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Missing Out on Some Valuable Talent

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By Joe Novak

When I started my manufacturing company back in 1986, I had no manufacturing experience and even less machining skills, having been a salesman most of my working life. I knew what I wanted to manufacture as an end product, but getting to that was going to be difficult if not impossible for a total novice. I was so naïve that it never dawned on me that I could fail. That probably worked in my favor since I might have given up early in the game had I known the struggles that lie ahead.

When I looked to hire my first employee, I knew I had to hire someone with machining skill since I had none.My first employee was Jim who was 30 years my senior and not only had years of machining experience, he was a patient and wonderful teacher. He taught many of my novice employees the machining skill I am certain they are still using today. If it were not for employees like Jim, I may have never succeeded in business at all. Though he was near retirement age when I hired him, his knowledge, skills and patience were a God send. Jim always kept himself busy making a fixture to hold a part that could then be machined easier, faster or without a mistake. When asked what he was making, he would look up from his work, smile and say, “I am making a Do-Dad.” He named many things in the shop by a peculiar, though fitting name that the other employees soon picked up on and the name stuck. He called calipers stretchy-mikes since you could measure something from 0 to 6 inches by stretching or closing them.

New hires would scratch their heads wondering what it was but soon learned Jim talk. The point I am trying to get across in this article is not to overlook the elderly when hiring. You may feel that brawn and swiftness is what you need, however years of experience will often finish quicker, with better results and under budget. I wish I had three Jims in my shop. He passed away the year I sold the business and I still miss him dearly. To find out what Joe would do, e-mail questions to editor@middlefieldpost.com. Joe has 20-some years experience in manufacturing and says that as a small business owner, he found that you either learn how to solve a problem yourself or pay to have it done. Joe’s articles are his opinion and are only intended as a guide. Please consult an expert when in doubt.

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