Yard Ramps – to use the 6 feet Level Off or not. That is the question

There are several guidelines and factors to consider when buying a yard ramp. But we wanted to bring one particular aspect to your attention. When does buying a 36′ Length Yard Ramp with a 6’ Level off make more sense as opposed to a Straight 30′ Length Yard Ramp? When you need that extra maneuverability and visibility, that’s when our Bluff yard ramp with a 6’ level off becomes a better value packed option to consider. It’s important for you to know that sometimes getting that additional 6 feet of leveled off ramp space becomes a better and more optimal solution for your docking needs.

In addition to the traditional use of Ground to Truck, a 36’ Length yard Ramp with a Level Off is beneficial in these situations:

  • In some ground-to-dock applications
  • Close to dock-edge overhead door configuration
  • Often for high-use application
  • In high-traffic docking areas
  • When using folk-lifts that need access to railcars

Heading up a Yard Ramp without a level off puts the operator in a disadvantageous position of having to look upwards until his lift truck is completely horizontal on the dock or warehouse surface. With a high load on his lift truck the operator’s vision may be severely limited in many situations.  Adding a level off gives him 6’ of straightforward viewing BEFORE he attains the dock surface. This allows the operator enough time to see what’s ahead across a wide spectrum allowing for very safe, productive, and highly maneuverable operations. This is especially handy when forklifts are turning into railcars and have to handle pallets near door-openings. The additional 6’ on a yard ramp is also most preferred for end loading. Basically, for any truck or railcar to ground application and close to dock-edge overhead door configurations, opt for the 36 feet Yard Ramp with the 6 feet level off.

Bluff has always been the industry leader in providing docking solutions – and our yard ramps are a perfect example. We design and engineer every single one of our products to meet a variety of unique needs and to meet and surpass guidelines and standards. Bluff Manufacturing sets the standards and others follow. Look for the letter “L” following the model number on a Yard Ramp to recognize a Bluff Yard Ramp with a 6’ level off!

Texas takes the lead in job creation!

We’ve talked about employment and unemployment several times in the last couple of years. At the height of the recession it was all we heard and worse, experienced. We’d like to say that the country is in a better shape now and the state of affairs is improving. But the slow growth is still causing negative ripples throughout the economy and the negative state of hiring in the country is still high at a 9.1% national unemployment rate! At this rate, recovery is at best – sputtering! The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that 46% of the unemployed have been out of work for 27 weeks or longer. Federal jobs have seen some increase, but the private sectors, especially small businesses, are still gun-shy about hiring or re-hiring.

Not exactly the kind of news you want to hear.

BUT… there IS a silver lining in the clouds … at least for Texans! I managed to catch a recent discussion on NPR on my way to work (the kind of news you want to hear). According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Texas is the leader in putting people back to work and creating jobs. Everything truly is bigger and better in Texas! For Texans, that’s much-needed relief considering other states have not had such positive employment numbers.

An article in Wall Street Journal’s ‘Market Watch,’ showed that Texas has been busy hiring this past year – adding 251,700 jobs! Let’s hope this positive trend continues to grow not just in the great state of Texas, but also throughout the country. The real contributor in Texas has been the private sector. For instance, at Bluff Manufacturing alone we added 15 jobs in the last year in Production, Customer Service, Operations, Engineering, Marketing, and Business Development. And we’re always looking for qualified, dedicated, and hard-working people to add to our talent pool.

The country is counting on the private sector to create jobs and provide gainful employment and Bluff Manufacturing wants to help. We know that it is our employees and their contribution to the company that keeps us operating successfully quarter after quarter. Right now, we are looking for exceptional sales talent!

So, if you think you’re a rainmaker sell us on YOU!  A visit to our website will give you details about Bluff’s line of material handling products which includes yard ramps, dock boards, dock plates, crash guard safety rails, rack guard, mezzanines, conveyor support, stairways, ladders and landings. You can also find the right contact person on our website and apply for any open positions.

Stay tuned to our employment page, we are constantly looking to add talented and skilled individuals to our team and that individual could be you or someone you know. Americans being gainfully employed and taking pride in their work is the end-point we should all be ultimately working towards! So, we’re glad Texas is taking that first big step – now let’s hope everyone else will follow suit over the second half of the year! As Americans, our Independence was hard won.  Let’s all do what we can to keep America strong.

Bluff Manufacturing’s Distributors Portal is now open for business!

Sometime in August, we blogged about the importance of having a personalized online account in e-commerce sales and we tried to drop a few hints about a wonderful online resource we were building for our distributors. Well, without much further ado, let me present Phase I of Bluff Manufacturing’s Distributor’s Portal.

This will be your gateway into a unique user experience and will make your online searches and purchases much easier and much more sophisticated. Our inspiration as always, came from you. A recent survey we conducted showed that you would like very much to have your own unique shopping experience with us. Product literature, sell sheets, videos, special distributor pricing and inventory searches made easy – all available only through our Distributor’s Portal.

So, what are some of the changes and enhancements you can expect from us?

Channel Partner Prioritization: As a valued Bluff Manufacturing channel partner, you will be able to register online with us giving you access to search our inventory and to look up product pricing and dealer discounts.

Customized Shopping Experience: Your unique sign-in will give us important data about your searches, which helps us customize your pages to your specific requirements. The advantages you receive as a valued partner will be akin to that of a personal buyer or salesperson giving you personalized service with your online shopping.

These easy steps should help you get set up:

  1. Visit www.Bluffmanufacturing.com and click on the “Resources” tab at the top of the page.
  2. On the bottom right-hand side of the page, click on the big grey diamond deck button titled “Distributor Resources.”
  3. In the Distributor Resources page, click on any of the light grey rectangles to access the Login Form.
  4. Click on “Create Account” and use your current Bluff Customer Number  (found on invoices or by contacting marketing@bluffmanufacturing.com) to complete the short form.

Your login information will be automatically emailed to you, which you can then use to access the portal. Through this portal, you will have access to great sales tools, marketing literature and special product pricing. So, if you haven’t registered with us already, go to www.bluffmanufacturing.com and get started! We’re always looking for more ways to offer our channel partners resources that will enable and assist them in selling Bluff products.

We have more goodies on the way! In addition to more training tools and videos, we are also going to develop affiliated customer pages within the portal as part of our e-commerce expansion.  This will provide your customers their own unique pages that will allow them to view products and order online through you on our website. Automating some of the administrative functions or moving them online will leave you with more time for customer relationship management and problem solving. Happy Selling!

Did you ‘hear’ my email? There’s an app for that!

The last thing you want to be texting before getting into a crash is “Omg!”

A blog we wrote two weeks ago highlighted the risk of traveling in unfamiliar places and asked our readers to give us tips that would help road warriors stay safe. This week we’re focusing on another road hazard – texting while driving.

Your traveling sales force is out there on the road, sometimes using their cars and cell phones as their portable offices and computers. They may have to quickly confirm an appointment, or send a price quote, or take a conference call while on the road. Or worse, they may encounter a careless teen that just has to ‘roflmao’(for you novice texters, that translates to rolling on floor laughing my a** off) in response to a friend’s text while driving.

With modern day gizmos and smart phones so easily available in the market today, texting and emailing is as natural as breathing to us. So much so that we want to do it while driving too! But do we need more distractions while driving? To make matters worse, most modern day cars are equipped with interactive dashboard features that enable (and possibly tempt us) to keep working while we’re on the road. These are all meant to be safety features, no doubt. But it’s a double-edged sword. These features combined with our smart phones only tempt us to get more done while on the road. Everyone is in a time crunch these days, and it’s a temptation to use our drive time to multi-task (especially when you’re sitting in traffic).

Bluff Manufacturing’s Crash Guard can protect your personnel, inventory and building from damage due to crashes. But since we don’t have a product to keep the road warriors, or regular motorists safe while driving, we thought we’d pass along information about a wonderful new app currently available for your smart phones such as iPhone, Android, BlackBerry and Windows Mobile.

The DriveSafe.lyTM application is “The App to Stop Distracted Driving” in it’s own words. It’s website claims to have prevented 307,791,892 texting-while-driving incidents. This app basically reads out text messages and emails aloud in real time without the driver ever having to touch the phone. It even allows the driver to respond to the messages and emails by dictating messages and reviewing them before sending them out – all completely hands-free. The voice commands include ‘call-back,’ ‘repeat message,’ and ‘cancel.’ The best part of this application is that you can turn it on and turn it off as and when you need it to work for you.

Bottom-line, if you must multi-task while driving, then do it as safely as possible. Don’t forget to turn it on when you’re driving and don’t forget to turn it off when you’re not. Your wife’s text message reminding you to ‘talk to the doctor about that problem you’ve been having’ is not something you want read aloud at your company’s quarterly review!

For those with restless finger syndrome, this app may be a good solution that mitigates risk and causes less disruption while you drive. Be safe on the road! Ttyl (talk to you later)!

The Adventures of the Traveling Bluff Yard Ramp

It always takes marketing genius to come up with unique solutions. At Bluff Manufacturing, our yard ramps ship out weekly to different locations throughout the United States. These gargantuan yard ramps measure 6 – 7 feet in width, 30-36 feet in length and weigh up to 7,000 pounds with capacities ranging to 60,000 pounds. Because of its unique shape, size and weight, these ramps are shipped upright on their sides on an open trailer bed.

Watch video on how to safely unload a Bluff Manufacturing Yard Ramp.

Borrowing from a brilliant ad campaign executed by Travelocity and their traveling Gnome, the marketers at Bluff Manufacturing had a “Eureka” moment when they realized that right before their very eyes stood a marketing opportunity as big as the yard ramps themselves! We could be sending our yard ramps across the country with a message. And that’s exactly what we did! We made a big statement.

Our yard ramps cross the country to their final home to be of service in many industries, so why not make the most of that and create a traveling banner? Of course, businesses have used moving banner ads for a long time. We aren’t creating a new marketing idea, just using an existing situation to gain some marketing ground. And just like the Southwest Airlines slogan, ‘You are now free to move about the country,’ we decided that our ramps could do double duty work as they travelled freely to their final working place.

Bringing the idea to life took some collaboration, creativity and cooperation from different groups. We got some much needed help from our friendly, professional freight brokers, C&H Logistics who helped us work out the details for this project.  First and foremost, it was imperative for us to ensure that we were within interstate transportation guidelines. As always, safety comes first at Bluff and once we were assured it could be done securely, we went about getting our Texas-size banner designed. Heather at C&H referred us to 858 Graphics, a San Diego based company that makes high quality, heavy-duty banners for requests such as ours.

Our banner was unique. Heavy duty fabric with maximum number of attachment points to secure it to the banner, and reinforced webbed ribbing sewn though the center of the banner in order to allow grommet placement along the center line. In fact the grommetting requirements for our banner were so unique that the giant Bluff Banner had to make a detour to The City of Angels in order to have the center grommets installed.  The banner needed to be secured strongly onto the yard ramps and the grommetting ensured that the banner didn’t create a ‘parachute’ effect. So, after months of creativity, our unique marketing piece was delivered and it was time to put the banner to the test. It had to survive its long haul trips come rain, shine or hail. And in Texas, we know that all of the above mentioned weather conditions are possible on any given day.

With an experienced driver (who also happened to have a great sense of adventure) behind the wheel, the banner was secured firmly on the yard ramp and loaded on the truck. The banner undertook its maiden voyage from our facility in Fort Worth, Texas to Miami, Florida while the entire Bluff team waited for details of its voyage.

The Bluff banner withstood a tropical storm to report for duty 3 days after leaving Ft. Worth. We will be tracking the banner’s trips on our Facebook page. Should you see it along a stretch of highway, honk and wave to the driver and post a comment on our wall. This is the stuff marketing legends are made of! So, watch out for our Bluff banners. Next time you see a rig hauling one of our yard ramps you might just see a banner that reads “Another Bluff Yard Ramp on its way to work.”