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Lack of skilled labor in sofl

Discussion in 'General Yachting Discussion' started by Pascal, Aug 15, 2020.

  1. Pascal

    Pascal Senior Member

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  2. YachtForums

    YachtForums Administrator

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    This was the downfall of the resurrection of Broward Yachts by Tom Lewis. They struggled to find good help. I remember being onboard the new 120' at the yard watching workers bump walls as they carried interior joinery pieces. They spent more time fixing mistakes than building the boat.
  3. chesapeake46

    chesapeake46 Senior Member

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    It is not just the Marine industry.
  4. olderboater

    olderboater Senior Member

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    That article was what one person was saying based on visiting four yards. I always hear about problems finding good and qualified employees but never have issues. If you're looking for the bottom 20% and paying that way then you'll have issues but looking for the best (even best candidates at entry level) and paying reasonable, you'll be successful. There are yards having trouble finding them but yards I know of in Broward and Palm Beach that are able to keep good employees.

    The industry does a lousy job of making itself attractive and creating good career paths. I heard someone make a statement they couldn't find entry level people and interns because Walmart paid more. Well, the problem is obvious, as is the solution. It's not Walmart, it's them and a refusal to pay and provide benefits to attract good people.

    There was a time that local employers and small businesses were more attractive than big employers. However, today, many don't offer the salaries or benefits that Walmart and Target offer. Offering equivalent to them must be the absolutely bottom level and starting place. If you can't do it profitably, then you have another problem since they can. Since the country and the states don't have a reasonable minimum wage or benefits requirements in our opinion, we use Walmart and Target as the minimum and when they raise starting wages or they add benefits, we do the same. They raise wages and we do the same if we don't feel we're still adequate comparatively. They added the $1 a day education through Guild Education and even though we had other education assistance we added that program ourselves in less than a week.

    If you can't find people then train them and do what it takes to keep them.
  5. Pascal

    Pascal Senior Member

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    If health insurance costs had not been skyrocketing for the last 8 years maybe more small businesses could afford to offer it to their employees. Liability insurance has been going thru the roof too, regulations and property tax as well. All that takes a toll. When a yard can’t charge more for a service they ve got to contain costs. Not every business. Has the option to increase their labor costs.

    I don’t think wages and benefits is the only issue here. The issue is that kids are being pushed into the collage scam, many getting useless degrees when they can find much better paying jobs in the marine industry and other sectors. Now of course it is hard to indoctrinate students in trade schools whereas it’s much easier to brain wash them in the course of a liberal art degree
  6. chesapeake46

    chesapeake46 Senior Member

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    OB, I am curious what your hire ratio is.
    not how many apply so much as how many cut it after being hired.
    We are at about 7 to 1
    It's not the pay scale or the benefits, its the new hires actual ability/attitude that sinks them usually.
    I am assuming a lot here but I think your hires in retail need good people skills, organisational skills.
    In manufacturing they would need a trade skill or another plus good work ethics.
  7. chesapeake46

    chesapeake46 Senior Member

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    Agreed and many/most would rather work in AC all day, not in a new home or a bucket truck or a factory.
  8. bayoubud

    bayoubud Senior Member

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    Whenever we bought a boat in SE Florida I would get the work done in the Stuart/Ft. Pierce area, not at the Lauderdale area or northern Gulf Coast. There was plenty of qualified personnel there two years ago after buying our current boat, the cost was noticeably less based on the quotes we had.
  9. RER

    RER Senior Member

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    We valued work ethic over trade skill/experience. For years my direct labor workforce was around 100 manufacturing employees. We reduced our workforce and actually saved money by paying higher wages. We were willing to pay more for a good work ethic and positive mental attitude. Got better productivity from 70 employees than we did from 100.

    One thing I always did was recruit new hires from good employees. We had a number of families with 2, 3 or even 4 people working for us. I have found that a good work ethic usually runs in families.

    Anyway back to the marine business today. In southern California the rates for a skilled boat-right, marine mechanic or electrician, etc is surpassing $125 per hour. Both corporate and independent. And you are lucky to get a call back for service.

    As for the unskilled, a boat washer can make $300-$350 per day ...over $1500 per week. And it's almost impossible to find a decent one with time to take on a new account.

    Since the beginning of 2020 I've seen a number of boatyards raise their rates substantially. Haul out rates have increased over 50%. They are bursting at the seems with work.
  10. olderboater

    olderboater Senior Member

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    It's a most interesting subject. We put a lot of emphasis in our hiring procedures as well as training. We consider failure to retain employees and turnover to be failures on our part, rather than the employees. Either we hired the wrong person or we failed to train and failed to assist them.

    An indictment of US employers is that in the US, retail has a turnover rate of over 50% and manufacturing about 25%. In the UK, by comparison, turnover rates are under 10%. Most of Europe is similar. This is partly their business culture but also a great deal due to regulation. Our "Employee at Will" laws do not exist elsewhere.

    We measure 2 ratios, turnover rate which is simply the number of employees to leave divided by the average number of employees and stability or retention rate which is the percentage of employees at the start of a year to still be there at the end.

    We measure these for four groups. Management employees, hourly retail employees, hourly retail employees excluding students, hourly manufacturing employees. We include all reasons in the calculations so that includes those we terminate, those to leave voluntarily, those to retire, because regardless of the reason there's a cost to us.

    There are certain minimums that are unavoidable and even good. For instance, retirement should give you 2.5-3.0% turnover by itself. We're lower but only because we have younger employees and so don't consider that an accomplishment. Students typically are expected to work only one year to three years so by nature are likely to have 50-80% turnover.

    In 2019, our rates were:

    Management Turnover 2%, Retention 98%
    Retail with students turnover 10% Retention 93%
    Retail without students turnover 9% Retention 94%
    Manufacturing turnover 4% Retention 97%.

    There are dangers if the turnover rates are too low and consultants would say ours are dangerously close and that is becoming known as a company with no consequences to failure to perform. If a company has no terminations, then they're refusing to address their mistakes.

    Our retention reflects that we are less that 8 years old as a company and have steadily been hiring. Only 25% of our employees on 12/31/19 had over four years. This will be even more distorted after 2020 as we're increasing our number of employees by 30% in 2020 vs, 12/31/19. This was partially planned and more a defensive measure during the pandemic.

    Since this started from talk of shipyards, I am going to toss out where I think they should be and where I imagine they are.

    I suspect their turnover rates are 40-50% and their retention rates 70% or so. This reflects a lot of churning at the lower end. They often treat the helper and trainee as a commodity where if this one doesn't work we just grab another. They don't invest in them from careful hiring to training and education to benefits that help retain. They do nothing to distinguish themselves from other yards.

    I believe their turnover rates should be around 20% with retention rates of over 90%. I also know of yards achieving those rates. You see the same people you've dealt with before at all levels and the guy who was a helper four years ago and an apprentice 2 years ago is now a mechanic or other professional.

    On our boating side of things we have 15 employees today. In 8 years, going from 2 to 15 employees we have only lost 1 full-time and 1 part-time employee. The fulltime was a mechanic's helper who went to school while working for us and is now working at a yard. The part-time was our "daughter" who worked while going to college and grad school and is now running our foundation. However, we have 4 people who we know will likely retire or drastically reduce their workload in 2021 or 2022. We have hired and built their ultimate replacements but will need to hire new people at entry levels.

    In manufacturing it's easy to measure training cost as it's 8 to 32 weeks of time and therefore 4 to 16 weeks of pay depending on the job. In retail and management it's more difficult. I cannot tell you concretely what we save through lack of turnover. What I can tell you is this. Our sales per square foot are much higher than other similar stores, our sales per employee dollar are significantly higher, our losses on pilferage by customers and/or employees are miniscule compared to other retailers. Experienced, well-trained, and happy employees very simply, just do it better.

    I see mentioned often our not training for skilled non-college positions. Well, I agree our goals should be to train for the workforce and in much of it that is a four year college program, but in the rest it is technical training typically of 2 years duration. I still consider that a form of "college" just not a liberal arts education. I will note here Guild Education which is the program Walmart uses heavily and we also use as just one option has added Skilled Trades Programs in Industrial and Facilities Maintenance, Electrical, Plumbing, Construction, and HVAC/R. I've heard them asked, "But aren't you just training people to work elsewhere?" The assumption is when someone gets a BS in Business Administration from the University of Florida or a BS in Computer Science or they get a BS in Health Science or they get a Residential Electrician Career Diploma they'll leave. Many will but they serve as inspiration for others and incentive to come to work for you. We've paid for the educations now of Psychologists and Nurses, of Teachers. We have one student now in Law School that we're paying for. They never completely go though as they tell others and recommend you. Meanwhile they were tied to you for 4 to 8 years while getting their education. Last, many of them remain part time employees and others become your seasonal employees. All in all, it's a win win situation.
  11. NYCAP123

    NYCAP123 Senior Member

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    Of course they can charge more for their service. They have to (or they can cut their profit margin). If an employer can't afford to pay a living wage that also enables their employees to have health insurance, (especially in the current situation) then they have no business being in business. It's that simply. Close up and then go become someone else's employee. Tell them you don't need to make enough to pay your mortgage and don't mind if your next stop in an ER bankrupts you, and I'm sure you'll have no trouble finding a job.
  12. Pascal

    Pascal Senior Member

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    If health insurance cost had not been going thru the roof since the not so affordable health care act, it wouldnt be a problem.

    maybe employers should also pay their employees car insurance since they use their cars to commute to work...
  13. NYCAP123

    NYCAP123 Senior Member

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    I'm surprised to hear you endorse Bernie's plan of Universal Health Care. :D Or are you suggesting that the government regulate insurance premiums? Sounds very liberal of you.:rolleyes:
  14. Pascal

    Pascal Senior Member

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    You don’t think that government regulate insurance premiums? Like by imposing unneeded coverage? Like by premiums being based on income ? My premium is 4 times my girlfriends because I make a little more money. Got news for you: socialized medecine is here already. Some of us pay for others.
  15. Slimshady

    Slimshady Member

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    Of the hundreds of business owners I speak with yearly, many I've known for decades. Old boater is the only one who doesn't have a problem finding good skilled workers. Hmmm I must not be hanging with the right crowd.
  16. MBevins

    MBevins Senior Member

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    How many of olderboaters employees are under 30?
  17. Norseman

    Norseman Senior Member

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    I am happy to pay 110%, then dole out bonuses if I can find the right boat/diesel mechanic:
    Had a guy for 10 years, Dermot @ Seagoing Services, but he retired back to the UK 12 years ago. o_O
    Then a broker friend recommended Ian from the islands, a very big and very black guy who worked for the charter companies in the Caribbean before he came to Fort Lauderdale and set up shop here, great knowledge and quality work.
    Used him on my own boat and on client’s boats many times, everybody was happy paying full price for good work.
    Then he had a hearth attack and passed away a few years ago, miss him and his big smile. :(
    Now I need another another independent mechanic for odd jobs. (Used the local Yanmar dealer, they sent a good mechanic for the 1,000 hour service, but screwed me on part prices: Got verbal quotes for like $180.00 for a belt tensioner, plus installation, $480 for a mixer elbow, plus installation, etc.
    All good.
    When all the parts were installed and I stopped by to pay the final bill, the tensioner was $280, the exhaust elbow $540, etc.
    I protested, but did not have a written quote, just a verbal, which meant nothing as the clerk gave me attitude and suggested I tried to pull a fast one to get the bill down. :rolleyes:
    I paid the whole thing and walked away, not using the outfit again, but the mechanic was good. (Ask for written parts estimates if doing business with Complete Yacht Services)
    Now I have a vibration problem at idle, possible engine-mount problems, should not have to run to a yard for diagnostics, anybody know a good mechanic who can bring his
    Equipment and go for a short ride to check the engine-mounts on a Yanmar 6LP-STE?
    (Good pay for a qualified mechanic, but too many red necks with a tool box who claim they are Master Marine Mechanics. :confused:)
    Last edited: Aug 16, 2020
  18. jsschieff

    jsschieff Senior Member

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    I ran a business in New England that made high-end, custom home decor products. We needed skilled craftspeople with sewing, painting, woodworking and welding skills. I tried over and over to hire Americans, often graduates of local craft schools. Over and over I fired them -- they were unreliable, lazy, complainers and smoked weed constantly. Our core group of employees were Asian-born -- Chinese, Vietnamese, Cambodians mostly. Fine people, hard workers, we paid them very well and provided generous health benefits. Finding good, skilled technical and crafts people is incredibly hard in the USA now.

    Over the years many of our skilled subcontractors disappeared -- small plating firms were driven out of business by environmental regulations, people to do intricate gold leafing just retired and no young people picked up the trade. It became harder and harder to buy manufacturing supplies we needed because so much manufacturing has been off-shored and distributors and dealers for our supplies just closed their doors.
  19. olderboater

    olderboater Senior Member

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    Approximately 3000 of them are.
  20. bayoubud

    bayoubud Senior Member

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    We have commercial trade tenants, contractors, and subcontractors. No retail. All are having problems hiring qualified help including the marine contractors I know. Of course, it was that way 20 years ago when I was a contractor. We were in a specialty trade which made it hard to find experienced help. No doubt it is getting harder to find experienced employees that don't mind sweating and getting their hands dirty, including entry-level trainees. That's why companies are working hard on AI to make up for workforce shortages. I doubt businesses will be able to keep up with government mandates and labor benefit demands at the rate it is going, it all sounds good until you calculate the cost.