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Paul Downs' book8/17
I finally got around to reading his book. I'm only half way through.
Wow what a great book, well written and it speaks to anyone who has been down this road.
"A Forbes Best Business Book of the Year, 2015"
Totally enjoyed it. Have to go back and reread. Been awhile, so many applications to my career.
In chapter 7 he talks about be held captive by the foreman Steve.
It was interesting to hear how someone else went though this.
That really is a good book, particularly interesting to people in this field but applicable to any business. Thanks to Paul for his book and to all who share their expertise in this venue. I hope that more of them will consider putting their thoughts into book-like form.
Thanks! Believe it or not, I still get emails every week from readers all around the world who have had similar troubles, although in a huge variety of businesses.
Many have asked me whether I am going to write a follow up. Short answer: no, as I don't have the time or energy, and running a small business pays a lot better than writing.
Things have been mostly better since the year (2012) chronicled in the book. Dan and Nick are still working for me. Will Krieger has moved on to start his own business, a Crossfit gym. Steve the foreman, after demotion, became very disgruntled and eventually I fired him. Then I rehired him when I got busy, and then had to fire him again after his attitude became unbearable. I don't feel great about that, but I haven't been able to figure out a better course of action. I haven't heard anything from him since 2017.
My autistic son Henry hasn't changed much, other than getting larger. He's currently living in a group home with two other young men. We see him a couple of times a week. He'll never graduate from my "constant worry" list.
The biggest change since 2012 is that I have been able to improve the business. I was able to get out of selling and start working on making things better, and have had some success. If you are looking for a roadmap to follow, I would suggest the book "Traction" by Gino Wickman.
Feel free to reach out to me directly if you have any questions.
Did you implement the processes that Will and you were talking about?
Yes, we did. Segmenting production into different skill-level buckets increased overall productivity and allowed me to hire more lower-skilled workers, who have since moved up to better paying positions. It's been a clear win.
Hi Paul, read your book, listened to your presentation at the CMA gathering. Both great. I also just had a company I do a lot of work for buy a custom conf table from you rather than build it myself as we were over the top opening 3 banks with the same basic timeline. Table turned out great and I'm glad I lead them to you, rather than tackling it here. Job was in west Laffayette , IN and there very pleased with it
Paul, love your book. Listened to it twice, that's a first whether reading or listening!
Is skill-level buckets a specific terminology? How does this differ from a traditional Woodworking shop and the usual apprentice, journey, cabinetmaker, and master cabinetmaker layout.
Ben: all of the categories you refer to are people who make the furniture. A modern shop has other things going on. About 15% of our shop floor labor goes to packing and shipping. There's also handling inbound items (materials and hardware), data entry and tracking, and cleaning. We also sort the tasks by what machine they use (CNC operator, and our veneer specialist uses a veneer saw, splicer, and press.) Finishing consists of staining, spraying, sanding, and masking. We have lower skilled people doing sanding and masking. And there's a shop manager, who needs people skills. The apprentice, journeyman, cabinetmaker, master progression is too limited, in my opinion. All of my people are cross trained so that they have a primary job, but can also do other things when we need them.
While I was reading your book I kept feeling like I've been though everyone of your pains. We finally went through a cross training process where almost every machine operator can run any machine. It isn't a one time process but continuous.