Before the Footnotes crew checked in for the 2008 Baltimore Tow Show, we had the opportunity to stop by the B/A Products 30th Anniversary Celebration and Open House. Located in Columbia, Maryland, just outside of Baltimore, B/A Products is a manufacturer of parts and accessories for the towing and trailer industries. They're proud to say that they are the oldest and largest such manufacturer in the U.S.
Blanca Rivera, who works as sales support, gave us a great tour of B/A's 60,000-square-foot, eight-bay facility. (That's David Abraham, Footnotes' national accounts manager, next to her.) Blanca told us that "B/A Products" stands for "Best Available Products."
George Moore, one of B/A's 60 employees, showed us the operation of a chain cutter. At this particular machine, nine-link pieces of chain are cut from the 2,340' of chain in the bin on the floor. It's not even noisy when it cuts right through a link.
Fritz Dahlin, B/A's general manager, gave a demo of the welding machine and the process of taking off the "upset" or what's left after the link is closed. He's been with B/A for 25 years.
In the brightly-lit sewing room, employee Mei Liu (on left in top picture) works with webbing for straps using a seriously-heavy duty Singer sewing machine. Further into the room, Blanca shows off a motorcycle strap that Kim Vuth made at her station with plastic-coated webbing.
This cool, street-legal sand rail was built by Fritz's son, Matt Dahlin, as part of his college application. Matt's mom, Patti Dahlin, actually came up with the idea and the 17-year old went to work. He's now 19, studying engineering and we're told that he has plans to come back and work for the company.
In the office portion of the building, Cookie, a Wheaten terrier, keeps an eye on things.
Also at the B/A Products Open House, the International Towing Hall of Fame and Museum Auction to benefit the Survivor Fund brought in a little over $7,000 - more than a $1,000 more than last year. Way to go!
"In this economy, this is great. We're just ecstatic," said George Connolly of the ITHFM, who was thankful that B/A had offered their support and space for the auction. "It's just a cool place and a nice operation."