Do I Owe My Employees a Career Path?

as sales pick up, i’ve been trying to build our production capacity proportionally. this has been hard for me to accomplish in the past. during the last big expansion, between 2003 and 2008, i found myself in the position of hiring willy-nilly, throwing warm bodies at production bottlenecks. in the rush to get work out the door, we never set up a training program and we didn’t do a good job of increasing productivity with technology. this was a disastrous mistake. more than anything else, an inflated payroll drained cash from the company and kept us from making a we ramp up again, i’m doing it differently. it’s become apparent to me over the years that the key to a highly productive work force is training and specialization. on the shop floor, that means that the guys are doing a narrower range of things. we don’t make all kinds of furniture any more — now it’s conference tables and more conference tables, with a credenza or two thrown in.and the work is being segmented further: we have one guy who does bases, three who do tops, and a foreman who runs the cnc milling machine and coordinates everyone else. the finisher applies all the finishes, and there is a guy who maintains machines, keeps the place clean, packs finished pieces on pallets, and runs the shipping operation. in the office there is one engineer, one salesman and me.


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