MORE TO COME HERE SOON... BUT FOR NOW HERE IS OUR LOVE LETTER TO HI-LIFT
Hi-Lift Jack Company,
I would like to express my sincere appreciation. I am honored that a company with 125 years of rich history would copy a product from my small, innovative startup.
You recently made a public statement calling me “the master of imitation.” That statement is the reason for my love letter to you here.
For years I have been a supporter of Hi-Lift and the fantastic jacks that you produce. You truly make the best jack of its kind in the entire world, the only one I recommend to my customers. I share your stance that you laid out on your website jackshamed.com that there is a problem in today’s marketplace with companies making poorly copied designs of existing products, using lower quality materials and cheap labor etc., and are often taking these steps to offer lower quality, lower priced goods. As you say, these companies often try to hide the fact that they are importing products of lower quality than those they copy. You even went as far as to create a marketing campaign encouraging your customers and potential customers to publicly shame others who have purchased import knock-off products. “Make fun of them!” you said, post pictures, “whatever” it takes, right? If 2020 is not the best time to promote bullying and public shaming, then when is? I am sure your founder, the late Philip John Harrah, would be so proud of your current marketing programs.
Your Hi-Lift brand neoprene jack covers fell short on quality; everybody knows that. After going through 4 of them, each one failing almost immediately after installation on my Hi-Lift jack, I built a high-quality protective cover for my Hi-Lift Jack that would last many years without failing. Everywhere I went people wanted one, so I decided to offer them commercially. While there were already many companies producing knockoffs of your neoprene cover, essentially exact copies, I innovated an entirely new cover with a unique design and set of features. I also recognize that there are many companies that produce exact copies of your other products, without any improvements or design changes (i.e. true imitations).
The main features of my unique design that differentiate it from your neoprene cover are:
1. Multi-layer laminated material with a cushioning center layer. 2. Looser fit, for easier install and removal, and better ventilation, achieved by adding “darts” and a premium quality zipper. 3. Exterior layer made with UV stable and mildew resistant marine grade vinyl. Our most popular cover being black with carbon fiber design (over 95% of our covers in use today). 4. A nose grommet to allow for water drainage in cases that water enters the cover when the nose of the jack is facing down.
You recently launched an updated version of your Hi-Lift brand Jack Cover. After years of horrible reviews and people complaining about the poor quality of your neoprene cover you said “Yes…. We listened!” and improved the quality. It only took over 10 YEARS and the distribution of thousands of covers that you knew would fail before you listened; now that is some great customer service! Surely taking 10 years for a new design means you had time for some serious innovation, right?
Here is a list of the updated design features in your new jack cover:
1. Multi-layer laminated material with a cushioning center layer. 2. Looser fit, for easier install and removal, and better ventilation, achieved by adding “darts” and higher quality zipper. 3. Exterior layer made with UV stable and mildew resistant marine grade vinyl, black in color with carbon fiber design. 4. A nose grommet to allow for water drainage in cases that water enters the cover when the nose of the jack is facing down.
If the list of features in your updated design looks familiar, you would not be wrong, they are all direct copies, or “imitations” of my design. On the topic of calling me “the master of imitation,” have you heard the story about the pot calling the kettle black?
Even beyond violating your own stance on imitation products though, what happened to the rest of your principles and stance on low quality imports?
You used lower quality materials for your new cover. While it is a definite improvement over the neoprene version, you still took shortcuts and used material that will fail quickly in this application.
Are you trying to hide the fact that you import your new covers? I see you putting down other companies for importing knockoff products while putting their name brand on them trying to hide the import step. I guess your imported poorly copied knock-off rule does not apply when you are doing it yourself?
As you say, poorly copied import knockoffs should be cheaper than the U.S. made original they copied. You did make your retail price $45.52, just a little bit lower than mine (still high for an import knockoff though). But then you pulled a trick out of the 1999 e-commerce play book by charging customers more than double the actual ship costs. You charged me $12.60 for shipping that only cost you $5.54, giving you another $7.06 profit and bringing the TRUE cost of your cover to $52.58 (higher than the cost of my cover at $50). I guess you think your customers are just not smart enough to catch on.
As there seems to be some confusion over there here is a reminder of your stance on imports and knockoffs taken directly from your website:
"Why A Hi-Lift® Brand Jack Is Better Than an Imported Knock-Off Jack
The knock-off jacks we’ve encountered in the market are import jacks from Asia that are a poorly copied design of the Hi-Lift®. They are priced lower because they utilize cheaper materials, cheaper foreign labor, and sub-par safety standards to manufacture their product.
Some knock-offs are being marketed under the generic “farm jack” name, but others are being private branded by companies to try to gain more legitimacy for their jack. They try to hide the fact that they are imported products by sticking their brand name on them, but there is no hiding the differences in the product. Sure, you can buy the cheap knock-off jack for less money, but for a retail item that is already very low in cost compared to the value received – you get exactly what you pay for… a cheap product that may leave you stranded when needed.
We won’t ever be able to compete with cheap import products on price alone, nor do we want to. We are set on making high-quality, dependable jacks that truly represent the reputation of quality, durability, and safety standards that has come to be expected from anything bearing the Hi-Lift® name."
Here are a few bonus definitions that might also help as you accuse others of what you are actually doing yourself.
1: an act or instance of imitating 2: something produced as a copy 3: resembling something else that is usually genuine and of better quality
1: a new method, idea, device, etc 2: the introduction of something new
1: the practice of claiming to have moral standards or beliefs to which one's own behavior does not conform 2: a feigning to be what one is not or to believe what one does not: behavior that contradicts what one claims to believe or feel
I fully expected you to produce a higher quality jack cover once I introduced mine into the market and people were no longer stuck with only the one option of buying your poor-quality product. Never did I think you would make a straight knockoff though, I thought Hi-Lift was better than that. I guess I was wrong.
Good luck with your new product. I will continue to push Hi-Lifts Jacks until someone innovates something better. Standing up for the people behind them as I have always done though, unfortunately that is something I will no longer be able to do.
Adam Wood Founder - STEP 22 Gear Inventor - The Original UV Stable Marine Grade Vinyl Jack Cover
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