Journalist Rodney Ho wrote the following article, published on AJC.com. Click here to view the full article online.
John Ratzenberger (‘Cheers,’ Pixar, DWTS) pushes ‘Made in America’
John Ratzenberger, best known as know-it-all postal worker Cliff Clavin on “Cheers,” swung through Atlanta earlier this week to push his long-running “Made in America” campaign, highlighting manufacturing jobs and vocational training.
This is just the type of program patriotic know-it-all Clavin would have embraced. Ratzenberger’s Travel Channel show ‘Made in America,” which debuted in 2003 and went for five seasons, paved the way for Mike Rowe’s “Dirty Jobs” and a raft of similar shows.
Ratzenberger, a trained carpenter before he pursued acting, linked up recently with the Made in America stores (www.madeinamericastore.com) to create gift boxes that consist solely of U.S.-created items, one of women, one for dudes and one for children.
“The entire package is sourced and made here in America,” he said over lunch at Roxx Tavern off Cheshire Bridge Road. “Even the boxes and ink used to print the boxes. It’s turned out to be really popular.”
He notes that environmentalists should note that China, where many manufacturing jobs have gone, pollutes far more than we do and a lot of that air pollution makes it to California shores.
Manufacturing jobs, he notes, have disappeared by the millions. “A welder can make $80,000 a year,” he said. When factories shut down in many small towns in America, the people left behind often end up having to rely on government and taxes end up going up. He said he saw this happen in his hometown of Bridgeport, Conn.
“It’s okay if kids don’t go to college,” he said. “They can become a welder or plumber. All my relatives worked in manufacturing. All made a great living and lived in nice homes. But the media makes us think if you work with your hands, somehow you’re not smart.”
He thinks TV focuses too much on failure, not on success, citing the “Locked Up” series on MSNBC that highlights felons.
While in Atlanta, he met with incoming Senator David Perdue, who supports many of Ratzenberger’s initiatives. And Ratzenberger is looking to direct a fil in Atlanta. He has seen studios here and is duly impressed. He also visited a grammar school friend who works at a big construction firm here that builds high rises.
When at home in Connecticut, he dabbles in his own construction projects on a much smaller scale like a play area for his grandson, all from scratch.
Not surprisingly, Ratzenberger has ties with Atlanta-based Home Depot. Both work on the “Building Homes for Heroes” initiative to help get affordable homes for veterans. And he’s friends with founder Bernie Marcus.