the site “will link consumers and manufacturers arm-in-arm across the country.”   
http://www.usaonly.us/

AmericansWorking.com
This site was created to provide consumers with an easy to use and highly accessible means of finding products made in America, which strives to “help keep good jobs here.”  Want to keep your dollars in your home state?  This site also features American-made product directory by state, so you can support your closet neighbors.   (We’re happy to plug that Backyard Buddy is listed on this site.)
http://americansworking.com/

Made In USA!
This website is a product search engine and database for those looking for products made in the United States.  Companies can add their “Made in the USA” listing for free.   The MadeInUSA! organization behind the site is dedicated to bringing jobs and prosperity back to the United States of America.
http://www.madeinusa.org/

Toys Made in America
Here’s a fun site – for the kid in you!   In all seriousness, this site was launched in 2007 (after so many China-made toys were recalled) to provide a listing of safer, American-made toys and products.   There’s a variety of merchandise, listed alphabetically and by toy companies.
http://toysmadeinamerica.com/

Trump is the Answer

If you’ve followed Backyard Buddy, you know our strong position on cheap, imported steel; especially steel coming from China.  No cheap, foreign import steel used in our lifts like with so many of our competitors.

Foreign steel, produced with minimal regard for quality or worker safety has flooded the worldwide market, putting thousands of Americans out of work. Cheap, imported steel is not only a bad product, it’s bad for our country.  It’s time we stand up to China…and there’s only ONE person willing to fight for American businesses and workers – Donald J. Trump!

In short, his plan “is a negotiating strategy to bring fairness to our trade with China.”  Trump supports threatening China with a significant tariff on its exports.  To fully understand his position on US-China trade reform, visit his site, https://www.donaldjtrump.com/positions/us-china-trade-reform.

As Americans, we have an incredibly important decision to make concerning the future of our nation. For so many reasons, this country needs a strong business and world leader, not another Washington insider, status-quo, establishment politician.  Trump is the answer.

The “establishment” certainly doesn’t like him because he’s different, and frankly, that’s a good thing.  He’s not reliant on donors so no one “owns” him.  And let’s face it, Trump says what most people are thinking; he’s just not afraid to say it.  What’s wrong with encouraging his fellow Americans to boldly stand up for their beliefs about what’s best for our nation?  He’s given us our voice again!

“Make America Great Again!”  Vote for Trump!