When management doesn't understand the business
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  1. #1
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    Default When management doesn't understand the business

    The company I work for was bought by an investment group, and they apparently know little about the business, and especially tool room work Here's the day I had recently:

    I was making some heel blocks for a mold that we are rebuilding. They are D-2, which is a bear to begin with. First, I had to start with way oversized stock, because the size I wanted 'isn't available'. Why isn't it? Because their credit is so bad that they don't have a vendor for tool steel, so they order whatever is available from MSC or McMaster-Carr. I needed eight 2" long pieces; I started with an 8' long stick.

    The only horizontal bandsaw is in the maintenance department, where they apparently use it cut rocks. They buy the cheapest blades, which don't hold up to D-2 even on the slowest speed and flood coolant. But on this particular day, the coolant pump was out anyway (and has been for about a month) so cutting it up on the bandsaw was out of the question. I set it up on my CNC bed mill, and wrote a program to cut it off using an end mill. No flood coolant on the mill, either, so you have to take it easy.

    After cutting off the pieces, I had to cut down the big stock with a face mill to get the desired size. I can't take a big cut, because it's only a 5 hp bed mill. Now, there's a big, strong VMC about 30 feet away, but it doesn't work because they left it disconnected so long that the memory and parameters were lost. It's a companion piece to the CNC EDM, wire EDM, turning center, and CNC ID/OD grinder that are all non-functional (I already wrote a thread about that).

    I did the math, and I spent most of a day making 7 lbs. of chips. That's more than the parts weigh! I used up about $100 in disposable tooling, and 8 hours making blanks, not to mention the 7 lbs. of D-2 all over the floor. I was told that 'labor doesn't count' as they were already paying me to be there. According to one of the middle managers, I'm really 'knocking it out of the park' with all of the work I'm getting done. That's because my predecessor spent his days playing on-line chess instead of machining.

    Typical underling gripes, I know, but in my last job, I was the manager over the tool room and mold maintenance. I can see so many mistakes (many the same that my previous employer used to make), yet am powerless to do anything about it. I'm just trying to tough it out for a few more years to retire, but I worry that the company won't last that long.

    Why won't management in a company like this not seek out the opinions of someone with 40 years in the business? In 1-1/2 years there, the general manager has never even spoken to me. I know; I should move on, but at 64, my resume gets ignored everywhere I send it. That, and this place is 10 minutes from my house; most jobs would be an hour away. So, I come in, do what I can, and keep my mouth shut. The dog is way too big for this old tail to wag.

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  3. #2
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    I know exactly what you're going through. In fact, the town I work in is very industrial, and I know of three large companies, two of them about one hundred years old, the other one about 50 years old, with the same problem. Having spoken with employees from all three, quite frankly I don't know how they stay in business.
    This seems to be common here in America, somewhat like the 'Pretty Woman' story, the movie with Richard Gere and Julia Roberts....buy a business, not knowing one thing about how to manufacture, then sell off the pieces, only in your situation they forgot to do the selling off.
    All you can really do, in my opinion, is to hold out as long as you can. Continue to work inefficiently, through no fault of your own, until they finally go out of business, or mabye someone else will come along and bring the business back to efficiency.
    By the way, I actually laughed out loud after reading about the bandsaw and cutting the pieces off with an endmill. Owners/office types like this should stay in an office with a can of playdough where they can do no harm.
    I have a great respect for all your experience.

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    Why are you enabling bad management ?

    Don't "Make do", you won't be rewarded for hero work.

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    I was going to tell you that you should of spent the time used to write this post to update your resume, then I see you are close to retirement. I could write a book about the horrors of working for the man in a large company, you can double that when the managers have little or no hands on experience with what they are managing.Even if you were the greatest work place politician on the planet trying to fix the mess where you work considering the circumstances would take a decade. I don't want to write a novel here and I could. If I were you I would either just do as asked and wait for the ship to sink or just head for the nearest life boat, running around trying to patch leaks is a stressful losing battle, the hull of that ship is rusted through in too many places.

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    I feel for you, nothing worse than working for idiots, and seeing a once proud and productive workplace despoiled, but investment companies sometimes need to have something that makes an overall paper loss, which they can offset against another company which is paying too much tax. If your company employs a lot of people, it is not unknown for the owners to go to local or national government (in the UK at least) to get grants to keep jobs and keep the factories open. High finance has no integrity, and little skill. It is more akin to animal cunning, lies, and clawing your way to the top by any means possible. Hang in there, and start badgering for early retirement!
    Good luck!
    Phil, UK.

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    No need to worry about the company going broke until they appoint an attorney as Head Man. Relax and do your job the best you can. Your management has no idea what it is that they don't know. Regards, Clark

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    When management doesn't understand the business the hire people who can do the job and know their skill.

    Managers manage people and people know their job.
    Best is to be polite and try to help them get things right/better.

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    What I see from your post is they appreciate you.

    Since you have credibility with management have you tried to make suggestions, like better quality bandsaw blades and allowing you to fix the coolant pump? You should be able to make your case by itemizing the savings on the D2 job. Seems like the worst they can say is no.

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    I have been through the same thing. Learn to play online chess, then retire.

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    Offer to buy the entire shop for $1. Then offer to rent the usage of the tools back to them for $200/hour, and you'll fix them up on your own dime. Plus they can continue to pay your wages to boot. Nirvana for accountants: no capital tied up

    Just as stupid as throwing out an inventory so you don't have to count it as inventory, even if it has an eventual value (when used or sold).

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    Maybe you need to start playing "manager" with the managers..

    "Gee boss, you know what would make OUR department more efficient/profitable/save money/etc..
    WE should BLAH BLAH BLAH, and then YOU will look like a superstar"

    You need to trick them into thinking the improvements are good for THEM, and its
    even better if you can make them think its THEIR idea.


    I feel your pain, we've all been there... Idiots tripping over dollars to pick up nickels.

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    If before things were better and there were any documented processes then present them as a way to make more money.

    If not then create a proposal that shows how more NET money can be made

    That is all these folks look at is the net margin line on the spreadsheet.

    Given the circumstance it would not be possible to retool much and still pull this off as it is in a "too long to recover cost" tats ..but.

    Locate just one process that requires the least cost and start there.

    Bandsaw blades as now are wearing out fast and replaced often so easy to calculate one good blade at X is cheaper in MATERIAL COST than the 5 blades it replaces.

    They showed their hand regarding labor so do NOT include any line for the labor in the presenting sheet as they are just looking at material cost.

    Make a sub line to show how fixing the coolant pump makes blades last longer and have cost of repair against blade cost saving.

    On a supporting sheet and use a spreadsheet with formulas to calculate costs...Have a line for each item like a blade and on the line include column for blade part cost and time to change the blade and time for the blade to make a single cut and estate how many cuts a blade can make.

    Include a column for them labeled OCPH and tell them they can enter the operating cost per hour there as they should know what that is.

    That is the actual cost to have the lights on including all labor.

    Build the sheet correctly and they can quickly see blade a costs X and blade b costs y and can justify the better stuff as MORE net money.

    Suggest they let you buy a couple "better" blades and fix the pump "just to see how it works"

    Once they decide to "try" t do your best to make the numbers and see how it goes.

    If it works be prepared for next low hanging fruit

    Sent from my SAMSUNG-SGH-I337Z using Tapatalk

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    At 64 the best advise is to just suck it up and tough it out.

    If you have any kind of pension etc. from the old firm make sure you have all the documents in a safe place (not at work). These investment type are notorious for trying to screw over older employees so (discreetly) document everything. If necessary scribble notes at lunch and copy them into a journal at home.

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    For a machine shop, I find it hard to imagine why management would consider a man's wages as a mere fixed cost: news flash: the shop charges some multiple of the man's wages as markup, so in my mind, wages are the basis for all the profit the company makes. No man working = no product. If they can get around that, THEN, wages are just a dead expense.

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    It's an investment company. Did you ever think that they don't want to show a profit? If they don't care, why should you?

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    Quote Originally Posted by MushCreek View Post

    Why won't management in a company like this not seek out the opinions of someone with 40 years in the business?
    You should open your own shop with all of your experience. It's really easy to do and you will make a boat load of money.

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    Ha ha! Best way I know of to make a million bucks in a machine shop is to start with two million. I've had my own shop- lost my butt. The head of Purchasing where I work now did say he would 'load me up' with work if I went out on my own. I have a modest home shop, but nowhere near equipped to do mold work.

    Machine work isn't our product; we mold very inexpensive (pennies) plastic parts. They ran a 48 cavity mold for months only making 4 cavities. I don't see how that could even pay for the electricity to run the press. Most of our molds are very old (some over 50 years old) and they've been patched, welded, and shimmed to death. Until I slipped away into this CNC gig, I was pounding away on rusty old molds, trying to squeeze a few more parts out of them. Some of them can't be fully disassembled because they're too rusty to seal back up.

    The last place I worked was a job shop. We didn't own the molds, the customers did, so we could put the squeeze on them to pay for mold repair and maintenance. Either fix it, change the print to reflect the new reality, pay a higher piece price because of reduced cavitation, or leave. We had all 4 things happen over the years. Where I'm at now, we have no such leverage. My immediate supervisor is powerless, and won't even attempt to talk any sense into them. It seems to be that way all the way up the food chain. People who 'make noise' tend to disappear. Some guys who have been here for years tried to have a talk with them, and got nowhere.

    One mistake is that they hire the very cheapest help they can find. Skilled people don't last long- they move on to something better. I don't even bother to learn a new guy's name, as I figure he'll be gone in a few months. The people who stay usually don't have a choice. They're either not very good at what they do, are old (like me), or they're wearing an ankle monitor. We had people get caught using meth in the building. It's so rough that I brought my good tools home, and make do with a combination of Harbor Freight stuff and what's left of the company tools.

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    Quote Originally Posted by HuFlungDung View Post
    For a machine shop, I find it hard to imagine why management would consider a man's wages as a mere fixed cost: news flash: the shop charges some multiple of the man's wages as markup, so in my mind, wages are the basis for all the profit the company makes. No man working = no product. If they can get around that, THEN, wages are just a dead expense.
    Because the toolroom is considered non production.

    On the floor, "making the product" employees are accounted for
    differently.

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    Quote Originally Posted by MushCreek View Post
    The company I work for was bought by an investment group.........................
    ..............no further explanation needed......................

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    Quote Originally Posted by MushCreek View Post
    Ha ha! Best way I know of to make a million bucks in a machine shop is to start with two million.
    If I could start with two million and know that it would make me a million, say every year or so, I'd be all over it. Got a couple mil laying around?

    BTW, I get what you say. I know of three or four guys that started shops and are now worth a few million. It can be done if you know how. I was close but no cigars.


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