Friday, August 26, 2011

My America

My America
Al Ritter

I grew up in the 60’s. Some of my most vivid memories were the famous air raid drills, hiding under the desk of the duck and cover era. (Like that would have helped in a nuclear blast!). I went to a military school in western Baltimore County from 4th grade to 10th.

Although I was “rebel” against authority, some of the military influence couldn’t help but to “stick.” I graduated from a public high school not far from my home. I started working full time in the summer of my 16th year, and continued to do so through my junior and senior year. My life took a turn from here, I never went to college, although I took some college classes, but I settled down to marry my high school sweetheart just 3 years out of high school in 1976. I worked at different jobs in my twenties all auto related. I felt the sting of government from the Carter years. I upheld the end of the gas line to prevent additional people from getting in line. I heard the obscenities and felt the anger. I watched as the powerful cars from Detroit turned into whimpering shells of cars that once were.

I bought my first house at age 21, and luckily for me got a mortgage at 9%! Shortly after I bought my house mortgages went through the roof, some of my friends stuck with a 21% rate! I saw first- hand what an administration run by incompetent people was like. I wasn’t big into politics back then but I saw how it was affecting my life.

Five years after my marriage my son was born, and my outlook on life changed. I felt the need to somehow do something that left a legacy for my name sake. Fate played a bigger role in my life than a planned existence. By 1988 my body was breaking down do to my profession as an auto mechanic, and for that entire 12 month period I was incapacitated from two ruptured discs in my back. The wonderful man I worked for at the time paid me at full rate and gave me light duty until I could be operated on and recover to the best of my ability. I came back to work in the fall of that year but my ability to bend over fenders was now gone. I needed to work at something but what?

I knew how to weld and I had done odd jobs welding before but I needed to be better, so I practiced long and hard, and after a few months had become a pretty fair welder. I was gifted with an eye for engineering although I never had any formal training. In 1989 I built my first trailer from scratch. I never wanted to own my own business, it just came about from my need to do something to earn a buck and the ability to sit down and rest when my back told me it had enough. In the 5 years that followed I built 535 trailers! Like it or not I WAS a business owner! Thank goodness the stars must have aligned perfectly because I was now in Ronald Reagan’s era! My business prospered at a phenomenal rate. Backlog on orders was about 1month and when it exceeded that time I was able to raise my prices. Life was good!

By 1994 my back was once again acting up and an orthopedic doctor told me that if I didn’t stop building trailers I would be due for another operation and he wouldn’t guarantee the results. This was yet another crossroad for me and I decided to morph my company it yet another direction. I always sold hitches as supplemental add on to the trailer sales, so an idea struck to sell hitches online in the blooming internet sales world. My wife set up the webpage and off we went, never looking back.

Things were once again changing politically and the darkness I felt during the Carter years had returned, not to the degree of Carter but different. We were in the Clinton years, sales were waning, and the buying climate had changed too. It was harder to change with the times now, the products became cheaper built and the attitude of the customer became more demanding. We struggled through Clinton/Bush years. The attack on 9/11 changed our world as we knew it, our innocence was gone and the country took a decidedly darker turn. No longer as a people were “trusting.” We didn’t even trust our president anymore. Our liberties and freedom were being replaced by policies to “protect us.” My attitude towards the rapidly changing business world was growing bitter, and by the end of my fiscal year in 2005 I actively sought retirement, ironically it was also the end of my marriage.

Instead of morphing my business life I was now morphing my personal life into something new and different. I now have time for my son and his family, and I have that special time for me. I am so happy I was born at exactly the right time to enjoy the prosperity of the Reagan years, to enjoy the success of a business I started and ran from the ground up. I was blessed with getting out of the business in the right time, retiring early and now enjoying the fruits of my past labors.

I started writing in the summer of 2004, and wrote a book about the care of my parents in their later years. Shortly after that was published I became heavily involved in writing on politics. I have written over 1000 articles on just about any subject involving politics in one way shape or form. I am unhappy for today’s small business owner, unhappy about the taxes, unhappy about the regulation, unhappy for his ability to succeed. I often wonder if I had started my business in 2008 if it would still be going. Personally I doubt it! now you know the rest of the story!


grant burmer said...

Press on my friend.

barb p said...

Al, your friends, including me, have so much admiration for where you are in life. Your Mom and Dad

have so much to be proud of. Thank you for sharing your "rest of the story". You are a good man Al Ritter

and I am glad you are my friend.

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