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  1. #25
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    Default Re: Finding REAL tradesmen and talant

    To the OP - answer to the question.
    There are endless excellent candidates, of no, low, medium and good basic skills/experience.

    All of them will need, should get, engineering wages, and with those engineering wages - consequent skills and productivity - will make the shop lots of money.

    I believe the basic premise, You started from, is wrong.

    This is a business-management post - not a personal criticism, or anything like that.

    Im(n)ho ...
    You do not actually want, or need, and should not hire, cheap guys, with (some) machining skills, to run machines.
    This is the wrong approach - and will not, probably, work well for Your business.

    What You actually want is smart engineer/tinker/trader type guys - very smart, interested, motivated.
    You want them to be very highly paid.

    And they will usually, -almost all- be very happy to get partly (highly) paid on results (because they are self-starters and very smart), where you make 2:1 - 3:1 - 4:1 on whatever they cost You, including 1M$/year per person.
    If You pay 1M$, and make 2M$ with a 1M$ profit, it would be madness to try to reduce the incentive for people like that.

    I have done the same in 3 countries, 3 languages, for multiple (70+) people in 3+ industries.
    My overall business sales (or tech) success rate is 100%+++ ... with some people in the mix of course not being the right fit.

    I used to start with cheap people// no skills, train them .. and this was wrong (right).
    Last gig was with the very best people, very expensive, opm.

    It was vastly easier, more fun, more productive, better return on investment, better IRR and IRRonC.
    (internal Rate of Return, IRR on Capital).

    If You can finance it, and have an excellent sales manager/trainer, then and only then go for the best guys.
    If the sales manager is no good, You waste 1M$ in a few months (at 100-120k$ /month costs for 8 good guys in sales).
    I was the Sales Mgr.



  2. #26
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    Default Re: Finding REAL tradesmen and talant

    Hi....one thing you miss.....if you can "pick up" highly motivated and experienced people at the drop of a hat.....what are they doing while you browse round the herd picking and choosing your talent?

    If they are in a waiting lane etc, why are they not being employed for the high wages they expect to earn as highly motivated and experienced CNC people?

    Those people, by your estimation, are in the ratio of 1 in 10 of available CNC savvy workers, and as the market for such people is a tight one, finding enough loose cannons will be a difficult job.

    If they are employed they won't be wanting to change sides just like that, and offering above the wage level of the district will put you out of the competitive production race very quickly..........unless of course you have government contacts that favour you with over estimated jobs etc.....commonly called "the old boy network".

    I'm curious to know how you get away with paying high wages to people who are out there earning wages that are normal for the CNC profession without going broke when it comes to competing for a contract.

    I doubt whether the guy in question will follow your suggestions as he and others are competing against the Chinese machine and that is a labour/payment issue that won't go away by merely throwing more dollars at highly motivated and competent people.
    Ian.



  3. #27
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    Default Re: Finding REAL tradesmen and talant

    Although I think hanermo is right
    There are endless excellent candidates, of no, low, medium and good basic skills/experience.
    I do think he has missed the point too.

    I am not looking for cheap highly skilled people. A lot of the work I have if one to ten off complicated parts. I am willing to pay top wages for skilled trades to produce those parts. I have higher production and low tolerance stuff too that I employ minions for. I prefer minions that have a real interest in a career and future, progressing to a skilled guy. But sometimes they do end up being the green button pushing mindless guy. If I could only hook the E-Stop to an suppository, that would save a few bucks! They always hit that a long time before the real E-Stop. That way I would not have a guy hit feed hold and watch the 5XD 1.5" insert drill go molten inside part after they failed to notice the inserts failing three parts earlier. They did notice the burr on the backside getting big.... (sorry for the side, pain is fresh. I'm going to the corner to cry now.....) Maybe I can cut the part off the drill? I'm sure it's still OK in there?
    Point is, I don't have to look far to find agreement that you get what you pay for. BUT just paying more does not directly translate into better work. Say my main guy can do a job in 8 hours. I pay him X. I pay a lower skilled guy half him but he takes twice as long. I just lost money. If I pay the lower skilled guy more, I don't get more work. He does not have the skill yet. I need a second "main" guy and pay him X. Then I make money.

    I'm not saying I don't want to train a guy, just one or two apprentices at a time, but I need some guys that can hit the floor running today. I don't think I am expecting too much of people, I just don't want to lose money. At my size, there are still too many hats for each guy to wear to be trying to dedicate guys to programming or pure setup. The opportunity is there for any employee to take on as many hats as he likes and get paid for it.

    Engineers, Yep. Handlewanker has it right that if you get university educated guys your going to have trouble getting them to stay in the dirty shop floor. We do a lot of engineer/build and keep engineers on staff. My requirement is that the juniors have to go to the floor and make parts. I feel very strongly that a design engineers needs to have a good understanding of what it really takes to make parts and hold tolerances. Worst job they can do is make their own design.....LOL That's when the learning really starts! But they are essentially apprentices, well equipped apprentices some of them, but still money consuming apprentices (that you cannot get a subsidy for) that take awhile to gain the knowledge they need. Then when they start getting a hang of stuff, they are off the floor. The rule is, the floor is my floor foreman's, and he is the boss when they are out there. The nice thing about this arrangement is that they will come back out and help when we are swamped and they learn a healthy respect of the tradesmen which really helps when they are on site dealing with outside trades.
    University educated engineers? NO, they have too much education to usually be settled long term on the floor.
    Engineering Technologist? YES. I think that nowadays, when a kid is smart in high school, they get pushed to get the highest education they can attain. Which is great. But I think there is a good portion of these young people that would in the old days, have gone thru a trade. In school they get told "you have good grades, you should be a technologist, ..... you should do computers,...... you should XXX" Never do they get told, "Machining requires a lot of skill and knowledge, your smart enough to be one. if you like building real things, look at that trade". I AM looking for the technologist that really would rather work in a machine shop than what he is doing.
    What I really meant starting this post is I need to add a few guys that can hit the floor running. I cannot fill my floor with apprentices and expect the few experienced guys to deal with them nor do I want the scalability of my business to be limited by training a few guys for 5 or 6 years. I agree with everyone here that building and molding a guy from the ground up is a good bet even with the risk of them leaving. I agree it is a responsibility that comes with owning a machine shop, to help train the future. I do need to fill the "middle" of my shop out with qualified employees.
    As for the hiring process, I like the idea of throwing a part in front of the candidate. I have done that to a few with mixed results. It shows they understand but not always that they can do. Had one guy, 15 years exp, good answer on a part in the interview (I likely didn't structure it well) but in the first week, he was taking forever on a large stainless flat plate. Putting a radius on the outside, it was heavy/light etc. All over the place. Honestly couldn't get it. When I walked over, he had his part support and the clamps in different areas, twisting the hell out of the part! Seems pretty intuitive to put the blocking UNDER the clamp. Seen that one a lot. What I was asking, is how to avoid or minimize those guys. From all the responses, I am scared it is training new people and waiting for the "good" ones to have a bad day at the shop around the corner. Gotta be patient I guess.

    Handlewanker, yes we do have to compete, so like everyone else, we need to watch the bottom line closely. When we started we were quite efficient. As we have grown, we have lost this. Mostly from growing without the right skilled employees. Luckily we have had a string of quite profitable work that helped keep things looking good but I can see it coming back to reality and we will not look good trying to hit the numbers other bigger shops are hitting unless we employ a higher percentage of good machinists.



  4. #28
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    Default Re: Finding REAL tradesmen and talant

    Hi....there are a number of clichés that highlight a situation without so many words......."too many chiefs and not enough Indians" is one that was a by word for over educated shop floor workers.

    In my last employ before retrenchment and final retirement at age 60, we had a consultant group come in...... "The Boston Toe Choppers"...... and when they were finished I walked out the door along with all of the managers, foremen and various other people that were "excess baggage"', approx. 1/3 of the "vital" brains of the outfit.....for the last million years or so.

    The end result, after a year was, the profits were up 40%, work in progress and store part stock levels were almost zero..... down from a continuous $10 million inventory to under $2 million....... and production with "just in time" was rolling along as smooth as grease on roller skates. .......BTW.....we all got paid out every last cent they could inject in the packages to ease the out the door now process that had to be done.

    What happened after the implosion and reduction in top and middle management was a team environment that had fully working team members and no office chair warming managers and foremen that in reality were excess baggage as far as hands on production.

    Yes, someone had to be the brains of the outfit, but that was within the team and preplanned work procedures ensured the expertise of the foremen and managers was now in the hands of the team.......just follow the procedure etc.

    The product spread was reduced to cater for the 80/20 rule which culminated in the reduction in the stock inventory.

    Sometimes you have to displease some of your customers all of the time to cater for the majority that put more bread on the table than the few that produce crumbs etc.

    It is a fallacy that catering for everyone produces more work....it does,.....with diminishing returns.....you can squeeze a few more drops of moisture from a rag if you wring it out but the effort is excessive to the end result......so the 80/20 rule is the name of the game and lead times cater for the just in time principal that works so well.

    Meanwhile, back at the ranch, we had dedicated tool setters for the CNC mills and lathes and operators that just pressed the green button when the red light flashes....that is what they like to do, no aspirations of running a show....ever.....just get the money, they know their job within the narrow spectrum of their work expertise, and the show runs smoothly.

    Having come from a relatively low education level trade background that fulfilled the need to do the job without eyeing the horizon for grater things, I retired after more than 50 years as a qualified tradesman and expected no more than that.

    Today, the work environment has changed so much I would and did not figure as a valued worker after the shakedown mainly due to the fast changes that occurred with CNC, just in time and the 80/20 rule that high volume production dictates.

    BTW.....if you threw a part on the desk at an interview.....which is a daunting sterile environment to gain knowledge of a prospect's ability...... and asked a prospect to work out a process, 9 times out of 10 the process can be done better with more time to ponder and at the coal face once you're familiar with the working environment etc........I never had to do that at an interview.....papers talked and I worked on from there.

    BTW 2.....at a job interview I never worked at a starting rate......I either got the money being offered or it was a case of "kiss my arse as I walk out the door"......also, who needs a brain surgeon to work in a butcher's shop.
    Ian.



  5. #29
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    Default Re: Finding REAL tradesmen and talant

    Quote Originally Posted by Place2809 View Post
    Hi All,
    I have a question that I am sure most business owners would love to have the answer too and that I am sure many have better ideas than me. I started a small machine shop about two years ago and have grown it from a cnc lathe and a mill to 6 cnc spindles and all the manual and supporting stuff. We run prototype, onesy and twosy to runs of 2000 with most in the 10 to 100 range. We are 5 on floor employees not including sales and office staff. I have access to a lot more work and really should have two more CNC's and three more guys on the floor right now and more later in the year. My problem is finding more machinists. In particular finding ones that are proficient at their jobs. I can find operators anytime, they walk thru the door almost daily. Most are not worth anything and obviously did not have any responsibility in their old jobs because they have trouble measuring with a vernier. What I am talking about is a real machinist. Real tradesmen. The guys who KNOW their job. The guy that is interested in how to cut metal and how the metal behaves, that likes to make good parts.
    I am good at placing the ad, getting LOTS of resumes. We are a nice clean small shop willing to pay good wages and top wages for great machinists. Problem is, I get all these resumes in with 5, 15 years, 25 years experience. All looks awesome on paper. Nice guys, well presented. Know the talk. Problem is, when you put them on the machine. How can a guy with 15 years tool and die experience be burning up and breaking cutters because they don't know feeds and speeds? If the guy just ran other peoples programs, to me that's and operator. Anyone can run a CNC if there is a good guy spoon feeding them all the time. But then your paying two people to do the job of one. AND the spoon fed guys going to ask for a raise because hes making all these great parts.........
    I love the "old timers" but the CNC murders them. Lots of respect for them but I need the computer skills. Then take the "Geek". There is a flurry of mouse clicks, a flurry of button pushes and in record time they are ready to make chips. A couple crashes, new tooling and lots of burnt inserts and stainless parts I need to "Just trim .ooo5" off and it'll be in spec" already taken out of the jaws laying on the table or 20 "Rembrandt's" all over the map and I'd have to sell their first born to pay what they have cost me.
    Probably enough moaning and groaning.....

    The question I propose is:

    How do you guys sort the good from the bad?


    I am determined to get good at this hiring thing. I think it is key to the growth of my shop. We want to change the interview process and are thinking about a more involved testing procedure. The problem I see is if a guy is a really good, he's working, and getting a "test day" from a guy like that may be difficult. Good guys are in short supply and if they come available for whatever reason I'd hate to lose him because I was trying to schedule a test for him and the guys down the street just give him an offer same day. BUT in the same breath, at the size of shop I am, the impact of a bad hire is huge. Even though a guy might not be able to perform in my shop he might still do well at a "production" shop and I hate the idea of a guy leaving a stable job to come to my shop and have him not be a good fit.

    I know there will be people saying to find the hungry young guy and grow and groom him into a super star. I do agree with that but that takes time and I need my shop to grow faster than that. I have lots of thoughts on why the number of qualified machinists are dropping. Most of them based around the wages of the trade and that "smart" kids are pushed into going to college and technologist courses not the trades. So for right now today, I need to hire people that are solid. Tomorrow I'll look for the technologist that didn't realize when his counselor told him to go into engineering because his math was good that he actually finds it more fulfilling to work with his mind and his hands making cool stuff on cool machines.

    Any ideas? I want to employ a good hiring process but don't want to make it so involved that it takes away from attracting people when they really can go anywhere.
    Hi Place2809,
    To grow your business, besides hiring good machinists, you can also try another way, outsource the services. It could dramatically increase your competition in the market.
    I'm the sales director (based in Houston) at Wantong Machinery Factory. Our factory is located in China. We are ISO9001:2008 certified and family owned. Since 1986, we have dedicatedly provided CNC machining services to American clients to help improve quality and reduce costs.
    Free quotes and samples.
    Look forward to working with you.

    Best regards,
    www.wtjx.cc
    Ben.chen.houston@gmail.com

    Sent from my Redmi 4A using Tapatalk



  6. #30
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    Default Re: Finding REAL tradesmen and talant

    When i worked in one of the jobbing shops we had a lot of work pulled by a few companies who decided to outsource to china . One large company came back on their knees and were desperate . All the products that they outsourced were screwed when they finally got them thru their doors . We reworked skids of parts for more than twice the cost of what we machined them for when we made the products . Holes were missing tapped holes were missing or out of place , every part was missing something or there was something stupidly wrong with it . Once we were done and they paid thru the teeth - the boss refused to do any more new work for them .
    Theres something to be said for made in Canada and theres something to be said for made in china

    A poet knows no boundary yet he is bound to the boundaries of ones own mind !! ........


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    Default Re: Finding REAL tradesmen and talant

    Hi we had a similar occurrence many years back when we imported all our die cast items from Taiwan.

    Our quality control policy was to sample the pallet load of 10,000 parts, and if in the first 100 parts sampled only one turned up out of spec the whole pallet was rejected.

    The fact was the parts were none reworkable and went direct to assembly......experience proved that with a firm QC policy the supply question was no longer a problem.
    Ian.



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    Default Re: Finding REAL tradesmen and talant

    @ OP If hiring a personnel from another country is not a problem, then I guess I wanna apply Honestly I dont have decades of experience but one thing for sure, I can make an AR15 rifle out of an ordinary chinese CNC plus an added bonus, I can basically maintain your machinery on your shop from software to hardware, You are free to fire me immediately if I cannot fix it



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    Default Re: Finding REAL tradesmen and talant

    Quote Originally Posted by handlewanker View Post
    Hi we had a similar occurrence many years back when we imported all our die cast items from Taiwan.

    Our quality control policy was to sample the pallet load of 10,000 parts, and if in the first 100 parts sampled only one turned up out of spec the whole pallet was rejected.

    The fact was the parts were none reworkable and went direct to assembly......experience proved that with a firm QC policy the supply question was no longer a problem.
    Ian.
    Hi Ian, totally agree that with a firm QC policy the supply question is no longer a problem.

    Sent from my Redmi 4A using Tapatalk



  10. #34
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    Default Re: Finding REAL tradesmen and talant

    Hi, last observation.......the CNC industry can no longer be considered as a trade related environment or career path.

    There is no longer a hands on skill level attached to a CNC machine operator.....the design criteria for production has now shifted to making the machine the skilled entity and the operator the passive component.

    I'm quite sure this will raise the hackles on the necks of the CNC people, but as old school trade descriptions are defined........the person who pushes the button does not have to have control over what happens at the tool point........if this is not a main stream practice, then the CNC machine is not being operated properly.

    The process that a CNC machine works and produces the part from must be established BEFORE the button gets pushed........picking up the pieces afterwards is a costly process.

    So, the infrastructure that ensures part output to exact specification starts at the design stage and I've had heated arguments with many design draughtsmen who design parts that are not practical for mass production.

    The problem occurs when the show is on a small platform and the people are expected to multiskill to make up for the shortfall in man power spread..........not understanding how production needs to work to make it pay is a profit loss scenario waiting for a place to happen.
    Ian.



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    Default Re: Finding REAL tradesmen and talant

    don't forget the "machinist" that spent 35 yrs in a corner of the factory drilling the same hole in part after part . There were and are varying skill levels of manual machinists , the same goes for cnc machinists . I've never seen a button pusher run a one off cnc job worth 6 figures or more . CNC is very much still hands on in a lot of shops , it's not press the button and walk away. A lot of the old school principles still stand strong today as they did before , except now bad stuff can happen much faster

    A poet knows no boundary yet he is bound to the boundaries of ones own mind !! ........


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    Default Re: Finding REAL tradesmen and talant

    Hi, that machinist that drilled the same part for year after year was not a skilled person.

    He might have been very clever at doing that job but in actual fact he was just an operator.......a skilled person is above mundane repetitive work unless he did the work course for a few years and never really cottoned on to what engineering was all about.

    I worked with many people who "claimed" to be skilled, but couldn't spell the word.

    I have to wonder why anyone would invest in a CNC machine to do one off jobs.....the learning curve to get to a reasonable level is painful at best. especially if the set-up is left to the operator who can make as many mistakes as the boss can tolerate and then move on to fresh fields when the going gets tough.......the boss is then left with the dim prospect of breaking in a new guy who just wants a job that pays and doesn't want to be a career person in that field.

    There's a lot to be said for having the guy who knows it all and lots of guys that only want to do it all with little thinking along the way.

    The moment you inject a rising skill level expectancy to a job, that's when the unforseen events raise their ugly heads and you don't have a good day.

    BTW.....one off jobs are considered to be jobbing shop work and that is the worst field to be in bar none......you never know for sure if the last Christmas party was the last one and machine maintenance soon takes last place to a slim profit margin.
    Ian. .



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Finding REAL tradesmen and talant
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