November news letter, I started by talking about getting ready for winter. Well, after an unseasonably warm
December, winter finally arrived. First, in early
January, we had a cold spell, evening temps in the single digits, daytime in the teens, and wind. Next we got the mother of all snows. As we closed for the
weekend on Friday, January 22nd, it started to snow. By
at 7pm the official snow fall was 30.2 inches at the Harrisburg International Airport. At the shop we measured 32 ½". This was the largest single snow fall in 150 years. The next closest was
25.6", in 1996. I tell you this because all my preparation was useless. No matter how well you service 2 pickup trucks with snowplows, they cannot plow 30" of snow. We finally got the lot opened by having a large pay loader spend 5 hours moving snow. If you called us that
Monday, and no one answered it is because those of us that managed to get here were outside trying to do something with the snow.
Tuesday, many of us were still outside trying to finish the job, so we missed some calls. I hope we didn't inconvenience anyone.
There is some exciting news for the upper Mid West. Our dealer in Denison, Iowa, Rails and Off Road Repair has upgraded from sandrail only to a full line dealer. They are located at 1818 7th. Ave. North, Denison, Iowa, 51442. Phone 712-269-9608 or 712-263-5934. At the same time we are signing on a new dealer in St. Paul, Minnesota as I write this I do not have the necessary contact information to accurately place it in this news letter. It will be on the web site under dealers. Both dealers have ordered substantial inventory. We will be delivering their orders, February 13th and 14th. Each of the dealers have ordered 5 Nostalgia bodies in various colors, some of them in Metalflake. Call Pat at Rails and Off Road Repair, or keep an eye on the web site for contact info for the new dealer in St. Paul, Minnesota, if you have been thinking about a buggy.
As soon as I return from the delivery it will be time to load up and go to the first shows of the year. Bob and Tyler will be in Lebanon, Pa., at the Lebanon Valley Classic Tractor Expo, www.lvicte.org . Tank, little John, and I will be at Motorama, in Harrisburg, www.motoramaevents.com
Stop by and chat.
We received our first EMPI order shortly after the first of the year. With it we received the new 2016 catalogs. This is the first catalog with the Bug Pack products which EMPI is continuing to sell, listed in the catalog. There are a good many new products listed, and going thru the new catalog is exciting. We ordered in some of the new stuff and I would like to mention 2. For the past 2 years we have had trouble supplying our customers with Baja style chrome, front and rear bumpers. Everyone in the industry struggles with chrome. With the many environmental laws being enacted, many of the smaller shops who were doing chrome work have gone out of business, which has affected us as larger parts are now difficult to get chromed, at a reasonable price. EMPI decided not to pursue chrome bumpers, but rather, have them made of polished stainless steel. The first of these bumpers were in our order, and they look great. There is no doubt in my mind that they made the right call, the bumpers have a nice shiny finish, and should be much easier to keep looking good.
As I talk to customers on the phone, or when they come in to the parts counter, some mention an inability to find some of our offerings on the web page or store. This has puzzled me because when I go on the web page here at my desk, or on my lap top, I didn't seem to have that problem. In an attempt to figure out what was going on, I asked little John to check the site on his Droid, and low and behold, we could not find things. I contacted Son Dan Mickle, our IT guy, and he began to check it out, and reached the conclusion that we indeed needed to do some re configuring to make the site more compatible with mobile devices. He is in the process of doing that now, and small but positive improvements will be showing up as we continue to re adjust. An interesting side note to this is that progressively over the last six months or so, the visits to our site have changed to the point where last month 51% of all visits were from mobile devices. We will continue to monitor our mobile device presence, and hopefully keep pace. Just so everyone reading this knows, I use a good old flip phone, and when needed for mobile applications, a big old lap top for info retrieval. I may have fallen behind on the technology side personally, but I am trying to keep the company up to date.
THE GOB STOPPER PROJECT!
After we absorbed Berrien Buggy, we concentrated on upgrading the product line and improving body molds to be able to offer Metalflake finishes. We then introduced the Genesis body and chassis. All the time we were working on these upgrades, I kept feeling that we could, or should do more to modernize the fiberglass buggy line of products. A lack of time, and the urgency we felt in the upgrades and improvements, prevented me from doing much more than think about what we needed to do for the future. Well in January of this year, I finally decided that it was time to move forward. So began the Gob Stopper Project ( Tyler came up with the name, which was used in the movie Charlie and the Chocolate Factory). I am not going to release details of what we are doing, because quite frankly I am not totally sure how quickly I can accomplish my goals. I have done the basic research, accumulated the majority of the parts needed and now it is time to build. The idea of this is to have a drivable prototype at the Import & Kit Car Nationals in Carlisle, Pa. in May. Step one is based on our Nostalgia frame and body. When the Nostalgia has been sorted out, we will go to work on the Genesis frame and body. The Genesis upgrades will also be designed to be usable on VW based kit cars. In the case of both cars, the Gob Stopper Project will introduce 2 new bodies and frames to our line of products. They will be in addition to, and not replace, the current frames and bodies.
That is it for this month. I hope to see many of you at the shows.
Till next month, be safe, have fun.