Do I have the worlds cheapest boss?

Ok, I'm wondering if I've possibly got the worlds cheapest boss. We have no benefits, no sick pay, no paid vacations; but I knew that going in. What bothers me is that the equipment he buys is junk! I finally talked him into buying a new drill set, one with fractions, letter and number sizes. I got tired of sifting through the cardboard box of old worn out and broken drill bits. The new set arrives and I find it's the cheapest set that Enco sells for like $29. I used a 5/16" to drill ¼" aluminum plate and it broke. The lathe I use is an old one that a local high school auctioned off. The speed changer doesn't work. The power feed doesn't work. The cross slide on the tool post won't move more than an inch. The gibs are so worn that it chatters something bad at times. Our vertical belt sander is another commercial reject that I found out has a backing plate that is so worn that it is impossible to get a straight sanding job out of it. The drill press we have is a bench top model straight from the local big box store. The air compressor died a few weeks ago, and guess what, he bought a Campbell Hausfeld. It runs constantly I wonder how long it will last. The other day I had to cut two 12' pieces of aluminum extrusion in half. We have nothing to cut it with except the 14" Jet bandsaw. What fun! The other day I needed a large wide slotted screwdriver. We didn't have one so I had to make a piece of metal the right size and use a wrench on it! The manager says that the boss has been running this business for 15 years this way, and "if he spent more money we probably wouldn't be in business." I'm open to comments both pro and con, clearly I'm cynical and maybe need to have my eyes opened? I worked for a large aerospace company for 15 years and enjoyed good pay and equipment. Is my present situation normal? Do small companies operate this way as a norm? Fill me in please. Tell me your stories.


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No, I don't think your situation is normal.

I've worked for cheap employers (you got me beat by a mile though!) but even

*they* understood that reasonable quality equipment made better parts faster. And, it cost more to pay me to do any given task when I had to work with crap. Basically, it's cheaper to buy a quality tool than to pay somebody to fight a job.

I understand that you gotta eat and pay rent, etc. and therefore you have to work, but please do yourself a favor and quit! Find another job in a better shop. As you already know, all you're doing is wasting time fighting the environment to make good parts. I can only hope you get to make "easy" parts.

Where in the country are you located? How big is the shop (employees)? What type of work does the shop specialize in (if any)? How long have you been a machinist?

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It sounds like El Jeffe is either a tightwad with little or no commerical sense, or he has a serious cashflow problem. Or both.

Ive had two shop owners come by to visit in the last year or two, both clients of mine who were in the area on a weekend for one reason or another..and both were stunned to find out that my hobby shop is better equipped with better manual machines then their commercial shops. With the obvious exception of CNC machines of course. One of them has been back 3 times to do stuff for himself (sand rail parts) that he cannot do in his own shop. Shrug....its an interesting commercial world out there. Most machine shops these days dont even have a vise anywhere in the shop, except whats on the CNC mills. I have to carry one of my own in the truck.


It's better to be a red person in a blue state than a blue person in a red state. As a red person, if your blue neighbors turn into a mob at least you have a gun to protect yourself. As a blue person, your only hope is to appease the red mob with herbal tea and marinated tofu.

(Phil Garding)

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Where I worked many years ago, our boss made one of the engineers disassemble an electronic prototype board and re-use the chip sockets for a new prototype, instead of buying new ones. He was OK apart from silly things like that, never quibbled about expenses etc.


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Leon Heller

I knew a guy who could have been a twin of his. On one of my bouts of R&D layoffs, I would earn a living as a machinist. He was a nice enough guy*, but what we call in New England, a "Swamp Yankee". An actual comment people made was, "Hey, Sam..I am going to the dump-Is there anything you want?" He ran a machine shop-In the front was a gas station. We were expected to stop a cut, run out front, and pump gas. There was no shithouse...One had to walk to the nearby Police station...Unless they elected to piss out the back door. The equipment was literally bought by the pound-most was rusty. All the local auctioneers knew him on a first-name basis. The queen of the shop was the Kellering thread miller, but no work ever appeared for it. There was no such thing as a sharp end mill, and most had been rusty. In order to get them to cut, one was expected to use drain oil from the garage operations as a cutting lube. In Winter, there was just enough heat to keep water a liquid. My wife stopped in once to bring me a forgotten lunch, looked around, and said to me, "QUIT!". That was the day they had changed the oil in a Mercedes diesel, and people had to use it as cutting fluid. He hired kids from the local Trade School, who usually wandered away after a week or two, disillusioned...He may have gone through thirty a year.

These stories sound like something written about the Industrial Revolution, but places like this are around, especially in areas where there are few other employers, and high unemployment. As a small business myself, I do not understand how he got away without Workman's Comp..I can't!

This was thirty years ago...I never forgot the experience, and thinking back on it, I do not think I would have had less self-respect if I had sold my ass at bus stations. It was the lowest ebb in my fortunes, ever.

  • An "Upright Man and Mason", FWIW
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Loampaste Upsilon

"Lane" > I worked for a large aerospace company for 15 years and enjoyed good pay and

Sounds a bit on the cheap side. But we have a guy in our shop who used to work for Grumman during their golden years, and his expectations are a bit high. They had everything and an army of guys to make sure it was in perfect working order.

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Hey Lane,

What kind of vehicle does this "boss" drive? I'd find out where he lives, and drive by his house to see what kind of investment he has there. Marital situation?? (1 or 2 alimonies or a sick kid or ??) He may be a millionaire by doing what he is doing to you guys, or he may just be barely making it like everybody else. Better to have some idea before judging.

Take care.

Brian Lawson, Bothwell, Ontario. XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX


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Brian Lawson

That's the first thought that comes to mind, but the original poster survived fifteen years in a large Aerospace outfit. Even if he was mediocre and protected by a union, he just could not be that bad. In my experience, these dumps operate only by having a supplyof people who are down on their luck, and having no real employers in the area. They only exist at all because they are an alternative to selling Amway. Another issue many on here will agree with is that nobody is rich enough to afford cheap tools. A supposedly real business buying Harbor Freight drills? The least it could mean is they have contempt for their machinists. Places like that have no right to exist. The only way they will make a profit is to have a fire. May it happen today.

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Grunty Grogan

"Lane" wrote in news:

Poor bbaaaaaby! If you worked for a firm for 15 years why did you quit/get-fired/laid-off/? And why did you take this one knowing the conditions aready?. Been there..done that....;0) Wait till you reach my age (61), no-one wants to hire you cause you're an accident looking for a place to happen in their eyes.

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I don't understand how some businesses survive. I have always thought that tools and tooling is infinitely cheaper than unproductive man-hours. My people know where the Grainger catalog is and have free reign. If anything this gives them more incentive to analyze a situation and make good purchasing decisions based on increased throughput rather than tool-mongering. Everyone unconsciously does a cost/benefit for new tools or tooling. I think we coined the term: "Scrap Labor" and decided that was the fish to fry. Tools and consumables enable good, fast work and the psychological factor of having the needed good stuff on hand to do the job the best and easiest makes for a happy technician that feels great satisfaction from accomplishment.

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Tom Gardner

Sounds like some companies I worked for. I usually bought my own equipment over time, and when I left I was ready to go into business for myself. Best move I ever made! Bugs

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Greetings Lane, I'm cheap. But at least I buy good tools. Maybe you should try making more money with your copper business by promoting it more. I don't know. But even though I've worked for some real skinflints none have been as bad as your situation. The funny thing is, he pays you more to half tooling than it would cost to buy something better. ERS

Reply to
Eric R Snow

"notreallyme" wrote in message news:Xns95FC5CC6F7C43granpawiicenturyteln@ | "Lane" wrote in | news: | | | Poor bbaaaaaby! | If you worked for a firm for 15 years why did you quit/get-fired/laid-off/?

That's life with many unions, especially aerospace, where skill and abilities don't mean a thing when the pink slips are coming. The Seattle area is full of people who "used to work for Boeing" and I, nor anyone else, thinks poorly of them. The last round of layoffs they hit tooling folks, formerly the safest job, with twenty five years or more of time with the company. The aerospace business is heavily cyclical, moving thousands in and out the door in large groups, and if you want to blame someone, simply look at the global economy and look for the one person you think has some control over it. Not gonna find one. That's life and they accept that when they go to work there or for anyone of their hundreds of suppliers.

| And why did you take this one knowing the conditions aready?.

Eating is pretty much a necessity. Shelter tends to be a strong second.

| Been there..done that....;0) | Wait till you reach my age (61), no-one wants to hire you cause you're an | accident looking for a place to happen in their eyes.

Reply to
carl mciver

I work for a man similar to this, but not quite as bad. When I went back to work for him in '90' he tried this kind of stuff. I got tired of fighting him to make his parts. One day I had enough, walked into his office, told him what I needed and sat down in a near by chair and stayed there. I had my tool handed to me 20 minutes later, at which time I stood up and made my parts. It got easier after that.

Coincidentally, we actually began making money after he finally got it through his head that I wasn't going to search and dig for tooling anymore. Took a while, thought I would get fired more than a few times, but I didn't care. I sell him my services, not my patience.

Ironically enough, today we have 15 guys in the shop, and his "little buddy" has more tooling stuffed in a box under his desk than we had in the whole shop when I started!

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I see a seed of motivation in there. I suggest that you just continue to go to work, and live under those conditions until your motivation flowers, and you either quit, get another job, start a new career, or start out on your own. Millions of people have started newer/better careers out of unhappiness. Unhappiness is internal rust, and it will KILL YOU, my friend.

I have a 51/49 theory about life.

I believe that a person is where they want to be, doing whatever they want to do, with whoever they want to be with EVERY moment of their life. Whenever they want/don't want something more one way than the other, they stay/move on. It has been that way for me. It has been that way in every situation I have seen.

Move on or quit whining. Both are mature solutions.


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Scrap labor? I don't know where to start. Reading Lane's post sure reminded me of a place I worked at. The boss telling me I don't need that tool he's been a machinist for 30 yrs. while I was the only one who knew how to run the biggest machines in the place. I did all the work and he still wouldn't go over minimum wage so I quit and he pulled out a knife !

I've had my share of cheap bosses. One did save me from a car wash , but for years of bending over backwards he wouldn't give me what I was worth. I had to keep his wife's Caddy, 3-4 trucks, and the forklift running, supervise 3-4 other guys, do all the service calls, build the second store, and on and on like nights and every holiday. Oooh , quarter raises just to keep me above the minimum...

To me if you can't be a fair boss your just exploiting people. I guess its just another one of my hang ups. But then again I can be so cheap that I want to strive for more robots than people , don't have to have a lot of those other expenses that your suppose to have for human slaves.

Sunshine in the shade.

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I'm tight, but not as tight as this guy. It amazes me that people don't know how much wasted labor costs.

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Yeah, and these are usually the same people who point their finger at the Production worker and say "You make too much money" with out acknowledging the ignorant shit they have to deal with.

My boss (shop owner) is much the same way. We're going through a learning phase right now, about how re-working a part 5 times (no shit) tends to reduce profits. I guarantee you that if one of these guys on the floor were to f/u and have to remake a part, as often as we have to remake and rework engineering f/u, they would be fired long ago.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not flaming engineers here. I'm saying that to save money, he has removed a crucial element from the system (senior engineer review before fabrication). In his mind, he truly believes this is saving him money. Fortunately for him, he has hired "key" machinist who have integrity and don't want to waste time. They've learned to question what they see on the print, but they shouldn't have to. And even this system has major holes with several people working the same project. These "key" machinist are now getting tired of have to deal with this, and production has dropped to an all time low. Moral sucks, and motivation is out the door. He has succeeded in ruining a fine shop.


Sorry, had to tell it to someone, even if its no one inparticular. Anyway, just my opinion.

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Thanks for all for their input and stories. Including those that said I am whining. I knew I was going to get that label when I wrote the original post, but I had to hear some opinions anyway. Isn't that one reason for this NG, to share knowledge, and experiences?

"Skuke" asked some questions: I am located in western Washington, about 50 miles north of Seattle I am one of 7 employees, including the office gal and manager. We make sheet metal aircraft/helicopter parts. I'm not really a machinist in the strict sense of the meaning. More a sheet metal fabricator/mechanic. But I do some manual "machining" in making tooling, like hydroform blocks and dimple dies etc.

To ATP: yes I was thinking my expectation might be high also, hence the reason for the questions to see if my experience was the norm.

To Brian Lawson: he drives a new Chevy pu only a year or two old. I have no idea where he lives or in what kind of conditions. I know that he is no longer married. But I don't understand why knowing all this would have any bearing on how he runs his business. I could tell you some more stories about his other employees and how he treats them and what he says about them that would curl your ears, but I'm not going to get that personal. I just know that I'm staying here any longer than I have to. I know I'm better than that.

To "notreallyme": you are 100% correct to an extent. I was one of 10's of thousands that got laid off. And I didn't really know all the conditions when I hired on, how could I? I'm close to your age, 52 and not liking what I'm seeing for my future. I've made some bad decisions in my past and am now paying the price. If I could only get my two sons to realize this.

To Tom Gardner: I want to work for you or someone like you. Thanks

To Bugs: that's not going to happen with what I'm being paid. My pay barely pays the mortgage payment.

To Eric Snow; after my layoff that is exactly what I did, tried going full time with the copper stuff. I did the big NW Flower& Garden Show in Seattle and about 6 others throughout the state that spring. It just didn't happen, after spending about $10,000 on shows and advertising promoting it. Hence back to work.

To SteveB: Yes I'm motivated to find another job, but difficult with my work schedule and OT on Sat's. Guess I'll just have to call in sick a few days and go hunting. Your theory is interesting, but I don't believe it works as cut and dried as you make it out. Yes I've made some bad choices in my life and am now paying the price. So to that extent you are correct. But given my current state that is difficult, if not impossible, to reverse things. If it works for you great. Motivation is a moving force, with that I agree with you, and yes I'm motivated to change my current situation, but am limited by my age, and past decisions to a very big extent as to what is possible for me in the future. I have to say that your post is the one that made me stop and think the hardest. For that I thank you. And I'm kind of jealous of people like you that think the way you do. I wish that I could be that way, but my experiences and those of others that I have seen lead me to believe otherwise. It must be nice to be able to wake up each morning eager for the day, everyday, and know that the world is your for the taking. Good luck! Yes, I am cynical. Thank you very much, there has to be some of us to balance those like you. .

Thanks again, Lane

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