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Getting qualified Help2/9
I have been struggling to find a qualified shop worker to follow cut list and cabinetry assembly and so on! Any ideas to find a qualified employee? I would even look at a semi retired person to help once in awhile!
Good luck with that...
I have looked in some strange places, look for maturity and learning capacity over experience. found a young guy no different than most except he had worked for the park service for a few years, another out of High school father was a police detective and after three years here went on to be in Police work. found a fellow who paid a debt to society and found a humbled life of paying attention to how a mistake is made not just how to fix it after, He will make damn good money with me.
In an interview two things kill it quick 1) lots of short work history is not ready for this, 2) We always ask some of the guys to sit in, as we are getting tho know them in small talk one of the guys will lean in and ask what is 1/2 of 1/2 AMAZING how many cannot answer that question...
Oh and used Indeed will try that again
Nuff said !
We have perpetually been in about the same scenario as Jim and in posts about this subject in the past James has given some phenomenal advice.. We too have found some of our best employees to be women age is meaningless. I hate the term "they" in this conversation but they tend to have none of the bravado, need to be perceived as know-it-alls, and so on. I think in a post a long while ago speaking to hiring single mothers it may have been James who floated the notion that having an on-site daycare might be a great solution (for a large operation not a small shop) and I would agree with that whole heartedly. You would have a commited workforce that appreciated some flexibility just as you would appreciate some flexibility in slow times, and they are (in my experience) more committed and part of the team out of the gate.
I dont like to trash the younger generation because it makes me feel like my grandfather and I know there are shining stars out there but in my area the parenting that has wanted more for their children and for them to be free spirits, have no boundaries, feel no pain, has rendered a generation of individuals you will likely get 60% of an hours production if your very lucky.
The older crowd in my area would be great other than constant know-it-all, wanting to attach a motor to everything, always thinking about speed with no consideration for quality.
Its a very tough balance and if your in an area of slim pickings its really hard.
I would look heavily to the women in STEM world and beyond that you will have to simply keep trying and trying. It sadly to me seems to boil down to the lean where you have to pretty much organize your staff like mice with tape and arrows on the floor, work spaces that force them to put a tape measure and pencil in a specific location to increase production, because the masses are simply not going expend that effort simply because its the right thing to do for your job.
My last several hires, including degree'd college grads, have been utter dud's right down to being paid to clean/organize the shop when things are slow. Unless they are handed a list backed up by a whip, its fluff.
no magic bullet answer, but fire quickly and keep posting your opening(s).
i found two of my guys via craigslist and one via facebook marketplace. all are "trophy husbands" so their motivation is personal and less because they need to contribute financially to the household. none are perfect, but do a very nice job, show up consistently, and are enjoyable to work with. i've been through plenty of young people, old people, and some in between. just keep looking. good people are out there. definitely in smaller numbers than before. and give anyone a job that approaches you looking for work when you aren't advertising. i've had two come to me like this and they were very, very good employees.
Does "trophy husband" mean they are pretty much a kept man who had some wild notion that they were going to make a living at woodworking and have a wife thats a lawyer, state employee, or some other profession with good pay and insurance/benefits and for whatever reason "the wife" tolerates the husbands non-profitable pursuits somehow flipping the 50's betty crocker leave it to beaver relationship model on its head where the wife is the one in a never ending pursuit of fruitless endeavors but its ok because of the husbands income?
Oddly in my area there are more an more men who are staying home with the children and doing their "woodworking" or "remodeling" on the side that pretty much is a financial drain on the family but for whatever reason the wife seems to tolerate their do-less-ness.
When offered the opportunity to work for 1, 2, 3, 5, days a week, or pull off sub contracting work in thier own shop for serious profitability,... they just fizzle. Because having to get your but out to the shop and produce after you ship your kids off to school in the a.m. is too much work/stress or compounds their depression.
If I were to have 40 hours a week to knock out some work, please my wife, meet her with dinner made and laundry complete and folded, and the entire house cleaned... I'd clean the clock.
Sadly the notion of what it takes to make it in this world is a spouse with a good job and benefits. A luxury I've never had. Its shameful how many "men" will fub through their days in that world.
Wow posts to date seem a little negative. It is hard to find good employees, no doubt. For the employee it is hard to find an employer who appreciates them and treats them with respect.
Most of our employees come from referrals from current employees. If you appreciate them and treat them with respect this will happen.
They come here with little knowledge, from another industry and we teach them. A measuring tape is a difficult thing until you get it. I wish I went metric from the beginning.
If we can't get an employee from a referral we use Craig's list, Indeed, Facebook, sign by the street. I have 4 good employees who came from the restaurant industry. It is slow going in the beginning but we treat them well and they usually stay. We have a 30 day probation. After 30 days you know. Some said fire early, I agree.
I'll resist the urge to bring up the government.
mark - your definition of my guys is pretty close. none of them are looking for extra work, outside of what i provide them, so all are relatively fresh when the day begins. their income, at least in my interpretation, is somewhat irrelevant to what the household needs to survive. only one has children to support. basically, the wife has a good job with benefits, and the husband does this because he enjoys it. no doubt, i'm in a unique situation and am very grateful. two of these have, somewhat, defined timelines, so they'll pick up and move as new opportunities open up for the spouse's career. i'm trying to figure out if i can time this with the sale of my business:).
you are definitely correct in your assessment of having a spouse with a good job to support the household while the small shop becomes profitable. i could not have made it without my wife and her good paying job. i will never forget my first two years in business where my tax returns registered $7200 and $1500 profits respectively. had my wife not been our primary bread-winner, i would have been forced to fold shop a long time ago. side note - what type of crazy optimism exists for one to work 60+ hours a week for $1500/year. obviously, i was investing all that i could back into the business, but this dedication to the idea that i could "make it" could easily qualify as insanity. fast-forward thirteen years later, i'm now the only financial provider for my family of six, purchased a building for my business last year, have six others i employ, and have a lot of yet-to-be-realized potentials (both personally and financially). no doubt, i'm very excited about the future.
bill - i'm curious what you pay your guys. i'll go first - $13/hr to start. the only qualifications are dependable transportation and a positive attitude. we teach the rest.
We start at a little more than that. We have good benefits also. We pay quarterly bonuses. It allows me to pay more when times are good and not be saddled by the expense when things slow down.
I dont doubt there are dozens of young folk within 10 miles of my shop but they are simply no willing to get out for $15 an hour even with growth potential because their parents love affords them ability not to.
I dont read any comment here to this point as negative as you do. Nearly every single employee who has ever worked for me has come back at a later date either asking to come back or just to tell me that they now, being out in the "real world", realize how great they had it. Fun work environment, flexible, if your not feeling what your doing we try to find you something better, and so on.
Dont fall into the trap of thinking anyone who has an issue with employees is a right wing, private yacht, daddy warbucks, slave driver, tyrant... Its just not the case. I havent had a peaceful vacation in perhaps 10 years and I get right out on the floor daily to help move material, empyt DC, back to the office for bidding, phone calls, and so on.
Have you tried the local high schools? In my area we have a programs where high school kids get out early and get to go to work part time as part of schooling. Some are trained in woodworking in high school (basic things of course). I have found a few good ones that way, and has been good way to find kids who have "common sense" who can be trained or move on to the next one...
For several years we pulled two kids every year from the local vo-tech program. They would be allowed out a few days a week. A Few hung on for a period after graduation. All really enjoyed their time and contact fo this day with regards to their time and what they learned. We are unfortunately in an area where oil and gas work entices many away for high dollar pipeline work that then leaves them laid off drawing unemployment for several months every year so the good money coupled with the unemployment tine off draws them away.
I'll chime back in on this one.
Wow, some kind of negative here!
So what does a guy like me do?
Too old to be re-taught (and why do I need that?)
Interesting, how much do you want to make an hour?
steeliemark - we're getting off the subject, but, and i think this is a shared sentiment among owners, your previous experience is of little value to the positions i need to fill (know it all - :)). automation is replacing so much skill, and in the race-to-the-bottom (that the consumer cannot get enough of), most shops simply don't have it in their pricing to pay attractive wages.
imo - installation will be the last piece to fall to automation. all the cabinet installers i see are booked, make great money, but are long in the tooth. there will be a big shortage in coming years here as these people retire. those left will make whatever they want, maybe enticing more to join their ranks before robots take over (or whatever solution the multi-billion dollar manufactured cabinet industry comes up with to deal with this labor shortage).
To me the OP, or anyones, search for "qualified" help is dependant mainly on location, time/urgency of the need for help, location, and location. I know in my area to find "qualified" help would be a long process unless I got lucky. Filtering through many applicants, and a lot of hours invested, but welcome to the world of open hiring.
I disagree with Jim that this is an issue of the school system though it definitely plays a part. I had numerous conversations and written end of year reviews with the vo-tech program that these kids were lacking so many of the baseline fundamentals but this program is not a full fledge trade school program so the instructors only have these kids for afternoons a few days a week, a glorified shop class, but none the less. The real problem in my opinion is the increased affluence of even todays middle, lower-middle, forget about upper-middle class families has created a huge percentage of parents who lovingly want their children to thrive and be free spirits and have the world as their oyster. They dont push them, chores, responsibilities, hard work, respect for themselves, employers, teachers, whomever. Forget about experiencing pain, thats off the table. We have a young generation that think nothing of telling the school bus driver to go F themselves and thats IF they even ride the bus because most kids in my rural area, even the poorest of kids, get a ride to school from their parents because its what all the other kids get and they dont want them to be pained to ride the bus (more pampering). When I was in school the bus driver was like a god. If they pulled the bus over, put on the e-brake, and got out of the seat, and you had REALLY stepped in it. No longer. Teachers were at a higher level. Forget about an employer.
A lot of my 30+ in the GC world was residential and when your in peoples world for long periods of time over large projects you somewhat become invisible in and out of their space daily for long periods and you see it all from an outside perspective. All swaddled in gobs of love and good intention, the children are unleashed as an over empowered, poorly equipped, burden on the employer. The old rule of who a person will be in life is pretty much programmed in by the age of 7 or so is fairly accurate in my opinion. Its the responsibility of the home to produce the person not the school systems responsibility to make up for piss poor parenting. Not to say most dont eventually pivot to figure it out later in life but its a tough slog until that happens.
To Steeliemarks direct points:
"Too old to be re-taught (and why do I need that?)" <---- this would caution me greatly. Im learning every day and I would have no notion whatsoever that my routines, my procedures, would be the end-all-be-all or even jive with those of a perspective employer. I would personally crush as an employee as Im humble, head down, know full well how brutal it is to be in business, and would work my butt off for the profitability of the operation but I agree with you, the pay would not work out.
"I'm probably a know it all (well, yeah, compared to some- over 40 years, you gain some experience which I happily share IF asked- I volunteer little)" <---- this would also be of concern. I cut for another shop from the older generation (a mere 20 years older than me) that is also ultra protective of their perceived 50 year old trade secrets and building things exactly as they did in the 60's and cant figure out why they are losing ground. The old "well thats just the way Ive always done it".. in my world thats the death knell. I guarantee you very little of the precious intellectual property any of us think we need to keep hidden in our quiver as our tricks of the trade are very relevant. Better in my opinion to be wide open. The notion of todays shops that work together with other shops down the road are lost on many in that generation. They think everyone is out to steal their business, poach their customers, steal all their "tricks".
"Not sure I can keep up" <--- Wouldnt concern me at all. Having someone that can run tools as long as they arent wreckless bull in a china shop, etc.. A quick glance at the hands can give a slight indication ;-)
"And before you say it, no, I don't want to start a shop" <---- Smart man
So why is there a disconnect here?
I dont think there is a disconnect I think its a difficult business that more often than not can have a hard time paying 25-30-40/hr which is what many today need. That said I do think there is an ever growing generation gap simply because how fast tech and world is moving now. The older crowd is having a harder and harder time keeping up with that speed of change coupled with having to produce work faster and faster and for less and less margin due to global economies and ever changing consumer demands. A lot of the younger kid just dont get it and many just dont seem to have the drive to go after it.
Steeliemark - I think most shop owners would complain about hiring help no matter what. I has become a subject - like taxes or lousy drivers - that is an assumed position. Everyone does it, we can all agree, yeah, yeah, dumb kids, know it all old guys.......
I would visualize the best person to walk in the door, and then wait for that person to show up. Place adds, spread the word, etc do what you can. But if you expect crap, and have your eyes and ears trained to dealing with crap, then you are only going to see crap.
You must make woodworkers to work in your shops, but you cannot force someone to be a woodworker if they do not want to be one.
Getting soured and cynical as an employer is an easy assumption and an even easier rut to fall into. As is thinking that everyone has the capacity to think and operate as the owner does which is simply a fools errand. You are likely the owner because you have an innate ability to see the things that make shop work work. Likely everyone that owns a shop is/was some type of unicorn who had the aptitude to make it. Expecting fellow unicorns to walk through the door is equally a fools errand. It all seems so simple and logical but the fact of the matter is its not for everyone. So your left working to adjust your management style and expectations.
My shop is a vacation compared to most. Flexible, broad range of work, patches of repetitive drudgery but always some variety on the schedule. Miles of slack with regards to learning the ropes, making mistakes, roaching parts... young people are paid out a bit of slack for bone-headed-ness without ridicule. It doesnt pay.
But the search always continues no different than it did for Willy Wonka.
We are acknowledged as "Ok Boomer" by the GenXers, not sure about the millenials
I think a lot of it is just lack of demand. Home sales are up (as I have predicted ad nauseum) BUT most home sales are existing homes because the US has 140,000,000 homes. (existing homes are always cheaper because they were built at yesterday's cost) Not as many new ones are being built, new ones require all trades existing ones not nearly as many trades are required.
I thought that new home sale indicated more work for cabinet shops, but because of the above not as much and, with technology allowing shops to get by with fewer workers, immigrant shops working cheap, Chinese cabinets, that has not come to pass. The BLS indicates future demand for cabinetmakers will decline 4% over the next 10 years.
Around here the guys standing in front of Home Depot won't work for less than $20.00 per hour, and lunch and a full days work.
Where can a guy like us get work, in my experience:
Detailing for a shop, stressful work, might be accused of being stuck in your ways, when in reality the shop is the one stuck in their ways
Installing not bad work if your health is ok, the drive time is around here 2 hours every day
High end around here is exploding but you have to be in with the contractors that do that sort of work and you have to be careful which customers you work for if the GC is not careful for you.
Or Handyman, not as much money
Or Home inspector, I hear this one is in demand but you have to get in with Realtors and if your report kills a sale...
Ironic the title of the thread is can't find qualified help at the end of the thread old guys talking about not being able to find work
EB Bradley's drivers are mostly old guys the last one was 71
David's point that "You must make woodworkers to work in your shops, but you cannot force someone to be a woodworker if they do not want to be one" is the right one, in my opinion. The follow up question is where to find people who may want to be a woodworker when shown what being a woodworker entails.
With woodshops disappearing in non-vo-tech high schools shop class has become less a way to encourage the manually inclined than to serve as a filler class for the non-academically inclined student. To paint with an absurdly broad brush, a lack of interest in English Literature does not equal an aptitude for cabinetmaking (nor does it preclude said aptitude; in fact they're probably completely independent).
I think looking for students who enjoy art class is an underutilized channel for recruiting (at both the HS and college levels). Not all people are born with the silver spoon in their mouth required to make a go of it as a "starving artist." Some may never even consider doing something creative because they've never been shown a career path that enables creative problem solving and a dextrous lifestyle.
Had someone posted a job at the bulletin board in my high school art classroom or in the studio building when I was in college offering a chance to learn woodworking between sweeping up and wrapping material for delivery, I would have wasted less time finding my career. I am one of the "over empowered, poorly equipped, burden on the employer" young people (born in '90) who never sought out nor was told that I could do something like become a cabinetmaker. I loved art and math my entire life and stupidly assumed that was meaningless in terms of a career path after a summer program in architecture snuffed out any interest in that. If I found may way into a woodshop in college I'm not sure if I would have finished school. Based on the conversations I have with former classmates who ended up marketing managers, sales reps, and lawyers, they would also have applied quickly if a cabinetshop posted a job for an entry-level position, and would have paid very close attention to learn whatever they could.
I think for all the artistic people who don't have the means to become a painter living in a loft their parents pay for, a good life in a creative pursuit can be found cabinetmaking.
So let me ask you a question. You state "I am one of the "over empowered, poorly equipped, burden on the employer"
In retrospect do you see or have you take the time to think about any delay in an ability to adapt? Was it your parenting? Your personal drive? Your schooling? Its not an issue of laying blame, everyone has to learn. But where is the gap in realizing that even if your in school and working part time you have to be "in the game". Whether your making pizzas, flipping burgers, building cabinets, or doing an internship at a legal firm. You have to be "in the game". Where is the gap that is allowing more and more to feel like a "float" because its not their berry patch career pursuit is an acceptable use of their personal time or even moreso an utter waste of an employers time who is then later going to be asked if they can use them as a reference?
Its a conversation that inevitably spirals back to a sense of personal accountability which again must be instilled by an early age from your parents. The school system, the art program, the vo-tech program, the employer having to get ever more creative about where they post job opportunities, are not the responsible party. The job of unleashing a functioning individual on the planet is that of those who choose to spawn.
I would agree this lays at the feet of the parents and the school system.
My re-use of that phrase was more as an identifier of my generation than an actual assessment of myself. Many of my peers are actually quite hard-working. I am 30 and have worked in 8 different environments (2 in high school, 2 in college, and 4 since; everything from refereeing basketball games to management consulting). Maybe I am very lucky but most all of my peers I've worked with worked hard; those that did not were fired. I would argue that there have always been mostly hard workers and those that showed up late and didn't put in the hours were cut. Those who had problems showing up on time and staying focused I would say it was likely an upbringing that lacked accountability. I should also clarifying I am not laying blame at the feet of shop owners for not looking in the right places. I meant only to respond to the initial question of where to find good workers. My response to that question is "train the artistically minded and they will become very good cabinetmakers, working within whatever system you have running in your shop." Maybe I should have just said that, which is much more succinct.
But to be broad again and reply to some of your questions, I think the biggest difference between this generation of workers and previous is the lack of desire to stay in one place for your whole career (both in terms of industry and company). There are many reasons for that, and I am not terribly concerned with fighting this fight for the umpteenth time on here. I know many will say that the Millennials and Gen Z'ers are not as hardworking as the generations that came before. I suspect that isn't true and there is some data to that effect. There are also many articles through the ages bemoaning the work ethic of the young people then convince you this is a tale as old as time.
I think the issue is what about the bulk of the rest, and the next generations. We will see what happens.
For now you just have to hope to get lucky on hires and also be prepared for a prolonged search.
I am sure the last generation felt the same about us. Do you think they were super impressed with the hippies?
I dont doubt that I wasnt a record breaker in their eyes. My family was raised very rural and having relocated to a very rural area seeing the work, hearing the stories, and looking at the old photos of clearing massive amounts of acreage by hand or with mules and horses, brutally hard work, and so on, I would be as useless as xxxx on a bull in that time. But I dont know that I ever had issues showing up on-time, had small businesses since I was perhaps 11-12 and got my first small paper route, stayed moderately busy through summers with mowing lawns, painting fences, yard cleanups, etc.. Worked of course for a bit of money but more so for the fact that thats just what you did? It kinda went unsaid. If I wasnt working I was pestering the daylights out of the local retired machinist who had a basement shop, the other that was a welder/blacksmith, the other that was a rock-hound, other a wood shop teacher, other a sports car enthusiast, other building a P51 mustang in his garage, and so on.
Not a single young local kid, 20 something, period, in a rural area, shows an interest in just showing up to learn and be around (and would likely get tossed some nice sheckles while they were at it).
My grandfather saw water well drillers drilling a water well instead of digging the well by hand and became a water well driller.
Technology attracts the next generation as the better way to do the job.
The jobs that we did as kids got replaced by immigrants.
Minimum wage is a factor on people with no job experience.
Dennis, I'm not into bashing employees or people but I hear the same complaints over and over about employees not showing up to work, spending time on cell phones, not doing quality work and so on. One statistic that stands out to me is the average tenure for an employee age 25 to 34 at a job is 3.2 years. It used to be people would work 30 or 40 years for a company then retire. That isn't the case any more and it has created labor issues for skilled trades. As a technician and machinery importer I promote the idea of high quality employees to operate high quality machinery to reduce labor hours. I'd like to share that perspective with anyone that would like to look at a blog I recently published discussing the benefits of this. I've provided a link for anyone that can take a few minutes to take a walk back in time to the 1958 Walt Disney Paul Bunyan cartoon and how it relates to today.
Thanks to James for pointing out an error message he received when trying to follow the link to the blog I referenced. Apparently our site security document had just expired and not yet auto uploaded the new document. For anyone interested you can read the blog I referenced in the related thread link.
I am gonna sit and read this ! I can tell from the first few sentences 2 things
1) we liked the same shows !
2) we are as old as each other LOL
looks like a good read
I make $40 an hr plus benefits........try doing that!
I am gonna sit and read this ! I can tell from the first few sentences 2 things
1) we liked the same shows !
2) we are as old as each other LOL
looks like a good read
I make $40 an hr plus benefits........try doing that!