While the long-pending breakdown of modern society has not yet arrived, we have to wonder what we’ll “do for a living” when it does?

There are any number of choices, obviously:

  • There will be a lot of openings for contract “musicle” to make sure that people who bother you are reprimanded even if “police” will no longer be effective.
  • Then there will be food growers – and this is what we think of as a “fertile” field for development of skills.
  • But beyond those items (body armor or hoe & rake) what else will people need?

Our answer is a local Fix-It shop.  It’s a delusional notion, but it gives us an excuse to own three kinds of welders and all many of power tools and scrap metal.  I’m especially fond of two garbage cans of clean aluminum scrap.

A soldering iron and solder, some aluminum, low melt point rod…yeah bring on the broken!

We worry about the problem of “modern collapse” because we have never been in a world with such glaring “single points of failure.

That;s because without the Internet, YouTube videos to guide us, FedEx and UPS doing overnights, Amazon fulfilling the parts needs, or online .PDF’s of owner’s manuals, the “art of fixing” will become a widely appreciated new occupation.

It also won’t be easy.  And this is where modern mass-marketing will come back to bite us all on the butt.

The problem (macro view of a Fix-It Shop) is that we live in a world of competing products.

Which, when you come down to it is very smart marketing.  When the compound-interest driven break-up of Civilization arrives?  Well, that’s when competing products become the worst nightmare of all.

Not following?

Let’s take a typical household appliance and break it.

Now, standing in the kitchen (where I am NOT really going to smash $1,200 worth of KitchenAid refrigerator/freezer!) we eye our first “parts victim.” It helps to know that behind the “branding game” there are only a handful of real manufacturers, but does anyone know who that is?

Once past that little speed bump, and assuming you know that some Whirlpool parts will fit the KitchenAid, do you know which models cross where?  No, of course not.  No one ever mentioned it and with the Internet down, even with a clever mind and a few good hand tools, you’re out of business.

But, you can begin to notice little hints.  For example, I recently picked up a 3-pack of water filters for the exampler KitchenAid.  What I ended up with was “4396841Water Filter Compatible With 4396710, 4396841, EDR3RXD1, Filter 3, P2RWG2, Kenmore 46-9030, Kenmore 9083, Pur Water Filter, 3 PCS. ”

Which means what?  I get a “mental model” started that Pur might have gone to the different manufacturers with their filter system OR on maker behind the scenes is involved.

I don’t know as anyone has ever done the “Prepper’s Definitive Cross-Fitting Parts Encyclopedia” but when you think about it, there are lots of common manufacturer sourced parts:

  • On small has engines, Tecumseh and Briggs & Stratton, along with Honda are pretty common.
  • I’ve got a carburetor replacement project on a gas powered- weed eater and looks like Poulan is merging into Husqvarna…
  • A lot of the riding mowers seem to be based on a Yard Machines…

And on this last example, something tickles the brain and whispered “N o, wasn’t Yard Machines made by MTD?  Which finds this in Wikipedia under MTD:

It originated as a tool and die maker (Modern Tool and Die Company). MTD’s main competitors are Stihl, Ariens, Snapper Inc., John Deere and Husqvarna. Over the years, MTD acquired the Troy-Bilt, Bolens, Cub Cadet, and Yard-Man brands and/or companies.

Fine.  But what about Poulan and Husqvarna?  Well, following the scent we find that Husqvarna has been in the serious “b rand roll-up business” for years:

  • Husqvarna
  • Gardena
  • McCulloch
  • PoulanPro
  • WeedEater
  • Flymo
  • Jonsered
  • Klippo
  • Diamant Boart
  • RedMax
  • HTC

When it comes to DC power systems, I happened to be in that field when an outfit called Xantrex came through the DC inverter business and began to “roll-up” brands.  Among their acquisitions was the company I was working for and the related Heart Interface, but it didn’t stop there.  They also picked up the Trace company.  Memory fails to recall whether StatPower – one of the original high-frequency/sine wave inverters, was part of that or not.

Point is, there’s a whole semi-hidden layer to how modern business works that a prepper needs to be aware of IF they are going to be in the “Fit It” field.

In a lot of ways, I sympathize with Henry Ford’s notion “You can have a Model T in any color you want, as long as it is black…

The point is that if humankind were really interesting in controlling climate change and such, we wouldn’t have to do anything but stop wasting 1/3rd of all human effort on MARKETING COMPETING PRODUCTSi.

The money all flows to the same places (Husqvarna if you buy Poulan and Schneider Electric which owns Xantrex) but this is because of one of the huge inefficiencies of modern marketing which is all founded on the idea that “bigger is better.”

And sure, sure, for now it is.

I’ve been shopping for a new 65″ TV for the living room.  And while there are many brands out there, I thought RCA, for example, wasn’t making TV’s anymore?  More likely?  The “long chain business molecule” concept leads us to suspect that RCA TV’s are really made by someone else.

In fact, speaking of televisions, a Consumer Reports article here tells us about RCA as of last summer:

” Over the past decade, the trademark, which stood for Radio Corporation of America, has gone through several TV licensees, including TCL a few years ago, and then On Corporation, a Korean TV manufacturer. The RCA brand in the U.S. is now licensed by Curtis International….”

By the way, hats off to Consumer Reports fort mentioning the use of a warranty-doubling credit card in their article.  Many folks don’t know that trick.

We also like to point out that the “mother lode” of appliance makers is Whirlpool Corporation which makes the following brands:

  • Acros (México)
  • Affresh Washer Cleaners
  • Amana
  • Ariston
  • Bauknecht
  • Brastemp (Brazil)
  • Consul
  • Diqua (China)
  • Estate
  • Gladiator GarageWorks
  • Hefei Sanyo (China)
  • Hotpoint (Europe)
  • Ignis [it]
  • Indesit
  • Inglis
  • Jenn-Air
  • KitchenAid
  • Maytag
  • Polar
  • Privileg
  • Roper
  • Royalstar [zh] (China)
  • Stinol
  • Whirlpool

The recent bankruptcy filing by Sears leaves the future of their Kenmore brand in question.

Do with that info what you will but, over the long haul, there’s a certain appeal of a “root brand.”

In Wednesday’s report, we’ll begin on a couple of simple Fit-It Shop tasks and go through some “process.”  One of them is a Poulan Pro weed eater that needs to be converted into a brush cutter.  So that’s a Husqvarna product. The other is repair of a 17-month old Scepter 55″ television and (almost strangely in today’s globalized world) that’s an American company HQ’ed in the City of Industry (Los Angeles) area.

As the lead-in to these adventures though, it may be worth your time to begin looking who the hidden manufacturers are behind your major product purchases.  The notion is “root maker” products may have better long-term parts availability.

This all assumes the power stays on…Which is why we’re doing the alternative energy design book on the Peoplenomics side of the house.

Ah, the hidden “long chain business/brand molecules” huh?

Write when you get rich,

George@ure.net

Power in the Greater Depression (Ch. 5)
Beyond Blackmail? Newsmail?