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Welcome to Machining, Kris

Reading MMS’s encouragement to hire employees lacking in machining skills, this shop manager did exactly that. Now more than two months in, a new hire with a great attitude is succeeding at a CNC machining center.
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Modern Machine Shop recently devoted a cover story to the idea of hiring employees for personal strengths rather than manufacturing skills. The skills can be taught, but character and a good fit with the culture of the company cannot. Bob Bussey, manufacturing director of Excelsior Marking, sent me an email recently to say he had read that article and taken it to heart.

“I hired someone who knew nothing about machining,” he wrote. “He’s been employed with us over two months now and is doing very well operating a Haas Mini Mill,” one of five CNC machines in the shop. Mr. Bussey said the idea that a person with desire but lacking machining skills could begin to succeed in machining made sense to him, because he himself began to learn about manufacturing in his father’s tool and template shop when he was completely unskilled at 14 years old.

The new employee Excelsior hired and began to train is Kris Porter. Mr. Porter had previously worked in warehousing and for an insulation company. He also had worked near to skilled manufacturing with a previous employer, initially helping with preventative maintenance, then being moved into a role of tool crib superintendent.

However, given the lack of credentials or direct experience in CNC machining, Mr. Bussey had to evaluate this prospective hire according to other criteria. He says these are some of the valuable traits he saw in Mr. Porter before hiring him or just after he began to work:

  1. He is friendly, Mr. Bussey says—not argumentative or convinced he’s right.
  2. He wants to learn.
  3. He is teachable. Company leaders saw this in his first week on the job, when he took interest in a Basics of Machining class they had him take through Mastercam University. Excelsior has also supplied him with a self-study mathematics book, which he has been using to develop the math skills pertinent to his job.
  4. In the efficiency of his performance at the machine, he shows regular improvement.
  5. He is flexible about working overtime.
  6. He is also grateful for the opportunity. To Mr. Bussey, this means a lot. He values manufacturing and wants to share it with those who see the same value in it he does.

The biggest factor that led to Mr. Porter’s new job was Mr. Porter. But to read the article that contributed to his opportunity, go here.

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