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New Ohio website means to bring rural folks together, with hobbies
 
By CELESTE BAUMGARTNER
Ohio Correspondent

CINCINNATI, Ohio — Interested in restoring farm machinery? Antique tractors? Farming and gardening? Have Internet access? Then visit a new website called Universal Stop, at www.uni
versalstop.com

It has hubs where users can learn more about those topics, show photos and chat with other people who have the same interests. “Universal Stop is meant for everybody,” said Mark Schutte, who developed the website.

“It is broken down into hubs and each hub is a topic or an interest. There’s farm equipment, an antique tractor hub which was suggested by one of the website visitors, farming and gardening, automobiles, watercraft.”

Schutte started Universal Stop after he and his dad, Joe, restored a Ford 1701 Offset tractor. They spent two years doing it the right way. When it was finished, Mark Schutte had no way to show the tractor.

“There are a lot of tractor-related websites, but none of them met what I was looking for,” said Schutte, who is a Cincinnati police officer. “I wanted to have photos and information about me so that I could communicate with people.”

Initially he was going to design a website specific to tractors and people who collected tractors. Friends and family said that was a really neat concept, but what if someone was a car collector, or collected stamps, or whatever? Schutte decided to expand the idea so people could communicate with others who share the same hobby, whatever it may be.

So, he contacted Jeremy Yunis in Minnesota to design the website. Joining it is free. If someone collects John Deere or Oliver tractors, for example, they create a profile, Schutte said. If they don’t see a hub for their particular interest, they can suggest that one be started.

“You can post different things on your profile, talk about whatever is going on,” he explained. “Last year was the first year I started farming. It’s a hobby farm because my occupation is being a police officer.

“With this being the first year, I made some mistakes. There were people on the website who have been in farming for a while, and they’ve been giving me advice and tips on what to do.”

Once a user creates a profile (they are not asked for any personal information) they can click on the hub section of their choice. From there, they can go to the chatroom or the forum. On the forum, users can post a blog or submit information about upcoming activities. Yunis monitors the website in case there are problems.
“There have been a lot of people who have seen pictures of my Offset tractors and they’ve come to me asking for how or where they can find parts,” Schutte said.

“There is a man in Pennsylvania who has a Ford 1720 Offset and a part was destroyed on his tractor, he had to have it remade. 
I gave him the dimensions and I took photos of it and he had the part made. It was the website that connected us, and he came to me asking for assistance with his tractor.”

Currently there is no advertising on Universal Stop, although there could be. Family and friends have helped Schutte get the website launched. A brother-in-law, Kyle Pederson, designed the logo and Schutte’s girlfriend, Amanda Patterson, printed cards and designed flyers to help get the word out.
5/1/2013