I'm in the same boat. The only decent people I find want to make twice what I do, work half the hours, get free vacation time, free health insurance, free retirement money etc...
I'm seriously considering looking into a convict rehab program. There is a huge antique/salvage firm not far from me who's entire business model is based upon giving people a second chance, and old building materials a second change. Every worker there is polite, hardworking, cheerful, and just thankful for their job.
My second language is Spanish. I don't mind hiring convicts. As long as they are able and willing to work, the only problem is that I need experienced cabinet makers. We fabricate high end custom furniture and our clients are very picky about their end result. I can't afford to hire unexperienced workers. I feel like I got this company where I want it to be ( having plenty of work ) and now I can 't keep up with it. This is killing my business.
Are all your cabinetmakers highly skilled? If so, maybe you can get more mileage out of your situation by hiring one or more shop hands? People to get the lumber out of the rack and setup for layout, take out the trash, etc.
I posted on woodweb exchange not long ago and there were several guys from up north that were looking for work, but I was not ready to commit to moving them down to Florida. I then tried zip recruiter and got allot of applications. Many were duds, but there were a few good ones. You can try them for free for 48 hours and then it's 99.00 per month. NY is an expensive place to live and I can understand why they are looking for more money. A good man here in Florida with full experience starts at 20.00-25.00/hour, but not with other benefits, unless it's a big outfit. Ingot allot of requests from European cabinetmakers that were willing to come, but it's a crap shoot unless they are coming anyway under their own steam. I sympathize and hope this advise works. Harold.
All you fu%ks are always on here complaining about your help. Can't imagine why you can't get someone to run their hands over blades all day and breath carcinogenic dust for $15 which is a poverty wage. My guys love to come to work. Why? I treat them as partners which they are. If I do real good on a job I'm right there with the Benjamin's. If not I push them but they rarely complain because they feel part of something. Have some respect for yourself,your trade, and your guys and do what it takes to pay a man for doing a mans job!
$15/hr might be considered a poverty wage for people who feel like they are entitled. 12 years ago I was hired by Baltimore City as a Firefighter/Paramedic at a starting wage of $27,000 per year for risking my life in the ghetto. If you weren't worrying about falling through the roof or getting shot, there's always a chance you'd get stuck with an AIDS needle. Everyone of us applied for years and years and couldn't wait to get hired.
So do you really think the $15/hr person deserves more than that just to catch a board coming out of a machine? I think not. If you want to make more than $50k per year you should take the risk and start your own company rather than looking for a handout from your employer.
Mr Guapo is correct for the most part. A lot of employees are not capable of being partners or peers. They are too narrowed, dull, or just scared to step out of the comfortable rut they were trained to years ago. To treat them as peers puts them on a self imposed defense, afraid that if they do something wrong, the axe will fall.
I see success as finding peers - customers that are your intellectual peers and employees that are your intelluctual peers. This presumes a fair amount of equality as well as respect that makes for good communications, good support good business, and good work all around.
One could argue that classical, Dickensian type employment has more in common with feudalism or indentured servitude or even slavery than equality. This makes it difficult to break the mold that all may be trapped in.
Pat - I think you and I could collaborate on a project and treat each other as equals. One may be 'in charge' of the labor, the other may be responsible for the materials,
You may be type that likes to be reassured they are 'in charge' by title, hat, office location, money and/or other outward signs, and you perform better with those trappings. But we could still be equals.
Division of labor does not have to presume inequality. Respecting the janitor, treating them as an important part of the team, takes no capital and yet can yield real benefits beyond either feel goods or profits.
While economic reward is the goal - indeed lifeblood - the better businesses have found there is more than just finance in a successful business.
Finding a ready made to your specification employee is unlikely. Start with a basic requirement, good attitude and train from there. As for convict, etc. I've had several work release guys. Not very successfully. They seem to do OK as long as they are on release but after that motivation is hard to maintain.
We are just reviewing our business systems, do it every year. Employee motivation is on the list. Money counts but other things tend to drive motivation longer than a raise. More time spent on training is high on the current list. So is getting people to understand that success is often based on a constantly improved systems approach. Very few employees have any urge to change, to look for a better way. To change is risky. Many will say they would like to have their own business, be in charge, but are unwilling to take any risks.
Training, I could spend lots of words on this. Unless you can instill desire, motivation to learn, conventional "teaching" will be a failure.
I agree with el guapo you must pay these guys enough to live a comfortable life and be able to save a little, this does inspire them a bit more come to work. Though Cunningham is also right you can't over pay for the task at hand, nevertheless 15$ an hour is to low pay for a well experienced cabinet maker, I'd say up to 40$ an hour non union of course, but staring at around 20$ an hour would be fair. Earning their raise thru time and achievements. Now going in fires should definitely get much more than 40$ an hour. I'd say in the range from 40$ to 60$. Also it's about them wanting to better the company rather than just make their hours and call it a day. They must have interest in making the company better.
It's rare you come across an experienced employee that is open to your way of doing things when they know better in their mind... when you do, they are gold... if not, unfortunately, over time, you usually get only so much due to underlying factors like resentment, because they many times interpret you running your business a certain way an affront to them if you don't run it the way they think it should be done because of said experience...
The most important factor IMHO no matter what level of experience is attitude... skill can be developed, a good attitude can be an elixir and a bad one a poison.
That said, how you treat people goes along way in determining what attitude forms...
My life as a boss changed forever when I finally let an employee 'have their way'. Changed for the better, that is.
Not every employee gets to the point where they can be treated with such - power? trust? latitude? But once I realized that I had better woodworkers in my shop than I, things took a turn for the better when I turned them loose.
No more micro managing, no more daily schedules for the top people, no more reports and having to anticipate, then solve, every damn thing before it went out to the shop. They were capable, willing, able and wanting to do all that and more. Made them feel better, more in control, more involved, and prouder of the finished product.
We can put our heads together and use each others strengths to overcome our collective weaknesses. We come up with better ideas and solutions and projects than we can individually. I can spend time on things I need to - and want to - instead of niggling the shop details all day.
We can even hit harmonies when we sing Kumbaya.....
It comes down to two shop types - Top down management with a hierarchy and pyramidal structure, with info flowing basically one way.
Or a more free form collaborative type of shop where leaders and followers sometimes change roles, and where skills still determine the best workers, but communications, problem solving, and collaboration are just as important.
David, I couldn't agree more with you, with one caveat... you set the standards of your product... there are many ways to accomplish the same thing... as an example, you set a standard of providing solid-wood dovetail drawers, but we all know there are multiple ways to provide a strong drawer (at different thicknesses no less) and it certainly doesn't need to be solid wood... I bring this up because this is an example of a real-world situation where leaving it up to the fabricator can lead to misunderstandings of what the craftsman wants to provide, and thinks is acceptable and what you are marketing and is acceptable for your product line... (happened)...
Now, if he can come up with a better way to get to the same result, IMHO this is where the flexibility comes into play... I could care less HOW you got there, as long as you got there in an efficient manner that is beneficial to all involved...
Hope my previous post didn't convey an inflexible work environment...
Correct- I forgot to mention Leadership has to lead the way both in goals and attitude. I set the parameters with certain specifications and definitions, but do not define the various paths or processes. We will have conversations about unclear details, different paths, opinions, etc, and determine answers mostly by individual input, sometimes the group is involved.
The photos illustrate a 30' diameter wine cellar/man cave we built several years ago using the diffused hierarchy. 5 men in the shop with two more drawing, detailing, etc, with one of them being the leader. It was almost impossible to detail/draw every detail at every juncture, so we made a plan with 2-3 components coming together, then another component, then another, all being built within the shop, dismantled and then re-assembled in the room. On budget, on time, and one delighted customer. Shop people were happy, challenged for sure, but very satisfied with the end result as well as the process. Everyone had a chance to excel at their skill level, and while there were a few hiccups, no one fell flat. I did have to do a bit of cheer leading at times, and same done for me once or twice.
The attitude was superb - lots of laughs, lots of cooperation, lots of support - physical, mental and emotional - made for an excellent project that turned daunting into doable.
There are many ways to drive to Tacoma from Seattle.
You could, for example, head east on Highway 90, go straight to the Tri-Cities, south to the Columbia River and north from Portland Oregon.
You will get to Tacoma with this path.
A more scenic route would be to travel the North Cascades highway and drop out in the Methow Valley, From there you could also eventually ricochet off Portland or, if you are more adventurous cut over south through Covington and come up from Parkland.
Using this method you will also start from Seattle and eventually arrive in Tacoma.
The common denominator between all these various paths is the word "Eventually".
KAP is right that "there are multiple ways to provide a strong drawer". Paraphrasing David there are indeed "ten good ways to skin a cat". Expressing this mathematically there would be the very best way, the second best way, the third best way........etc. Why you would even want to consider the 4th, 5th or 6th best way is beyond me but, like the scenic route for traveling from Seattle to Tacoma it would be more entertaining.
The right way and the wrong to do anything depends on the economy. During the dotcom days I used to buy coffee for the crew $500 at a time. We had a Latte stand just across the street and I told the girls there to tip themselves well and let me know when the money ran out. I just wanted to get the guys back to work quicker.
We had absolutely stupid budgets to work with. Money was free and customers were drunk. It really didn't matter what method anybody used or how long anything took. So we always took the scenic route.
It takes about five years in this industry before you can start to work with minimal supervision and about ten years before you are really competent. There is an inverse relationship between skill and ability.After about twenty years the knees start to go and the eyesight fades. There is also the calcification factor.
The problem the OP is facing is a lost generation of woodworker. We stopped printing woodworkers about eight years ago. The current boom in cabinet land economy is only 600 days old. There simply aren't any woodworkers left except the newbies or the cranky old timers who think the methods we used during the days of wine & roses are still appropriate in a tighter economy.
No reason to fix it, I guess, if it ain't broken..........
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