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  1. #21
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    My grandpa drove OTR for 42 years. I rode with him a few times when I was 10-12 years old and loved it, got a CDL, but I don't know if I could drive for a job. I'm more of a shop guy.

    My neighbor is in his mid 40's and worked for about 14 years in the engineering dept. of a company that built packaging equipment. He programmed PLC's, robots, etc. A few years ago the company relocated to Chicago. He was offered a job, but decided he would rather keep his house here which had been in his family over 100 years and find a new job. He chose to retrain as a truck driver, which I thought was mistake #1. After completing driving school, he signed on to drive pumpkins for a company with orange trucks that has a poor reputation in the industry. I thought this was mistake #2. After driving for them for almost 2-1/2 years, he still really likes the job.

    He is dedicated to delivering to one retail company which has stores all over the upper Midwest. He is not usually more than 6 hours from home, and typically gets home once during the week, and on weekends. He is paid by a combination of mileage and per stop. He makes as much as an experienced machinist, but less than an experienced engineer. His loads are usually hand unloaded, a couple pallets at each stop, 5-6 stops/day, and he helps. He has lost weight and is in much better shape than when he was just sitting and programming.

    He has fairly good benefits, a computer in his truck that plans his daily route to the latest road and traffic conditions(route varies weekly), he drives newer trucks with automatics, has a fairly flexible schedule, and his company really pushes safety. At any time he feels the road conditions are unsafe, he can park the truck until conditions improve. If he needs more pay, his company has offered him part time hours on the weekends delivering for them for a local building supply chain. If he decided tomorrow to relocate to another part of the country, he can call his dispatcher and ask to be transferred to another route in the state he relocates to, keeping all his benefits and seniority. Sounds better than many machining jobs to me.

    So after 2-1/2 years he still loves his job. I don't know what the future holds for him, but doesn't that apply to all of us? For the right person, driving can be the perfect job. I hope it works out that way for your son Russ.

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  3. #22
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    A good friend did it, I thought it would work out fine. He lasted about 2 months.

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    Back when I was a truck mechanic, pre-recession, they used to say that trucking had to get better because it couldn't get worse. I'm not sure that ever came to pass.

    But, operating a machine tool is not totally different from operating a truck or any other complex machine. Lots of attention needed to get it set up, then just keep an eye on it for hours and hours while it does the work.

    I used to haul corn at night for a farmer when I was in college. He had an old Ford Aeromax with a Cat engine and a U pattern 9 speed trans. I liked it. I couldn't do it all day every day, but it was fun for 30 hours a week 3 months a year.

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    So let him drive a little cabover Izusu NPR to deliver
    the parts, and popcorn to the movie theatres at night.....

    He'll get to see the customers, have him carry extra business cards,
    he can do some job scouting (getting extra work for the shop).

    And maybe popcorn sales will pick up...

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    Do you have any technical training schools near you?

    In my last year of training at school, a couple shops who were hiring would come in with oddball jobs for us to do for cash.
    Only the people who had finished and passed the practical part of the course were allowed to do them.

    It weeded out the guys who failed/had to redo the project 5 times.
    It was usually small jobs so they hung around while we did them and they could watch us work.

    You'd be surprised how many of the top-of-the-class guys couldn't even do a simple part without having two weeks to plan it out.

    If I wanted to hire anyone thats how I'd do it.

  8. #26
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    Finding people... Good Luck...

    You aren't looking for a staff, you are looking for A person.. I would do every
    god damn thing in the world I could do to not advertise.. Too much bullshit,
    too many idiots... I would also NEVER go to the Department of Labor again,
    that was a f'n nightmare, they sent me every crack head they had that had even
    heard of a drill press, for 6 months....

    Here is what I did.. I had (and still have on occasion) a skilled guy, because
    that is what I thought I needed..

    Turns out that wasn't what I needed.. What I NEEDED was somebody to do the shit I didn't
    want to do, or have the time to do... I've got a lady now, been here close to a year..
    About 30 hours a week depending on whats going on.... She does all the stupid shit, and
    I do the difficult shit..

    She can run parts and deburr, get tools out and set, square up a vise, top up coolant and
    waylube... Makes sure the soap dispenser is full.. Runs to the store for all kinds of stuff.
    Delivers parts, picks up material, runs to the bank and makes deposits.. Cleans off the
    benches and puts the stuff away after I make a giant mess.. Keeps my desk clean. Saws
    up material.. Makes sure we don't run out of paper towels or toilet paper.. I've got her
    now setting up job folders and entering sales orders and doing some billing. She's been
    slowly working her way through inventory and getting it all cataloged... And when I don't
    have any of that stuff for her to do, we've been rebuilding a bathroom *slowly* and she's
    been doing drywall and plumbing. She has freed up a lot of my time...

    Just my thoughts on the matter.. And she came by word of mouth..

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    Tough situation but you're quite lucky you got that long out of him, its better than most. Hopefully he'll enjoy the new career.
    I've never once yet seen kids be interested in any family business, doesn't matter what it is or how much money it makes.

    With how I hear your economy is getting better, finding a good employee in this line of work won't be easy and you'll probably have to try a few.

    Many of us wildlings from north of the wall are looking/thinking/planning of heading south... Canadian migrants looking for greener pastures might be something to consider if there's not enough skilled labor left in the US.

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    Do you have "Indeed" in the states? Its a popular job site here.

    Two things strike me

    1) when I have a good, let alone key, employee make noise about a change, I put some effort into keeping them. You should be putting a lot of effort into keeping him.

    2) I too couldn't quite believe the career choice...how is someone with the intellect to be really really good at machining going to be happy in a brain dead monotonous job like that? Makes me wonder if there is a more to it than how much he likes/dislikes machining.....i.e circle back to point 1)

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mcgyver View Post
    Do you have "Indeed" in the states? Its a popular job site here.

    Two things strike me

    1) when I have a good, let alone key, employee make noise about a change, I put some effort into keeping them. You should be putting a lot of effort into keeping him.

    2) I too couldn't quite believe the career choice...how is someone with the intellect to be really really good at machining going to be happy in a brain dead monotonous job like that? Makes me wonder if there is a lot more to it than how much he likes/dislikes machining
    He is his son who has only?? worked for his father, he needs to go try something out on his own, this is good. I am sure he can come back if he wants to at any time.

    Russ, any chance your son could hire someone to replace you and keep the business?

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  14. #30
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    Kids are how kids are, my kid worked for me for years, Probably mor my fault than anything that he's gone. He drove me nuts sometimes but that was more me than anything he was doing. I do miss him.

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    This thread is pretty classic why I don't relay some info if I start a thread or ask a question. Most replies here have been to the fact that he wants to drive a truck, not a reply to the actual question asked of how to find a replacement. Gets old when you are the person asking and few can get past a side note and discuss the reason for the thread.

    If I recall Russ' son has some special needs that work against his real world ability to run a business, it has been mentioned before in Russ' threads. I am confident it is not just a matter of 'he doesn't want to' or 'isn't getting compensated enough' on why he is not able to be a business owner. Russ has spent 20 years training him to be where he is now and from what I remember mentioned is that is about as far as he is going to go.

    Russ, I hope I am not overstepping or offending, if I am I will edit or remove this, just let me know. Also if I am just flat wrong let me know.

    Jason

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  18. #32
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    Probably 12-14 years ago I was working at a turning center trying to figure out the details of how to program a repetitive part that involved pulling a bar, facing to hold length to close toerance, making and parting off a part, and repeating while keeping count of the number of parts. Something I'd never done before.

    A trucker walks in, making a delivery to my brother in law, who's gone for a few minutes. The guy runs deliveries for a regional LTL and delivers to the shop regularly, so he's fine with waiting a few minutes til b-i-l returns.

    So he wanders up to where I'm at the lathe and says Okuma... I used to run one of those with the same control at XYZ Co (a national mfgr of power transmission products). I'm thinking uh-huh, and I'm sure you were a whiz at it too. Then he asks what I'm trying to do, so I politely explain it as if he's some programming consultant who's gonna tell me how to do it.

    He looks at what I've got on the screen for maybe 30 seconds, and tells me exactly what I need to change to get it to run in the sequence I want. Sure enough, I make the changes and dry run it. Perfect. Its real clear this guy was way more than the average button pusher, considering he's already said it had been 3 years since he even laid eyes on a lathe.

    So, I cut the machine off and ask him why he's driving a truck. He'd gotten to the point where he couldn't handle working in a plant with no windows. Asked to be transferred to night shift, but they told him they needed him on days since he regularly helped out the other lathe guys in his area. For no additional pay, of course. Said he figured if he worked nights he could spend time outside in the daytime when he was off. When he put in his notice they asked him if anything would convince him to stay. He told them if they'd put in a big window near his work area he'd be there til he retired or they ran him off. Of course, they couldn't do anything like put in a window.

    He said the money was about the same between either job and he enjoyed being outside and meeting people. Said the delivery route was more work than the plant job from a physical standpoint, but he didn't mind the additional work. At the same time, he said he did miss the mental challenges that come up in machining since there weren't many tough things to figure out about driving a truck and delivering freight.

    It takes different things for different people to find job satisfaction, and just because a person might be working in a lesser skilled occupation doesn't necessarily mean he's incapable of doing more complicated work. I've gotten to know more than a few construction tradesmen over the years who demonstrated a level of intelligence that would've allowed them to succeed in engineering school or most any other similarly demanding college course. And I'd say just about every one of them woulda gone bugshit crazy if you gave 'em a degree and stuck 'em behind a desk.

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  20. #33
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    Yes, and you don't sweat holding a tenth, and you don't take
    your worries home with you at night.

    It does have it's appeal.

    Better yet, could be pilot at a regional airline (home every night), however the pay sucks I hear.

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  22. #34
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    I once worked for a 5th generation company and I asked the owner how he got his son to work for him. He told me that his father payed him better than anyone else would so he did the same with his son. He said there is no one he can give the business to other than his son so it was important that he be well compensated and able to assume control of the business. I am doing the same thing, I pay my son really really well, he is someday taking over so I can retire or at least not leave a bunch of our employees in a lurch someday. I will see if it works, it has so far he is excited to show up everyday.

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    Russ, if you are looking to hire a quality, skilled person in this trade, you better be willing to pay $30/hour, and have a stack of benefits.

    A decent worker with some experience, with just enough give-a-shit to do a good enough job, and you better be offering $20/hour with competitive benefits.

    I'm of the conclusion, that there are no truly skilled machinists "left" that are looking for a job. They are already working somewhere else, and if you want to bring them your way, then you have to steal them. That will probably take a big carrot. Or, be willing to start all over and train them from scratch.



    OR....



    Call your nearest robotics integrator, and buy a robot or two or three, to tend your machines.

    I am not kidding...

    A robot will be the best, most dependable machine in your shop. Probably with a ROI max of 2 years.

    Lots of machinists are intimidated by robots. If you (anyone that is...) can run & program a CNC, a robot will be a piece of cake. Seriously...

    I went to a 4-day training class at Fanuc, and left feeling like I could take over the world.





    Put a robot in your shop, and you will also look that more attractive to younger kids coming into your shop for tours/interviews.





    I know it's none of our business, and it's your son's decision. Like others have posted, maybe it's due time for him to try something on his own, and satisfy his curiosities. However, like others have mentioned, maybe he would be interested in staying on to get the robot going, and/or serving in other roles, like delivering parts to customers, etc... If not now, maybe after a few years of living on the road...

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    This is kind of tangent to the main point, but I do have to wonder if you have any succession plans for your business WRuss.

    Regardless if your son stayed onboard or not, do you have any idea how you'd "get out" of the business, come retirement?

    Perhaps, your son were to stay onboard, or decided to return to your business later. --- You said he is key to the business, and knows everything that goes on within the shop, correct? Possibly give him an ownership stake since he's key to the business?

    Even if you decided to sell the business, he would still be a key employee to the shop, correct? And with some stake in the ownership, it would hopefully offer more protection for his job even after your departure, correct?



    Again, this is none of my business, but I feel compelled to ask the questions anyway. It would be a shame for something to happen to you, or him, and the whole business fold. Perhaps there's a way to see it continue on even after your retirement.



    And on a side note, you deserve huge pat on the back for building a business, and teaching/working with your son (and wife & daughter) all these years. It's bittersweet I'm sure, but no doubt you must be a proud dad. Well done Wruss...

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    I was originally going to subscribe to this thread simply in effort to learn something.

    Then, I was going to empathize with Russ, as well as congratulate him.

    Then I read this...

    Quote Originally Posted by Jashley73 View Post
    Russ, if you are looking to hire a quality, skilled person in this trade, you better be willing to pay $30/hour, and have a stack of benefits.

    A decent worker with some experience, with just enough give-a-shit to do a good enough job, and you better be offering $20/hour with competitive benefits.

    I'm of the conclusion, that there are no truly skilled machinists "left" that are looking for a job. They are already working somewhere else, and if you want to bring them your way, then you have to steal them. That will probably take a big carrot. Or, be willing to start all over and train them from scratch.
    Boyyyyyyyy howdy! You ain't just whistling Dixie! This is SPOT. EFFING. ON. in my experience.
    We are not at a point where we can even pretend to be competitive, yet here we are needing to hire someone if for no other reason than I am getting to the point that I'm either going to have an aneurysm or I'm going to burn myself out. And I love this stuff, so I don't see burning out as a real possibility.

    I've had four people in the shop lately, in effort to screen them and feel each other out for suitability. ( I'd say Five, but one was an acquaintance that was temp with a life )

    Holy crap! I could easily go off on a rant about millennials and work ethics, but this is not the thread for that. Sheesh, just getting people to show up is a chore. I do NOT envy Russ right now. And Jashley73 NAILS IT with the above.

    I don't know how you others have done it thus far. Patience I've got. Tolerance of laziness and/or entitlement I'm lacking, in spades.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jashley73 View Post
    OR....
    Call your nearest robotics integrator, and buy a robot or two or three, to tend your machines.

    I am not kidding...
    A robot will be the best, most dependable machine in your shop. Probably with a ROI max of 2 years.
    Lots of machinists are intimidated by robots. If you (anyone that is...) can run & program a CNC, a robot will be a piece of cake. Seriously...
    I went to a 4-day training class at Fanuc, and left feeling like I could take over the world.
    Put a robot in your shop, and you will also look that more attractive to younger kids coming into your shop for tours/interviews.

    I know it's none of our business, and it's your son's decision. Like others have posted, maybe it's due time for him to try something on his own, and satisfy his curiosities. However, like others have mentioned, maybe he would be interested in staying on to get the robot going, and/or serving in other roles, like delivering parts to customers, etc... If not now, maybe after a few years of living on the road...
    If we did more production, I would be doing this right now. Our work doesn't lend itself to this, but anyone doing production would be well served to take that seriously.


    Russ, I'm rooting for you. ( and hoping to learn, too. )

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    The whole robot thing is something i have long toyed with for my future "employee" I'm just still not 100% sure its viable for a highly mixed multi process work flow. I have over 360 unique products and probably am adding another 5-10 a month right now, problem is there all low qty's, automating that seams to be becoming ever harder. Equally theres a limit on how many parts - hours i want to work a day. A robot only gains you once it starts saveing you time, to me its not so much a question of will it work, im sure it could do some of the regular repeating jobs, problem is how long does it take you to move the robot around and tell it what to do. How long do you spend problem solveing the robots issues and how much time - effort do you really save, because whilst im 90% cetain on some stuff the robot could save me time, im also pretty convinced it could cost me far more time!

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    Getting to your basic question......where to find a really good employee capable of eventually taking over and running the business.

    I would try the nearest engineering school (hopefully there's one close by). Hire a couple students part time, teach them CNC machining. They'll learn fast (engineering schools are so competitive to get into, you can be sure most students are pretty sharp, quick learners).

    If you're lucky you'll find one (or two) who would be willing to stay after graduation. Present the situation and the opportunities so in spite of the lower starting pay they'll have with you the long term opportunity is there.

    It always surprises me how many degreed engineers run machine shops. Not to mention the engineer-customers I met who would rather not be chained to a desk, rather they'd like to get their hands dirty really making things. There's a nice advantage having an engineer on the payroll too. I know for sure I snagged high dollar product development work because of my degree (the general public tends to be mistakenly over impressed by engineering degrees).



    I fell into the above situation myself when I was near to graduation with an engineering degree. The owner had no one to take over the business when he retired. Basically he offered me the business. He was making a small fortune with no end of possibility to expand. The only thing that made me think twice about the deal was the crazy streak running through the extended family (and sure enough the boss's wife divorced forcing sale of the business when she found him diddling the secretary).

    BTW: my son worked for me a few years. Best employee I ever had. I depended on him expecting he would take over when I retired. Nope, he didn't like the business. He went into construction starting his own company. Now in my semi-retirement I work with him once in awhile.

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    As I recall Russ already has 1 or 2 other employees for general labor type stuff, what he is asking is how to find skilled employee.

    It may not be the best but go and talk to the shop teachers at the local vocational college. The guys finishing up to be machinists might not have a ton of real world experience yet but they are moldable, and the teachers have been around them for long enough to be able to tell you which ones are fast learners and show up to class every day and that's 3/4 of the battle.

    As for the rest of the conversation, I applaud your son for going out and getting a job away from dad. Its good real world experience whatever the job may be where hes not the boss's kid. I'm sure he'll always have a job opening with you if he needs it. So many people would just be comfortable sitting under dads wing, shows some guts to want to step out from that. After all thats kind of what alot of us did starting new shops, left the comfort of 9-5 job to see what we could do.

    Russ, I wish you the best of luck. I'm hoping/dreading it wont be long before I have to look for first employee if things go right. As some others have said maybe the thing to do is step back and look at the whole company, maybe you are the best skilled guy to take your sons job and easier to find an office worker to do the day to day stuff you've been doing. Maybe do that for some time, while finding a general labor kid thats willing to learn to be the skilled guy.


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