Triumph of the “Glue People”

By Lloyd Graff

Greg Mullins is a “glue person.” He is one of the thousands of skilled vagabonds who hit the road every day so the modern world holds together.

Greg’s specialty is 10- to 20-year-old semiconductor-making machinery, particularly equipment made by GCA Corporation, which is out of business now. It is still found in a lot of defense industry plants and military bases.

Greg is well paid. His services sell for $275 per hour, plus travel. He also earns a healthy per diem, which eases the pain of constant travel. He has been in the field since 1980 and possesses that combination of experience and tenacity that make him well worth the money to companies with breakdowns. He works for a small company named RZ Enterprises, which makes a market in used machinery in this arcane field and offers turnkey packages for special projects.

So when the Fanuc serviceman wants $145 per hour to reprogram your CNC control whose memory just had a senior moment, do not fret too much. You are paying for the crucial intellectual property that keeps things running in our dumb technological world.

The “glue people” give us insight into the way business works today. The hamburger maker at McDonald’s is worth $8 per hour. The CNC operator might get $15 and the shop foreman $25. But the person or firm with the real pricing power knows the secret codes, owns and understands the wiring diagrams and has the experience to diagnose problems across several specialties. Does this tell you something about how you run your business?

Question: Is the Fanuc serviceman worth $145 per hour plus travel to you? Do you have a better alternative?

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