By Lloyd Graff
The most stunning conclusion I reached from the Precision Machined Products Association (PMPA) Management Update Conference last weekend in Phoenix is that the precision machining operations business is good right now. Whether it was the automotive contingent, the aerospace guys from the coasts, the mixed baggers, the brassers or the ammo and firearms suppliers, the PMPAers were generally happy. What a change from a year ago.
The PMPA’s statistics show the same reflection of business. Sales levels are still off peak levels but profits are solid because of significant gains in productivity. The pruning effect was referred to by almost everybody I talked to. Weak employees have been shed. Processes have been sharpened. Companies are lean and hungry.
Contrary to the idea that nobody is hiring, the folks in Phoenix were looking. What they were seeking is youth and energy. Skills are a plus but they can be developed. We are at a point in the business cycle where you can find smart eager young people who are ok with starting out on the cheap and working their way up.
Dave Knuepfer of DuPage Machined Products outside of Chicago is hiring high school kids as interns hoping one out of three will stick. Ron Bracalente of Bracalente Manufacturing in Trumbauersville, Pa., is hiring engineers out of school for $13 per hour and fast tracking them up the pay scale if they can cut it.
Precision Machining is shedding its old skin coming out of this recession. The focus in Phoenix was not about adding machine capacity, it was about acquiring young talent during one of those rare windows of opportunity.
Question: Are you using this period to acquire young talent?