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Popular YouTube has adverse effect on machine maker's site



Published: Sat, October 14, 2006 @ 12:00 a.m.



Confused Internet users shut down a manufacturing company's Web site.

TOLEDO (AP) -- YouTube's enormous popularity has turned into a big headache for a company that sells used machines that make tubes through its Web site utube.com.

Millions of visitors confusing utube.com with the popular online video site have forced the company's site to shut down for most of the week, said Ralph Girkins, president of Universal Tube & amp; Rollform Equipment Corp. -- the other utube.

The confusion took off a couple of months ago, he said. The company, with just 17 employees, got 68 million hits on its site in August, making it one of the most popular manufacturing Web sites.

The site shut down last weekend just before Google Inc. announced plans Monday to buy YouTube for 1.65 billion. A move to a new server didn't help, but by late Thursday Universal Tube's site was back up after the company added more bandwidth.

"We couldn't work on it, couldn't do anything," Girkins said. At least 50 customers called during the week to point out the problem, he said.

He hasn't figured out yet how much it has cost to get the site running.

"Just get me going. I don't care." Girkins said. "If I miss a 300,000 sale because of a Web site problem, it doesn't make any sense to not to fix it."

Too much trouble

Universal Tube, based in suburban Perrysburg and founded in 1985, has about 12 million in annual sales.

The company has decided to sell the Web address and find a new home for its Web site even though the company uses the utube.com name to advertise to customers overseas, Girkins said.

"We know we can't keep it," he said. "It's going to be a never-ending problem."




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