“Top Shops” Human Resources Honoree Offers Two Creative Tips for Employee Prospecting

Go to where you might discover the candidates who could turn into strong players in your shop. You have to plant seeds, the shop owner says.

Matt Guse, owner of MRS Machining, was the only leader from among the four “Top Shops” honorees not able to make it to the recent Top Shops Conference to accept an award on behalf of his shop. And the reason he couldn’t make it relates to why his shop was honored. While the conference was taking place, Mr. Guse had football games to officiate.

MRS Machining is a job shop in Augusta, Wisconsin. MMS’s Top Shops benchmarking program honored the shop this year for the efforts it has made in human resources. Augusta is a rural community in which Mr. Guse is challenged to find prospective employees with skills or aptitude for manufacturing and the right personal strengths who might consider a career in CNC machining. He rises to that challenge by being proactive and creative about finding promising talent. He is a supporter of Cardinal Manufacturing and has even helped to advance manufacturing by serving on the school board. More recently, he has seen success with these two quieter measures that he passes along:

1. Referee high school football games. Or even junior high games, he says. Schools generally welcome capable refs. And volunteering to officiate in this way is a great way to get to know the kids, to talk to them and learn some of their interests. Watching them in sports also reveals clues about their attention, teamwork and character.

“You’ve got to plant a seed,” Mr. Guse says. It takes time and commitment. But sometimes his conversations with football players spark their interest in the work of his shop. In those cases, he says, “I give them my business card and sometimes I hear back.”

2. Eat at Culver’s. Mr. Guse says this particular restaurant chain is very good at developing soft skills in its employees, particularly skills related to work ethic and courtesy. He can teach the hard skills related to manufacturing and machining as long as the soft skills are there as a foundation on which to build.

The restaurant chain does not pay benefits that are as generous as MRS, he says. That has proven to be a way in. If he sees potential and interest in an employee of the restaurant, he can talk about the value of forms of compensation in addition to wages. That argument proved effective in the case of Chris Glenz (pictured above), the former Culver’s employee now working in MRS’s sawing department, where he oversees metal stock inventory rather than tables of diners.