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  1. #1
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    Default Running out of Machinists

    Today we received 2 weeks notice from my second place machinist. He is going two doors down to a neighboring company and is the second machinist in my company to do so in the last 18 months. I am on good terms with the owner of that company and his company is big enough that he doesn't even know that at this point his two latest machinist hires have come from our company. His company is benefiting from the reshoring of a lot of manufacturing in the US and his company sells low cost electronic components to a huge variety of industries around the world.

    They have mostly Tsugami Swiss turning centers and a few small format CNC milling machines and both wire and plunger EDMs to make tooling for their injection molding machines. They machine components for in house production that go into products they sell and generally they run parts 1000's at a time and you can often hold between 10 to 100 parts in your hand at a time. They work four 10's with 3 day weekends for all employees and both machinists that left said they were getting about a $300 - $500/month raise and they get to run their own machine and specialize on a family of parts.

    In our shop we have a Planer mill w/840D CNC, Haas VF3, Tree J425, a few manual mills (Lagun & JET), and Mori-Seki and Hollbrook Lathes, surface grinder, bandsaw, and that is about it. We produce retrofit kits for the paper and glass industries as well as a lot of custom machinery. The parts we machine can vary from small turned adapter shafts to weldments up to 10,000 lbs. For the machinists that left, pay range was $23 - $26 / hour plus profit sharing, 401k match, and 75% health, dental, and vision care.

    My first place machinist is wanting to retire in the next year or two and this will leave me with a couple of capable techs and one machinist that also does a lot of design work.

    I could just shut the machine shop down and outsource everything - but part of what drives innovation at our company is the ability to prototype things quickly in our own shop and modify / test / refine on our own machines. The fact that we can then produce the machines after getting all the kinks worked out is a bonus and I would like to retain this ability if we can . . . but not absolutely necessary.

    If I am to recruit a machinist that is capable of taking a print, running it through Feature CAM, selecting appropriate tooling, and making the part with some degree of confidence . . . I am thinking I need someone with at least 10 years experience. Our #1 machinist who is looking toward retirement makes north of $30 / hour + bonus and benefits . . . is this in the ball park when we go to replace him or hire his equivalent? The two guys who left were not as capable as he is, but they could take direction and knew when to ask questions.

    As we look for a new machinist, I would prefer someone who wouldn't be satisfied standing in front of the same machine 10 hours / day and I need a sense of whether or not we are paying at an appropriate scale. Let me know your thoughts on compensation for what is really a machinist position in a Prototype shop where it is odd if we ever make the same part more than 3 or 4 times a year.

    We are just launching a new website if you want to see a bit more of what we do . . . Applied Motion Systems (still a bit in beta format and working out the kinks)

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    Motion, if I was a little younger I'd be interested, if for nothing else then to learn aspects of automation and robotics from an expert. But regrettably I'm likely too old at 62 for this sort of venture.

    [Not to mention closing up my place - leeetle headache there...]

    I'd think that housing and other costs in your area might influence the relative value of the wages. My best was low-40's/hr, but that was Boston medical area, very high-zoot. I do think your place would be attractive for a lot of folks who really want to learn, that's should help getting applicants in.

    As for running out of machinists in general - well, AI will soon be able to create cussed, ornery old fart robots (complete with body odor), so I suspect we'll be fine going forward...

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    sounds like US Digital is harvesting your finest--hang tight-- if BA moves 87 production to SC you will likely
    experience an applicant rich environment

    12 years ago I was purchasing signal modifying widgets from US Digital--spent some time in the facility
    in an attempt to interest their team in new product to compete with much more expensive item from
    german firm--Motrona
    I was informed all product development engineers were commited for 2+--years

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    Quote Originally Posted by Milland View Post
    As for running out of machinists in general - well, AI will soon be able to create cussed, ornery old fart robots (complete with body odor), so I suspect we'll be fine going forward...
    Sounds like a plan, but I'm not so sure about the "fine" part.

    Given "AI" is the abbreviation for "Artifical Idiot", they'll probably be slotted as "Product Engineer", and Machinists will still be in short supply.


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    Quote Originally Posted by JHOLLAND1 View Post
    sounds like US Digital is harvesting your finest--hang tight-- if BA moves 87 production to SC you will likely
    experience an applicant rich environment
    Most shops in the Seattle area in my experience avoid Boeing machinists like the plague. Their union machinists so have rather outsized expectations as to their worth, and a lot of them really aren't that good. I used to go up to a shop in Kent to help out on a regular basis. There was a guy there who was an ex Boeing union shop steward. Although the shop was non-union, this idiot liked to act like it was a union shop sometimes. Union guys cannot, will not, or are almost incapable of adapting to a non-union environment.

    I worked in several shops in Orange county, and if a resume came across the desk of HR, and the person was coming from, or had ever worked at the McDonnell/Boeing Long Beach plant the resume went into the shredder.

    The two shops I do work for on a regular basis have had trouble finding good machinists for years.

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    Quote Originally Posted by motion guru View Post
    Today we received 2 weeks notice from my second place machinist. He is going two doors down to a neighboring company and is the second machinist in my company to do so in the last 18 months. I am on good terms with the owner of that company and his company is big enough that he doesn't even know that at this point his two latest machinist hires have come from our company. His company is benefiting from the reshoring of a lot of manufacturing in the US and his company sells low cost electronic components to a huge variety of industries around the world.

    They have mostly Tsugami Swiss turning centers and a few small format CNC milling machines and both wire and plunger EDMs to make tooling for their injection molding machines. They machine components for in house production that go into products they sell and generally they run parts 1000's at a time and you can often hold between 10 to 100 parts in your hand at a time. They work four 10's with 3 day weekends for all employees and both machinists that left said they were getting about a $300 - $500/month raise and they get to run their own machine and specialize on a family of parts.

    In our shop we have a Planer mill w/840D CNC, Haas VF3, Tree J425, a few manual mills (Lagun & JET), and Mori-Seki and Hollbrook Lathes, surface grinder, bandsaw, and that is about it. We produce retrofit kits for the paper and glass industries as well as a lot of custom machinery. The parts we machine can vary from small turned adapter shafts to weldments up to 10,000 lbs. For the machinists that left, pay range was $23 - $26 / hour plus profit sharing, 401k match, and 75% health, dental, and vision care.

    My first place machinist is wanting to retire in the next year or two and this will leave me with a couple of capable techs and one machinist that also does a lot of design work.

    I could just shut the machine shop down and outsource everything - but part of what drives innovation at our company is the ability to prototype things quickly in our own shop and modify / test / refine on our own machines. The fact that we can then produce the machines after getting all the kinks worked out is a bonus and I would like to retain this ability if we can . . . but not absolutely necessary.

    If I am to recruit a machinist that is capable of taking a print, running it through Feature CAM, selecting appropriate tooling, and making the part with some degree of confidence . . . I am thinking I need someone with at least 10 years experience. Our #1 machinist who is looking toward retirement makes north of $30 / hour + bonus and benefits . . . is this in the ball park when we go to replace him or hire his equivalent? The two guys who left were not as capable as he is, but they could take direction and knew when to ask questions.

    As we look for a new machinist, I would prefer someone who wouldn't be satisfied standing in front of the same machine 10 hours / day and I need a sense of whether or not we are paying at an appropriate scale. Let me know your thoughts on compensation for what is really a machinist position in a Prototype shop where it is odd if we ever make the same part more than 3 or 4 times a year.

    We are just launching a new website if you want to see a bit more of what we do . . . Applied Motion Systems (still a bit in beta format and working out the kinks)
    Just a suggestion regarding pay...where I am at they do pay in increments. Say you are hired for a position that pays 27.68/hr, you start at 22.80, 6 months from date of hire it goes to 25.35, and one year you get full pay, plus raise if it happened before you hit full wage. This gives time to see if you are a good fit and also see if you are willing to work for it.

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    I guess it partly depends on how much the bonus is, exact number isn't my business but big difference if its 1k or 10k. I live in a pretty low cost area but $25hr would just be scratching the surface of someone that's worth a shit and there's an increasing number of places paying $35-$40 to get top tier talent.

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    Quote Originally Posted by triumph406 View Post
    Most shops in the Seattle area in my experience avoid Boeing machinists like the plague. Their union machinists so have rather outsized expectations as to their worth, and a lot of them really aren't that good. I used to go up to a shop in Kent to help out on a regular basis. There was a guy there who was an ex Boeing union shop steward. Although the shop was non-union, this idiot liked to act like it was a union shop sometimes. Union guys cannot, will not, or are almost incapable of adapting to a non-union environment.

    I worked in several shops in Orange county, and if a resume came across the desk of HR, and the person was coming from, or had ever worked at the McDonnell/Boeing Long Beach plant the resume went into the shredder.

    The two shops I do work for on a regular basis have had trouble finding good machinists for years.
    I worked in the OC myself about 30 years ago, we actually hired two Boeing machinists when they had a big lay-off in the late 80's. Our plant had absorbed a couple other locations, many of the guys did not relocate and we needed bodies. It took a while to retrain them, they had the learned helplessness of working at a union plant. The two guys we hired were on the cam auto side of the contact primary aisle no way were any of the CNC guys hireable. They were not allowed to do anything, they could not make any tooling, even simple stuff, and did not edit programs. They were also making crazy pay, mid 30's per hour in the late 80's. I was last in line to interview applicants, they were shocked when I had to tell them they weren't qualified for the top two labor grades in any machining department due to lack of skills.

    As for the OP it is pretty obvious you flat out aren't paying the going rate for top people in your area. Did you even consider matching the offers the guys had? I used that method to get raises all the time before I became self employed. One place finally let me walk, then turned around 3 months later and offered me $3 more an hour to come back.

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    I don't know cost of living in your area, but for a reference, I make 65k/year as a dedicated programmer. I can (and occasionally do) setup and operate cnc lathes, mills, and wedm, also can run manual bridgeports and lathes, surface grinders, blanchard, etc.

    Not sure if that is helpful for a pay range for what you want/need...

    We are having a hard time finding machinists too for what it's worth. And by machinist, really just need a decent cnc setup guy that can prove a program and hold tolerances...

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    If you factor in the high cost of living in your area, your wage isn't very special. What do you pay your designers?

    Look at the situation differently. How much value does being able to prototype your own parts bring to your development process? How much value does being able to make modifications on Saturday for a Monday run-off bring to your machine build process?

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    I think wages are finally going up.In all fields And its about time. Ofcourse everything else has to adjust to. I only have 4 guys working for me so i dont offer benefits but im starting yahoos with a good additudes at 22 With no experience. And this is in idaho My main guy is over 100000 a year and thats 40 hour work weeks. Even if your training its hard to find people that can learn and are willing to spend a couple hours a week on there Own time improving themselves. If they are not willing, they are not worth training. I have one guy i wouldnt mind if he couldnt take the mud And dirt, and heat and went somewhere else, but he is worth his wages justAnyingly slow, plays the dumb card Way to often. was talking to some good guys, no experience in my field, but friends that worked for companys, didnt want their own gig but could be left alone And would Not spend the next day fixing screw ups. They where always looking. they needed to make enough for a newer car for the wife every 5 to 10 years, a cheaper toy, and a Plain jane house payment In the area that they worked, Without working 70 hours a week Or their wife working. I think skilled labor is going to be in the 100000 per year in total compensation For teachable and knowledgeable guys that can figure things,out Even in idaho, within the next few years. A lot of the old knowledge is retiring and the new guys are too intitaled to work dirty jobs. jmo

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    Quote Originally Posted by idacal View Post
    I think wages are finally going up.In all fields And its about time. Ofcourse everything else has to adjust to. I only have 4 guys working for me so i dont offer benefits but im starting yahoos with a good additudes at 22 With no experience. And this is in idaho My main guy is over 100000 a year and thats 40 hour work weeks. Even if your training its hard to find people that can learn and are willing to spend a couple hours a week on there Own time improving themselves. If they are not willing, they are not worth training. I have one guy i wouldnt mind if he couldnt take the mud And dirt, and heat and went somewhere else, but he is worth his wages justAnyingly slow, plays the dumb card Way to often. was talking to some good guys, no experience in my field, but friends that worked for companys, didnt want their own gig but could be left alone And would Not spend the next day fixing screw ups. They where always looking. they needed to make enough for a newer car for the wife every 5 to 10 years, a cheaper toy, and a Plain jane house payment In the area that they worked, Without working 70 hours a week Or their wife working. I think skilled labor is going to be in the 100000 per year in total compensation For teachable and knowledgeable guys that can figure things,out Even in idaho, within the next few years. A lot of the old knowledge is retiring and the new guys are too intitaled to work dirty jobs. jmo

    ^THIS^ Since I've started in this field it's been so interesting to me (also I realized more knowlege=more money) any time I got on a new machine I would take the manual home and read it cover to cover. My first year I read the entire MSC big book to learn about what types of tooling were available. I take all the machining magazines home to read, I watch machining videos while sitting on the can, I took night classes at a couple of the local colleges to learn about CAD and CAM and Metrology. I've only ever worked with two people out of many that share this type of passion. Most people just want to collect a paycheck.

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    Quote Originally Posted by motion guru View Post

    They work four 10's with 3 day weekends for all employees and both machinists that left said they were getting about a $300 - $500/month raise and they get to run their own machine and specialize on a family of parts.
    Did you offer them a raise to keep them on board???

    Peter

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    Quote Originally Posted by AJ H View Post
    ^THIS^ Since I've started in this field it's been so interesting to me (also I realized more knowlege=more money) any time I got on a new machine I would take the manual home and read it cover to cover.
    I did the same, when I was lightening the load for a cross country move 10 years ago I found a pristine set of Fanuc 3T manuals in my bedroom closet that I had taken home in the late 80's. I forgot I had them. I gave them away right here on PM to the first person that proved they needed them for a machine they owned and were going to keep.

    As for the O.P. when I worked for large companies and had some supervisory responsibilities, but did not have the final decision on giving someone a raise I would always present the headache and the cost of replacing someone who was ready to walk over wanting more money. More often then not the company would let the guy walk, then pay his lower skilled replacement more.

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    1) wages are always based on being high enough so people do not leave when you want them to stay. amazing some think wages are set by anything else and seemed surprised when people leave
    .
    2) i was on furlough March to May and unemployment AND the extra $600./week I was easily making more on unemployment. I literally took about a $400/week pay cut to go back to work. I only went back to work cause I like working, it's boring staying home only doing home improvement stuff. if anybody says there is no proof people are staying unemployed cause of the extra unemployment money they are full of it. many will stay unemployed for as long as the unemployment lasts.
    .
    3) when people apply for jobs it can be amazing the prejudice or pre judging people based on age, where they used to work or odd opinions of the hiring person. a lot of times people are not even given a chance, they dont get interviewed and or dont even start job on a trial period. many people need some training on particular machines or ways things done at certain places. often the training might be a month or 2 but many places dont want to do any training. then seem surprised they cannot find "qualified" people
    .
    4) i have seen places with a long list of what they want new hire to do and find a person and offer $20./hr or less. seen more than once person applying for job say no thanks, got another better job offer somewhere else. most when applying for jobs are applying for jobs at many companies at the same time
    .
    5) older people like 62 or older many were layed off. they not suppose to discriminate but if a person qualifies for SS retirement many companies got rid of those older people cause some work has slowed down and companies wanted to keep the long term middle aged employees under 62. many older people are quite good and qualified or might need minimal training BUT when they apply for say 30 jobs often they are lucky to get 3 places or 10% to even talk about a job interview. if you give older people a chance you might find they are good employees. many will be grateful for the job and being given a chance to work

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    Quote Originally Posted by DMF_TomB View Post
    1)
    2) i was on furlough March to May and unemployment AND the extra $600./week I was easily making more on unemployment. I literally took about a $400/week pay cut to go back to work.
    Is that a lie? Or the posts you make about what you earn with all the OT a lie? Last I checked unemployment is taxable. So you have to compare that $600 a week to gross pay, not net. Something isn't adding up.

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    Quote Originally Posted by AJ H View Post
    ^THIS^ Since I've started in this field it's been so interesting to me (also I realized more knowlege=more money) any time I got on a new machine I would take the manual home and read it cover to cover. My first year I read the entire MSC big book to learn about what types of tooling were available. I take all the machining magazines home to read, I watch machining videos while sitting on the can, I took night classes at a couple of the local colleges to learn about CAD and CAM and Metrology. I've only ever worked with two people out of many that share this type of passion. Most people just want to collect a paycheck.
    Heh. I thought I died and when to heaven when I found out about mcmaster carr catalogs. And then, MSC - although at the time it was called "Manhattan Supply Company" but those things were near better than playboy magazines from back when I was a kid. Also my present employer pays for whatever Voc-Tech classes I take at the local BOCES school. Double down on the 'try to have a dialog with folks leaving to see would make them stay.' Obviously the retirement card may not be negotiable. Lab techs and modelmakers at my workplace are growing VERY gray but they seem to stick around for whatever reason. Might be pay, might be benefits.

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    Young guys move for money

    rather than focus on the prerequisites for your opening, focus on the candidate

    Not just does he have the current capabilities, but does he have the potential moving forward, and does he want to stay[IOW does he have 3 kids to feed]


    Too much hiring is done online by check boxes.


    So, the guy is leaving, he has nothing to lose. Have a frank, one on one convo, is it just the money, or is it more?

    What used to drive me out of a job:

    instability
    bad boss
    bad coworkers
    bad boss

    and, uh,

    bad boss

    and bad bosses create instability and bad coworkers

    I am not at all implying that you are that bad boss, in fact I seriously doubt it

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dualkit View Post
    Is that a lie? Or the posts you make about what you earn with all the OT a lie? Last I checked unemployment is taxable. So you have to compare that $600 a week to gross pay, not net. Something isn't adding up.
    .
    when work is slow most work 40hour/week obviously. unemployment even after taxes taken on my weekly was easily $400/week higher than working a 40 hour a week job. my end of year income will be higher than just a 40hr/week job cause of the extra unemployment money
    .
    I am back to work now and working some overtime now months later but still not making as much as when I was on unemployment. it was about $504 and $450 or $954. after taxes per week on unemployment with the extra unemployment money. when working i got money going into 401K obviously not when on unemployment. thats why as people return to work stock market is going up as 401K contributions start again. if anything many saved unemployment money and now when back to work are contributing more in 401K than normal to use up the extra unemployment money. thus stock market at record highs
    .
    really is it any surprise people can be slow returning to work. In NY they got data showing it was safer to be in a work place where masks and other rules are enforced than being home on unemployment. when they started doing contract tracing often doctors and nurses working in a hospital had lower chance of getting sick than people at home (who often were not staying home alone, they get sick going to bars or parties in peoples homes). its like going to store and plenty of hotdogs but steak is in short supply cause people on unemployment buying more expensive stuff than normal

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    Ya I think tom is smoking something. Google shows max unemployment for NY to be $504/week + $600 = $1104 GROSS. That means tom makes an average of $20/hr plus overtime... but pretty sure he posted about grossing 70-80k year..?? Hell, I don't know, maybe he works 80 hours a week, and doesn't make 80k/year lol

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