June 14, 2011

Groundhog loader
Photo by Jim Ruen
In the modern world, the Internet makes it easier to find information about pieces of equipment no longer in production.

It’s happened to all of us. We have a piece of equipment we like, and then one day, the company that produces it goes away. They close their doors and cut off the phones. There was a time when we were left holding the phone in frustration. Where were we going to get parts? What about service? And what were we going to do about that missing page in the manual—you know, the one that had the part that fell off sometime in the last week.

How much this has changed hit home today when I received an email from a stranger. He had purchased a used Groundhog (all hydraulic) loader for his ATV. The reason he contacted me was I’ve written several stories about using that piece of equipment on my ATV. He was missing a manual and some parts and wondered if I could help. Unfortunately, the Groundhog is no longer being made, and the company that made it has closed its doors.

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In the old days, my new friend would have been out of luck if he didn’t personally know someone with a similar piece of equipment. In today’s world, that has all changed. For all I know, there’s a manual for the Groundhog for sale on eBay. Doing a quick search, I saw at least one loader for sale. If you Google “Groundhog loader,” you get 4,500 listings. 

So what happened to my friend? Well, I do have my manual, so I’ll do what I can to help him at least identify the parts he’s missing. Meanwhile, if anyone is interested in starting a business to make loaders for ATVs, let me know. There’s a neat design waiting to be revitalized and at least two of us out here who may need parts.

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