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Mechanics: Large company VS small company

Discussion in 'Shop Talk' started by 92U 3406, Oct 4, 2017.

  1. 92U 3406

    92U 3406 Senior Member

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    Just wondering what everyone's experience is with wrenching for large dealerships vs small construction/trucking companies?

    I've been at this professionally for 9 years now and spent most of it with large dealers. I'm honestly at my wits end with all the politics/corporate BS/lack of being treated like a person vs a number. I'm about ready to cut it loose from the current company I'm with. I've never worked for a small company before and was wondering, in general of course, what the work environment is like.
     
  2. check

    check Senior Member

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    Worked both and enjoyed small companies more in spite of lower pay, frequent job changes and harder work. I'm not very capable or tolerant when it comes to politics. If you can put up with it, I think you'll agree that the pay is generally better at the big companies.
     
  3. 92U 3406

    92U 3406 Senior Member

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    The benefits/pay is what originally attracted me to the big companies. That and the potential for technical training. I hate changing jobs but I'm mentally drained by all the politics, policies and pointless company meetings/conferences. I'm thinking a smaller construction/logging company with less than 40 units would be more my thing.
     
  4. Muffler Bearing

    Muffler Bearing Senior Member

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    I did my first 13 years with family owned and the last 7 with Corporate, I think politics and bad people can be found in both. In both cases some idiot can make it in to management just because he keeps coming to work each day, not because they have any useful skills. I enjoyed a smaller fleet because I got to know the machines very well,, but in the end that was the same reason I left, because it got boring and repetitive. All the things you listed are what I like about a dealer, and I used to think if I went back to a smaller place I wouldn't have any access to high tech stuff, but I think that argument is slipping as we hit the first decade of DPF. I think we'll all need some type of computer no matter where you are, a place that thinks they can avoid tech forever is doomed.
     
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  5. thepumpguysc

    thepumpguysc Senior Member

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    I've done both also.. 1st 16 years w/ small company.. loved it.. THEN like MB said.. management changed to UN qualified IDIOTS & things got bad FAST.. I left .. Went to work AT THE FACTORY.. MAKING injection pumps from steel & aluminum bar stock.. what an eye opener THAT WAS..
    I had the EXACT SAME "people" there.. I could sit and watch & say, that's so & so.. & that's so & so.. from the OLD company.. same people, different faces..
    & I left because of the meetings & politics also.. The money was FANTASTIC tho.. I lasted 3 years to the date.. BUT the "structure" was the same for everyone.. no "favorites" in corporate.. The managers were walked to the door, just as quick as the janitor, if they weren't doing their job...
    Went back to the small company FOR ME & my piece of mind.. Took a HUGE pay cut.. BUT I'm home every nite & not 100 miles away, 1 way.. Now I'm 100 miles round trip.. Lol
    Its REALLY a "personal thing".. Some folks like being a number & out of site.. SOME like being in the spot lite & having a "say" in how things are done.. others like being told what to do.. & THATS ALL they're gonna do..
    We HAD a guy.. the key word is HAD.. that was his fallback saying.. "nobody told me to do THAAAT".. BUT he lasted 15 years.. go figure..
     
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  6. Tenwheeler

    Tenwheeler Senior Member

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    Good employers come in all sizes. Larger ones usually have better benefits and retirement programs. All sizes can have favorites. I have done both and self employed. Don't sell yourself short applying for a smaller company. If you can save them money not having to take as much to the dealer you are worth more money. Thank I did the best doing my big company regular job and some side work. Should have just stayed a driver - wrench and never moved up to being over anyone. Got mad and quite. Miss the benefits and training not the BS. Would have been eligable for retirement before now but I'll just keep working. Good luck with your choices.
     
  7. 92U 3406

    92U 3406 Senior Member

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    The lower pay and possible worse benefits isn't a huge deal for me. I could live with it (single w/no kids). For the most part I'm happiest at work when I'm just left alone. We're going through a bit of a shake up in the company right now and we're coming up on the busy season. Thinking I should just stick around for the winter and see how it looks in the spring.
     
  8. old-iron-habit

    old-iron-habit Senior Member

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    Many of the smaller companies are union. Pay is the same with them as with the large ones. A smart company is always going to take care of a good mechanic. Good mechanics that can work without being watched over are a valuable profit center. Don't ever accept less benefits. You guys are worth more than that.
     
  9. PJ The Kid

    PJ The Kid Well-Known Member

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    Never worked the heavy dealer side, but working in automotive dealers vs. small family owned shops was apples and oranges. Usually make more at the dealer, little better benefits, more stress, more backstabbing and a$$ covering, more employees means more stupid to deal with. One of my favorite auto shops I worked in had 3 mechanics and the owner worked the desk. Craphole little shop, no benefits, decent money, little stress, and rather that trying to keep warm bodies in the door, We could be selective about the work we did so as not to tie up bays with junk work that didn't pay, he strove to keep the 3 of us happy. The downside was no insurance, very little retirement with no match. I have stayed in contact with that shop and on good terms, and have even done some after hours cash work for them.
     
  10. Junkyard

    Junkyard Senior Member

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    The right small company is by far the best of both worlds. I've worked for mostly small companies or ran my own (which was the majority of my adult working life). A properly run small company generally is small because the owner/s like it that way, not because they don't have work or financial means to grow. So you have big company financial means but often not the big company bs. That's what I like about where I'm at, main reason I took the job. I knew them well from the days they were a customer of mine. We're the size we are because that's where the owner likes it. No other reason. Not lack of work, money or anything else.

    We're union, I started the same per hour as I was making with my friends excavating company. Big change was the union benefit package. My dues are $31.00 a month and about $40 a week supplemental (whatever that goes to lol) which gets me health, dental, vision, pension and vacation pay. With my large family I'll singlehandedly bankrupt their a$$es haha. Point being the right small place might offer big company perks with small company atmosphere.

    Honestly I wouldn't pigeonhole my decision to big or small, I'd look at the entire picture. Atmosphere, pay, benefits, stress/responsibility level, opportunity for advancement etc. I get offers all the time and have yet to get one that had me thinking for longer than a minute.

    I don't know what's different about unions up there. Part of me wishes I had started in the union much earlier in my career. They have their downside yes, but what doesn't? Heck move out of that cold a$$ place and come down here. We'll start our own small company! :cool:
     
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  11. kshansen

    kshansen Senior Member

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    Problem with "small companies" is that if they are successful they either get to be big companies or get bought by big companies who think they can make even more money. First thing they do to the smaller company is start making changes to save money to help them pay for what buying this company cost them. Next they add a few extra layers of management to "help" control expenses.

    When I started in the shop back in the `70's I would not say it was a small company more of a mid-sized one. At the state level there was one guy above my direct supervisor and that guy reported to the president of the company. So if there was something that needed a major decision the most people who needed to be involved above my immediate supervisor was say two people, you often had an answer in a day or two.

    Now due to several mergers and acquisitions and such there are many more levels of management and what used to take a day or two to get answered now might take months!

    Like the time we needed to replace a gear pump on a 980G Cat. Cat's price from local dealer was approx. $1,000.00. I did a search online and found an outfit that had a new in box original Cat pump that I could buy for $500.00. The only "catch" is I needed to pay for it either cash or company credit card. Back "in the day" local supervisors had company credit cards and up to a set dollar amount could purchase on them. Not any more! Now it had to go through the chain of command up the ladder. After a few weeks my supervisor said call the dealer and pay the $1,000.00 and be done with it. A few weeks latter one of the "upper rungs" was talking to me and tried to explain how due to book-keeping factors the company could save more money buy paying the $1,000.00 over saving the $500.00 on the pump

    I won't say that was the reason I decided to retire when I hit 65 but thing like that played a part!
     
  12. check

    check Senior Member

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    Managers are sometimes trained to think that managers are the money-making end of any business. Ever heard the saying "The easiest person to sell to is a salesman"? It's true because the salesman, in his warped, self-glorifying way of thinking assumes sales people actually bring a lot to the negotiating table and buys the product because he's impressed with the salesman. Maybe the same psychology applies to managers.

    Reason vs. procedure.
    Small companies usually think their way through problems and decisions by taking variables into account that might effect the outcome. In other words their decisions are based on reason, good or bad, depending on the intellect of the bosses.
    Large companies have policies and procedures to make those decisions for them and one of the main variables to be taken into account is the consequence of not following their own company's policies. They live in a world of policies and procedures, not a world of reasons. Often they cannot be reasoned with and when they can, about as far as you can ever go with them is to get your boss to admit the company's policies are asinine.
     
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  13. Tenwheeler

    Tenwheeler Senior Member

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    kshansen: You inspire me to share this from 1987 or 8. Shop running about 50 tractors and some contract work. Tires were purchased nation account new and recaps. Hey boss: The one inch air gun blew up. Local IHC dealer has them on sale for less than the national account tire supply. No that is over our authorized tool purchase. You have to fill out the request form and mail it to me. Then I have to sign it and mail it to corporate. What do we do when we need a tire changed? Just call your local tire company we get the caps from. OK. They were working Sundays putting on sets of tires and meeting our on call man to provide them our tire to put on our units. Monthly report came out and I got a call about outside repair expense, thousands of dollars. Well you said when we needed a tire changed just call the local nation account company. We cannot repair or replace tires because we do not have a one inch air gun. YOU GO BUY ONE RIGHT NOW! But I need that in righting on my tool requisition form please. In an open managers meeting I was told I have a bad attitude. Their decisions cost the company money and screwed up my bonus. Should have just asked to go back to a wrench like Bob, at a different company. Manager said Bob we are in a jam and you have to work over. Bob paused and said: In section number XYZ of the personal manual it says 24 hours notice is required to mandate working OT. I would like to help you out but I have a previous engagement. Stepped forward, punched the clock and walked out. It is wise to know the rules. Work, benefits, insurance and such. I can only speak from hind sight.
     
  14. old-iron-habit

    old-iron-habit Senior Member

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    A very large health care company that I worked for in the 80s and 90s has national purchasing agreements for just about all construction components. On one multi million dollar hospital project I supervised they issued a change order near the end of the project which required me to order an additional 36 light fixtures. It would take four weeks to get them on the national purchase agreement. I started looking around and found a local supplier that could get them in a week saving $60.00 each over the national purchase agreement price. I ordered them. A month or so after the project was completed (on the original schedule) I got called in to a corporate meeting to review the project as was standard procedure. I expected it to be a clean review as the project was on time, the operating management was happy, and it was completed under budget. I was floored when the whole meeting was about badgering me for not following corporate policy by purchasing the lights locally and not using the national purchase agreement. It did not matter that I saved a ton of money and the project completed on time instead of having a costly delay. I would have probably been canned if the hospital manager has not spoke up for me and told him what I done was in complete agreement with him. I had only told him after the fact that I was able to get the lights locally. It was a couple of years later that a upper manager let it slip that the national purchase agreement was cheaper only because the extra money was refunded back into the corporate pockets. As the hospitals are non profit but the clinics and pharmacies are for profit (owned by the docs) it was another way to transfer hospital funds into their pockets.

    An interesting tidbit.
    Nationally it averages only 1.5 cents of your health care dollar that goes to total construction and maintenance of health care facilities including new construction and equipment. Yet I was told a thousand times if I was told once that we were the reason why health care was so high. I guess its just because construction is so visible.
     
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  15. Ruger_556

    Ruger_556 Well-Known Member

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    Having worked for 2 dealers, a handful of farms, and a trucking fleet... Smaller the better if all else is the same, who you work with can and will ruin a great job. I loved working for Kenworth/IH, the servicemanager left to take a position as sales manager for the entire company after 20 years at that store, it just didn't function well after that and I left. Now I work for a small farm, it's tiny, less than 400 acres. I run the shop (I have 1 helper/intern) and have tremendous say in all aspects of the company, it's great. I do get retirement match and a healthcare allowance.

    I'm starting my own business part time next year and eventually will probably cut back my hours at the farm, time will tell.
     
  16. check

    check Senior Member

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    The last refuge of the out-argued supervisor is to claim you have an attitude problem. It blankets everything and requires no thought on the part of the accuser.
     
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  17. Bumpsteer

    Bumpsteer Senior Member

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    They are usually correct, we have a problem with THEIR attitude.

    Ed
     
  18. thepumpguysc

    thepumpguysc Senior Member

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    The LAST TIME I was accused of having a bad attitude, I said>> "I didn't wake-up like this.. think about THAT".. lol
     
  19. DMiller

    DMiller Senior Member

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    Was a mechanic at a couple of truck lines, couple of dealers, leasing companies, open door small garages and private utility large companies as well on my own as mechanic and owner of a small truck company while wrenched on any machine known built from small gas engines to Quarry equipment. Got good at diagnostics and ended up working foreman in more than one of these places to which I was EXPECTED to not only do all the diagnosing for an entire crew but put out forty hours a week as chargeable time in a few. Got disgusted one day at a Utility Co garage, change in mgmt. and change in direction they were headed I signed out to power station work becoming a roaming operator in station. Self directed, self organized, always looking at and listening to the machine that everyone thought was stupid, 25 years wrench bender, 20 years station operator, a few years in between's odd jobbing. My attitude went from good to bad in all of them due to inept or corrupt or just stupid managing techniques. One shop manager told us he had been trained that angry employees worked harder so he intentionally pissed us off! I was not there long.
     
  20. Birken Vogt

    Birken Vogt Charter Member

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    I remember one time I was given a raise of $1 per hour that I had not asked for, I was on cloud 9, happy, working harder than ever before and loving it. That lasted all of 1 day before I was called on the carpet over some silly thing, and it became the same daily grind. I kept the raise though.