Scott Blogs: Building a Mud Machine

For more than a decade our customers have been asking us to produce a High Lifter Edition unit.  It’s easy to understand that, given our small size, there was no way for us to pull off an endeavor of that magnitude, but hey, we could always dream….

When Polaris came to us a few years ago and pitched us the idea of a High Lifter Edition RZR 1000 XP we couldn’t say yes fast enough – but under one condition.  The unit had to be a real mud edition.  We didn’t want fancy stickers with our name on a RZR that wouldn’t hold up or perform in the conditions we thrive in.  Not surprisingly, Polaris didn’t just agree, they agreed and upped the ante.  They wanted to make the entire unit functional for the mud, not just the new parts added for the mud.  Throughout the entire process, we couldn’t believe the level of detail addressed.

Bubba1From the beginning, there was a list of must haves and a list wants.  The obvious must haves were the tires, snorkels, maximum clearance suspension, winch and tow points.  The wants were the lower door halves to keep out the mud, the rear view mirror, the upgraded front mud riders winch bumper, better reverse chain and lower gears in the transmission.  We got all the wants we asked for!

Once the list of parts was agreed upon, we participated in video conferencing.  This is where Polaris showed models of the new parts on the computer that could be adjusted and spun around. This was even better than just talking about parts, we could actually see them.

Bubba2After the parts were designed, test units started showing up down here in Louisiana to ride and evaluate.  That was the best part!  Now a lot of people talk about how cool it would be, or is, to be a test rider.  I have to agree, it can be the most fun part of the job.  Unfortunately, people don’t always realize that testing gets done no matter what.  Everyone always pictures a balmy 80 degree day with no clouds in the sky and perfect trails.  The stark reality is that those days are limited.  Most days are either really cold and raining or extremely hot and dry with lots of dust; Murphy’s Law always makes sure of that.  I’m here to tell you that this unit was mostly tested during a very cold and rainy season.  It was brutal.  I was actually glad on the days I went to work while they stayed to ride.  In addition to bad weather, there is the reality of broken parts.  While the good news is you have plenty of spare parts; the bad news is you’re replacing them in a cold rain, in the woods and in the mud.  I really need to write an entire blog about all the things we encounter while testing.Bubba3  Those days make our typical days of mud riding look like child’s play.

After all the designing, redesigning and testing, it was time for the graphics.  Polaris is second to none when it comes to cool factor with colors and graphics and they didn’t disappoint.  They wanted to do something that was a first, a color powder coated frame.  This is way more complex than you may realize.  Think about every frame coming down the line in black with a recovery system in place for all the extra powder.  Now, tell the line that you want to mix some orange in the group.  You can imagine the discussions that ensued.  Beyond the custom powder coating, the graphics on this model are best yet.  We couldn’t be happier.

Bubba4After the talk, the design and the testing, all that’s left is the waiting.  Waiting on the results.  The results that tell us if we did well or missed the mark.  That score card is given by you, the riders.  So far, you have spoken loud and clear.  There will not be nearly enough High Lifter Editions built to supply the demand.  All of the features we put into this unit and the level of quality and detail Polaris produced, hit the mark.  If you want one, I hope you get it soon; otherwise you’ll be waiting to see if we do it again next year.  Enjoy your RZR life, I know I sure do!


Scott Blogs: This is Real

We’ve got a new top secret project in the works that is going to change things. That is such a cliché. When I hear companies say that my radar goes off and I think whatever. We’ve all heard that time and time again like the boy that cried wolf. However, there are still those few times in life when it’s true. This is one of those times. I’ve hinted about us testing this new product before and it’s really close to launching. The amazing thing about it is we had to put an 8,000 lb winch on my Ranger just for the testing. The holes we hit that bury normal units are no match for us now. When we do find holes that stop the Ranger, we have had to double line our 5,000 lb winch. I’m talking about deep stuff.

Having a little fun with the Ranger at High Lifter Off-Road Park. We'd call this an above-the-waders hole!

Having a little fun with the Ranger at High Lifter Off-Road Park. We’d call this an above-the-waders hole!

We ride like a lot of other people when we’re not testing. We know the holes we can make and know the ones no one can make. Usually, we hit all the no-brainers and a handful of the others. The testing of this new product means we are hitting EVERYTHING. Yes, we’ve stuck the Ranger, but the places it is making us go to get stuck are simply unimaginable. I truly believe that out test Ranger is genuinely the baddest Ranger on the planet. The holes we are hitting during testing I would swear we should NOT be able to go through. And yet, time after time, we are going through them over and over. When I talk about deep holes many people think right off – deep water. Not this go round. I’m talking peanut butter, sludge and water. Thick nasty goo. The stuff that takes 5 hours to clean off after riding.

Now that we’ve logged hundreds of miles testing, it is just starting to sink in that this performance is not a fluke. It’s real. This Ranger will really go this many places. All I can say is the deep holes are going to get a lot deeper once this is released. Hold to your seats boys and girls, this ride is about to get serious.

Scott Blogs: It’s True – Huge Tires and Axles Can Be Friends!

In my 20+ years of mud riding, I’ve learned that huge mud tires and axles are definitely enemies – but that doesn’t mean they can’t live happily together. Now that machines have

One of my favorite ways to break an axle!

One of my favorite ways to break an axle!

ridiculous horsepower and tires that are beyond huge, the focus on axles and other driveline parts has really become sharp. When I ride hard, I want to lay on the gas, then jam into reverse, then back to drive again. I want to thrash and bang like nobody’s business. In the old days of 16 HP that wasn’t a problem. I didn’t have enough power to break anything. Now that I have 100 HP subject to the every whim of my foot on the throttle things are different. We all can break things and there is no skill in lying on the gas and shredding axles. It has taken me a while to adjust to all the newfound power and big tires. Intuitively, I knew not to lay on the gas while bound up, but I just couldn’t resist the power. While I do still break axles sometimes, it mostly happens during testing when we have to drive harder than normal.

Say hello to my new best friend - my 8,000 lb Viper Winch! We put it to work this week!

Say hello to my new best friend – my 8,000 lb Viper Winch! We put it to work this week!

When it comes to finding the happy medium with axles, driveline parts, and large tires, the solution is found in the technique and knowing what to do. There are a handful of situations that you will find yourself in when you’re just stuck in a position that is almost a sure thing for breakage. Our egos push us on to fight the hole when the smart thing is to just get pulled out so we can live to show out on the next hole. This is not to say that every time you get slightly stuck you call out for the rope, I’m saying there are holes to be fought and holes to give up on. Your job is to learn the difference.

The number one position begging to shred your expensive parts is the nose down, rear up bind. This position transfers weight to your front end, which is not nearly as robust as the rear. When you go to reverse it takes amazingly little power to blow the front apart. If you find yourself stuck like this just have someone pull you out. Trust me, after the first few times of being pulled out like this, it gets way easier on the ego.


We decided to go for the rope, instead of killing our ride on this day!

Another sure-fire way to destroy axles is the nose up way high and the rear down deep in a hole, climbing out forward. When all is level left to right this isn’t too much of a problem. However, most often things aren’t level. One side is almost always getting better traction that the other. What happens next is either you’re left or right axle is trying to push out the entire weight of the vehicle on its own. When you have one axle working to lift all the weight, you are begging to blow that axle.

With power and size come limitations. If you are that person that wants to stab the throttle at every hole, huge tires and lots of power are probably not for you unless you don’t mind turning some wrenches after every ride. For those of us with a little self control I’ll take the added power and big tires every time.

Scott Blogs: So You Want to Build a Tire

In and among our 20-plus ongoing projects going on last year (we like to work on special projects), we decided to make a new Outlaw 2. We didn’t want to just super-size an existing Outlaw 2, we wanted to jazz it up and make improvements based on what we’ve learned in recent changes to manufacturing and design capabilities. With that in mind, we started out with a blank sheet of paper.

The result of our hard work - the 32.5" Outlaw 2. It's going to be awesome on the Polaris RZR 1000 XP!

The result of our hard work – the 32.5″ Outlaw 2. It’s going to be awesome on the Polaris RZR 1000 XP!

As you would expect, the first decisions that needed to be made were the overall height, width and wheel size. Those were relatively easy decisions. We wanted the tire to be a true 32.5” tire. Over the past 14 years designing tires, we have learned that a 32.5” tire on paper rarely comes out a 32.5” tire from the mold. This is true for most tires, including truck and agricultural tires. Our next decision was the width. The current trend is to run skinny tires front and back. While my personal opinion remains that is not the ideal setup, and the topic for a future blog, that is what the market is looking for much of the time. Given that, we decided we would maximize the performance by making only one width, 10.5”, slightly wider than traditional front tires and slightly narrower than traditional rear tires. This width will maximize the footprint on the ground without robbing as much horsepower as wide rear tires frequently do.

The wheel size took a little more thought. Since the wheel market is exploding with a variety of sizes, it is hard to predict which size will become the new standard or if there will even be a new standard. In the old days 12” wheels were the only thing available and it took years before the 14” wheel became the standard. Now there are 15”, 16” and 18” wheels on the market. We stuck with the 14” wheel for this tire to maximize the number of wheel choices for our customers.

Our blank sheet of paper now looked like a massive donut, a giant circle of rubber with a 14” hole in the middle. The tread bars were the next design feature to complete. Even though our tablet was blank, we knew the existing Outlaw 2 tread bar was a clear winner with respect to pulling, cleaning and delivering a good ride. We now also had benefit of several other tires in this line with lots of data on which features worked the best and which just looked good. From this information we were able to fine tune all the key dimensions of each tread to maximize the benefit and reduce the amount of rubber in production. Less rubber equals less weight. The end result of the new design is remarkably similar to other Outlaw 2s, but with superior dimensioning and construction to minimize weight and improve performance. A hard lesson was learned on our first shot at the Outlaw 2. This tire was so advanced in terms of the size of the treads and the amount of rubber needed to build it, we had to improve the way rubber moved inside the mold while in the press. Some of the early tires were casualties of this learning curve. We aren’t proud of having to learn on the fly, but we are proud to say we stood behind these tires 100 percent for our customers.

Between the superior design and the improved knowledge of moving rubber in the mold, this new 32.5” Outlaw 2 tire is going to be phenomenal in regards to performance, quality and weight.

Scott Blogs: Preparing for a Test Ride

So the other day we were at my shop at home waiting on a big group of guys, many from out of town, for an important test ride. In total, there were going to be about 10 of us on the ride. Since anyone reading this is probably a diehard enthusiast, I realize your mind has already sped past the details. You went straight to: I wonder what they were testing? Why were so many people needed for this test this? Why were they from out of town? These are good questions, the same questions I would be asking. One of the most aggravating things is for people to dangle carrots like this and not tell the answer. I won’t do this to you, so here is a subtle hint: it was a tire. That should be a good enough hint. By the way, this wasn’t just any tire. These guests were here to confirm our opinion; this tire is going to be the new standard. You know we’re always working on new stuff, creating and testing the things we come up with. That’s one of the things I love most about my job. Now that we’ve got that out of the way, we can get back to our day.

While the weather was great that day in Shreveport, Louisiana, the rest of the country was getting hammered by a massive snow and ice storm. Needless to say, that delayed most of the planes for our group. Scheduled “go” time had been set for noon, but around 10 a.m. we learned they were going to be at least four hours late. At this point, there was already a small group that had made it to my shop, from various places, and all of us were getting restless. For those of you that don’t know much about me, I’ll fill in a few blanks. I have two modes: 100% full throttle or 100% couch potato. I do both equally well and am very happy in both conditions. Problems arise when I’m shifting from one mode to the other or trapped in the middle. Since this particular day was to be spent all out hardcore test riding, my mind and spirit were already on the gas, but my body was stuck sitting around waiting, which I absolutely hate. To make matters worse, this was our last window of opportunity for this ride in good weather. The storm covering the rest of the country was headed our way and would be in that night. Even though we could ride the next day, it would be raining and in the low 30s, whereas today was sunny and 75. The anxiety was building …

As we sat under the covered porch of the shop sharing horror stories about different rides we had been on, I kept eyeing a huge pine tree in the front yard. This tree sits about 20 feet from our master bedroom and has no protection from the wind. Several months ago I noticed it was dropping all of its green needles and looking pretty poor in general. Since then, I had been entertaining how I could cut it down so the top wouldn’t make a surprise appearance in my bed on a windy night. The longer we talked the more I thought about this tree and how it needed to be gone. Although it was still warm and sunny, the wind was picking up and the storm was approaching. We had already killed several hours, so the rest of the group was only about an hour out. In theory that wasn’t a problem. After all, how long could it take to chop down a monster pine tree?

No sooner than I got the words out of my mouth, “Let’s go chop that pine tree down” my little brother Brian, who I love and respect immensely, piped in with 20 reasons why that was not only a bad idea, but a horrible idea. To cover a few of them in no particular order:  your chainsaw is too small, the tree is too tall, you don’t have enough time, your house is right next to the tree, it could hit your house, and the biggest – the wind is blowing fairly hard now and in the wrong direction. I’ll admit that last one got to me just a little. The wind had picked up and was gusting on and off. However, the decision was made. It was time to soldier on and make things happen in true Scott Smith fashion.

Scott doing a little work on the dozer!

Scott and Tanner  doing a little work on the dozer!

I grabbed my trusty saw and headed across the yard. It fired on the second pull, and without another thought I tore into the massive trunk like it was a sapling. Strangely enough, as soon as I got through the thick bark all progress stopped. The motor rev’d, 2 stroke fumes filled the air, the blade spun, but no more chips. Ahh, the blade was spent.  At this point I wondered, is God telling me Brian was right? Is this really a bad idea? After all, if this goes badly, what will I do? I’ll have a lot of guys here in less than an hour to go test riding on a perfect day, and how will it look if I have a 10 ton tree lying across my house? I could imagine and hear Rachel as she came home and found this tree across our house and me trying to explain, “I’m so sorry, honey. You see I chopped this tree down to protect our house, but then it fell on the house. As soon as it fell everybody showed up to ride. I didn’t know what else to do, so we went riding.” That surely wouldn’t be one of my brightest moments. As those thoughts were running wildly through my mind, I heard James, our General Manager at High Lifter, shout from across the yard, “Hey, I have a bigger chainsaw with a better blade at my house. Do you want me to go get it?” YES! God wasn’t telling me not to do this; He was telling me I needed a bigger chain saw! We were back in business boys.

As I stood under the massive pine looking up at the already decaying branches, I watched as the wind whipped the beast back and forth. I knew we would only get one chance and we were going to have to do this right. At this point I pulled out my ace in the hole. That’s right, I had a backup plan, a Plan B, the excavator. It’s simple really; you just pull up, put the bucket against the tree, and push. That’s how it works on TV, right? So that’s what I did. I pulled up, put the bucket against the tree, and pushed. Nothing. I pushed harder. The excavator lifted off the ground. Not to be discouraged or give up, we hatched Plan C. Plan C was pure brilliance; we would push against the tree and cut it at the same time with this newer, larger, sharper chainsaw. Nothing could go wrong. This is where my brother, the engineer, steps back in.  He tells me, “Scott, you’ve got a great plan right here. You’ve got it well thought out. You have all the tools to accomplish this task, and I can see you’re ready to get back at it. I just want to point out one small thing, just a tiny detail you might not have considered. The excavator is going to act as a pivot point on the tree, and with the wind gusts we have now, that big ‘ole tree is going to pivot on the bucket and come right back on your head in the excavator.”

Now this had not been part of the plan. In truth, I had not even considered this as a possible outcome. Sure I worried about the tree landing on the house, but I was willing to take that risk. Now we’re talking about it falling on my head. Not only that, falling on my head before a big mud ride. I had to study on that a minute. After careful thought and consideration, I arrived at a satisfactory conclusion. We will in fact cut the tree down, but since there is considerable risk involved, we will also video the act. That way, if it does go badly, it can be submitted to all the various TV shows about stupid people doing stupid things.

With no more to do’s, I got to pushing on that tree and James got to cutting. The wind picked up and I pushed harder. The excavator lifted and the tree cracked with resistance.  It wasn’t going to go easy, but at this point there was no way we were going to give up.  The saw was steadily making chips, and the excavator continued to grunt against the strain of the old pine. The cracking sounds grew louder, and then there was movement. It was slow at first, just a lean. More cutting, more pushing, louder cracks, then, the trunk started to snap. The momentum had begun. There was nothing more we could do at that point but watch. We all watched as the big tree headed down. Much to Brian’s amazement the plan worked perfectly. The tree didn’t come back on my head, and there would be no new stupid people videos made that day. As it turns out, the excavator had enough push in to get the tree leaning as the saw weakened its base. I was able to get the tree pushed far enough over so there was no real danger of it coming back on me in the wind. Gravity was my friend. When you cut a tree down of this size you don’t cut all the way through it then watch it fall over. Cutting it takes a long time.  It will get weak and begin to fall long before you get all the way through it. I already knew this. I knew the excavator was more than big enough to get things headed in the right direction, so it really wasn’t nearly the gamble many feared.

That’s me though. Some say fools rush in but I say aggressive people rush in. When others see problems and challenges, all I see are ways to fix or solve them. That is the way High Lifter operates. We don’t understand “no” or “can’t” or “too hard”. We see a problem, we fix it. We see a challenge, we tackle it.

Within minutes of the tree hitting the ground the rest of our crew showed up and we were all ready to ride. The ride turned out amazing and is worthy of an entire blog itself. Hopefully I can steal away a few hours and type it up soon.

Guest Post: Working Hard to Bring You the Most Current Info!

Each week, a member from Team High Lifter will have a blog post talking about what goes on behind the scenes up here. From sales and marketing to research and development, we hope you enjoy the commentary as we pull back the curtain on High Lifter! This week’s guest contributor is our Product Development Manager, Charles Singleton.

When a customer calls and talks with a sales team member here at High Lifter, they expect that we will have what they want for their ATV/UTV. Imagine calling a company and asking for a part and the person on the other end of the call has no idea what will fit your particular ATV/UTV! What a disaster that would be!

scott at show

Here’s an example of “not working hard” on getting up-to-date applications! But hey – it’s Scott. Could you expect anything less?

At High Lifter, we’ve made it our priority to bring you the most current applications for the products we offer even if we don’t produce it! That’s right – we review every product we offer internally and ensure we have the most accurate and current applications. Sometimes we’re more current than some of the manufacturers! If you’ve got a 2014 Polaris; I bet we have parts for it or have some in development.

To attack the monster task of application updates on products, our team has worked tirelessly over the past few months building a database of OE part numbers from control arms to radiators and everything in between going back as far as 1985. Now, when a customer calls us, they can give the sales person the Make, Model, and Year (MMY) and our system will show the salesman every part and accessory we have available for that model! We also have this feature online that can be found by clicking HERE. The great thing about this feature is that there are no drill down links like some of our competitors have on their sites. Finding the products that you want is really just a click away!

I know that all of this sounds like a sales pitch and in way it is. It is my belief that the team at High Lifter builds the best after-market parts and accessories for ATVs and UTVs. However, our hard work and dedication to the sport and our customers means nothing if these products sit on a dusty shelf. Without the proper applications for a product, you can’t sell it and no one will know that you have it which is why I spend hours of my work day doing part number research. It’s why we have a team here dedicated specifically to product management and application maintenance.

The next time you call our team or visit our site, know that we are doing our best to bring you the most accurate information available. If we don’t have something for your quad, you can be rest assured that we are working hard (when we’re not playing in the mud) to get applications or products for your ride!

Guest Post: God Always Has a Plan

Each week, a member from Team High Lifter will have a blog post talking about what goes on behind the scenes up here. From sales and marketing to research and development, we hope you enjoy the commentary as we pull back the curtain on High Lifter! This week’s guest contributor is one of our awesome sales team members, Hunter Patten.

Hunter is a huge fan of the outdoors - he's been known to duck hunt, deer hunt, and run fishing lines all in one day!

Hunter is a huge fan of the outdoors – he’s been known to duck hunt, deer hunt, and run fishing lines all in one day!

My name is Hunter Patten and I have been working here at High Lifter since April of 2013. This is my story.

I graduated from Lakeview High School in Campti, Louisiana, in 2005. I spent most of my childhood and teenage years working for my grandfather on our 5,000 acre sharecrop farm. Most of my springs and summers growing up, I didn’t have time to mud ride as I was working for my grandfather (and boy did he work me!). After high school, I had every intention of playing college football somewhere and trying to eventually make it to the NFL, but God had other plans for me, I guess. I wound up not being able to play due to bad knees and bad life decisions. After high school I got a job working for the local juvenile detention center and boy was that a crazy job! I had kids in there from ages 10-17.

Hunter on a recent ride with Scott Smith at High Lifter Off-Road Park.

Hunter on a recent ride with Scott Smith at High Lifter Off-Road Park.

After I doing some soul searching, I knew it was time to get my life together and do something with myself. I decided that I was going to depend more on God and less on myself and asked him what he wanted me to do with my life. In August 2007, I had an opportunity to attend a theological seminary – Christ for the Nations in Dallas, Texas – so I packed my bags and headed West! My two years there were some of the best times of my life and it’s the place where I also met some of my best friends. Once I left home I swore that I never wanted to move back to Louisiana, but I have been eating those words since November of 2012.

My cousin Nathaniel also works here at High Lifter in our machine shop and played a huge role in my High Lifter story. One weekend I came home from Dallas to go duck hunting and Nathaniel asked if I wanted to come hunting with him. Nathaniel lives in a house boat on Caddo Lake in Shreveport and while walking around the platform, I stepped on a faulty board (or it could be the fact that I’m a large individual) and fell through the floor, busting up my knee pretty good. Because of my injury I couldn’t drive back to Dallas for several weeks and my boss was not too happy. As you can guess, I eventually went back to Dallas to get my belongings and moved back to Louisiana.

Hunter - you could say he's always good for a laugh!

Hunter – you could say he’s always good for a laugh!

In March of this year, Nathaniel told me they were hiring a salesman at High Lifter and with my love of outdoors, I knew it’d be a great fit for me! I started work right after Mud Nationals and have had a great time working here. I couldn’t be more pleased with this job and I do believe that God has me right where he wants me. Since starting this job I have had lots of opportunities to make great friends with not only my coworkers but also with my customers. I have also started dating an amazing woman and I have God, my cousin Nathaniel, and a faulty houseboat board (or like I said my large girth) to thank for my amazing job and amazing life.

If any of you ever need a good laugh or a great High Lifter product give me a call at (318) 213-6047.

Guest Post: A Great Team Produces Great Products

Each week, a member from Team High Lifter will have a blog post talking about what goes on behind the scenes up here. From sales and marketing to research and development, we hope you enjoy the commentary as we pull back the curtain on High Lifter! This week’s guest contributor is our Product Development Manager, Charles Singleton.

When he's not knee-deep in product development, you may see Charles overseeing the races at High Lifter events! You can't miss his Kirby Kelly hat and bullhorn!

When he’s not knee-deep in product development, you may see Charles overseeing the races at High Lifter events! You can’t miss his Kirby Kelly hat and bullhorn!

My name is Charles Singleton and I’ve been at High Lifter Products for almost 13 years. When I began working at High Lifter, we were a small company and I shared a small 10×10 office space with two other co-workers. I was placed right next to the kitchen which we shared with another company that Scott owned – Smith Martin Builders. When I first began working here, I was hired to assist High Lifter’s General Manager Mike Smith (Scott’s dad) with product development and research.

One of my first projects was helping design the industry’s first aluminum wheel spacers for utility ATVs. At that time, there were only a few wheel spacers available for sport quad models and the only spacers for utility ATVs were produced by Dura-Blue in a graphite material. The spacers were not very strong and generally would crack if you were a hard core mud rider like Scott, Mike, and the rest of the High Lifter crew. We went through several prototypes and two manufacturers before we finally were happy with the product that became the Wide Trac Wheel Spacers. What’s really amazing is that 13 years later, they are still one of the biggest sellers on the market for utility ATV wheel spacers.

After the spacer project, new development projects continued to pop up after Scott and the team spent the weekend in the mud breaking anything they got their hands on. Lift kits, skid plates, Detroit Gearless Lockers, unlockers, Outlaw Tires, Radial Outlaws, and wheels filled our days with research, prototypes, testing, and production. It was (and still is) an exciting time to be around a group of people who continually think of new ways to improve machines!

Here's a shot of the 2nd warehouse we built at our corporate headquarters. It now has three levels and is filled to the brim with tires and our production shop!

Here’s a shot of the 2nd warehouse we built at our corporate headquarters. It now has three levels and is filled to the brim with tires and our production shop!

When we added all of those great products to the High Lifter lineup, we quickly ran out of room in our shared office space. Scott found some land in Southeast Shreveport near Bert Kouns and the Inner Loop and began construction on our current facility in March 2001. I remember thinking when we first moved in to our new building that I couldn’t imagine filling all that space. Two buildings later, we’re using every inch of space available!

When we moved into the new facility, our company expanded with new sales team members, accounting staff, and marketing folks. We added a retail showroom and installation shop for the local mud riders who needed to swing by and pick up parts or get their products installed. Our shop manager at that time, Allen, was also an avid mud rider and a good friend of Mike and Scott’s. Even though his background was in automotive repair, he was great a working on anything that had a motor. Allen’s knowledge of mechanics made him a perfect fit with the team at High LIfter and soon his skills were instrumental in helping us design and build one of our next biggest sellers – the High Lifter Disk Brake Conversion Kit for Honda ATVs.

Mr. Mike's El Rancho Grande - this little bike could go anywhere!

Mr. Mike’s El Rancho Grande – this little bike could go anywhere!

At one time, Honda used a drum brake system that only worked if you were on dry land and stayed out of mud and water. If you did happen to ride through either mud or water, the sealing system on the Honda brake drums would trap material inside the drum system, and then cause the brakes to fail. Like any great product, the DIsk Brake Conversion Kit was born out of necessity. If you wanted to have brakes on a Honda, you needed a way to run disk brakes. Allen built a few prototypes in the shop and we test fit them on Mike’s Rancher 350 which we called the “El Rancho Grande.“ We hired a young kid to test ride El Rancho Grande for us, putting over 1,000 miles on the Rancher in about 45 days. Steven went on to work in our warehouse and eventually moved over to the sales department. Needless to say, the work that Allen, Steven, and the rest of the High Lifter crew at that time was very important in helping us develop a product that is used by so many riders in the off-roading world.

After all these years, my daily job tasks at High Lifter still revolve around the development of new products. In addition to that, I help manage applications for existing products that we produce and applications for products we offer from other companies. I’m proud to be a part of this great team at High Lifter. Everyday is an exciting day up here and we’ve got some seriously sweet projects in the works that I can’t wait to share with you in the future!

Guest Post: How a Short-Term Job Turned Into a Career

Each week, a member from Team High Lifter will have a blog post talking about what goes on behind the scenes up here. From sales and marketing to research and development, we hope you enjoy the commentary as we pull back the curtain on High Lifter! This week’s guest contributor is our Sales Manager, Jeff Newman.

Here's a pic of Jeff back in his mud racing days at Mud Nationals!

Here’s a pic of Jeff back in his mud racing days at Mud Nationals!

My name is Jeff Newman and I began working at High Lifter March 1,1999. This is my story.

I graduated from Carthage High School in 1996 and got a summer job working for Union Pacific Oil. My intention was to begin a career and not attend college but before long, I realized that I should at least give college a shot. I worked part time for UP and attended fall classes at Panola Junior College before packing my bags in the spring and moving to College Station (greatest college town ever … I’m just sayin’!). After a few years, I came to the realization that college, at that particular time in my life, was not ready for me, or rather I was not ready for it, so I moved back home.

A shot of some of present and past High Lifter employees. Jeff's in the middle!

A shot of some of present and past High Lifter employees. Jeff’s in the middle!

I knew living at home was temporary and I needed a job in order to move back out on my own again. Not long after I moved home, my step-dad Dan [Doughty] told me that Scott wanted to hire a second salesman at High Lifter. For a 20-year-old whose main interest was mud riding, this was a job that seemed too good to be true. The only problem was that I had zero sales experience. After my interview, Scott decided to take a chance on me and I knew I didn’t want to let him or Dan down.

This spring will mark my 15th anniversary with the company. When I began working here, I thought I wanted a job to pay my bills, play in the mud, and have some fun until I figured out what I really wanted to do with my life. As it happened, business grew, High Lifter expanded at a record pace, and I LOVED what I did. High Lifter was (and still is) a wonderful place to work.

This was take a few years back. Check out Jeff in the green hat!

This was take a few years back. Check out Jeff in the green hat!

Now after 15 years, I still love to ride and still love my job. I am also very thankful to both Dan and Scott for the opportunity and work hard every day to make them proud.

If you ever need any help, need advice, or would like to place an order, please feel free to call me. With 15 years under my wheels at High Lifter, I’m sure I can answer all your questions and would love to hear from you. You can drop me a line at 318-213-6040.

I look forward to hearing from you!

– Jeff