Volume 35, Number 5, May 2000
The Million Dollar Question
who wants to be in the glass industry?
Recently, I fell into the trap in which millions of other people have found themselves: addicted to the television show, Who Wants to be a Millionaire? I dutifully called night after night, making every effort to make the trip to New York and sit across from my hero Regis Philbin. My opportunity knocked back in February as I made it to the second qualifying round. If I was able to answer five questions correctly, and faster than 39 other people, I was going on the show.
So it got me thinking, if they can have Who Wants to be a Millionaire? and its very pathetic ugly step-sister Who Wants to Marry a Multi-Millionaire? then why not take it another step and do specific industry-related shows like Who Wants to be a Bricky? or my idea of Who Wants to be in the Glass Industry?
Judging from the incredibly difficult labor climate in our industry, it doesnt seem that thered even be 39 people to compete with for a slot on the show. Finding good people and in some cases, finding any people to work in the fabrication plants is almost has tough as winning a million dollars.
The issue at hand, besides my bizarre ideas for television viewing, is that we as an industry are suffering from lack of laborers and lack of youth wanting to come in and grow. While my television show may not cut it, it is up to us to do everything we can to be creative and reverse the trend that we have set in motion.
We need ideas and ways to attract labor from all walks of life and for all positions. We have to look to make it possible for someone coming out of college to join a company with hopes of climbing the ladder of their respective company. It has been mentioned numerous times that this industry is unable to attract the young, hungry executive in training type. Why is that? Why are we unable to make those strides to keep pace with other industries?
While other industries are struggling as well here are some of the perks that are being offered in the effort to improve and increase the workforce:
Signing bonuses of $100 to $1,000 (Um, Where do I sign?);
Flex times (Come in on West Coast time, go home on East Coast time);
Insurance and 401K benefits that start on day one (amazing);
Uniform/clothing allowance (Is Hugo Boss or Ralph Lauren covered here?);
Suggestion contests with cash as the awards (I can come up with awesome ideas did you hear about my new TV show?);
Additional vacation time (12 weeks a year would be fair);
All expense paid trips to industry shows and functions (Does this cover my Vegas gambling losses?);
Pet Insurance (Yes! Sam the dog can now have his flea bath covered!).
This situation brings up a lot of questions that dont have easy multiple-choice answers. These are queries that deserve thought and attention. Some companies in our industry are already doing some of the more sensible things above. We also have to work hard to impress upon these go-getters in our organizations that this industry is where its at, not as a bricky.
By the way, I went into the second round rip-raring and ready to go. The first three questions were handled with ease. Then a very nasty poetry question came my way and I went down hard. I had no chance, and my dreams to be across from Regis have been dashed. Alas, Im still trying and maybe someday Ill find my way to it. If not, I always have the very lucrative career as bimonthly columnist at USGlass.
Max Perilstein is vice president/general manager of PDC Glass of Michigan. His column appears bimonthly.
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