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Growing pains

Started by RandyOnR3, February 02, 2012, 03:47:47 pm

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Quote from: RandyOnR3 on February 04, 2012, 03:15:19 am
Quote from: hidebound on February 04, 2012, 02:53:18 am
     I might be wrong but I think what Bobbin meant is if she were the employee she would be looking for the door.

As for myself as soon as I felt that the boss thought I was a piece of meat to be paid for my work and nothing more I would find that door quickly.

  and as an employee, why would you expect anything more than a good wage for the work you do.. and only that.. This guy dosent need to know how I run my business..

Um.... because I'm making you 3-4k a week? I realize you're making much more profit from me than I'm receiving in a weekly wage. I will work hard for my wage. I will work harder for bonuses. You treat me like meat, ie belittle my skills, petty tool gripes, unfounded attacks on speed of work- I'm gone with Bobbin.

The boss and I had a big fight a couple of years ago. Almost ended with divorce. He, who had been distancing himself from the shop (as you want to do) would come back in and flex his tyrant muscle. Typically it was in the spring, doing year end and sitting on recievables, he would come in to rang on us that we were working to slow, and doing everything the wrong way, and the shop was to messy.

Well, if he wants to be gone (he's been in Mexico the last 4 weeks) he'll have to put up with how things get done when he's not there. This fight was hinged around me using fish scales to tension frame work ("I've been doing it....30yrs.... I've taught x# of people to make boat tops ect ect) In the end he came to peice with the fact that if he wants the business to run itself, he'll have to put up with the fact that the business may not run itself the way he would want it too. If I require fish scales to build a perfect boat top why should he care, drinking daquries in Mexico?

Its been a while andI'll need a raise soon. When's the last time you gave him one? Or a cup of coffee? Or (more important) a pat on the back? I will bust ass for the corporation, and I know the corporation needs to make money before I do, but I need to get mine. If I'm getting flak from boss man while I'm trying to make a corporate buck.......
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Quoteand as an employee, why would you expect anything more than a good wage for the work you do.. and only that.. This guy dosent need to know how I run my business..

As an employee I expect contributions to the success of the business to be recoginized. Not only financialy but in ways that make me feel a part of the team, because every employee has a vested interest in the success of the company.

QuoteWould you rather have a boss that treats you like a "piece of meat", but pays well?
Or would you rather have one that treats you with the utmost respect, highly values your opinion, even lets you make executive decisions, but pays poorly?

I want to be compensated fairly for the work I do. I also require respect for my abilities.

If I am as good at my job as this guy obviously is I would expect my opinon to be valued with respect to the day to day mechanics of my job. I would not offer an opinion on the business aspects unless asked.

As an employee I have to understand that the sole responsibility for the success or failure of the business rest squarely on the shoulders of the owner/ manager, and the final decisions has to be his and must also be respected. Respect is a 2 way street.

On the flip side as an employer I would have no interest in an employee who only cared about being highly compensated for his work but took no interest inthe overall success or failure of the business.


Quote from: hidebound on February 04, 2012, 12:57:25 pm
QuoteWould you rather have a boss that treats you like a "piece of meat", but pays well?
Or would you rather have one that treats you with the utmost respect, highly values your opinion, even lets you make executive decisions, but pays poorly?

I want to be compensated fairly for the work I do. I also require respect for my abilities.
OK, the first rule of hypotheticals is: You must choose from the options as they are presented. You can't "tweak" them by selecting the best of both. :D

Randy: I hope that you'll give us more info to work with. So far, the sentiment is leaning toward your canvas guy.
"Perfection is the greatest enemy of profitability" - Mark Cuban


If I have to follow the rule of hypotheticals, the short answer is neither.


Quote from: hidebound on February 04, 2012, 01:40:41 pm
If I have to follow the rule of hypotheticals, the short answer is neither.
Second rule: You can't choose "neither".
Hypotheticals are specially designed to make you crazy.  :-\
"Perfection is the greatest enemy of profitability" - Mark Cuban


You sound like my boss Sofadoc. Rules, rules rules  ;D

The rules exclude a common sense approach to the problem.


   A little more info......
 as I said, my reason for bringing someone in was to able me to somewhat retire from the hard action work done from day to day..
  As a shop owner and many will agree, you dont make alot of money, even thou it looks like it.. overhead eats up a major part, from insurance, workers comp, phones, and the lease on the building..
  My goal is to go back to the custom work that made our business in the first place and leave the production work to someone else..

  So we break from our norm and hire someone.. actually we've gone throu 10 to 15 people over the last couple of years.. our work and reputation is the best around and so is the pay..
   My canvas Guy makes 35 dollars an hour and full medical..
I'm a bit anel about the work leaving the shop so you better be showing me the best you can do and giving me 110% when you walk throu the door..
  My issues are NOT with the work he is doing.. Its with his attitude.. There isnt anything I'm doing around the shop that he has'nt done better,  faster, or more effective than I..
 a good example,
More times than I can count, he's brought up the idea of stocking rolls of fabric and remodeling the shop to handle the stock.. and each time, I say thats not the way we do things around here..
and my reasoning which I.ve explained was that all our fabric is only one day away, from TriVantage, and no stock is needed.
so he comes back and says that if a quick job comes in, the fabric is at hand and he can knock it out and make some good funds..
  so in my mind and with business sence, I'm thinking we've got 10k in fabric stock in different colors for the breff chance that someone will come in and want something done that day..I dont think so..
so I'm walking a fine line, as I dont want to mouth off to the guy and say that If I ran my business like he did, we'd go under, and because I've not only been able to survive this economy but I've been able to grow while others have closed their doors, I must be dooing something right..
 Another example,
He came in earlier this week and said he was taking Saturday morning off to go bid on a fleet of houseboats over 100 miles away.. I told him taking off was fine and I wished him luck in getting the job done.. as he was,nt going to bring the work in here..
He acted pushed out of shape but experance has shown me that fleet work has to be bid at the closest margin and one screwup where you have to return to the job and you,ve lost your tail.. and besides that, we are in an up scale marina, charging hight price for custom work, with over 3000 boats within a 3 mile area, 4oo in ourr marina just across the parking lot so there is no reason to leave and drive 100 miles away.. and besides, its the start of the year and we're already booking jobs 3 mounths out.. we dont need a fleet of houseboats..
 So again, I in an uncomfortable position because I have to explain to an employee that I run a sucessfull business and dont need him to take any more part than to set behind the machine and do what I hired him to do..
 Sorry for the ramble.....  


February 04, 2012, 02:51:44 pm #22 Last Edit: February 04, 2012, 02:56:23 pm by jojo
See, this is why I work for myself now. We've all seen Peppy's work. It's excellent. So wtf difference does it make how he does it if the end result is perfect?
The last guy I worked for was so controlling he tried to tell me where to put my pencil down after drawing a line on the canvas. Yep, he looked over my shoulder as if I didn't know how to read a ruler. I left at lunchtime and never came back. Best decision I ever made.
Randy, just read your last post. Yeah, he does sound pushy. Sounds like he needs to take a stab at owning his own shop again.


February 04, 2012, 03:47:58 pm #23 Last Edit: February 05, 2012, 01:58:55 am by DB
As a reader of this discussion does  "not" make me an expert.

The employee is showing an inordinate focus of changing the business plan, why is the question for him, not the employer.

The employer is paying the employee very well to do canvas, not get involved with the business operations, again business plan.  Again, as a reader, I am not an expert.  But run this data in front of jury and it is not a solid guilty on the employer.

As a side comment, the employee could still have dreams of doing his own business, which could explain what appears his emotions.  

If I were the employee, I would not see any problem with supporting this business owners plan.  

I purposely don't use anologies to describe a relationship, they can quickly shade the understanding of the reader.

Randy thanks for sharing, but you are the closest to the problem, definitely not a reader and the best suited to handle the situation going forward.  For example don't read what we say as justifying a business decision.

You can answer the issue brought up regarding communication expectations to the employees.  Those are important but that does not mean you aren't managing the important requirements.  Only you and your wife might throw that around?

Based on the information at hand, probably nothing will change, the employee might continue to over focus on business decisions but would be a fool to walk away from the pay and his benefits, especially for something that might not be as real.

Good luck for Randy and the employee.



QuoteMy canvas Guy makes 35 dollars an hour and full medical..

Well shut my mouth! And he should shut his! It does sound like he's having dreams of his old shop and being the big man.

As an employee, I get certain advantages over the boss. I get paid no matter what. (I love my boss and the shop, but it's about the money honey.) It isn't my worry when the furnace breaks, or the taxes are due or ect ect. But I'm also the hired hand. The boss is the boss. My job is to produce the work, how that gets done shouldn't be his problem as long as it's done to his standard. How the boss gets the jobs isn't my concern as long as the work keeps coming. I offer my opinion often, but I'm not surprised when it's often ignored. Customers frequently come to me with work and I show them the front door of the shop. For the shop to run efficiently the work should flow through proper channels. If five people are quoting work things work will get double booked, jobs will get forgotten, customers will get angry, everyone will suffer (don't ask how I know). Too many chiefs, not enough indians. Managers should manage, workers should work, and customers should pay.

Maybe he feels he could run the shop better than you, and maybe he could. But unless you decide to let him, he should get back to work.

Personally, I agree with your view of mass production. To be profitable you need to make it so crappy that it'll hurt your reputation as a Quality Custom Canvas fabricator.

***please treat this free advice as you would all other pseudo-annonymus advice you'd find on the internet, meaning worthless***
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Randy, you pay him very well.  He is doing excellent work for your customers. This guy sees himself as much more than just an employee.  He's having some difficulty stepping out of his business owner's shoes and into the shoes of "just" an employee and maybe you need to have a heart to heart with him and as all of us on here have agreed, set some boundaries.  It's definitely your call what gets ordered and when and how much but he has a need to feel a part of your business and some appreciation for his contribution to your success.  I don't think you want to completely shut him out and have him be nothing but a cog in the wheel.  If he comes up with a new method or tool to save time or materials, you need him to feel free to discuss it.  On the other hand, certain business operations remain your domain, not his.  

When he comes up with some comment or suggestion that you believe is not in his domain, take a few minutes to explain your rationale, not just some comment to the fact that you're the business owner and you've decided that's the way it's going to be.  With his desire to have you keep stock of fabrics you might not use for years to come, I'd sit down with him and do the math with his input.  

 - How many jobs does he think you lose because the fabric is a day away
 - What would be the carrying cost of x yards of fabric in stock for x months/years
 - What are the possible opportunity costs of having $$ tied up in fabric

He's not privy to your cash position and he doesn't need to be.  But he does need to understand where you're coming from when you shut down one of his ideas.  I'd encourage him to keep coming with the ideas for improving the business, but make it clear that inventory levels are "off the table" when it comes to discussion.  If he ever can't complete a job on time because you ran out of something that he told you to order, then he has a valid argument.  Make him a friendly wager (if he doesn't understand your math), bet him lunch that you'll never lose a customer (or tick them off) because you couldn't deliver on time due to short stock.  

As a former employee, I know that employee "buy-in" is critical to company success.  As a business owner, I also know that managing cash flow and employee productivity is critical to company success.  As someone with an accounting degree and a former career working with fortune 500 companies on implementing just-in-time manufacturing ERP systems, I know what it can cost to have too-much of the wrong stock.  I also know what it costs to have production shut down.  

A little aside: at one auto company I worked with, each and every employee on the manufacturing line had the ability and authority to shut down the line if they saw a quality problem or something wrong coming into their workstation.  They also knew that pushing that button would cost the company $28,000 a minute.  No, that's not a misprint.  That working environment empowered them and gave each employee a HUGE responsibility.  It also ensured a quality product out the door.  

"Horse sense is the thing a horse has which keeps it from betting on people."

     W. C. Fields


   Think I  might have solved the problem, or dumped a bigger can of worms on the pile....
    The wife and I have been going around about this for a few days now without any solution between us but have come up with something that might work..
    But befor that I must tell you that I had a nice calm talk with him, about the corrections that needed to be done on an inclosure and then softly told him that the business was mine, had run good befor he came along and was opperating according to a business plan and even thou I apreciated his input, the business would stay the same...
    Boy did that go over good... He copped an attitude after I told him we had worked to hard for the business to fail and we've put our life into it to make it work.. he mouthed of a couple things and went to work again..
   Later on I walked in and found him setting behind the sewing machine doing nothing , and he said he wasnt going to go any further until I Ok-ed the top I had found problems on..  so he's using the isues against me, so now i have to go out and inspect every little thing at his request ..
   He's now taking me away from my work..
But I found a solution... I talked it over with my wife and now made her manager of the shop.. Shes a business major and knows her stuff.. she can deal with his attitude and I can go back to doing what I like to do, building custom work..
Problem solved......................


He'll get over it. Especially when he realizes he's never going to find another job with that kind of pay and benefits.


A few years ago I had one employee in a satellite shop, and two employees working for me in the main shop. Plus my wife doing the bookwork/business side of things. That's when quality sunk and I didn't get to touch a project. I was too busy making sure they didn't screw things up. And I wasn't overly controlling, I just wasn't seeing the shop produce the quality that it should. It is also the one time I totally blew my top and yelled at the two guys in my shop because it just wasn't working out.

Nowadays, I have one employee who is also a long-time friend and as devoted to PRO Stitch's success as I am. He sells us whenever he can. Today, for example, he was getting his hair cut and talking to the stylist about a chair he'd already sold her on. In the process, he sold another patron on a headliner and actually went to another person's house afterwards to take rocker cushions and brought them out. And this was on his day off!!

Yet, there are days when I want to kill him. He will bite off more than he can chew with a project sometimes. If it will be a learning experience to let him mess up but not cost me money in materials, I will let him. He is a hands-on learner. But, if I see disaster looming, he will listen to me when I tell him "Do it exactly how I say, because I've already screwed things up trying it other ways, and you need to listen to what I'm telling you."

He is almost obsessive/compulsive about picking up and stacking things. i'll lay a tool down to move a project or do another part of it, and he'll take the tool and put it away. Then I'm stuck looking around. It's simply a matter of weighing the good with the bad and realizing that his presence in the shop is an overall plus, and I have to bite the bullet and let things happen the way they will.

Bottom line, though, no matter how good he is or how we get along, it is my shop, my mortgage and my name on everything that rolls out of here. It isn't necessarily done my way, but it is done to my expectations. We both undersatnd this, realize it, and accept it.

Sew what???


Pretty simple solution.... When the investment is all yours and the risks rest squarely on your shoulders then you have the final word. When an employee starts believing they can run your operation better then you.....well....then it is clear that employees ego is writing checks his ass cannot cash. From there it can be a a real fast downhill slide as your seeing with childish behavior.

believe it or not as part of my marketing duties I used to project manage energy projects which included a team of techs, engineers and field support personnel. I was the liaison between clients and our company. It was just the way things were done by our company. After a couple projects together with my team they learned my managing style. I basically told them I could give a rats ass how they went about their work and for all I cared they could do their work at a desk inside a strip club. But they knew I had  stringent rules for my projects 1.) The project came in on time 2.) the project came in on budget 3.) the project met the quality standards as outlined before the job began. I then concluded my speech with - if you do not meet these demands your ass is grass and I am the lawn mower. Thankfully none did their work from a strip club though there were a couple  late night strategy sessions / meetings that took place there. :)

I never micro managed them nor did I hold their hands. I never told them how to do their work, when and where. I allowed them to manage their own work and held them accountable.

The one thing I have learned about managing employees is to sit down, have meetings, discuss things and listen to their suggestions ( and complaints ). You then adapt yourself to your workforce and the most important part of the equation is getting the employee Buy In. Make them feel as if they are a major part of your success and be sure to share those successes with them. The entire goal is production time - costs - quality. Why should the business owner care how their employees meet these goals as long as they are met ?

You have never worked with and managed a harder group of people then technicians and engineers. Their egos can be amazing and their ability to think outside the box ( and throw aside their textbooks and professors laws of engineering and BS theory ) can be very difficult.

I always allowed my teams to do whatever they wanted in regards to their own work. But I never allowed them to run or control my projects. There is a difference. The ultimate responsibility fell on my shoulders and it was my rear end that was going to lose its hide if the projects didn't meet all expectations.