Protecting Our Jobs

Hi Gang...
I've heard rants about the Chinese taking our work because of the lower wages they will work for. I believe this is the symptom not the cause. First
of all, the Chinese are HUNGRY. They want the work far more than the workers here. I've said before, I haven't seen a white man work up a sweat in fifteen years. THINK about it. Most workers here in the US are rushed so much they don't even care enough to finish a job before it's sent out.
Case in point:
Last week a friend, another shop, sent me two prints to quote. Approximately 300 pieces each. The parts were simple shapes to machine, just .12 thick profiles in G-10. 1.5x2"
I quoted a small setup and then the run cost. The print had about 5% of the needed dimensions shown. When I asked where the rest of the information was, I was told they would send me a dxf file. The dxf file when I opened it didn't make any sense because the rest of the dimensions were 1/3 larger than the part was supposed to be. However the given dimensions were the same as the print dimensions. Big confusion. When I called for clarification I was told I needed to scale the file down to 2/3 size. When I did that the dimensions were also reduced. Unwinding all of this took about 4 hours on the two prints. Big learning curve and way too many phone calls. The last gotcha. I was supposed to make the part to match the sample given. The sample was also wrong. Sheesh!
Needless to say my oysters were quite fried when the smoke cleared. So much so I charged the customer $150 to decipher his prints. He wasn't too happy. I told him I've been reading blue prints for thirty years; but I'm not too good with mind reading.
The very bottom line is the engineer was too lazy to finish his work. There are many of these examples in the US today which adds to the cost of doing business. This all supports the reason for going overseas to cheaper labor rates. In the "60's I worked for the railroad. There I learned a phrase. "You have to protect your job." You protect your job by showing up on time, do the work as best as you can, and as efficiently as you can because if you don't someone will have your job.
Guess what? That's why China has our work. The work will go where it can get done. We all need to get out from in front of the television sets and figure better ways to do our jobs. That is if we want to protect them.
My rant.
Best regards to you all,
Stanley Dornfeld
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Stan Dornfeld wrote:

Hell, try and find one that will show up 5 days in a row. I was a job shop foreman for 13 years and I have been in business as an applications engineer for 6. In that time I have yet to find a white kid that was worth a damn. Apprentices are almost exclusively third world immigrants. If you can find a white guy that can show up and has talent they usually come with a lot of baggage. Problems with the I.R.S., child support, drugs, alcohol, warrants, etc. etc.

If everyone wants to be a lard ass, let them. Being brilliant every day can be a challenge and has it's own rewards. I don't worry about competitors who's challenge is to just show up. They eliminate themselves from any competition.
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Bill Roberto wrote:

Sadly, Bill, it's not that simple. For every person (or company) that screws up and screws itself, there are countless others who get hurt, even though they're doing the right things, and doing them well.
How many times have you seen a good company lose a job to someone who screwed up, quoted too low, and then couldn't deliver? It'd be nice to think that the low-baller got what he deserved when his shop went up for auction; but the company that knew how to do the work, and that quoted it accurately, also lost out. They lost a job. They lost time quoting something they weren't going to get. They lost time and expenses while they were waiting for the job to come back, or looking for work to replace it, and more.
Same thing with individuals. You and I both apply for the same job in a machine shop. You want $20 an hour 'cause you're skilled and experienced. I'll offer to work for $18, because I talk a good line of shit, even if I don't actually know which end of a machine tool is the top. I'll get the job, screw up for a week, or a month, or whatever, and then get fired. You'll get the privilege of waiting for the job to come open again, or looking all over town for another job. And your bills aren't getting paid. And your life sucks while you're unemployed, even though you didn't do anything wrong.
Inside the shop, the same principles apply. Nine people work hard and well, and one screws off and accomplishes nothing. That makes every competent person in the shop about 11% more expensive than he or she ought to be, in terms of the company's costs, payroll, and productivity. In a world where every little bit of a percentage point matters, you're in danger of being too expensive even when you perform brilliantly.
Rather than letting lard-asses do what they like, and assuming they'll get what they deserve eventually (which can be a very long time), I prefer to help make fairness a little more quick and certain. When I deal with a good company; but encounter a bad employee, I make a point of telling the company about it, if I can. When I decide that I don't want to deal with someone anymore, I don't just go away quietly. I typically send a note or an e-mail, explaining exactly why the company has lost my business. And, when I encounter a bit of uncommonly good performance, I always speak up about that, too.
In many cases, employers assume that a sub-standard employee is a burden for them to bear alone, and that it's better to have a warm body in every position than to let customers call phones that aren't answered promptly, or wait too long for good people who are too busy. If the employer is made to understand that the lard-ass isn't just his problem, and that his customers, and his whole company, also suffer for every person who has a job that he/she shouldn't have, then changes are a lot more likely.
And, good people work better when they're not carrying idiots on their backs. I once had a small crew of really good people working for me, and added one guy who looked right, but turned out to be a serious problem. The good workers, of course, knew about the problems before I did, and were unhappy about them. When I finally figured out there was trouble, I fired the guy in front of all the others. And I made a point of saying that "I'm embarrassed that I've asked all these other good people to put up with you, if you're not going to work as hard and as well as they do." That didn't undo the time I'd wasted on the guy, or the cost of his screw-ups. But my hope was for the good people to understand that I'd made a mistake, and I knew it, and this WASN'T a case where they'd been working too hard, too well, for someone who didn't care, or who couldn't tell the difference. That was probably small consolation; but it was the best I could do. And, it made it much, MUCH easier for me to get help and feedback from the crew when I tried again to fill the position.
KG
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| Bill Roberto wrote: || || If everyone wants to be a lard ass, let them. Being brilliant every || day can be a challenge and has it's own rewards. I don't worry about || competitors who's challenge is to just show up. They eliminate || themselves from any competition. | | | Sadly, Bill, it's not that simple. For every person (or company) | that screws up and screws itself, there are countless others who get | hurt, even though they're doing the right things, and doing them well. | | [...] But my | hope was for the good people to understand that I'd made a mistake, | and I knew it, and this WASN'T a | case where they'd been working too hard, too well, for someone who | didn't care, or who couldn't tell the difference. That was probably | small consolation; but it was the best I could do. And, it made it | much, MUCH easier for me to get help and feedback from the crew when I | tried again to fill the position.
Kirk, I still say that I want to be just like you when I grow up. Excellent post. Thanks for that perspective.
moT
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wrote:

That's *real* leadership.
If I was looking for a job, I'd want to work for you.
--
Thomas

"Driven by fear, we have succumbed to the age-old temptation to sacrifice
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Kirk Gordon wrote:

All good points Kirk, but you still only have yourself to be accountable for and to. I've built some real kick ass crews before, but it took a lot of effort and seemingly hundreds of "won't make it's" before finding someone worth spending time to train. I gave up on finding people with experience. More often than not 10 years of experience usually means 10 years of bad habits manifested too deep to repair. I looked for trainable greenhorns and trained them how I wanted them to perform. I had some one year apprentices that performed better than a lot of 20 year guys I have come in contact with. It all comes down to your own definition of what a professional is. The higher your standards the less competition you will have. Most people don't even consider what they do as a profession. It is nothing more than something they do in between the weekends for a paycheck. How do you fix them?
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Big snip

I'm getting hurt by the guy I work with right now. Yesterday the boss asked me to discuss the job I'm designing right now with this guy. What I am designing is a fix for something he designed that does not work. The boss knows it does not work, he asked me to fix it. The guys in the shop know it does not work, they've been trying to get him to change it but he won't listen. The people in sales know it does not work, they are embarrassed by it. The owner knows it does not work, he's paying for the modules fail prematurely because of the problems. The customer knows it doesn't work because they are down waiting for parts that will fail again. I have to fix this problem without redesigning the frame. The frame is the worst part of all, and costs us the most money.
So what does this guy do? He goes off on me for over an hour about how this is all a big waste of time, because the current design is just fine. He denies anyone has any complaints about it. He comes back into my office 3 times to tell me what I'm doing wrong! I left early, I've been trying to be a good little boy scout and I didn't want to lose it telling him what I really think. This morning I met my boss out in the shop. He told me this guy came into his office three times after I left, to complain about what I was doing wrong. I told my boss I was done working with this guy. If he wants him to review my work he can give it to him to review, and report back to me what he wants me to change as a result. At first he was upset by what I said. By the end of the day he had apologized to me at least four times for what the other guy did.
This afternoon the boss sends around a memo that ALL Bills of Materials are to exported from Solid Edge into Excel, so that people other than this guy and myself can work with them. This guy thinks no one else should have the BOMs in any form other than paper! He immediately emails back with the list of 'problems' this will cause. So this time I baited the hook, and got me a wide mouth ass. I email back that I've been using a program called Parts & Vendors to do my BOMs and I just export them into Excel for everybody else anyway, so doing it is no big deal from Solid Edge. He pounces on the bait. He emails back that no one should be using a non-standard program to do their work. Uh, you mean like Solid Edge, that you have had the only seat for the last three years? My last email of the day before I walked out went something like this: I couldn't agree more! We should all ditch Excel and use a real BOM program. Since you've brought it up, I am fully prepared to do a full demo of how we could be doing the work we do much easier. I have an assembly with over 800 unique parts that are supplied by over 50 different vendors. I'll show you how I can fax RFQs to all 50+ vendors, then produce and fax back 50 POs, and transfer all the POs to the accounting program, before I stop for lunch.
It's kind of funny. He's going to make so much noise over my use of a 'non-standard' program that management will have now have no choice but to take a look at what I've been saying almost from day one, just to shut this guy up.
The worse part of leading an elephant parade from behind is that it is a really shitty job.
If you really want to look like an Eagle, it helps if you soar with Turkeys.
Gary H. Lucas
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<snip>

<snip> Never try to teach a pig how to sing. It wastes your time and annoys the pig.
Other than some short-term satisfaction what are you going to get? Most likely a reputation with "managment" for being a trouble maker.
It may be a better use of time and energy to look for another job as companies with these kinds of problems don't seem to last very long.
GmcD
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.....hay.....
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Kathy wrote:

Never wrestle with a pig in its own environment (a puddle of muck), the pig ALWAYS wins.
--
Black Dragon Joyfully killing Google Groups posts since late 2004.

That which does not kill us, makes us stranger.
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You wrestle with pigs, you get dirty.
Don't worry, it washes off.
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Kirk, I think you are overreacting a little. I have a tremendous ability to focus on the task at hand and ignore what is going on around me. So the immediate task of fixing the problem is getting done, this guys interference is just background noise. He did react to the BOM suggestion exactly like I expected. Without ever seeing what I was trying to demonstrate he gave all kinds of reasons why it won't work. I discussed it with him calmly for a few minutes and went back to work.
This morning when I came in the boss told me that this guy came to his office three times after I left yesterday! He finally told him to get out and stay out. Today he was arguing with the boss, about something the boss told him he wanted done a certain way. The guy persisted to the point where he suggested that he would go over the bosses head to get permission to do it his way. For a few minutes there I though the boss was going to fire him on the spot, but it didn't happen. So the guy comes into my office and starts in on me! I just kept working and politely told him I had no time for this discussion and leave me alone. He came back two more times to tell me what I'm doing wrong. I just ignored him.
I am leaving to go to a jobsite on Monday for two weeks. I wouldn't be surprised if there is an empty office across the hall when I get back.
Gary H. Lucas
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Gary H. Lucas wrote: > > Kirk, I think you are overreacting a little.
Nah. Just shooting from the hip, late at night. And I forgot to recalibrate the verbositizer before I logged on.
If things aren't as bad as I guessed from your earlier post, then that's good news. And if you're happy, and doing a job you enjoy and are good at, then that's even better,
And, if I'm allowed to keep right on guessing and reading between the lines, then it sounds like your nemesis is about to blow a fuse and end up working long-term in a rubber room. Send him flowers, just for fun. And keep up the good work.
KG
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If you go back through the newsgroup postings you'll notice I don't get involved in wars. I'm the same way at work. What defuses a situation fast is to simply admit when you are wrong, and apologize. I think that works so well because people don't expect it, so they are left speechless.
Gary H. Lucas
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I'd be deeply suspicious of that story, DS. The dozens of manufacturing people I've talked to who have been to China (including our own Hamei) say the Chinese don't work that hard. Ask Hamei.
As for India, with all of the engineers they're turning out, Intel has only about 2,000 total employees there. Barrett says Intel will go "where they can find or import talent." But, while India is strong in education, they are weak in infrastructure, and there is no place in the world where it's easier to import talent, particularly degreed engineers, than the United States. However, there are good reasons to *go* to India for talent, and the reasons all start and end with dollar signs.
Take a look at the job listings on Monster.com or other job site and see if there appears to be an especial plea for electronic design engineers, over jobs for other skills of comparable academic requirements. Here's what the US Dept. of Labor says about jobs in the computer hardware engineering field, including engineers of components:
"Computer hardware engineers may face competition for jobs because the number of degrees granted in this field has increased rapidly and because employment is EXPECTED TO GROW MORE SLOWLY THAN AVERAGE [emphasis in the original]. Although the use of information technology continues to expand rapidly, the manufacture of computer hardware is expected to be adversely affected by intense foreign competition. Also, this industry is expected to continue to experience very high levels of productivity growth, which will even affect computer hardware engineers. The utilization of foreign computer hardware engineering services also will serve to limit growth. In addition to job openings arising from employment growth, other vacancies will result from the need to replace workers who move into managerial positions, transfer to other occupations, or leave the labor force."
The "intense competition" is the result of lower costs overseas. If Intel imports an Indian engineer to the US, they'll pay an average of $72,000/yr. That same engineer, employed in India, costs Intel under $10,000. No one here has to be told what the relative *manufacturing* costs are.
There is no shortage of engineers graduating from US universities. Around half of them are foreign students, in fact, which Mr. Barrett seems to favor. As the USDOL says, the prospects don't really look especially good. So, to the degree that Mr. Barrett is disappointed, it's a situation of his own making.
Consider also that the source of this story, _The Times of India_, has an audience that would much rather hear how India is developing a sophisticated talent base (which they are) than a story about how American companies are outsourcing to India because they're so damned cheap. And Mr. Barrett would much rather tell that story, which caters to the audience he's talking to and which excuses the fact that it's him, and people like him, who are encouraging the kind of trade policies and who have broken down the foreign investment barriers so they can cheapen their production costs and add another bit here and there to the bottom line.
Barrett is correct that there's a lot to worry about for our children and grandchildren, because the multinational business community is full of people who will talk out of both sides of their mouths to make an extra buck, everyone else be damned . . . people just like him.
-- Ed Huntress
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http://msnbci.businessweek.com/bschools/04/partner/b3904431.htm?campaign_id=msnbc_bschools04
BusinessWeek Online OCTOBER 18, 2004
"We are producing followers, not leaders," Gupta says. "Indian society makes people fit into a groove." Indeed, surveys have shown that just 1 in 10 IIM students want to start their own business
http://newindpress.com/NewsItems.asp?ID=IEB20050311071154&Page=B&Title=Business&Topic=0
A total of 12 Indians have been featured in Forbes' list of World's Richest People 2005 including Azim Premji of Wipro, Mukesh and Anil Ambani of Reliance Industries and Naresh Goyal of domestic aviation major Jet Airways.
John
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http://newindpress.com/NewsItems.asp?ID=IEB20050311071154&Page=B&Title=Business&Topic=0
Interesting follow-up to:
http://www.forbes.com/billionaires/2005/03/10/cx_pm_0310mittal_bill05.html
World's Largest Steel Producers
[ Mittal has long believed the industry has to consolidate and globalize and says three steelmakers will share 20% of the market within the decade. Hence his own acquisition drive. He has expanded into emerging markets, buying Nova Hut in the Czech Republic, Polski Huty Stali in Poland, Petrotub in Romania, BH Steel in Bosnia, Balkan Steel in Macedonia, Alfasid in Algeria and Iscor in South Africa. ]
Most of which are in the East block, would we say these are cutting edge high tech mills, yet these are probably quite profitable for their investors it would seem ?
What is Metal's secret formula for business success in such an competitive industry ?
Curious, anyone know how the mills in Brazil size up to the rest of the world as far as capacity and profitability ?
John
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These three ? http://www.thyssenkrupp-stahl.de/en/news/presse/presse_detail.jsp?cid 03798
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John Scheldroup wrote:

I don't actually know; but I'm gonna take an "educated guess." And I'm guessing they're extremely profitable, precisely BECAUSE they're in Brazil. And those other facilities in Eastern Europe are probably all gold mines too, as long as you live somewhere else, and have your profits wired to your home in the West.
There are others here, I'm sure, who are old enough to remember when Pittsburg smelled like sulfer, even if you were 50 miles away. And when the Rouge River, and Zug Island, in Detroit, were so fowl that dioxins didn't want to live there. And when the visibility in Gary Indiana was measured in feet, rather than miles. And the air in Cincinatti was a perpetual pink color. And Lake Erie was the world's largest septic tank, and Cleveland and Toledo were awful. And more.
And nobody spent a penny on anything that wasn't profitable in the very, VERY short term. The future didn't matter. Even people who were sick and dying in the present weren't really a problem, as long as they didn't have lawyers, and didn't live right next door to the folks who collected the profits.
And I'm guessing that that's the way mills in Brazil, and the Eastern Bloc, are still running today. We certainly saw plenty of that when the Iron Curtain rotted away, and Western folks got their first good look inside the sewer we once called the Soviet Union.
I bet I could build a world class, major size, seriously profitable steel mill right here in Philadelphia, if all I cared about was making profits right now. I'd recruit strong-shouldered kids right out of junior high (so they wouldn't finish high school and have any real prospects besides working for me). And I'd let them live in company dormitories - free rent, and free meals at the employee's cafeteria, so I wouldn't have to pay them real wages. And there's a million cubic miles of coal, in the mountains just west of here. I could build a short, private railroad, and get all I needed, cheap. Then I could run coke ovens and blast-furnaces with raw smoke and soot pouring out of the stacks, and I could turn Jersey black with smog. I'd bring ore up the Delaware River in iron boats from all over the world, and I'd dump crud and pollution by the megaton right back into that very same water. I'd buy a big chunk of land where the city is currently planning to build high-end riverfront housing, and I'd use it to store huge mountains of scrap steel, for recycling and making cheap alloys. I'd run the mills all day, and all night, and I'd expect every furnace to produce at capacity, or the bastard in charge of it would be unemployed before the next heat had cooled.
And I'd sell low-cost, decent quality steel to buyers on five continents; and I'd make money that people in Brazil and Poland wouldn't believe. And I'd live 20 miles from the mills, upwind, in the tree-covered hills near Valley Forge. And I'd go down in history as a wealthy man, revered by my peers for creating jobs, and for supporting the arts, and for appearing in so many newspaper photographs with well-known politicians and movie stars.
And every sane person on Earth would hate me, for very, VERY good reasons.
I really, REALLY abhor short-term thinking. Humans are capable of more, and better.
KG
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Kirk Gordon wrote:
> snip >>

Oh-oh. Kirk's starting to sound like a goddamned tree-hugging Liberal ....
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