[EDITOR'S NOTE — Each week, this feature section, “Movers and Makers,” will feature the stories of the movers, launchers, entrepreneurs and makers who contribute to the vitality of the Mahoning Valley. This section is supported by our first community partner, Farmers National Bank. If you are interested in being our next community partner, contact Mark Eckert at firstname.lastname@example.org.]
WARREN — Steel Valley Lifts is a local manufacturer of car lifts that serves all vehicle enthusiasts from the backyard mechanic to the luxury collector.
In 2017, the former Backyard Buddy Corp. was purchased under Jim Landino’s JL Industries and rebranded as Steel Valley Lifts.
John Whalen, chief operating officer, began his career at Steel Valley Lifts with the new ownership shift.
“Our biggest demographic is people [who] love cars and love their car, and they want to take good care of their car, they want to put their car on display,” Whalen said.
The three main models of lifts — which can transform a typical garage into a workshop or accommodate car-over-car storage— are the Classic Backyard Buddy, Service Lift and the Super Duty Lift. The classic can accommodate 7,000 pounds and its power supply allows for 63 inches of clearance for car enthusiasts to work under their vehicles.
Whalen previously worked at Sunbelt Transformer Inc. where Landino was part owner. Landino sold his share of Sunbelt Transformers Inc in 2015 before purchasing Backyard Buddy Corp.
The company aims to hold the same level of care and integrity to its products that Backyard Buddy Corp. had in more than 30 years of business but now aims to reach a larger demographic.
“The name embraces our area’s manufacturing history of having once been the largest steel-producing region in the world. This is a testament that we will not compromise our longstanding reputation of American-made products, quality and service,” according to steelvalleylifts.com.
Currently, Steel Valley Lifts is building a custom lift for the newly renovated Robins Theatre in downtown Warren. The lift will allow props and stage equipment to effortlessly move loading trucks to the back of the theatre. The theater is expected to open Thursday (Jan. 8).
Steel Valley Lifts prides itself on sourcing all of its steel from North America, with approximately 90 percent being American steel and 10 percent Canadian.
“We're not the cheapest lift on the market. We're probably the most expensive lift on the market, but we're really marketing on quality American made that's important to our customers and that's what we want to continue to do,” Whalen said.
Also, Steel Valley Lifts is working to build a distributorship network to sell larger quantities and is considering having a potential private label agreement in the future.
According to Whalen, part of the Steel Valley Lifts high-quality product is building impactful relationships with customers. Additionally, Steel Valley Lifts offers a standard five-year warranty with an option to purchase an additional four years.
“We want our customers to have a good experience,” he said. “We do a lot of really unique things as far as working with the customer to give them the product that will work best.”