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Where are the Mechanics?

Discussion in 'Personnel' started by glsahl, Dec 31, 2004.

  1. kshansen

    kshansen Senior Member

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    We used to have at least six mechanics working in the shop where I work. We would repair equipment from several of the company's locations in the area. New guy in upper management came in a decided we were a liability. Said if we made a mistake on a repair the company would have to eat the cost so it was better to hire an outside contractor that way if there was a failure on a repair job they could go after them.

    This guy also liked to refer the shop as a "cost center" as apposed to the quarries that were "profit centers". Now instead of having our own mechanics who could respond to a problem in a couple hours much of the time. We need to make a few phone calls to get permission to hire someone. Then start calling around to see who is available and if it is more than a simple repair maybe wait while we get three estimates on the repair. Then wait for approval from above to hire the lowest bidder, who everyone knows is always the best choice! This is a much better system for sure!
     
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  2. kshansen

    kshansen Senior Member

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    Well "If you had fixed it right last time it would not be broke now!":tong

    Doesn't matter if the last time you replaced the water pump on the engine and this time the lift cylinder is leaking, huh?:Banghead
     
  3. overworked

    overworked Senior Member

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    That's the truth, machines don't break or wear out, the mechanic just rides around changing half the parts it needs so he has job security,WTF? Were a small company, two services trucks, small shop and try to do it all, major components, pms, welding , lineboring, a/c, hydraulics, elctrical, we buy what we need as we can afford it, service manuals , Cat ET. Ect. we never charged for overtime, weekends, or even an emergency repair, thats all changing now. Bent over backwards for big companys to homeowners alike. It can be a rewardless job at times, nobody looks down the road at maintance compared to longevity, and the cost of insurances, tools , fuel ect. Might be better to carry a lunch bucket and go home at five.
     
  4. cherokee101

    cherokee101 Well-Known Member

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    There are lots of "educated" fools out there who don't connect the dots between the "profit center" and the "cost center". You feel like saying, "OK bud I'm outta here. Good luck making your profit center work without the cost center to fix it." Managers are the same everywhere and good ones are the exception. Many good guys get full of themselves when they move up. The idea that good workers make good managers is also misplaced. Like one guy earlier in the thread said, take a hike, the work will still have to be done. Come back as a contractor and charge double. Sometimes they will even like you better. It is amazing.

    We have seen the same thing in my business and profession happen. it cycles. Management thought that you could go to the engineer store and get anybody you wanted anytime you needed them. Now they are hiring any warm body they can find that can say engineer let alone spell it.

    Sounds like you now have a perfect fix in outsourcing the repair work... just lovely.

    I know a guy back home that was an independent heavy equipment mechanic. He built a heavy shop truck out of a single axle long frame Pete. The thing is just awesome. Generator, welders, crane, tool house, compressor and all the normal stuff. He said he worked his butt off but regularly made about $200k a year several years ago. He is a dirt contractor rancher now.
     
  5. kshansen

    kshansen Senior Member

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    Just to drag this out a little more. We have been on a NO OVERTIME! status for a couple years. We have a few guys who are good welders. When a loader bucket needs repair, can't shout it down during the normal work day. Can't bring one of our guys in on a Saturday at around $20+OT rate for $30. but no problem bringing in an outside guy and his kid to work on the bucket. Not sure what they charge but I doubt we get the two of them for $15 an hour each! When they are there 90% of the time one is working and the other is on cell phone about some other job.
     
  6. catfixer

    catfixer Well-Known Member

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    I seem to be in a similar situation as kshansen. After spending money to buy tools and all, our shop doesn't want to advance us so they have to pay us more and I don't get near the work load I would like. And when we do work our butts off and come in on weekends and stay late to get jobs out we get griped at for having to charge overtime. One of the reasons I was looking into getting into pavers there is so I can work more overtime. I love long days, weekends, holidays, nights you name it. Am currently talking to a few independent guys in different areas of the country who seem to have more work and value their technicians more.
     
  7. cherokee101

    cherokee101 Well-Known Member

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    My two cents worth.

    An owner that is a skinflint is both greedy and foolish.

    There is a unique and strange relationship between all kinds of labor and the people they work for. Without the people there is no business and without the business there are no jobs. The profit and payroll balance is always being argued. Too much payroll and there is not a good reason for the owners to take the multitude of risks to operate the business. Too little payroll and the labor will find somewhere else to go or something else to do that pays better or they will perform poorly and the business will not be able to go on. The relationship is a constantly tipping scale. At the end of the day, the best one can do is to pay a competitive wage, keep well informed of the market conditions for labor, deal with people honestly and consistently, be generous in recognizing exceptional performance in times of plenty and deal out bad apples as quickly as possible so that the barrel is not spoiled. People should be paid, equipped and managed in such a way that their best performance is a deserved outcome with no excuses for failure to deliver that. If this is done, the owner has been first to meet his obligation and has no reason for doubt or reservation in replacing under performers and should not have any trouble replacing them. A business is not a full owner to labor partnership and it is not a philanthropy. It is a venture involving the application of private money to make more money. When it does not do this efficiently, profitably and reliably through the application of people and their skills and the organizational skills of the management the money will look for opportunity to grow some place else. Greed at any point in the transaction between ownership and labor will doom both to eventual failure. If labor expects to have the same reward as ownership labor should become an owner himself with all the risks and obligations that attend to ownership.
     
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  8. thepumpguysc

    thepumpguysc Senior Member

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    Well put Cherokee..
    kshansen>> I feel your pain.. same thing at my shop.. except.. when "that" job comes in and HAS TO BE DONE and "only you can do it".. I tell them to take a flying f**k off a rolling doughnut.. I work from 8-5..
    Why should I put myself out inorder to make them happy when they've been stickin' it up my arse for years.. [ Cherokees statement: labor will perform poorly ]
     
  9. Oxbow

    Oxbow Senior Member

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    Nicely said Cherokee!
     
  10. kshansen

    kshansen Senior Member

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    Wish this was printed on the door for all upper management people to see every morning!

    I have been with this same company through many mergers over the last 40+ years. For most of them we had upper management people who seemed to follow the above ideas. Problem is those people retired. Just in the last 10 years or so the management has taken the attitude that everything is a one way street. They act like they are doing us a favor by allowing us to work for them.
     
  11. Scrub Puller

    Scrub Puller Senior Member

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    Yair . . . Quite seriously I believe that #27 post by cherokee101 is one of the most profound, insightful statements I have seen for some time and such gems are what makes this board such a special place.

    Cheers.
     
  12. kshansen

    kshansen Senior Member

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    Just recalled a situation not from where I work. A friend worked for a local Redi-mix and excavating company. Boss/owner decided to be a nice guy and announced a "Profit Sharing Program".
    Everyone thought it work out good. Well there was a little catch, it was based on the balance on the books at the end of the year. Catch is late every year after starting the program owner would go out and buy enough equipment to reduce any profits to next to nothing. I know a company needs to keep equipment up to date to stay competitive but.....
     
  13. fixou812

    fixou812 Senior Member

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    Buffalo NY
    So goes the saying to management. ..."poor planning on your behalf does not constitute an emergency on mine! "
     
  14. thepumpguysc

    thepumpguysc Senior Member

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    kshanson> I had a very similar experience.. BIG company meeting.. "WE' made 7 million dollars this year, thank you all for your continued efforts in making this company profitable.. BUT with several set backs and the economy we're sorry to say there isn't any money for profit sharing this year!!
    The VERY NEXT DAY.. The 2 owners drive up in 60k pick up trucks w/ company logos on them.and use them for personal vehicals... I quit that week!! and told them why..
     
  15. Cam85

    Cam85 Senior Member

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    Ok I'm a mechanic and now I'm an operator why should I swing spanners when I can sit in on a machine and take home more money.
    Not to mention when on the tools I have to supply them myself last time I was in the snap on van I calculated all the tools i have bought over the last ten years it worked out to b $50000 in Australia that gets u the basics.
    It makes no sence why would I supplie all my own gear earn less money and then u get told to put a water pump on it u say its still gunna over heat because there are outher problems.no just put a water pump on.
    Ok I put the water pump on the next day ur getting yelled at because that eng is running hot go fix it they say just wave a magic wand they say ur up to ur arm pits in a gearbox on something else so u go get a radiator a thermostat some hoses the power flusher a radiator cap and a new hiviscus fan hub u fix the dam thing.
    Is it good they say yep it's good.
    Then u go back to the gear box it's 5 o'clock why isn't that gearbox finished wat have u been doing all day it has to b done 2 night they say.
    So ur in the shed till midnight with o extra money doing the gear box it's finished.
    A few days go buy then its who spent all that money on a cooling system were not made of money u know then that afternoon the cooling system job has a breakdown the diff center has carked it but the mechanic just looked at it and said it was good so ur in the poo again even thou it completely unrelated why oh why would I put my self through that even if I paied 20 percent more than what I make in the seat I still won't pick up a spanner.
    I would have to b hungry to consider it I would rather work at mac chucks !
     
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  16. JD955SC

    JD955SC Senior Member

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    PM sent
     
  17. Nige

    Nige Senior Member

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    I had loads of this in my last life working for a Cat dealer. As an expat in S. America I was on a very nice package thank you very much. Good salary, loads of fringe benefits, apartment & utilities paid by the company, loads of travel all on the company dime, company vehicle & fuel for both business & personal use, 8 weeks/yr vacation - you get the idea. At the end of the day I know I cost the company plenty.

    Certain senior managers were always on at my boss (Tech Centre Manager) complaining about "how much Nige cost", and over the 9 years I was there it was a fair whack of money I can tell you. Fortunately for me he valued my services and he always kept an up-to-date file from January 1st every year of every dollar I'd been able to prise out of either the factory outside of normal warranty, known as Goodwill in the trade, or for every failure analysis I'd done that enabled the customer to be billed for repairs where they had originally claimed warranty from our Service Dept. Suffice it to say it generally ran into something like $2-3 million a year minimum. He'd wave that file under their nose with the words "Nige isn't a Cost Centre, he's a Profit Centre - now fcuk off and quit bothering us............" Despite that the subject came up pretty much towards the end of every year when company operating costs were approaching budget levels but we still had a couple of months until December 31st.

    Maybe that's why he sent me an e-mail not long back asking if I was willing to go back to a similar position I had previously and if so "what are your salary expectations?" ......
     
  18. lantraxco

    lantraxco Senior Member

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    Last place I actually turned wrenches for a living, back in the stone age around 1990, the owner once told me "The shop never made me a dime, it's ajust a drain on the company". I responded by telling him that using that logic he should probably quit buying diesel. "But then the machines won't run!"..... pause..... Lasted two more years, but gave my notice that day, lol.
     
  19. kshansen

    kshansen Senior Member

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    Central New York, USA
    Well I've pretty much decided that this is my last year and have told my immediate supervisor that. He said he wished he had enough time in to retire himself! I know that last couple of mechanics who left other branches of the company did not have anyone in house ready to step in to take their place. I don't think it would be easy for someone new to just walk in an take over. Most all places in the company rely heavily on one guy knowing things with no real structure to how things are done. Like this winter while I was laid off and the had outside contractor come in and do a 500 hr service on a 980K. No one knew how to fill out the labels for the oil samples! Once I got back I had to contact the lab and have them make corrections to the information to get the reports back in the right format to have them show in the records for the machine.

    It just amazes me when I get asked where someone can find something as simple as a -08 JIC to 1/2 male pipe adapter. I really don't think anyone where I work would know what one looked like if someone asked them to get one. They just come to me and hand me something and say would we have anything like this?
     
  20. theironoracle

    theironoracle Senior Member

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    I have written on this subject a few times in HEF. The problem is a mechanic must have knowledge and responsibility equivalent to any manager in a company and there compensation is more comparable to an operator! I would like some union guys to post in this thread. Do the union shops have harder times filling mechanic positions than operator positions? Is compensation comparable? From my selfish perspective as an independent field mechanic I am totally ok with lack of people coming into the business, every time I hear of people not being able to fill mechanic positions I raise my rates.....TIO