WWYD? Employment at job shop or firearms manufacturer?
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  1. #1
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    Default WWYD? Employment at job shop or firearms manufacturer?

    Ive been applying at different shops in my area lately and have been offered a job at a local firearms manufacturer and also at a job shop that makes custom welding fixtures and other short-run type work. Im youngish (30) and looking for opinions as to which might be a better job in the long run. Both places are offering me the same wage and shift, and both are nice climate-controlled buildings. I have more experience wtih lathes than mills (both manual and cnc) but have a good general knowledge of most machining processes and really want to learn as much as i can about things that i have little experience with.

    The firearms manufacturer has a very new shop with mostly newer mazak machines and has recently been awarded some big contracts and overtime is plentiful.

    The job shop has recently been given a tax credit and is expanding within the next year or so. The job shop has a wider variety of machines and does more diverse work.

    Both are dayshift, same pay, nice clean shops running multiple shifts with overtime available.

    Making firearms would be really cool IMO, but I'm wondering if i would better diversify my skillset working at the job shop. Both companies seem to have room for advancement just not sure if the job shop would allow me to go farther than the firearms manufacturer.

    Like i said I'm young and would really like some advice from anyone who has an opinion or experience with either type of work or anything that relates at all to the situation I'm in.

    Thank you,
    Dan

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    Other things being equal (work atmosphere, reasonable management, pay/benefits, job stability etc.) I'd lean toward the job shop. Making the same thing(s) over and over, months on end can get old fast, and mass production as an operator isn't likely to result in much improvement of your skills. After a while you'll feel as much a robot as the machines you're using!

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    Gordon's post is what I was thinking. Also be aware that the firearms industry is very vulnerable to legislation. Whether it is bans on civilian guns or cuts in military budgets work load in the gun industry can dry up quickly.

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    As much as I like guns and love to be around them, I agree with Gordon. That kind of repetition would take the fun out of being around them. I think in a short time I would hate guns as much as the Democrats.

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    If your goal is to learn as much as possible, job shop. I faced a similar choice when I started my apprenticeship. There were several candidates but only one shop had over a hundred machinists and almost every variety of machine tool in common use. I've never once regretted choosing that one. I would echo the others as well in that repetitive work is mind-numbing. Can't stand it myself either.

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    I worked at Kimber for a short period of time. Exactly what Gordon said. While I thought it would be/was cool, it got old really quick. As in mind numbingly quick. Millions of the same parts per year with a 3 year backlog. Mind you, I had already been in the trade 30 years or more, still, it got old. But there are advantages if you are willing to go above and beyond if you want to learn new skill sets. That part is up to you. If you want to be an operator, be an operator. If you want to learn new things, like process control/design, robotics/automation. The would always be ways to improve things whether it's a firearms mfg. or a job shop.

    Paul

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    Thanks everyone for the replies, i had considered the legislation side of the firearms industry and that shop does have a high turnover rate. Glad to hear it seems i was leaning in the right direction with the job shop.
    Thanks again

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    Quote Originally Posted by Joe Miranda View Post
    As much as I like guns and love to be around them, I agree with Gordon. That kind of repetition would take the fun out of being around them. I think in a short time I would hate guns as much as the Democrats.
    Kinda like becoming a gynecologist I think. I would lean toward the job shop as well.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Larry Dickman View Post
    Kinda like becoming a gynecologist I think. I would lean toward the job shop as well.
    Haha good analogy

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    Maybe ask the job shop about diversity of clients (do they have a couple of big clients, or many smaller ones), diversity of ongoing work (do all their clients serve the same industry, or a lot of industries?). More diverse generally means a bit more stability.

    Besides that, I'd want to have a discussion with the person who would supervise me, and their boss. How expert are they at the craft? How supportive of your growth? Those discussions might be part of a normal interview (it should be!).

    I'd think that in a job shop, the premium will be to spin up fast and to be able to do stuff you haven't done before without much supervision. At a mfr, the processes may be ironed out, and so productivity will be emphasized. What environment do you think you'd like?

    Sounds like you have a couple of interesting options. Good luck.

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    Having a firearms manufacturer nearby (not some rifle manufacturer, but straight up weapons of war/military level) the guys I have talked to that have worked and have work there are like this:

    Guys that work there: Place is great and I really enjoy it. Great place to work.
    Guys that left: Place was not fun to work. Ended up pigeon holed into specific mundane tasks that didn't satisfy my learning goals as a machinist.

    Point is: Most likely a tight mgt group good old boy mentality and you have to break into it. Meanwhile, you probably will be doing shit work just like anywhere else until you prove yourself if at all. And not to stereotype, those that work there might love the mundane aspects of it because some people are built for that.

    IMO - Go Job shop as you will most likely learn a wide variety of things. The prestige of building firearms sounds great, but it just another widget factory (commodity). Go where you can learn more so you can be more valuable in the future even if it pays less. It will pay more in the long run.

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    Good points bosley. Not sure about the diversity of their clients but i was interviewed by the shop owner, production supervisor and HR lady and then shown around the shop by the guy who would be my supervisor and he said he'd been with the company since he was 18 and now makes all the prints for the smaller runs and i would be reporting to him. He also said he'd ran most of the machines at one time or another and seemed to have a good idea of what each machine was capable of and what type of work could be done on them. Basically there was a shelf full of material with paperwork by each machine and according to the dates on the paperwork i would machine what needed to be done first and would average up to 5 setups a day depending on the number of parts in each job. The machine id be starting on was a cnc lathe very similar to the one i run now with similar controls and all programming done at the machine on a point to point type conversational control. They said as i learned the different machines they would move me around the shop. Ive done production work and one-off work and i know theres not much money to be made in simple production work and would prefer to do one-off type work snyways.
    I wasnt allowed on the shop floor at the firearms manufacturer for security reasons but have seen pictures and its a really clean shop with a lot of really new machines but like everyone else said, would probably get repetitive fast.

    Thanks for the replies everyone
    Last edited by StinkyDan; 07-19-2019 at 07:05 AM.

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    Countryboy, A former employee told me something very similar to this actually. Said the higher up guys had been there forever and all started out in a small garage together and were real close and made a lot of money and it was a tough position to get to. And yes i was influenced by the fact that making guns is just plain cool ha. They make mostly military grade rifles and grenade launchers and most of it goes overseas to NATO allies. As cool as that sounds i think the job shop would have more room to grow and gain new experience.
    Last edited by StinkyDan; 07-18-2019 at 02:51 PM.

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    Job shop because
    1. All Mazak shops are bad for your career. You’ll know Mazatrol but that’s it. You will be lost if you leave for another company that has machines with other types of controllers
    2. As others have said, firearm shop is probably high production, making the same things every day. You won’t learn much there.
    3. Job shop having a diversity of machines is a big plus if you have the will to learn.
    4. Did I mention I loathe Mazatrol?

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    The thing about working as a gun maker is for every incredibly sweet gun that walked in your office, there would be 10 that you wish you'd never seen. And you didn't get to play with any of them.

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    I'd be interested in what else the job shop is making other than welding fixtures for short runs. Any CNC?

    Being able to run Mazaks is a useful skill, so you could learn that thoroughly, ignore the repetition, then move on when you get bored.

    Have to agree that firearms mfg is boom and bust. Being low man on the totem pole, you could be looking for another job soon.

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    The experiences that countryboy relates highlight the point that some folks are cut out to be (to enjoy, to prosper) in different roles. As neilho points out, the decision isn't a forever decision. Nice to have options: appreciate that!

    Let us know what you decide.

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    Quote Originally Posted by bosleyjr View Post
    The experiences that countryboy relates highlight the point that some folks are cut out to be (to enjoy, to prosper) in different roles. As neilho points out, the decision isn't a forever decision. Nice to have options: appreciate that!

    Let us know what you decide.
    Exactly. I've spent 5 years in metal stamping, 4 yrs in fiberglass molding, 5 years high volume lathe shop, 10 years and counting as a business owner, and 2 years and counting in large part repair service industry.

    Quite a variety of manufacturing and was fortunate to be mentored by great people in every opportunity soaking it all up. Wouldn't trade it for anything.

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    Job shop for sure. My biggest fear in life is being bored, and I love learning new stuff.

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    IF just to be contrary

    A manufacturer that makes its own products is much more in control of its own destiny. Job shop customer could send the work to China or put the payments up the owners nose.

    You are looking at jobs, you can ask questions, and make demands. Some guys like sitting in front of the same machine for 20 years, ask what the opportunities for advancement, changes in job etc.

    It is your decision, if you are bored at work, it is to some extent your fault


    I am not at all a gun guy, but were I, at least making something you enjoy and or understand is interesting in itself


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