As a company that has varying staffing needs, we find it necessary to rely on a lot of part-time workers. HIS Installation, like many service industry companies, takes on different type and size projects. Sometimes we need large crews, other times we need only one or two “good” workers.
So, how do we find good part-time help?
First off, it isn’t easy. Sometimes we flat-out get lucky…of course we like to think that the Man Upstairs is looking out for us.
Here is what 30 years of experience in the material handling industry has taught us:
- Sometimes the best help is home-grown – There are five of us sons, all of whom, at one point or another, worked for HIS Installation. To this day, and this isn’t bragging, we have been the most reliable, hardest-working employees. Part of this is we had a strong motivator, i.e. our Dad; however we also wanted the family business to succeed. As one of our non-family member workers once told me, when we were discussing the difference between good help and not-so-good help, “Joe, it has everything to do with how you were raised.” I think there is a lot of truth there.
- Just because someone is a good friend doesn’t mean they will be a good worker – This can be tricky, having unrealistic expectations for friends can do more harm than good. When we’ve allowed friends to work for us and then things not worked out, feelings always got hurt and the relationship inevitably was affected.
- You have to be able to size people up – This may sound old-fashion, but I’m a firm believer in watching and listening to people, in other words, sizing people up. I normally have a pretty good idea what kind of worker a person will be by the quickness in their step, the firmness of their handshake, the tone of their voice, and their physical shape. I know that may sound biased, but if the shoe fits…it fits. A worker knows a worker.
- It’s okay to give people a chance – Some of our best workers have been guys who have been down on their luck. They tend to have something to prove. They’ve been beaten down bad enough that they want a new start. I’ve always appreciated these type of individuals.
- Be quick to make changes - If it’s not working out, it’s not working out. I generally give a person two, maybe three, days to show me they can do the job. I don’t wait much longer than that. It makes the whole process easier – less resentment, less hurt feelings, less impact on the project. It also keeps the morale of the team stronger. If everyone has the understanding that if you aren’t measuring up you’re gone, they tend to put forward their best effort.
Following these steps we’ve generally been able to build good project teams. While the work is hard, we normally have a good time doing what we do. To this day, many of our best guys have gone on to better and brighter careers, but they all are appreciative for the experience and values they received while working for HIS Installation.
I know, I know. You’re thinking “Come on, really? I mean rack is made of steel, right?”
Well, yes. Rack systems are generally made of steel. However, as shown below, upright columns are often struck by lift trucks directly or by the loads (loaded pallets, drums, reels, bundles of raw material, etc) being carried by the lift trucks.
Column guards are the common solution to protecting rack columns from possible collision damage.
How do column guards work?
Column guards are often installed in front of each exposed rack column to attempt to minimize the damage to the rack columns. As shown here, most have an angled front to divert the oncoming fork or load to reduce the risk of damage.
Column guards are normally made of heavy-gauge structural steel allowing for increased “blow” absorption. Some incorporated a 4 or 6-anchor design providing even greater support.
You either already have or are about to invest a fair amount money into your rack storage system. Why not protect that investment with cost-efficient protection, that’s right…with column guards.
Visit the HIS Installation website for more information or just give us a call (770-478-4506). We’d be happy to assist you.
So you are in the market for a rack storage system? When determining what type of system to invest in, you should consider the different racking options as well as your particular storage needs. It is advisable to take into consideration your inventory management method and product specs.
The three types of rack include – Pallet Rack, High-Density Rack, and Specialized Rack. Let’s look at each one.
Pallet rack is by far the most popular type of rack system. It is the most versatile and virtually limitless when it comes to sizes available. It allows for immediate pallet availability. There are normally three pallet rack options – slotted, tear drop, or structural (heavier duty rack made from solid steel channel). Slotted and tear drop refer to the way the upright channel is punched for the horizontal beam connections.
High-Density rack is ideal when the goal is the maximization of warehouse space as well as the minimization of warehousing costs. There are a number of high-density rack options. Knowing your particular application will best determine which fits your specific need. We’ll consider a few of the more popular options here:
- Drive-In or Drive-Thru Storage Rack – limits the number of aisles needed by providing depth. The rail design of most Drive-In/Drive-Thru rack systems allow forklifts to drive into the system to place pallets. Ideal for “last in, first out” applications.
- Push Back Storage Rack – makes use of the “cart-on-rail” design. Unlike Drive-In Storage Rack, Push Back Storage Rack allows the next pallet to always come to the front of the rack system thus reducing pick times while maximizing space usage. Ideal for “last in, first out” applications.
- Gravity Flow Storage Rack – is the ideal system for “first in, first out” applications. This is especially true where a facility is handling a large of number of common SKUs. The dense Gravity Flow Storage Rack makes use of roller tracks to move pallets from the back of the system to the front. The pitch of the roller tracks allows for gravity to carry pallets through the system.
- Narrow Aisle Storage Rack – minimizes aisle space requirements while allowing 100% product selection ability throughout the system. Newer lifts allow for this to be possible (stock selectors, standing lifts, etc).
- Double Deep Pallet Rack – requires deep reaching forklifts but does minimize the number of aisles needed to maximize available pallet positions. Popular in throughput operations.
Please note: All High-Density Rack systems can be made of structural steel if your application necessitates that.
Specialized rack systems are ideal for the storage of items that won’t fit in more traditional rack systems. Items like lumber, PVC pipes, cable reels, rebar, electrical conduit, dies, engines, etc are best stored in specialized rack systems. Here are few of the more popular options:
- Cantilever Storage Rack - implements a “tower-arm” design allowing open, frontal access to items without side limitations. Ideal for lumber, steel channel/angle iron, rebar, PVC, etc.
- Wide-Span Shelving – is the right choice when traditional shelving is too light, but standard pallet rack would be too much. Providing versatility and adjustability, Wide-Span Shelving is often used in retail/commercial applications or when easy hand access to merchandise is needed.
- Reel Storage Rack – is specifically made for the storage of reels of cable and wiring. Reel Storage Rack has the capability of holding multiple reels as well as various weights.
- Roll-Out Shelf Racks – are ideal for the storage of heavy dies, fixtures, or industrial/mechanical parts. Shelves extend to allow for complete access to the particular item.
Again, these are simply some of the more common options. When it comes to rack storage the possibilities can be limitless given that custom design is an alternative as well.
There are certainly many variables that need to be looked at when determining what rack storage system will best meet your needs. It is always advisable to seek the expertise of a material handling consultant to assist you in making the right choice.
Your business is growing! Growth is good, right?
Absolutely, but not having adequate facility space can be a real nightmare. This is especially true if by facility we are talking your DC (that’s Distribution Center for those not fluent in supply chain lingo).
“Our current warehouse is too small for additional pallet positions to be added.”
“Our current warehouse isn’t close enough to the highway or best trucking routes.”
“We are operating out of too many buildings.”
“We can’t add automation due to space restrictions.”
We know all the problems, but is there a quickly, cost-efficient solution? Probably not, but there are two steps you can take to insure that the process is properly managed.
- Get Involved/Get Others Involved - It is vital that ALL relevant parties be involved in the facility planning process. That includes internal (shipping & receiving, purchasing, IT/IS, manufacturing (if applicable), HR, facility management, maintenance, etc.) and external (material handling experts, equipment dealers, landlord[s] or real estate specialists, energy and community advisors) parties.
- Do A Feasibility Study - It is recommended to consider the five common factors (TELOS): Technology and System feasibility, Economic feasibility, Legal feasibility, Operational feasibility, and Schedule feasibility. However, many companies also look at Market and Real Estate feasibility, Financial feasibility, Resource feasibility, and Cultural feasibility. ULTIMATE PURPOSE: To provide ownership or board of directors with a clear understanding of the problem, a detailed description of the solution, a quantitative and qualitative synopsis of the business’ physical requirements, the conclusions/consensus of management, as well as potential alternatives.
Many times, the answer might not be in moving to a new distribution center. It might be the realization of a creative way to maximize cube or an expansion of the existing facility.
Taking the time to get the proper parties involved and to do a feasibility study provides a greater level of certainty and vision. It gets the “right” people engaged. It also creates a thought process that allows for creativity and innovation in considering the problem and possible facility solutions.
Decisions, Decisions, Decisions…
We all face lots of decisions every day. Some decisions we make instantly, while others stop us dead in our tracks. Usually this is due to the gravity of the situation, potential consequences, or just lack of certainty.
There are steps we can take to improve our decision making skills.
JUST THE FACTS – Take the time to methodically write down all the known facts and options. Often just having the details down on paper provides greater clarity.
TRUST YOUR GUT – I know, I know… Trusting your gut all the time isn’t always the best strategy, nor the logical one, but the GUT counts for something. Trusting your gut when you’ve considered all the facts and options can be the best way to make a decision.
POINT OF NO RETURN – When you’ve made a decision, don’t second-guess yourself. Isn’t that what “being decisive” is all about?
INTO ACTION – Dare to act, dare to succeed or fail. As Seth Godin would say, SHIP. Get it done, on time, every time. Know that you will probably make more good decisions than bad ones.
UNDERSTAND THAT FAILURE IS AN OPTION – Don’t get me wrong, anticipate and plan for success, but realize that the worst thing that can happen is you fail. So what? Some of the greatest lessons we learn come through failure. Now we don’t chase failure looking for lessons, but fear of failure can shut us down if we don’t understand that it is an option.
For some more technical tools and techniques check out Mind Tools – Decision Making Techniques. They have some really good stuff.
Success in business, as in life, is often tied to effective, efficient decision making. Hopefully, your decision to read this post will lead you to greater decisiveness and success!
Seth Godin’s New York Times Bestseller, Linchpin: Are You Indispensable? is more of a reflection on who we are and what we do with that than simply a business book.
Seth uses words like art and gift to define what a linchpin does.
The ultimate gift you can give, the one that will repay you today and tomorrow and heal our world, is that gift. The gift of connection, of art, of love – of dignity. (pg. 208)
Throughout Linchpin: Are You Indispensable? Seth encourages us to become the artists we already are by explaining what he believes art is, what is preventing us from giving our art (resistance=lizard brain), what things the linchpin must be aware of (no maps, choice, connection, etc), abilities of the linchpin, and the risk of failure or, better yet rejection.
Linchpin: Are You Indispensable? has such an important message. In a culture…no, in a world that is rapidly changing we need to understand that each and every one of us has something to give, each of us has value simply in being who we were made to be.
Each of us is an artist and a work of art at the same time.
The linchpin understands the challenge:
The challenge, then is to be the generous artist, but do it knowing that it just might not work. And that’s okay (pg. 224).
Seth goes on to explain that this cannot discourage us and that there is only one right choice really – make more art, give more gifts.
Trying and failing is better than merely failing, because trying makes you an artist and gives you the right to try again (pg. 225).
…when others fail to be remarkable or make a difference or share their art or have an impact, they will give up. But you won’t, you’ll persist, pushing through the dip. Which means that few people will walk in the door with your background, experience, or persistence (pg. 208)
Linchpin: Are You Indispensable? isn’t just full of amazing, to-the-point reflections like these, Seth helps us to understand what will attempt to stand in our way – the resistance=lizard brain. Seth explains:
Once you’ve given a name to the resistance and you know what its voice sounds like, it’s a lot easier to embrace the fact that you actually are a genius. The part of you that wants to deny this is the resistance. The rest of you understands that you’re as capable as the next guy of an insight, invention, or connection that makes a difference (pg. 118).
THE RESISTANCE (an awesome chapter) goes into great detail about what that voice sounds like and what we can do to overcome it. I’m not going to simply give you a summary because the gift you could give yourself would be reading Linchpin: Are You Indispensable?
Seth has opened, for me, a place in my mind, in my heart, in my soul that I have always been aware of…in fact he’s not the first to tell me this. Linchpin: Are You Indispensable? simply resurrected that sense of loyalty to my mission and generosity to my work (cf. 209) that I had been seeking. I highly recommend this book.
Thank you, Seth. Your gift is accepted, embraced, and given. Keep being the artist you were created to be.
Ideas matter. Ideas have immense value.
Think about it….all creativity, all innovation stems from an idea. Thought precedes action.
We must make time for ideas. We must strive to capture our ideas…good and bad.
Seth Godin, in his insightful book, Linchpin: Are You Indispensable? states:
When someone says to me, “I don’t have any good ideas…I’m just not good at that,” I ask them, “Do you have any bad ideas?”
Nine times out of ten, the answer is no. Finding good ideas is surprisingly easy once you deal with the problem of finding bad ideas. All the creativity books in the world aren’t going to help you if you’re unwilling to have lousy, lame, and even dangerously bad ideas.
The resistance abhors bad ideas. It would rather have you freeze up and invent nothing than take a risk and have some portion of your output be laughable. Every creative person I know generates a slew of laughable ideas for every good one. Some people (like me) need to create two slews for every good one.
One way to become creative is to discipline yourself to generate bad ideas. The worse the better. Do it a lot and magically you’ll discover that some good ones slip through.
Read the book to better understand what Seth means by “the resistance” however you get the point. If we are unwilling to risk being laughed at for our crazy or, worse still, bad ideas we will stifle the flow of creative thought.
An a popular acronym for FEAR is False Evidence Appearing Real. For me, I know that I have often suppressed or ignored ideas because I feared. Feared that others would laugh or ridicule the idea, feared that anyone I talked to about the idea would steal it, feared that I would fail or that others would fail me, feared, feared, feared….and so I didn’t do.
Do I follow through on every idea? No, but I list it in what I like to call my “Idea Toolbox” and talk to others about those ideas. I even, at times, work out what the idea would look like, who would be involved, what would give it legs, etc.
There are no “stupid” ideas…bad ideas sure. Still the process, the emphasis on the immense value of ideas is vital. Our world is in a state of constant change.
Ideas will shape your future.
Robert Kennedy once said, “Some men look at things the way they are and ask why? I dream of things that are not and ask why not?”
Our ideas, while often laughable, are just that….our ideas. Why not act on them? Why not try? We already know what happens if we don’t.
As the old saying goes….If nothing changes, nothing changes. Dare to change. Dare to have ideas.
Right is right. Do it right the first time.
When did doing work right the first time become relative? Our company, HIS Installation, Inc., is, at times, called in to determine whether or not a particular rack system, conveyor, mezzanine, or other material handling system was installed correctly. It always disappoints me to see how some companies attempt to “cut corners” or “rig things” to finish the job. When problems arise with the storage system the answer to the customer’s questions goes something like this – It’s the manufacturer’s fault. or That’s just the way these things work.
HONESTY MATTERS. Sometimes the manufacturer is partly or entirely to blame, but in the material handling industry, as in most service-based industries, the company responsible for the installation has to make sure that (1) the material they have received to be installed is correct and (2) that they, as the installer, install it right the first time. If the material received isn’t correct, it is far better to point this out immediately before the project is completed. Being honest is so important because your word has to mean something or you won’t be in business for long. Equally significant is the reality that being honest falls directly in line with the Golden Rule – treating others the way we would want them to treat us.
The driving force behind unethical behavior in business is one of two things (in many cases both things – fear and greed. Those companies and/or individuals who act unethically fear the consequences – “Will I be blamed?” “Will I lose money?” “Will my reputation be ruined?” and so forth. Fear disconnects us from reality. You will be blamed if someone else discovers that you tried to cover something up. You will lose money and your reputation will be damaged if you are dishonest, if not on a particular project certainly over time. Our actions always catch up with our reputation. If our actions are bad, our reputation will inevitably be bad. If our actions are good and honest, our reputation will be one of good work and honesty.
We always win by doing good work and being honest – the first time and every time.
“What do you really want to get out of life?” and “What can you offer the world that no one else can?” Whatever your answers to those questions are, you can likely find the beginnings of your quest to live a full life and make the world a better place for others. The Art of Non-Conformity, pg 207
It’s amazing how a book can tell you what you’ve always known, but in such a way that it demands a change. While I can’t say that I agree with everything Chris Guillebeau writes about , I will say that The Art of Non-Conformity is one of the best books I read this year.
Chris breaks The Art of Non-Conformity into three parts: I. The Remarkable Life, II. Reclaiming Work, and III. The Power of Convergence.
Part I: The Remarkable Life covers the whole idea of this being my life and therefore I should be able to set the rules…as long as those rules involve doing good things for myself and helping others. I completely agree with that notion. True freedom is one’s ability to choose the good. There is direct correlation between my good and the good of my neighbor. Chris probes what a life like that might look like, sharing his experiences and those of others. There are some really great stories and great principles here. In the second chapter, Setting the Terms of Your Unconventional Life, Chris writes:
When faced with a choice between abundance and scarcity, choose abundance. Scarcity is the default mode of operation for most of us. It’s a hard habit to break, but almost always worth it. Scarcity involves hoarding, and abundance involves sharing.
He expands on that in chapter 9, Radical Exclusion and the Quest for Abundance.
Part II: Reclaiming Work focuses on competence, educational options, followers (small army), and, my favorite, The Personal Financial Journey. Don’t be fooled, The Personal Financial Journey IS NOT just about money, rather Chris really does an outstanding job of looking at the relationship between money, life planning, and happiness. I’ve been a long time fan of Dave Ramsey and his philosophy of debt-free living, but Chris puts a completely new spin on it. While completely committed to the idea of living debt-free, he has several interesting ideas like the following:
Deferred gratification can be a form of life avoidance. Deferred gratification, the principle of sacrificing something now in hopes of enjoying it in the future, has both pros and cons. I’m writing this book a year in advance of publication, giving up other income and devoting a lot of time in hopes that you’ll eventually read it, all because I believe in the project. I also deposited $300 in my long-term savings account this month, another sacrifice I was happy to make.
At the same time, the practice of deferred gratification can also serve to help people avoid making a lot of decisions about how they actually live now. This is one aspect of my financial life where I definitely want balance – I don’t mind saving for the future, but not at the expense of enjoying life today.
Part III: The Power of Convergence brings it all together. Chapter 9 Radical Exclusion and the Quest for Abundance is exceptional. Chris covers such topics as eliminating the unnecessary, stop-doing lists, living with less, and enriching our lives through abundance and much more. Chapter 11 Your Legacy Starts Now brings us right back into those two questions I quoted at the beginning of this review – “What do you really want to get out of life?” and “What can you offer the world that no one else can?”
Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed this book! Chris Guillebeau also has a rockin’ website – The Art of Non-Conformity – where he has a lot of useful tools for achieving a much more meaningful and practical life.
Whether you want to travel the world like Chris or just get a fresh look at your life The Art of Non-Conformity is a valuable tool for doing just that.