GA Lumber Dealer Takes on Obama

Originally published by: Fox NewsAugust 1, 2012

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President Obama's message to entrepreneurs that "you didn't build that" prompted one Georgia business owner to respond with a not-so-subtle retort.

"I built this business without gov't help. Obama can Kiss my a**," reads the sign outside Gaster Lumber & Hardware in Savannah, Ga. Owner Ray Gaster posted that and two similar ones at all three of his company's locations in response to Obama's comments during a speech to supporters in Virignia, which struck a nerve with small business owners around the nation.

"When I heard what he said, I said 'I'm going to give him an answer in Chicago language--something he's used to.'”

“If you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help," the president said at a campaign stop last month in Roanoke, Va.. "There was a great teacher somewhere in your life," he continued. "Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive. Somebody invested in roads and bridges. If you’ve got a business, you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen.”

Since the comments created a firestorm, Obama's campaign has sought to put the comments in perspective, saying that Obama only meant that businesses rely on the community to flourish. Yet, his opponents have seized on the remarks, making them something of a small business rallying cry.

Gaster, a Vietnam veteran, told FoxNews.com he built his now 28-year-old business from the ground up.

"I started on my own," Gaster said. "The government wasn't there. We work long, hard hours and what he said is an insult to any businessman."

The sign has been criticized for its harsh language, but Gaster said that the rough words were necessary.

"When I heard what he said, I said 'I'm going to give him an answer in Chicago language--something he's used to,'" he told FoxNews.com. "If I would have said 'Dear Mr. President...' there wouldn't have been as strong of a response."

Gaster sent a photo of his sign to 45 of his friends and business acquaintances. He said he wants other businesses to post signs as well. 

"We need to stand up to the criticism coming from our own government.  If this economy is to get better, it will be driven by small and independent businesses.  We are part of the solution, not the problem," Gaster said. 

"I want to use this sign to urge other businesspeople to stand up and say 'Mr. President, you're wrong. I built my business,'" he told FoxNews.com. "I represent the majority of business owners in my belief."

Following this story, Gaster sent out the following email in response to the many calls and requests he received:

Friends,

What can one say but thank you for your support and kind remarks; I wish I could have answered every phone call that came to my office in support of my banners.  I know many of you were surprised when I did pick up your call. (One of my rules in business is to answer my own calls and talk to my customers.) Likewise, your emails have been heartfelt and overwhelming.

In my original message that went out to about 45 friends and business associates, I said that all businesses need to stand up and say, "NO, Mr. President you are wrong.  I built this business." That message has not changed over the last week.  If we are to be an economically strong America then we must stand together against the heavy hand of government interference.  All of the economists tell us that for our economy to recover it will take small and independent businesses to expand....to hire more people..... and to spend more money.  Small businesses are part of the SOLUTION, not the PROBLEM.  Somehow Obama doesn't understand this.  When he derides us in such a way he deserves our ire and condemnation.  It's tough enough out there without the President stirring up his supporters at the expense of small business owners while he is campaigning by stating that WE did not build our businesses.  No telling where those ideas will lead. That is why I drew the line after his comments.  My business is my life.....and those that know me, know that no one, not even President Obama, will get away with disparaging my business and what I have built over the last 30 years.

In the calls and emails that I have been receiving the two biggest request are: 1.) how can I get a banner or have one made; and 2.) I want to buy something from you and send some business your way.  I'm largely in the lumber business, with a little hardware, not the banner business.  Unfortunately you can't just order a truck of lumber and plywood online and hit the send button.  So, unless you are doing an expansion, or building a new house within a 100 mile radius, it becomes impractical to do any business. 

Here in Savannah, a long-time friend and local small business owner, who has a print shop, does this kind of stuff.  I have given Al Kennickell with the Kennickell Group permission to produce and sell the same or a customized banner, plus bumper stickers for about what it cost me originally.  So, if you are one of those who wants to send your own message, go to www.gasterbanner.com to order your own banner.  I know you will be satisfied as they, too, take pride in their work and the products they sell.  Feel free to forward this email on to others.

I am writing this message to you asking that we all stand together and send a clear message to the President, as well as others, that we are proud of the businesses we have built without government help.

God Bless America,

 

Ray

Raymond Gaster
President

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