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    Default Suggestions for Startup Manufacturing Businesses

    There are few employees in any occupation who haven't had a pipe dream about going into business for themselves. In most cases it doesn't go beyond that, and those who do make an attempt at it often regret it. There are some people whose temperament isn't suited for it, others who lack the necessary basic skills, and still others whose personal and/or financial obligations are major obstacles.

    Earlier this year, I started a thread which presented a brief history of how I started the Torchmate company, and my experiences prior to its sale. I refrained from making any specific suggestions as to how others might pursue a similar startup.

    (The Beginnings of Torchmate).

    I have thought about some of the specific approaches that worked for me to the point of my considering passing them along. If there is sufficient interest, I will share details on some of the few steps I took that helped me reach the $1,000,000 annual sales level in three years with no employees. In the years beyond that, it was pretty much a matter of expansion.

    This will most certainly not be a sure-fire formula for success. Rather, it will be some questions to ask one's self before investing a lot of time and/or money. I will also mention some pitfalls to avoid, and some strategies for maximizing sales with minimal cash layout and minimal labor.

    If there are enough positive responses to the above idea, I will continue this thread with additional posts.


    first-torchmate-shop.jpg circa-2011.jpg

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    Great idea, please continue.

    These type of threads are some of the best on PM and have been inspiring over the years.

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    yeah "Duh" I'm all ears ...

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    Yep, sounds worthwhile. Just know that every shop has their own ways, so expect some push back.

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    Would love to hear more, thanks for sharing!

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    I'd say start the story. One of the best parts of PM is hearing how a business came about and developed.

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    Default Starting a manufacturing business from scratch

    Before I get started, let me point out that I am describing what worked for me at a certain point in time, with a particular product line, at a particular stage in my life. My comments are meant to be directed to those who have not yet started a small manufacturing business, but are thinking seriously about it. People already in business for themselves will probably find these ideas unsuitable for their circumstances and needs. There are many ways to skin a cat, and probably even more ways to start and grow a business.

    Suggestions

    1. DON’T QUIT YOUR DAY JOB! This comment is often used jokingly when someone does a mediocre job singing in karaoke, hanging wallpaper, or fixing the lawnmower. In this case I mean it sincerely.

    Since statistically, more businesses fail than succeed, it is good common sense to hedge against the possibility that you won’t make it. Start out working evenings and weekends, without giving up the security of your regular job. When you reach the point that you can’t increase your business further without going full time, that’s when you should weigh the risks involved and make a decision. If quitting your job would deprive you of a future pension or retirement annuity, consider sticking it out until that is no longer an issue.

    I was just starting my retirement from a Government job at age 56, I had a retirement annuity, my wife was still working, and my kids were all grown and financially independent. If my fledgling business had failed, we could have scraped by financially.

    Many, if not most of us who went on to create a successful business experienced several, perhaps multiple failures before we got it right. Bear in mind that if we had quit after our initial failure(s), we never would have succeeded. Just don’t let those failures devastate you financially or totally demoralize you.

    You should consider if your personal risk tolerance, and that of your family can withstand the uncertainties associated with a startup business, and factor that into your plans.

    2. WORK OUT OF YOUR HOME FOR AS LONG AS YOU CAN! There are many businesses that can be successfully operated out of one’s home for a considerable period of time. Depending on your local zoning regulations and the nature of your products, consider working from your home until it is absolutely essential for you to go elsewhere. If your current home is not conducive to producing a product, such as a small apartment, consider moving to a more suitable location before renting commercial space.

    I worked out of my home for several years, and then hired my son who worked out of his home as well. It was probably five years from the time I started the business until we rented commercial space.

    3. WHEN YOU DO MOVE TO A LARGER FACILITY, RENT RATHER THAN BUY!

    There are several reasons to rent, rather than buy, commercial space. Since your business is going to be a bit of a gamble, you don’t want to saddle yourself with a mortgage if you are unsuccessful. If you do grow, you may well need to move into still larger space, perhaps more than once. Remember that you are in the manufacturing business – not the real estate management business.

    We moved into larger commercial space three times. Each time it seemed like we were overstepping, but we eventually filled up the space. While subsequent moves may prove necessary, be wary of trying to skip a step and move into too large a space too soon. I used to know a guy who ran a successful speed shop. He rented a huge warehouse in anticipation of substantial growth of his business. The last I heard, and this was some years ago, he was back to driving a truck for someone else.

    If you already own commercial space, that’s a different story. But then you probably aren’t starting a business for the first time, either.

    4. DON’T BORROW MONEY TO GET STARTED IF YOU CAN AVOID IT! For the same reasons as not buying commercial space, you don’t want to have a bunch of debt on your hands if your business goes under. It is wise to start your business with as little cash outlay as possible, as well. Start by selling on an extremely small scale, and test the waters before committing yourself to a particular product, marketing strategy, or target customers.

    I never borrowed a cent in growing the business, and was able to reinvest profits since I already had my retirement income as well as my wife’s income. If I had to live on my profits for the first few years, it would have been much harder to get quantity discounts from distributors, or build up much of an inventory.

    5. TAKE GREAT CARE IN SELECTING A PRODUCT OR PRODUCTS! Just because you are interested in a particular product doesn’t mean everyone else is. There is no room for guesswork in business. TEST, TEST, and TEST.

    Pick a product with as many potential customers as possible. You are bound to do better selling something that many people use (My Pillow, for example) than an item used only by highly specialized professionals.

    Pick as expensive a product as possible. It takes little more effort to sell, package, and ship a thousand dollar product than a two dollar one. Of course, if you sell a two dollar product in bulk quantities, that works too. The more expensive your product, the fewer potential customers are needed (still a lot though).

    For a product to successfully compete in the marketplace, it must have at least one of the following three characteristics: It must be available nowhere else, or better than competing products, or equivalent to but cheaper than competing products.

    Perhaps unwisely, I chose a product largely because I had an inherent interest in it. The first couple years I produced and sold only pantograph shape cutting machines that sold for several hundred dollars. I didn’t do particularly well. When I came out with CNC machines that sold for five or six thousand dollars, the customer base changed to a degree, but the profits went up exponentially.

    6. REMEMBER THAT ONE MAN CAN ONLY DO ONE MAN’S WORK! My boss at an auto body shop I worked in as a kid used to pound that into my head. He never really fully implemented the idea himself, but it made an impression on me.

    If you personally make your own products, or personally perform a service, you will find it extremely difficult to make more than one person’s wage. The key is to put yourself in a position where others have done the bulk of the work. That way you are far less limited in the quantity of items you can produce and sell.

    There is a one-man barber shop not far from me that is a case in point. The owner usually has a customer in his chair, but few if any awaiting their turn (even before Covid). If it takes twenty minutes to cut someone’s hair, few people are going to wait in line. If he gives back to back haircuts at $10 each, the most he can make in an eight hour day is $240. Out of that he must pay for rent, insurance, supplies, utilities, and taxes. He is never going to get rich on that.

    When I started producing CNC plasma cutting machines, I almost exclusively used mass-produced parts from other manufacturers. The electronics, software, frame components, steel rails, nuts, bolts, bearings, timing belts and pulleys, plasma cutters, etc. were all purchased from others. I kept the parts in labeled bins, and boxed them up as a DIY kit with a set of instructions. The only parts I made myself were a dozen or so plasma cut brackets, which took little time to knock out. I shipped the parts that would fit in a box, and had the heavy stuff drop shipped.

    There was little that could be done to farm out the sales and technical support chores, so it eventually became necessary to hire employees. Hiring employees meant obtaining commercial space. However, I was grossing $1,000,000 and netting close to $400,000 a year by then.

    In my next, and final installment, I will delve into the subject of marketing.


    parts-kit.jpg
    Last edited by mrplasma; 07-19-2021 at 08:42 PM.

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    Default Marketing and Sales

    Marketing & Sales

    As you are no doubt aware, marketing is the publicizing of the availability of products to potential customers. Selling is the act of consummating the sale of those products. These are generally considered to be separate functions, and are often handled by separate entities within a company.

    I am always amazed by the number of television commercials I see where I have no idea what they are selling. At the other extreme are the ads offering a 50% savings, or two for the price of one if you call within the next 5 minutes. Of course, we are leery of the claims made in many of such ads.

    The first type of ad does little, if anything, to generate actual sales. We question the legitimacy of the second type of ads because their products have not been marketed. Marketing creates the impression of legitimacy.

    There are a number of ways to create the impression of legitimacy. At the top of the list is probably name recognition. If we are familiar with a brand name, we are likely to trust it more than one we have never heard of. Another is longevity. If a product has been around for a long time, we regard it as being proven, with the bugs worked out of it. Often people are reluctant to buy a new car model in its first year for that reason.

    Still another evidence of legitimacy is the size of the company offering the product. The bigger the company, the more established and reliable it appears to be. Of course, if it appears too large, it may be regarded as impersonal and unconcerned with customers.

    Companies with one or two page web sites that contain only phone numbers, with no physical address can appear to be “fly by night” organizations. Companies with large web sites, and/or those showing multiple physical locations or numerous employees can appear to be big, without necessarily being so.

    If a company appears successful, it is likely to create the impression that it will be around for a while, and can be trusted for after-sale customer support. Companies promoting “going out of business” sales of course often aren’t really going out of business. They are trading credibility for the illusion of great deals.

    And so, the challenge for the small start-up business is how to bring the product to the attention of potential customers, create the impression of legitimacy, and consummate sales.

    At the time I started manufacturing CNC machines (1998), the World-Wide Web was just starting to become useful not only as a marketing tool, but as a sales mechanism as well. As a result, it became the primary means by which I publicized and sold my machines. For my purposes, it made all alternative approaches irrelevant. Since Internet sales is where most of my experience lies, that will be my focus here.

    Since at first I was a one man operation, I necessarily had to combine both my marketing and sales efforts into the same web site. At the time, Internet connections were very slow for most people, and load times for web pages were critical. Large photos and videos were out of the question. If pages didn’t load in fifteen seconds or so, visitors would abandon them, and probably the web site, as well.

    I tackled the credibility issue by building a very large web site, with numerous pages, a complex index, many links to related sites, and reference tables containing weights of various metals, inch to metric and fractions to decimals, etc. The web site actually looked more impressive than some fortune 500 sites at the time. I also purchased several additional domains, and placed web sites on each of them.

    A recreation of one of my early home pages can be found at the following link:

    Torchmate CNC plasma cutter in economical kit form - Hypertherm plasma cutters,
    robotics, motion control systems, automated shape cutting, automation, cnc cutting table,
    metal art, ornamental iron, wrought iron, automated welding, automated cutting


    Since I had starting producing my pantograph machines back in 1979, that gave the impression of longevity. The outside links suggested that I had many affiliates. I included a clickable customer location map showing those who could be contacted for demos or references. If a customer’s demonstration resulted in my making a sale, the customer got a commission. After my son joined me in the business, we had two locations, which added to our credibility.

    The web site not only served as a means of publicizing our existence via the search engines, but provided visitors with all the information they needed to make a purchase decision. There was no registration form to fill out or phone calls necessary prior to the actual purchase contact.

    I believe the efforts that most big companies make to drive Internet visitors to a sales representative are largely self-defeating. They often don’t provide pricing, or even detailed product information without a registration of some sort being necessary. There are many folks, myself included, who are not interested in being pestered by a sales person unless I have already pretty much made a purchase decision.

    My wife and I recently spent a couple of months touring Africa. A large percentage of the population consists of extremely poor people who eke out a sparse existence. They either walk around with a tray of items for sale, or run a roadside or marketplace stand. They hound passers by unmercifully, causing most to flee as quickly as possible. While they are competing with each other for business, they don’t seem able to grasp the shortcomings of the “hard sell.”

    Most of us would rather wander through a shop independently than have a sales person tail us around in lock-step. The same, I believe, is true of those considering Internet purchases. Give visitors the ability to gather all the information they need at their own pace, and let them initiate a sales contact when they are ready. They will appreciate it.

    I didn’t realize that I had so much to say in this thread. We have not yet gotten to the subjects of YouTube, social media, and how changes in the Internet have caused some opportunities to evaporate and others to be created. Also important is after-sale customer support, subsequent sales to existing customers, and word of mouth referrals.

    For those who are interested, I will do an additional post covering those subjects, and relate some personal experiences and observations. If I am rambling on too much, please let me know and I will stop here.

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    Quote Originally Posted by mrplasma View Post

    If I am rambling on too much, please let me know and I will stop here.
    No, keep it up. I find this stuff fascinating.

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    Default Conclusion

    Conclusion

    There have been many changes since I started my business. The Internet was just getting off the ground, and the search engines had not yet figured out a way to squeeze the last dollar out of merchants and visitors. By the same token, a relatively small percentage of merchants had web sites, not everyone had on-line access, and those that did had very slow connections.

    However, for those who built their businesses around this new marketing opportunity, it was kind of like the California Gold Rush. Advertising was free, and it was not only nation-wide, but global. There had never been a way of reaching such a far-flung audience so economically.

    America’s businesses, start-up businesses in particular, were quick to grasp the advantages of Internet marketing, and wasted little time in jumping on the bandwagon. Larger, older businesses generally had distributorships with specific geographical territories. They were unable to take advantage of Internet sales without violating their distributors’ territories.

    In many cases, distributors did not stock large, expensive items and often knew little about them. They could not go beyond their assigned territory in seeking customers, and took a percentage of any sales that they did make. Today, depending on the product line, there is a trend for more and more manufacturers to sell direct to the end user.

    By 2001 Google Adwords was in place, and advertising no longer was totally free. These were the small ads that appeared in a column on the right side of pages of search results. All of a sudden, my web site no longer came up at the top of search results, but rather on page 4 or 5. Once I started using Google Adwords, my search results miraculously started surfacing on the first page of results again. I found that AdWords produced good sales, but not as good as regular searches (organic searches).

    A more recent development has been the use of YouTube channels as a marketing and sales avenue. Smaller companies using YouTube actually offer a product for sale, or steer viewers toward their web site. Larger companies with or without distributors, tend to have very short marketing videos on specific products, whereas smaller businesses often lave longer videos that provide sufficient information for a purchase decision to be made.

    The lack of State sales tax previously motivated consumers to make on-line purchases. Not having to charge sales tax was also an incentive for merchants. It took close to ten years for States to figure out how to charge sales tax on out of State Internet purchases. That being said, eBay and PayPal make it possible for startup businesses to avoid the hassle of charging sales tax and keeping track of the tax rates of every State, and in some cases, like Nevada, County.

    While eBay’s 10% or more commission on sales is irritating, it is considerably less than many alternative marketing and sales approaches. Once the initial sale puts vendors and customers in touch with each other, follow-up offers and sales can be conducted directly.

    Word of mouth referrals have always been an important source of business, but with a proliferation of on-line forums and chat groups it has exploded, and a company’s reputation can be enhanced or ruined depending on the quality of their products, and after-sale customer service and technical support.

    I doubt that my business could have been started and grown in the same way today. The Internet is well established, but constraints and regulations have been piled on that increase the difficulty of starting out in business.

    Yet there are opportunities available now that were not available previously. There are readily available resources, like Go-Daddy, for creating a web site. It is now almost as easy to make a sale on a different continent as it is in the next State. By the time my business sold, we had machines in approximately 110 foreign countries. I imagine that has doubled by now.

    To sum up my recommendations to those contemplating a start-up business:

    1. Determine whether your personal makeup, financial circumstances, and family obligations lend themselves to the risks associated with going into business.

    2. Try to start out on a part-time basis, without foregoing your present income until you are able to draw sufficient profit from your business to go full-time.

    3. Operate out of your home until a move becomes essential for growth and you can afford it. Avoid the philosophy “If I build it, they will come.”

    4. Test your products, your potential customers, and your marketing strategies before investing a lot of money. When you come up with an idea, make a prototype and share it in a variety of chat groups to see what kind of reactions you get from different kinds of potential customers. Use your judgement as to whether someone might steal your idea.

    Learn how to put together a small web site yourself, and don’t hire a company to do it for you. It’s not that tough, and much easier now than it was in my day. Experiment with different content to increase your success in search results using relevant search terms.

    5. Thoroughly analyze all your production and marketing costs, your overhead, and any other expenses associated with your proposed business, and determine if it will be profitable enough. Don’t just plunge into it and find out the hard way.

    6. When it becomes necessary to move out of your home location, rent rather than buy commercial space.

    7. Hiring employees adds a host of complications and headaches to a business. There are numerous regulations to comply with, taxes to be withheld and reported, training and supervision, and performance issues. It will add another set or more of hands, but it will take up a percentage of your own time. Consider all the ramifications before hiring anyone.

    8. Notwithstanding my comment in no. 7, above, don’t forget that one man can only do one man’s work. While you don’t want to jump the gun on hiring employees, at some point it will be necessary.

    The same principle applies to businesses. A business in a single location, serving customers within a limited geographical area will have difficulty being as successful as a comparable business with multiple locations, or one serving customers Nationwide, or Worldwide. That’s why franchises came about – to replicate a successful business in multiple locations.

    9. When your business does start making money, even a lot of money, remember that nothing lasts forever. Start an investment account rather than going on a spending spree. A couple of million dollars, properly invested, will go a long way toward securing the future for you and your family.

    10. Remember that a successful product must be, or appear to be, available nowhere else, superior to competing products, or cheaper than equivalent products. If it only appears to have these qualities, it will probably catch up with you – more so now, than in earlier times.
    Last edited by mrplasma; 07-24-2021 at 09:06 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by mrplasma View Post
    3. WHEN YOU DO MOVE TO A LARGER FACILITY, RENT RATHER THAN BUY!

    There are several reasons to rent, rather than buy, commercial space. Since your business is going to be a bit of a gamble, you don’t want to saddle yourself with a mortgage if you are unsuccessful. If you do grow, you may well need to move into still larger space, perhaps more than once. Remember that you are in the manufacturing business – not the real estate management business.

    We moved into larger commercial space three times. Each time it seemed like we were overstepping, but we eventually filled up the space. While subsequent moves may prove necessary, be wary of trying to skip a step and move into too large a space too soon. I used to know a guy who ran a successful speed shop. He rented a huge warehouse in anticipation of substantial growth of his business. The last I heard, and this was some years ago, he was back to driving a truck for someone else.

    If you already own commercial space, that’s a different story. But then you probably aren’t starting a business for the first time, either.
    I think this depends on the business and the specific location it's located in. I say this as I have just over 3 months to find a new business home and move my shop and there is almost nothing available. There is 1 (not a typo) space under 10K square feet (lots of these for about $8/ft/year including taxes and common area charges) and what they're asking in rent is more than what a mortgage payment, taxes and insurance would be on double the space and probably 1.25% higher interest rate.

    This is for me specifically, but I do believe that the rent vs buy decision needs to be based on more than just the real estate. With the right mortgage type, owning real estate can help fund future expansion and/or act as a cushion when the market tightens up.

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    The statement advising renting over ownership is bit simplistic IMHO. Owning gives you the ability to lease the premises to your company for $10K a month or whatever. Rent is throwing away money, unless your operations are easily portable (like a warehouse). Also it's just plain nice not to have a fucking landlord.

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    Another aspect of starting a business that I didn't discuss is the issue of the company structure: sole proprietor, partnership, C corp., S corp.? Any opinions?

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    I'd like further discussion on "One man can only do one man's work".

    The problem I run into with employees is one man can only do 1/4 of a man's work and frankly I'm lucky if I don't lose my entire days work trying to get a 1/2 a man's work out of 2 guys.

    I expect I'm not hiring well.

    I would love to hear about strategies you've employed to hire and retain employees that are capable of delivering one mans work. I really don't think my expectations are too high.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Oldwrench View Post
    The statement advising renting over ownership is bit simplistic IMHO. Owning gives you the ability to lease the premises to your company for $10K a month or whatever. Rent is throwing away money, unless your operations are easily portable (like a warehouse). Also it's just plain nice not to have a fucking landlord.
    Companies that rent and have been in business for 20, 30, 50 or more years and don't own the building and land have always baffled me. Owner retires, machines sold and if he's lucky the intellectual property. Now he's got to pay more money to empty the building of xx years of accumulation and return it to the landlord in rent-able condition. Building owner demolishes 2 story industrial building and builds 6 story condos.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Garwood View Post
    I'd like further discussion on "One man can only do one man's work".

    The problem I run into with employees is one man can only do 1/4 of a man's work and frankly I'm lucky if I don't lose my entire days work trying to get a 1/2 a man's work out of 2 guys.

    I expect I'm not hiring well.

    I would love to hear about strategies you've employed to hire and retain employees that are capable of delivering one mans work. I really don't think my expectations are too high.
    My comment that one man can only do one man's work did not necessarily refer to hiring employees in a new business. What I was suggesting was using existing mass produced components in your product, and/or farming out production of parts, rather than prematurely buying the necessary equipment and employing people to do it in house. If you think of yourself as a "nerve-center" for making things happen, rather than doing it all yourself, you can focus on growing the business and let others do the labor-intensive stuff. Again, we are talking about a start-up business, rather than an established business.

    At some point, depending on your product and other circumstances, you will have to hire employees and corresponding equipment. In my business, it happened when I reached approximately $1,000,000 in annual sales. Selecting and retaining good employees is a related, but separate subject.

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    Quote Originally Posted by reggie_obe View Post
    Companies that rent and have been in business for 20, 30, 50 or more years and don't own the building and land have always baffled me. Owner retires, machines sold and if he's lucky the intellectual property. Now he's got to pay more money to empty the building of xx years of accumulation and return it to the landlord in rent-able condition. Building owner demolishes 2 story industrial building and builds 6 story condos.
    I would agree that if a business has been around for even 10 years and its space needs have remained relatively static, it should definitely consider buying rather than renting. There are many reasons to do so. When you would do it depends largely on the rate of growth of the business.

    I operated out of my home for maybe 5 years. When my son joined me, he worked out of his home. Over the course of the next ten years, we grew from just the two of us to over 65 employees. I would have had to buy three different buildings over that period of time to accommodate the growth. Even if I could have afforded it, that would have left little to reinvest in equipment, inventory, etc. It also would have greatly complicated our moves. We sold the business at the end of that 10 years. Had we kept it rather than selling it, we undoubtedly would have looked for something to buy.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Garwood View Post
    I'd like further discussion on "One man can only do one man's work".

    The problem I run into with employees is one man can only do 1/4 of a man's work and frankly I'm lucky if I don't lose my entire days work trying to get a 1/2 a man's work out of 2 guys.

    I expect I'm not hiring well.

    I would love to hear about strategies you've employed to hire and retain employees that are capable of delivering one mans work. I really don't think my expectations are too high.
    I find myself in this position as well. It's awkward when there's not quite enough to justify a full time guy yet too much for the self-employed person to do alone. Safety rules, as well as prudence, do not allow for an employee to be working alone and I'm out 2 days a week. I do miss the high school kid that worked for me the last 3 summers though.

    @mrplasma,
    I would welcome hearing any tips you have.

  25. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by Garwood View Post
    I'd like further discussion on "One man can only do one man's work".

    The problem I run into with employees is one man can only do 1/4 of a man's work and frankly I'm lucky if I don't lose my entire days work trying to get a 1/2 a man's work out of 2 guys.

    I expect I'm not hiring well.

    I would love to hear about strategies you've employed to hire and retain employees that are capable of delivering one mans work. I really don't think my expectations are too high.

    If you are the owner, and the main machinist.. No hire is going to match your output.. They don't
    have the motivation, and they don't have the knowledge of your particular shop, and your particular
    customers, and your particular choice of tooling and fixturing.

    I had a skilled guy for a while, just a little part time gig for a while.. And it took some load off of me, but I was still stuck doing the shit I didn't want to do. I then got a completely unskilled person, that didn't cost as much.

    But.. She does the shit I don't want to do. Top up coolant and waylube. Cut shit up.. Take shit out to the
    dumpster. Now that my cleaning guy had a stroke, she sweeps, cleans the toilet, makes sure we don't run out of paper towels and shit paper. She cleans up after me, which is no small chore. Puts together job folders, makes copies of prints. Runs to the hardware store when I need something, or even a burrito run. Picks up and delivers parts and materials for me. Loads and un-loads my truck.. She's good to my dog (used to be dogs ). She goes out and gets the mail everyday, and picks up any packages at the post office. Pulls weeds in the yard, and trims THE TREE (Its New Mexico, I have an acre and A tree).

    She runs parts, gets my tools in holders, changes vise jaws. FINDS the fixture I need that I can't find.. Deburrs parts, packs them up, washes them.

    I didn't need a skilled person.. I needed an assistant, so I could do what *I* was good at..

    Reading/writing all that.. I think I'm going to give her a raise tomorrow. I don't pay her badly for the area.. If I was she wouldn't still be here, coming up on 5 years. I didn't need skill. I needed a body that was willing to do stupid shit that I didn't want to do. And that sounds awful.. but its the truth.

    And really one of the best things.. She's going to be here at 8am.. EVERY DAY. I *NEED* to be here at 8am. I can't show up at 9:30, and stare at the wall until noon. Just having *somebody* here is a big help, just from a mental standpoint. I worked all alone for way too long, and it sucked, and back then I had a business partner... Go figure?

    So.. How much of a raise should she get? $1 or $2 an hour?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Talinthon View Post
    I find myself in this position as well. It's awkward when there's not quite enough to justify a full time guy yet too much for the self-employed person to do alone. Safety rules, as well as prudence, do not allow for an employee to be working alone and I'm out 2 days a week. I do miss the high school kid that worked for me the last 3 summers though.

    @mrplasma,
    I would welcome hearing any tips you have.
    I certainly don't pretend to have answers for everyones' personnel problems. So much depends on your locality, the jobs available in that region, the supply of viable job applicants, and a variety of other conditions. I think Bobw has the right idea for an overworked one-man operation. Find someone to do the time-consuming menial tasks not requiring any particular skill. That makes more sense to me than trying to hire a skilled person and doing all the shit work yourself.

    If you need skilled help besides yourself, I would suggest some of the old adages: hire to your own weaknesses; you get what you pay for; etc. Just as successful products have some attribute that sets them above competing products, successful employers have something to offer that sets them above competing employers. This could be higher pay, better benefits, more pleasant work environment, better training, better work hours -- the list goes on. Remember that you are in competition with other employers for good employees. Word of mouth travels among workers just as it does among customers.


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