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‘Cheers’ Actor John Ratzenberger on Supporting American Business During COVID-19

Photos: Courtesy of the Travel Channel

Veteran actor John Ratzenberger is pacing the way for a resurgence of local tourism amid current international travel restrictions.

You may know John Ratzenberger for his longtime role as mail carrier Cliff Clavin on the hit TV show “Cheers.” You might also recognize him as the only actor to have a voiceover role in every Pixar movie. But 73-year-old Ratzenberger, who was born in Bridgeport, Connecticut, and still lives in that state today, is more than an actor. Namely, he’s an advocate for raising awareness about the importance of American manufacturing, skilled labor, and the trade industry. When settling on the idea for the Travel Channel’s “Made in America,” which he created, his passion for promoting American jobs and goods was top of mind.

“I know how important American manufacturing is, not only for the quality of the products but for our economy and for the need to hand down those skills from generation to generation,” Ratzenberger said. “I wanted to showcase the exceptionalism of both the products we make and the people that make them.”

Supporting American business

Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, one way to support American workers is by taking advantage of domestic travel — especially as certain international travel restrictions are in place. Ratzenberger does just that on his show.

“You couldn’t experience everything America has to offer in a single lifetime. When we were filming ‘Made in America,’ I went to places you might not consider bucket-list trips, but you’d never forget them if you did,” he said.

He insisted the United States has much to offer in the way of culture and food, which can rival other countries. “Instead of flying to Amsterdam to see the tulips, drive through North Dakota and see miles of sunflowers,” Ratzenberger said. “Swap the beaches of the Riviera with oceans on both coasts and nearly 1,800 lakes. Put the Statue of Liberty on your bucket list before the Eiffel Tower. For food, there’s nowhere else you’ll find New Orleans Cajun, Memphis barbeque, or Maine lobster rolls that will rival ours.”

Adventuring on two wheels

Traveling by RV in particular allows for more spontaneity and quality time with family when exploring American cities. “You’re seeing those off-the-beat-path places that you just don’t when you’re flying in and out of some big city,” he said. “It’s something you and your kids will never forget.”

The actor’s efforts in this vein extend beyond the time he spent on “Made in America.” He founded an organization called Nuts, Bolts & Thingamajigs which is now run by the Fabricators and Manufacturers Association. They cover the costs of manufacturing summer camps and scholarships in the country. He speaks to groups across the United States about opportunities in the trade industry and he helps strategize on promoting apprenticeships as part of the President’s Task Force on Apprenticeship Expansion, which he was appointed to in October 2017.

Ratzenberger reiterated that one of the easiest ways to bolster American business these days is simply by traveling within the nation’s borders. “You’re supporting the American economy when you spend your tourism dollars in America. It’s not hard. Rent an RV from someplace like Outdoorsy and just do it,” he said. “It’s one of the safest ways you can control your environment on a vacation, get outdoors, and support the economy while having fun.”

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