Tube Machine Maker's 'UTube' Site Overwhelmed by Confused Demand

YouTube's enormous popularity has created a big headache for another "utube" — a company that sells used machines that make tubes.

Universal Tube & Rollform Equipment Corp.'s Web site,, was inaccessible for most of the week, overwhelmed by millions of people looking for the popular online video site.

The confusion took off a couple of months ago, said Ralph Girkins, Universal Tube's president.

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. (GOOG) 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 capacity.

"We couldn't work on it, couldn't do anything," Girkins said Friday.

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."

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

The company is looking to sell the Web address and find a new home for its Web site even though the company uses the 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."