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Has Anyone Had Luck With Staffing Agencies?

F35Machinist

Cast Iron
Joined
Nov 3, 2021
Location
California
I recently let go of my only employee and am back to being a solo operator. The labor needs of my business are fairly irregular on account of being high mix low volume work and I am considering using a staffing agency to bring in machine operators. The idea would be to set up two or more machines to be run or 1 machine + deburr so that I can fully utilize one person's labor for a day and to do this maybe a day or two per week. The rest of the time, I would be working on prototype jobs on my own. The cost would be $30/hr for me. The operator would receive $20/hr. Has anyone used staffing agencies in this way? How did it work out?
 
In my experience most staffing agency employees are either unskilled laborers with some issue keeping them from getting permanent work or skilled (supposedly) people looking for a full time job, through the temp to hire path.

sounds like you need to find a retired machinist that wants to work a couple days a week not full time.
 
Based on your prior posts it seems like you’re unlikely to be happy with an employee, particularly a $20 an hour one. Have you looked into automation or other ways to increase your productivity instead?
Yes, I am currently working on improving my productivity and have been making a lot of progress in this area. Automation is not something that I think is for me due to the low volume nature of most of the work.

I am determined to find a worker that will make me more money than they cost me, whether I am "happy" with them or not.
 
Sounds like the perfect way to get a machine crashed. Somebody working as a temp through a staffing agency is unlikely to be good.

I've had part timers, but only for simple clearly defined tasks.

Best bet for a machinist would be to find a guy who has recently retired and wants to dip his toes back in like @MikeBurgess said. But that kind of situation will need to be found through personal connections and a big helping of luck.

Another option is to make yourself faster like @jaguar36 said. But probably with process improvements rather than automation if you're doing high-mix low-volume. Workholding tends to be a big time sink for me on prototypes, so I've spent money on widgets that speed that up.

I've also found that it takes a ton of time to pack, ship, and paper orders. If you've got a bunch of small orders that could be an ideal task for a $20/hr 1 day a week person. But like a high school student who will stick with it for a year or 2.
 
Sounds like the perfect way to get a machine crashed. Somebody working as a temp through a staffing agency is unlikely to be good.

I've had part timers, but only for simple clearly defined tasks.

Best bet for a machinist would be to find a guy who has recently retired and wants to dip his toes back in like @MikeBurgess said. But that kind of situation will need to be found through personal connections and a big helping of luck.

Another option is to make yourself faster like @jaguar36 said. But probably with process improvements rather than automation if you're doing high-mix low-volume. Workholding tends to be a big time sink for me on prototypes, so I've spent money on widgets that speed that up.

I've also found that it takes a ton of time to pack, ship, and paper orders. If you've got a bunch of small orders that could be an ideal task for a $20/hr 1 day a week person. But like a high school student who will stick with it for a year or 2.
This job would be for a machine tender, not a machinist. I can lock out the machine so no changes can be made by the operator and all they do is load parts in and out. I could even include probing cycles to eliminate the risk of misloading. I would have them use a torque wrench for tightening the vise. How would they crash in this scenario aside from misloading the part?

As for the quality of the workers, who know? My cleaning lady is the best worker I've ever met and I pay her next to nothing. She makes the place spotless and takes great pride in her work. I am awestruck every week after she has cleaned. Who is to say that cheaper workers won't be better instead of worse. Some of the worst workers I have met have been highly paid engineers. They did nothing but sit on their asses for years and years with zero or even negative output.
 
This job would be for a machine tender, not a machinist. I can lock out the machine so no changes can be made by the operator and all they do is load parts in and out. I could even include probing cycles to eliminate the risk of misloading. I would have them use a torque wrench for tightening the vise. How would they crash in this scenario aside from misloading the part?

As for the quality of the workers, who know? My cleaning lady is the best worker I've ever met and I pay her next to nothing. She makes the place spotless and takes great pride in her work. I am awestruck every week after she has cleaned. Who is to say that cheaper workers won't be better instead of worse. Some of the worst workers I have met have been highly paid engineers. They did nothing but sit on their asses for years and years with zero or even negative output.
Why don’t you offer her a part time job?
 
Who is to say that cheaper workers won't be better instead of worse.
There's a bit of truth to that. Someone asking for big pay doesn't mean that they're worth anything. But generally people who are good know it and expect to be paid.

It is very difficult to exploit employees, though heaven knows I've tried. Much easier to get people to do things that you can't do, don't want to do, or that yield less value than what you're good at. Like cleaning. Your cleaning lady is already a worker who is making you more money than she costs you. It's just in a roundabout way where she frees you of cleaning.

Have you already offered the button pushing job to your cleaning lady like @jhearons suggested? If she turned it down, have you asked if she knows someone who would do it?

But, before jumping through the hoops to hire a button pusher I'd try eating your own dog food. Set up the program just like you will for the tender and then lock it out. Make sure you yourself can actually run the job for a few hours without needing to use any machinist skills.
 
@F35Machinist

I'm not a shop owner but I'm a shift leader so I have a lot of operators to deal with.

I'd say the biggest indicator is if the person has a strong interest in CNC or not.

My best operators are guys who are taking CNC courses at a local community College.

Also a lot of these younger guys discovered CNC through Titan's videos.

That is my experience. I'd always rather take a guy who has a strong interest in the trade over a more intelligent or more hard working guy who has zero interest.
 
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I haven't done it, but I knew a successful manufacturing business owner who poached employees from the coffee shops. Every morning while getting his coffee he had the opportunity to watch the employees working and to see who was productive. You don't normally get that when interviewing an employee.
 
Depends entirely on the staffing agents experience. My nephew works for a staffing agency filling positions, and he routinely calls me with questions regarding all kinds of machinist - operator - toolmaker openings and resumes he gets to fill the positions. Pretty much a crap shoot, but usually they work for the agency for a while so you get to try then out before putting them on your payroll. We have had better luck advertising on indeed, monster and ZipRecruiter
 
Our production team requires everyone come to us through a staffing agency for 6 months. Even if you knew the production lead at the time, they had to go through the staffing agency. Also, just a heads up, the worker is a "staffing client" not a "temp." We got in trouble for calling one of them a temp.

From the staffing agency, I'd say about 10% of them stay the 6 months. For the most part they're doing the crummy work: paint, deburring, and boxing. Those systems and processes are set up in a way that it takes 20 minutes to train and they can work all day. We have gotten a few machine operators from the staffing agency, and those have been real hit or miss. As the guy who had to build and repair tooling for production for 8 years, I can still tell you the names of the operators that kept me employed during their time here. There have also been a few that have really gravitated towards it, and have even helped me design better systems through their tenure.

The benefit of the staffing agency is if the worker isn't figuring it out, call the agency and tell them not to send him/her again. Wash your hands and start again. We've had a lot of those that we've been able to nip prior to too much damage, but then some are really good at talking a talk and lead to some major repairs.
 
I haven't done it, but I knew a successful manufacturing business owner who poached employees from the coffee shops. Every morning while getting his coffee he had the opportunity to watch the employees working and to see who was productive. You don't normally get that when interviewing an employee.
That’s a lot harder to do with the current state of the industry.

Many coffee shops pay $20/hr plus tips for slinging coffee, enjoying the air conditioning, talking to women, and coming home smelling like Java.

Hard to get somebody to leave that for a couple more bucks an hour (maybe), and the opportunity to make an okay living if they can really grind it out in the dirty machine shop, and break into the top of the field in 5 - 10 years.
 
The Biggest issue is really looking for a good employee that only wants part time low pay employment< by good I'm not meaning trained machinist I'm meaning shows up, can follow basic directions, can repeat those directions.

you reference your cleaning lady that works cheep and does a good job, she likely does the same work for multiple people and that makes for full time employment. I think its super unlikely you will find a agency that has someone with mechanical aptitude, because if they are good enough to make you happy 2 days a week they are good enough to make every other employer happy 5 days a week, and that's better for both of them. Now if you tell them to send whoever 2 days a week your likely to be starting from scratch every week or likely day, also if you are counting on the labor to get projects done you will find that the % of no shows for temp jobs is surprisingly high.

How would they crash in this scenario aside from misloading the part?
easy,
Put part in but didn't tighten it enough, just enough to let the probe work but flies out when the mill starts cutting, or put blank in wrong orientation so its too tall and your probe crashes into the blank that shouldn't be there, or left the torq wrench on the vise and the spindle crashes into it, or 30 other things you can't imagine would be a problem because you wouldn't do them yourself.
 
I am not sure in today's society but from 2005-2007 I went thru a staffing agency finding the right manual machinist job fit in a oil patch job shop town. There was a certain one that handled the trades versus clerical or merchandise, and there were always welders, construction workers, deburr people, operators, etc going thru there. A couple of the shops I stayed a week or 2 at and they would either make an offer or you'd likely end up at the next place. Had a few I turned down to just see the next job and place.
 
Put part in but didn't tighten it enough, just enough to let the probe work but flies out when the mill starts cutting, or put blank in wrong orientation so its too tall and your probe crashes into the blank that shouldn't be there, or left the torq wrench on the vise and the spindle crashes into it, or 30 other things you can't imagine would be a problem because you wouldn't do them yourself.
100% true.

I am yet to come across a process or workflow that is simple or straight forward enough to stop unskilled operators from crashing machines or making bad parts.
 








 
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