Closing the Manufacturing Skills Gap by Inspiring the Next Generation with Hernan Ricaurte, Brian Grigson & Brian Pendarvis

Episode 200 | Challenges: Community Growth Workforce

Skills Gap - MC
How can the Metal Working Nation close the manufacturing skills gap? As the manufacturing industry continues to grow with the demand for fast and excellent production, it is imperative that the proper skills be found, fostered, and taught. Even with the desirable technological sophistication of the modern manufacturing world, young talent isn’t being found quickly enough to fill the gap left by the retirement of the Baby Boomer generation. 

Jim and Jason brainstorm with guest speakers Hernan Ricaurte (Owner of Ricaurte Precision), Brian Grigson (General Manager of Axxis Corporation), and Brain Pendarvis (Owner of Pendarvis Manufacturing) about how manufacturing leaders can take action to influence the next generation of machinists. Be sure to listen to the entire episode to catch the best insights into the real and persisting problem of the manufacturing skills gap! 

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Putting a finger on the pulse of the manufacturing skills gap

Ricaurte, Grigson, and Pendarvis all agree that the skills gap is certainly a major issue of the modern manufacturing world. The “great wave” is here; the older are retiring and the younger aren’t qualified or aren’t interested. Pendarvis shares the struggle of finding talent skilled in the newest manufacturing technology. Leaders know that you can’t just stick anyone on your CNC machines. While the skills gap is a real and present problem, it doesn’t have to remain that way. 


Changing the perception of manufacturing is the first step. Most high schoolers don’t even know that trade school for CNC machining or similar work is an option. Many still think that they have to go to college to have a meaningful career. Manufacturing, however, offers so much at such little training cost. Building bridges with your community is the first step to closing the skills gap. Give presentations at the local middle and high schools, invite schools to tour your facilities and show them that what they need - and want - in a career can be found in manufacturing. “It’s not always money that people want,” says Grigson. A clean environment, security, incentives, and evident room for company growth are all attributes that can help your business attract young talent. 


Effective training is grounded in effective culture 

Who are you as a company? What is your niche? While there is a skills issue, it is important to only hire the skills that you need. What is your company culture? The culture that you want to foster within your business begins with you as the leader. One challenge created by the skills gap is finding someone who is not only talented but also a good fit within your company. Having more experienced employees shadow and oversee the work of new hires or interns provides the opportunity for not only the skills - but for the culture - to be taught. 


Ricaurte shares the lessons he learned from studying the manufacturing culture of Japanese machinists. Fostering a culture of accountability and excellence if key. Attention to detail, respect for one another, and the willingness to learn are all necessary to an effective workplace Training the younger generation within that culture will help produce the future talent that you need. Don’t forget to listen to the rest of the episode for more insight into fostering effective culture!


What makes a great modern machinist? 

It actually depends on the work and skill-set required! With the advancement of technology, the skill sets needed by manufacturers grows more diverse. While not everyone will be adept in all areas of machining, they always need to be willing to learn and grow. Curiosity is a sign of a great future machinist. While genuine curiosity, humility, excellent work ethic, and personal drive are all hard to detect in an interview, they should be attributes that you are striving to discover. 


Running an apprenticeship or internship program at your shop is also a highly effective way to discover and nurture new talent. Involve high schoolers in your company’s growth and demonstrate to them the future possibilities within manufacturing. Hiring part-time can also be a good tactic to see if you and your new employee are a good long-term fit. 


Finding and providing opportunity in unlikely places

Your local high school isn’t the only place to find potential future talent to invest in. Underprivileged communities are gold when it comes to finding young people with the passion and drive to try something unconventional - such as attending trade school to learn CNC machining. There are bright, curious minds everywhere! Many kids don’t know that manufacturing is even an option among today’s career paths. Manufacturing leaders need to begin investing in and inspiring the talent and ability of young people. 


Yes, the manufacturing skills gap is a problem, but it’s not insurmountable. Listen to the full episode to learn more about how you can make a difference in inspiring the next generation of manufacturers! 



Here’s The Good Stuff!

  • Preparing for the retirement of the Baby Boomer generation. 
  • Do the challenges created by the skills gap affect all parts of the country equally? 
  • The tie between the skills gap and advancing technology. 
  • Knowing your niche gives you vision in knowing what talent to pursue. 
  • The challenges surrounding changing the old perception of manufacturing. 
  • Different strategies for finding the right fit. 
  • What you should be looking for in a potential hire. 
  • What you value may differ with each job opening. 
  • Creative inspiration for the next generation of manufacturers. 


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Jim Carr: Hey, Jason. You know I love acronyms, right? And we've got the MakingChips acronym book, right?

Jason Zenger: Yeah. So what do you want to add to it?

Jim Carr: Well, it's called, FSBS.

Jason Zenger: Are you swearing in that one?

Jim Carr: I am not swearing in that. And it's all about ProShop ERP.

Jason Zenger: So what does it mean?

Jim Carr: Well, we're using it for-

Jason Zenger: Let me guess. The Ask Me Shop.

Jim Carr: For shops by shops.

Jason Zenger: Well, that's how that software was made.

Jim Carr: It was. Shop floor guys developed this software, and let me tell you, it is no BS.

Jason Zenger: So go to for more information.

Jim Carr: Welcome to MakingChips. We believe that manufacturing is challenging. But if you are connected to a community of leaders, you can elevate your skills, solve your problems, and grow your business. I'm your host, Jim Carr. And I'm joined by my co-host, Jason Zenger. How you doing man?

Jason Zenger: I'm going great buddy. How are you?

Jim Carr: Good. How does it feel to be in Santa Fe Springs, California at the NTMA Training Center today?

Jason Zenger: It feels really nice. It's always nice to travel to get connected to another group of manufacturing leaders who are not from the Midwest, but from another area of the United States. And we're staying in beautiful Santa Monica. So I am not complaining.

Jim Carr: Neither am I. Neither am I. We always say at the beginning of the show, "Manufacturing is challenging." And when I was preparing this show today, or last night, or whenever it was, I said, "You know what Jason? It's not getting any easier." Manufacturing was challenging 40 years ago. And you know what? I think it's quite frankly, to me, I think it's even more challenging nowadays.

Jason Zenger: Oh, it definitely is. I mean, the pace is just moving so quickly. It's a little scary.

Jim Carr: It is a little scary.

Jason Zenger: Really, given the pace of every business out there. I mean, I'm a tooling distributor not a manufacturer. So I could see it from the outside. But for me it's changing. For you it's changing. For everybody. I mean, it's robots, data, blah, blah, blah. It's a lot of things to take into consideration.

Jim Carr: Yeah. And I think our Round Table discussion today talking about the skills' gap and where we're at, and how does it differ from the Midwest to the West Coast? I'm really interested to hear our guest's perception on that and what it's like out here.

Jason Zenger: So why are we here, Jim?

Jim Carr: Before we go there, a big shout out to Katie at the NTMA LA. We were talking to her years ago about coming out here to Santa Fe-

Jason Zenger: Why don't you define NTMA and LA?

Jim Carr: LA-

Jason Zenger: LA is Los Angeles.

Jim Carr: It is. What do you know? You're getting smarter every day. But the NTMA is the National Tooling and Machining Association. And from what I understand about this is a country-wide association.

Jason Zenger: And we're at the Los Angeles Chapter.

Jim Carr: We are. We are at the Los Angeles Chapter. They're independently operated. They have guidelines from the NTMA. I know during my TMA years when I was serving on their executive board, we engaged with Dave Tillstone who was the acting president of the NTMA.

Jason Zenger: So it's like a local franchise?

Jim Carr: It is like a local franchise. But they are independently run. Yes, it's great. I thank Katie so much for inviting us in and her hospitality today. Its been so good so far.

Jason Zenger: Yeah. I mean, as soon as we walked in the doors we saw a group of 10 aspiring machinists getting trained. So it was good to see the gray-haired gentleman was training some 20 year olds on how to run a machine. And it was, it kind of brought tears to my eyes to see that.

Jim Carr: Were you crying?

Jason Zenger: No. But I-

Jim Carr: I didn't think so.

Jason Zenger: ... thought about it.

Jim Carr: Yeah.

Jason Zenger: But I didn't actually do it.

Jim Carr: I'm the one that cries, right?

Jason Zenger: Yeah, yeah. I really thought, and I was like, "No, I'm not going to cry."

Jim Carr: Yeah.

Jason Zenger: And so I saw the gray-haired guy teaching these young guys to be machinists. And I was like, "This is awesome." You know what I mean? And they were wide-eyed and looking at him, and he was showing them all the... He was talking about some grooving tools. And I was like, "Oh, yeah. There we go."

Jim Carr: And you know what? That brought me back to back when I was 19 and doing my machinist apprenticeship program a long time ago. But you know what the big difference was? We didn't have a training center-

Jason Zenger: There was no CNC machines when you were young?

Jim Carr: There were certainly no CNC machines. But it was all theory. So back in the time that I went was theory-based machinist apprenticeship program that I went through. I was two to three nights a week. I don't remember how many nights a week.

Jason Zenger: You were using tool bits.

Jim Carr: Well, we were using... I was using my Texas Instrument calculator. I know that. And I thought I was really good at it by figuring sine, cosine, and tangent. But no, at the end of the day it brought me back too, Jason. And I thought, "All that young talent that's so impressionable." And it made me feel good that there is actually a demographic of people that really want to enter into this industry. And I look forward to this conversation we're going to have with this great group of manufacturing leaders and hear their perception of what's happening.

Jason Zenger: Yeah. So why don't we... We want to move quickly into this episode. But before we do, I think it's really important for the manufacturing leaders out there to know that MakingChips is not just a podcast. We actually have a newsletter-

Jim Carr: It's not?

Jason Zenger: No. It's not.

Jim Carr: Okay.

Jason Zenger: MakingChips has a newsletter called, The Boring Bar. And you can very easily get connected with it.

Jim Carr: Can I get a vodka martini there?

Jason Zenger: Eventually, you can.

Jim Carr: Okay.

Jason Zenger: Yes. So we'll be there. And we'll announce that first on the show when the actual Boring Bar-

Jim Carr: Are we going to have a party?

Jason Zenger: We're going to have a party.

Jim Carr: Okay.

Jason Zenger: When the actual Boring Bar opens. But for now it's a newsletter, which will reference other information that MakingChips publishes besides the podcast. And in order to get access to that all you have to do is text CHIPS, C-H-I-P-S to 38470. So you get out your phone, type 38470 where you're sending it to, and enter CHIPS in the message-

Jim Carr: That's how you text, yeah.

Jason Zenger: ... and you will get instructions. And you're done.

Jim Carr: The last time I remember, that's how you send a text message.

Jason Zenger: Yep.

Jim Carr: Yeah.

Jason Zenger: There you go.

Jim Carr: 38470 to CHIPS, C-H-I-P-S. And do it today if you haven't done it.

Jason Zenger: Yeah.

Jim Carr: Because you don't want to miss any good Boring Bar material, right?

Jason Zenger: Yeah. There's some great articles there.

Jim Carr: And we just got a logo too for the Boring Bar. Yeah, its pretty cool. So what's happening? What's the pulse of your business, Jason? We're trying to take this through an iteration. We were talking on the plane out here yesterday. And we said, "We're going to change this up a little bit today." We're not going to talk about what's keeping us awake at night because it seems the things that we're talking about that are keeping us awake at night are becoming redundant. So let's just talk about-

Jason Zenger: Well, it wasn't just that.

Jim Carr: ... what's the pulse?

Jason Zenger: I mean, if I'm going to talk every single week about something that's keeping me up at night, I'm going to be pretty haggard and tired all the time.

Jim Carr: No kidding.

Jason Zenger: I mean, yes, I have issues. But if I'm not managing my issues well I'm not going to have 52 things that are keeping me up at night. I need to get some sleep.

Jim Carr: Right.

Jason Zenger: Really.

Jim Carr: So, yes.

Jason Zenger: I would say what's the pulse of my business is that starting to make some good positive changes in the company. I hate to say this. But if I'm going to be honest-

Jim Carr: Be careful what you say. You're being recorded you know?

Jason Zenger: I know. If I'm going to be honest, your leadership in your business has to be balanced with your personal leadership at home. And I've just celebrated my youngest one year birthday not too long ago. And I'm reeling out of that stage of not going to have a baby in the house anymore. And so that's going to make it so that I can get my eyes back on the ball a little bit better. Not that I've been off the ball, but I haven't been on the ball like I'd like to. So that's a good thing.

Jim Carr: Does that mean you're going to work more?

Jason Zenger: Yeah.

Jim Carr: Okay. Thank you.

Jason Zenger: Maybe a little bit.

Jim Carr: Nick and I and Chris all appreciate that.

Jason Zenger: I'm not going to work for MakingChips more. I'm going to work for Zenger's more.

Jim Carr: Oh. Okay. Is that where that's going?

Jason Zenger: There you go. What about you? What's your pulse?

Jim Carr: Well, things are really good. Like I said, we had a good four hour conversation, well, three hour conversation on the plane. And you had said that things are pulling back a little bit from based on what you're seeing, but not at Carr Machine & Tool. We are really doing well. And we're having growing pains. And that's the pulse of the business right now.

Jim Carr: What's the next piece of capital equipment? What's the next type of talent that we hire into the company? And just again, like you had mentioned, managing and leading, putting layers of management within the company is really an important thing.

Jason Zenger: Yeah. Those are good problems to have.

Jim Carr: It's a good pulse.

Jason Zenger: Yeah.

Jim Carr: I hope it stays on track. But I have some manufacturing news. It's kind of relevant to what we're going to talk about today with these guests of ours. And this was an article that was published by Deloitte and the National Institute on Manufacturing. And it goes back to talk about the US economy is humming along in a period of remarkable expansion marked by notable contributions from the manufacturing industry.

Jim Carr: The sector has been consistently contributing to over 10% of the national gross domestic product, GDP. And represented more than 8% of all US employed population in 2017. Did you know that? I thought that was a pretty-

Jason Zenger: Powerful statement.

Jim Carr: Yeah.

Jason Zenger: I think that's good. That means that our contribution is bigger than the number of people, which is good.

Jim Carr: We're pretty darn relevant, aren't we?

Jason Zenger: Yeah.

Jim Carr: It goes on to say the contributions of the manufacturing sector seem to become more apparent when we consider its multiplier. And we've talked about this. Multiplier effect on the economy and jobs. Every dollar in output from the manufacturing industry generates another $1.89 of additional value of every direct job and creates 2.5 additional jobs in the US economy.

Jason Zenger: Yeah. So I think that's a good statistic. The latest in that statistic is good to have because unlike say a lawyer, an accountant, or somebody like that we contribute to the economy in a very substantial way, more so than-

Jim Carr: We do.

Jason Zenger: I think the only industry that can compete with the manufacturing industry as far as its contribution is possibly the construction industry.

Jim Carr: I think you're right.

Jason Zenger: Those are the two.

Jim Carr: I think you're right.

Jason Zenger: Because those are both creator industries.

Jim Carr: But at the end of the day, you know, I know, and probably 98.7% if the Metal Working Nation that's listening to this show right now knows how impactful our industry is on the GDP. And we have a problem ahead of us. And the problem is they've got all these baby boomers that are in our trade, they are slowly starting to retire. And we're not back-filling with new talent.

Jim Carr: There's some millennials that are coming into the trade. I don't know what happened to the Generation Y's. What is your demographic?

Jason Zenger: I'm Generation X.

Jim Carr: You're X. Yeah. There's nobody.

Jason Zenger: Who are almost non-existent.

Jim Carr: It went from me to baby boomers to the millennials.

Jason Zenger: Right. Exactly.

Jim Carr: What was up with your generation?

Jason Zenger: I think it was mostly because my generation was parented by people that were very in tune with manufacturing at a time when it wasn't a glamorous job. It was probably very dirty. It probably didn't get paid as much as it could have. And I think a lot of those parents told their kids, "Don't go into manufacturing."

Jim Carr: Right.

Jason Zenger: So my generation for the most part didn't, which is sad.

Jim Carr: I look forward to hearing what our guests...

Jason Zenger: Yeah. So why don't we move on to that.

Jim Carr: Let's do that.

Jason Zenger: Why don't we introduce the three manufacturing leaders that we have today. Our first guest is Hernan Ricaurte, who is the owner of Ricaurte Precision in Santa Ana, California. Welcome Hernan.

Jason Zenger: Our second guest is Brian Grigson, who is the General Manager of Axxis Corporation in Paris, California. Welcome Brian.

Jason Zenger: Our third and final guest is Brian Pendarvis, owner of Pendarvis Manufacturing in Anaheim, California. Welcome gentlemen, and we are very happy to have you today.

Male: Thank you.

Male: Thank you. Good to be here.

Jim Carr: Yeah. Thanks. It's a pleasure to meet you and share your perspective on this industry that we're so passionate about. But in an effort to save a little bit of time here and Jason and I certainly don't know anything about or not much about you and your respective businesses. I thought we'd just go through and let you all introduce yourself, and a little bit about your company to the Metal Working Nation. So Hernan, why don't you go ahead.

Hernan Ricaurte: Thanks guys. My name is Hernan Ricaurte, President of Ricaurte Precision in nearby Orange County, California. We're a Turnkey contract manufacturer specializing in the precision machine of tight tolerance, plastic, and metal parts for the medical, aerospace, auto and energy industries.

Hernan Ricaurte: We have 26 CNC machines, which include various types of lathes such as screw machines, live tooling, Twin Turret lathes, WIRE EDM machines, and multi-access mills. In December of this year, we're going to be adding full 5-axis, 32 pallet machining center, which we feel will help us drive us consistency in the quality of the parts that we fabricate and will streamline the fabrication of these parts, especially on repeat parts.

Hernan Ricaurte: I'm relatively new to this industry. I joined the family business three years ago. Prior to that, I spent nearly 20 years in Asia Pacific in the medical device industry. I lived in Japan for approximately 10 years on and off. But in 2010 I moved the family back to California. And at that time, my sister and I were looking and helping my father see if there are any opportunities to sell the business because he was getting older and sort of getting tired of what he was doing.

Hernan Ricaurte: We didn't find any suitable suitors per se, especially considering the stability and the growth potential that we saw in the company. So honestly, about a year or two later after reflecting a little bit more on my work-life balance, that's when I decided to give it a shot. So I decided to see if I can help the company go to that next stage.

Jim Carr: Fantastic.

Jason Zenger: That's great. I just thought of a million questions I want to ask-

Jim Carr: I know. I know. I'm writing them down. We're taking notes.

Jason Zenger: We're going to stick to the show. Brian?

Brian Grigson: Hi. My name's Brian Grigson. I'm the General Manager at Axxis Corporation. And we're a precision CNC machining facility. Primarily focused in the oil and gas industry, automotive, aerospace. We are actually out there trying to change the perception of what the manufacturing facility looks like.

Jason Zenger: Touche`.

Brian Grigson: You can go on our website, you'll see exactly what I'm talking about. One of the things people always ask me is, "Does your shop really look like that?" And my answer is, "Yes."

Jason Zenger: That was one of my-

Brian Grigson: We actually make chips in our facility, but it still looks as clean as it does.

Jason Zenger: Yeah. That was one of my first reactions. Beautiful website, and beautiful clean floors.

Brian Grigson: Thank you. I started in the industry in 1996 with the company. I was a welder by trade in high school. So when I got to my first job with Axxis Corporation, which actually named True Groove Machine. But I had went in there expecting to start welding, and of course, I was handed a mop and a bucket. And said, "Hey, go clean floors for the next two years."

Brian Grigson: So I've done everything within the realm of manufacturing. I was sweeping floors, scrubbing toilets, driving parts, working in shipping, did receiving, inspection, ran a saw, ran a CNC, set up CNC, floor inspection. I've done it all. I've worked in purchasing. In that time I went through my education, graduated Cal State San Bernardino, operations management, went on to learn contract law at ULV.

Brian Grigson: I've been an ISO management rep. I've got a host of certificates. I'm a Six Sigma Black Belt. I've done everything. And one of the things that I love the most is giving back to the manufacturing community. And that's what I'm here to do.

Jason Zenger: That's awesome.

Jim Carr: Awesome.

Jason Zenger: That's awesome. Thank you, Brian.

Jim Carr: Thanks, Brian.

Jason Zenger: And Brian 2.0

Brian P.: So let's see. Our story, my father's a welder by trade. He learned how to weld. Didn't graduate high school. Started in shops in the '60s. In the '70s, he migrated aerospace, instrumental and concord stuff back in the '70s at a place called Aztec in Irvine I believe. Ran a shop in the late '70s, started our company in 1982. Fast-forward 30 years, I bought the company from my dad.

Brian P.: So where I got in this industry, high school, summer of my senior-junior year. I worked at a shop my dad ran. Ran a Blanchard Grinder. Still remember the smells back in the day. You can't forget Blanchard Grind smell, right? So I started to work for my dad. I got out of the Army, a couple years in the Army in the early '80s. Got out of there. I started working with my dad in '85.

Brian P.: Fast-forward, helped my dad build the business. When I started, there was three of us. Today, there's 30 of us. I work with my dad, kind of helped run the shop for the last 15, 20 years. Matter of fact, today, my parents' 61st anniversary today.

Jason Zenger: That's fantastic.

Brian P.: 61 years. So...

Jason Zenger: And what kind of manufacturing does the company do?

Brian P.: So we do machining and welding and metal fabrication. We're a little unique in this industry. I learned how to be a machinist. My dad was a welder. So I learned to just... We make stuff. Local amusement parks. I got 26, eight people, we fried the machining and welding and fabrication. We did a lot of manual back in the day. I used to run a manual machine, lathes and mills. Did a lot of large turning myself threading, single point threading back in the day.

Brian P.: We got into the CNC world about 12 years ago. Today, we have CNC mills and three CNC lathes. Yeah. A lot of fabrication, metal, good group of people right now.

Jim Carr: When we originally talked about coming out to California, the first word that popped into my head was aerospace. California from a manufacturing perspective is primarily known for the aerospace industry. Is that a big chunk of what you see out here in California, A? And is that driving a lot of the manufacturing? And what is the level of busyness out here on the West Coast?

Brian Grigson: I know for our business, aerospace was actually our number two customer until recently. Aerospace has just been blowing up in this region. I can't make parts fast enough it seems like for a few of our customers. And they've quickly moved into our number one chunk of business.

Jason Zenger: I mean, it's even moved out to the Midwest too.

Jim Carr: It has.

Jason Zenger: I mean, the Midwest, the manufacturers that I deal with and I know Jim is seeing this as well. Aerospace is becoming a big part of our business out there as well.

Hernan Ricaurte: For us, medical has been a big part of our business.

Jason Zenger: Okay. Coming from your background?

Hernan Ricaurte: Exactly. Yeah, and coming from my background I've sort of focused on that. However, aerospace without question. And the companies that are around us that are focused on aerospace, it has grown significantly. So I would say that our business has gone maybe from 5% to 15% aerospace, which has really helped us in the sense that-

Jason Zenger: Diversify a little bit. Yeah.

Hernan Ricaurte: ... we've grown. Yeah, diversify and help us with the growth, yes.

Jason Zenger: Gentlemen, before we continue this conversation, Brian Grigson, I know the other two gentlemen are family businesses. Did I hear that you started the company? Or, was it a family-owned business?

Brian Grigson: I did not start the company.

Jason Zenger: Okay.

Brian Grigson: I do not own the company.

Jason Zenger: Okay.

Brian Grigson: I worked for the company since I was a senior in high school.

Jason Zenger: Okay. Great.

Brian Grigson: The owner of the company is Brandy Tidball, amazing man to work for.

Jason Zenger: Obviously, if he's been working-

Brian Grigson: He's given me all the advantages to be where I'm at today.

Jason Zenger: Okay. So just so I've got a good picture in my head about the dynamics here with these three companies. I wanted to do that before we go ahead. But before we start talking about this huge skills' gap that is really I think it's all manufacturers, number one pain point right now.

Jason Zenger: I want to talk a little bit about the association that brought us here today. Can you just give us a little synopsis of how the NTMA LA helps you in your businesses?

Jim Carr: Yeah, why are you a part of it? Besides just Katie, what's the other reasons why you're a part of this organization?

Jason Zenger: Yeah, because I want to see if the same thing holds true for what we know as a manufacturing association in Chicago.

Hernan Ricaurte: For me, being new to the industry its been huge. Its been a huge help in broadening my network, the perspective and knowledge base. They've helped me connect with business owners in my ability to share experiences, different-

Jason Zenger: People that feel your pain.

Hernan Ricaurte: ... perspectives. Yeah. And to learn from their pain.

Jim Carr: So you don't have that pain [crosstalk 00:18:47]-

Hernan Ricaurte: It doesn't hit as hard, right? Also, service providers. I mean, they're well connected whether it's insurance, whether it's legal, HR. They've got a great network of service providers that we can lean on, and they're trusted. Then also, there's the educational aspect of it. So being able to come here, meet with students who are interested in careers in machining. And also for our own employees, giving us the opportunity to provide a little extra training for our employees.

Jason Zenger: Brian?

Brian Grigson: I second everything he just said. But I think I'm going to go a little bit more into the other realm, which is friendships. It's easy to say networking. Networking is the common phrase. But when you talk friendships, I've sat on the board for a number of years. And the relationships that I made. Sometimes they can almost sound like a bad joke. An engineer, a banker, and a lawyer walk into a restaurant to have lunch. And I'm like, "Well, yeah. I do that."

Brian Grigson: And without the NTMA, I would have never have been in relationships with some of these guys that are in the different fields. We've got people, they're lawyers, bankers, middle people, manufacturing people, fabrication people. I've gained so many relationships with so many people in a variety of fields that I would have never obtained had it not been for being a part of this association.

Brian P.: Yeah, all of that exactly. Same with me. For myself, the last four or five years as I took over the ownership of the company from my father I have my three or four guys I talk to a couple of times a year. I call it the talk me off the cliff friends. We all need those.

Jim Carr: Yep. I know what you mean.

Brian P.: A random personnel issue, I know who to call. What happened to this guy? What about this guy? And I have great relationships with a handful of guys that have been around a long time. And the biggest one is my insurance guy.

Brian P.: Through the years, through the association, my buddy, Michael. His company, I don't even know how he does it. He kicks everybody's butt in Workers Comp. And we've been with him a long time. And great rates, we're good. He keeps his people honest, and keeps me honest. So when I have a hiccup in the world, he keeps me straight. So yes, relationships, long time.

Jim Carr: Yeah. And I call that my personal board of directors.

Brian P.: There you go.

Jim Carr: Those people that I met through the association.

Brian P.: Amen to that.

Jim Carr: Those are your core group of people that you can text, you can call, you can lean on and say, "What the heck am I going to do about this?" And we help each other. We've got each other's backs all the time.

Jason Zenger: And you have to have that. I mean, so you say you talked to these talk me off the cliff guys three times a year. So I feel like I have to have those conversations once a week with Nick [Golnard 00:21:09]. Should I do something about that since he's calling me every week to talk him off the cliff?

Brian P.: Well, I have different talk me off the cliff people. So I got my business people. And we all have those people we call about, "What the heck's going on brother?" And that's so we all have those people in our world, yes.

Brian Grigson: And I think it's different because sometimes you might get hundreds of calls a day. But when you get a call from someone that you know in the association, that it's a GM to a GM, or an owner to owner, or president to president. You're going to take that call. You're going to take that call and talk them for five or 10 minutes, and give them your input on whatever their questions might be.

Jim Carr: Otherwise, you're just not going to pick up, or you're not going to respond, right?

Brian Grigson: And that to me-

Jim Carr: Right. I mean, that's true.

Brian Grigson: .... is priceless. You can't put a price tag on that.

Jim Carr: I mean, yeah, it's true.

Jason Zenger: That's one of the reasons why we started MakingChips is that we felt that there needed to be this almost virtual community of manufacturing leaders to come together and say, "Hey, I want to listen to somebody anonymously." Maybe don't want let out that I have this pain, but somebody else is going to talk about the same pain that I have. And that way this forum will help to bring people together.

Jason Zenger: And Hernan, you mentioned that very early on that as somebody new in the manufacturing industry you were searching for that, right?

Hernan Ricaurte: Absolutely. Even just prior to joining, and I was still traveling to Tokyo every two weeks. And I would listen to you guys.

Jason Zenger: Okay.

Hernan Ricaurte: This was back in early 2016.

Jim Carr: Really?

Hernan Ricaurte: And I thought, "My gosh. I mean, these guys have it." They're talking about culture. They're talking about marketing. They're talking about branding. They're talking about lean, and things like that. And to be honest with you, it was an inspiration for me to just see if I could try to implement some of those things in our family business.

Jim Carr: Great.

Jason Zenger: That's great. And you need the virtual, and you need the real world, let's go grab a glass of wine and let's have dinner. You need both of those things.

Jim Carr: Let's talk about the biggest pain point in this industry right now. And that's really what the foundation about this whole Round Table is about, is about the skills' gap. It's not getting any better. It seems like it's getting way worse. We've been talking, and talking, and talking. And I really want to hear what these three manufacturing leaders feel about it. And I want to hear what the pulse is here on the West Coast too as well.

Jason Zenger: So let's start with Brian Pendarvis. Tell me what is the pulse of the skills' gap here in Southern California?

Brian P.: The pulse is yes, there is a skills' gap. I run manual machines. So those are typically older fellows.

Jason Zenger: Yeah.

Brian P.: They're older guys. And they're great at what they do. And the CNC world, it's a technology issue that you either learn technology. So I'm 56. I've been doing computer stuff for 25 years. So I understand the processes involved in computers and stuff like that. And I have people on my staff that are my age that just missed 20 years of computer stuff.

Jason Zenger: You mean they just don't get it?

Brian P.: No, a little slow.

Jason Zenger: Oh, yeah. I-

Brian P.: A little slow to the slate of the game a little bit.

Jason Zenger: Sure.

Brian P.: But they're my best people as well. So it's a fine line between younger and older age-wise, but also skill level. And my youngest guy, I hired him out of NTMA. I don't know, Brian's with me two-and-a-half years? Little green. Actually, was really green when we brought him in. He had some skills. And actually, he came back here to NTMA training for an inspection class. So he brings that to us.

Brian P.: And we're coaching him the way we want it, that we want to run a shop. So, yes. So there's a skills' gap. What I've had to do actually the last five, six years is intentionally go away at some level from the sophisticated machine shop work. I'm going to leave it to the, as Greg said, these guys. I had an NC programmer years ago.

Jim Carr: An NC programmer.

Brian P.: CNC programmer.

Jim Carr: Oh, CNC.

Brian P.: I felt he took advantage of me. And I'm not going there. My machines are program run machines. So we do fairly simple stuff.

Jim Carr: Okay.

Jason Zenger: So you're intentionally going after that manual, more manual market?

Brian P.: Now, intentionally not sophisticated guys.

Jason Zenger: Okay.

Brian P.: So because I don't have enough work to support them. These fellows to my left, big shops 30, 40 machines. They can have a programmer or two in the office. I'm not that guy. I'm not an aerospace-

Jason Zenger: So you know your niche.

Brian P.: I know my niche. My niche is actually weld fabrication and building stuff. I combine the machine shop work and I build stuff in my fabrication world. And we do a booming business that way. So yes, there is a skills issue. I run ads. It's evolved in the last 30 years, how you get ads, where you find people.

Jason Zenger: Right.

Brian P.: And I've just recently hired a new manual machinist. It was surprising I-

Jason Zenger: How old would that manual machinist be?

Brian P.: Probably 55, 58.

Jason Zenger: Okay. So he's not a spring chicken.

Brian P.: Oh, no. You're not going to find 25 year old [crosstalk 00:25:28]-

Jason Zenger: So what are you going to do in 10 years?

Brian P.: I'm 56. I'll be gone and retired by then brother. That's my plan. So, right? 50, come on. 10 years? Come on.

Jim Carr: Jason doesn't know math very well. Yeah.

Brian P.: So that's kind of where I'm headed towards someday. I don't know what's going to happen. All I know is I got to work with what I've been given [crosstalk 00:25:46]-

Jason Zenger: That's a good attitude. Actually quite frankly, that's a good attitude.

Brian P.: I work with people I've given. That's what I do. And we make the best of it. And business is great. I just ran an ad for a manual machinist. Had the most people apply in several years. So something's-

Jason Zenger: Why?

Jim Carr: Now, that's an insight right there. Why?

Brian P.: It's an insight. So something, maybe they're laid off at another company.

Jason Zenger: Okay.

Brian P.: Or, someone moved out of the area. I've followed this through the years, trends. I might run an ad and I'll get four guys that left the same company in the last six months. It comes in waves. It's the weirdest thing. I've seen it. I do all the different to find ads. I don't use temp services to hire. I don't do that. I just run ads. And off a hunch, interview the right guy. Have them talk to my guys. And seven times out of 10, it's a good hire.

Jason Zenger: And Brian Grigson, tell us what's the pulse at your shop as far as the skills' gap, and talent, and trying to find those people to set up, operate, and program your CNC machinery.

Brian Grigson: The great wave is definitely happening. You're seeing it all over the manufacturing industry. We're seeing it in our shop as well. We take two different approaches I would say to try, and eliminate some of that skills' gap. We're trying to get them young. We're heavily involved in the high schools, the community colleges. We've gone as far as to go to the middle schools.

Brian Grigson: I'm on advisory boards for different high schools in the area. We try to get them to come out. One of our other big things is manufacturing day. We open up our doors and have middle schools, high schools come into our facility. And one of the number one things I hear is kids say to us all the time, "We have driven by this place 1,000 times and I had no clue what you guys did in here." And if I could get them to come in, see what we're doing, and put their hands on it, they get interested.

Jason Zenger: So do you think that those for lack of a better word, those little things that you do. So having that clean organized shop, being on those advisory committees, visiting the middle schools, and doing all those things. Do you think that that brings in people to your company as opposed to somebody else that's a competitor and hiring?

Brian Grigson: I have interns come in and just went back to school last week. And see-

Jason Zenger: [crosstalk 00:27:50] to work instead of somebody else.

Brian Grigson: Exactly. And the second step of that is perception. Changing the perception of the manufacturing industry. To your point, the manufacturing industry 10, 15 years ago you would expect to go into a shop and see oil on the floor, dirty floors, stuff on the walls, [crosstalk 00:28:05]-

Jason Zenger: Grinding shop. A Blanchard Grinder is totally, I know exactly what that-

Brian Grigson: You want to burn your clothes by the end of the week.

Jason Zenger: Yeah. My wife still says my clothes stink at the end of the week.

Brian Grigson: Yeah. So for us, it's the same as ways as attracting customers as it is attracting talent. Everyone has 401K. Everyone has health, and dental, and benefits, and this and that. Okay. So what else can we do?

Jason Zenger: What is the differentiator?

Brian Grigson: What attracts these kids?

Jason Zenger: Is it culture?

Brian Grigson: Culture. Perception of... They want to go into a clean environment. They want security. They want to know that the company has room to grow. They want all of those other things besides what used to make companies successful. I think we have to change that to make our next generation successful.

Jason Zenger: Is it money? I have this later on in the list, but I want to know is it being driven by that dollars per hour number?

Brian Grigson: I know you're a smart man. And if you read the same report I did, I think, don't quote me exactly on it. But it was, I think it's 66% of that issue has little to moderate impact in the person's decision.

Jason Zenger: I agree.

Brian Grigson: Where they're employed.

Jason Zenger: I agree.

Brian Grigson: I've read that. I understand that. So if it's not money, what else can you offer?

Jason Zenger: And so what does that list of items that you offer that's different?

Brian Grigson: Go to our facility.

Jason Zenger: Okay.

Brian Grigson: And then go to a competitor's facility. You'll see the difference.

Jason Zenger: Beautiful. Hernan, can you just elaborate a little bit about what those differentiators are and tell us a little bit about your problems in trying to hire skilled or-

Jim Carr: And your solutions.

Jason Zenger: ... semi-skilled talent?

Hernan Ricaurte: Yeah. Sure. For us, I think like many of my colleagues here and around in the community, we've been growing a lot. Over the past three years we've experienced growth of about 30% year-over-year.

Jason Zenger: It's hard to manage.

Hernan Ricaurte: It's very hard to manage. I'm hoping for more, a little bit more of slow growth and planned growth. Hiring people is crucial. But it's something you have to be very, very careful about. Like anything, if you knee-jerk and just try to get people in there to jump on the machines and-

Jim Carr: Plug a hole. Yeah.

Hernan Ricaurte: It'll just be a bigger-

Jason Zenger: You're going to create problems in the future.

Hernan Ricaurte: ... mistake. Yeah, exactly.

Jason Zenger: Absolutely.

Hernan Ricaurte: So for us, I totally agree with what Greg is saying. Unfortunately, I have not had the time to go out and build those bridges with the community and things like that. What we have been focusing a little bit more on is our own employees. And just like Brian was mentioning, reaching out to the community and things like that is a must. But for us, what we've been focusing on is our own employees. So just we are obsessed over taking care of our customers we obsess over taking care of and seeing that our key employees have what they need in order to grow.

Jim Carr: So retention was really what you're focusing on.

Hernan Ricaurte: Retention, training, getting involved. And the culture, right? So getting them involved on anything new that we're doing. Anything from processes to branding, values, and making sure that they're a part of new technology investments and things like-

Jason Zenger: You're spending a lot of time developing your employees. Do you ever use your employees in order to find new talent?

Hernan Ricaurte: Absolutely.

Jason Zenger: How have you made that work?

Hernan Ricaurte: So it's-

Jason Zenger: Because it's a different approach than Brian's taking. And I think that there's credibility in both of them.

Hernan Ricaurte: Right. You cannot rush it. You cannot rush, and that's why I think you have to have your employees very much involved in the development of your growth and keep them involved. So it took me about a little over a year after I was in the business until I built those relationships with our key employees to make them feel comfortable and really think about how we can recruit together. Some of these relationships and some of the key employees that we have, and I don't know if I should say this, but started off as part-time employees.

Jim Carr: Oh, you think that's a tactic?

Hernan Ricaurte: Absolutely. For us it has been.

Jim Carr: Why? Can you elaborate? Because that's kind of new. I've never heard...

Hernan Ricaurte: You get to know each other.

Jim Carr: And so you're testing the waters a little bit. Is that what you mean?

Hernan Ricaurte: Absolutely.

Jim Carr: Okay.

Jason Zenger: That's even for shop floor jobs.

Hernan Ricaurte: Yes.

Jim Carr: Yeah. So what does part-time look like in your shop? Is that touchy because you're employing them maybe in the second shift after they've already worked first shift somewhere else?

Hernan Ricaurte: Exactly. Yeah.

Jim Carr: Oh, really.

Jason Zenger: I mean, it's a strategy. You know what I mean?

Jim Carr: It is a strategy.

Jason Zenger: I think it's a tactic that needs to be explored. And it kind of makes sense.

Hernan Ricaurte: It helps both of us. It helps the employee understand the culture, if they fit in. It helps us determine if they're a right fit. Not only from a technical aspect, but also from a cultural aspect.

Jim Carr: So we all agree that the boomers are on their way out, they're retiring. The backfill is difficult.

Jason Zenger: It sounds like you're just putting them out to pasture and shooting them or something, Jim.

Jim Carr: Well, no I mean-

Jason Zenger: They're gone.

Jim Carr: Everyone has an expiration date, right? And I certainly don't want to work forever. I want to enjoy the golden years a little bit as well. And so everyone has to have that. But let's talk about training. So we all agree training is really imperative in our industry in 2019. What percent of your workforce is training right now? They're not journeymen machinist. Anywhere from 5% to 75% on their way to that journeymen machinist status.

Jason Zenger: So are you talking about that person that just raised their hand and said I want to become a machinist. And I don't know anything.

Jim Carr: From two. Yeah. So just that guy that maybe just got out of high school that knew nothing. Maybe he was in the welding class in high school. Or, he had a little bit of cad knowledge and he brought that into one of their companies. To the guy that's been through the NTMA Training Center. He's knowledgeable with the fundamental skills of machining. He's got a little bit of CNC experience. He's almost there, but not quite. What percentage of your overall workforce is in that training?

Brian P.: In my machine shop there, I have all skilled guys. I have the one young fellow that I mentioned a minute ago that he's two, three years out of the NTMA. So he's Brian, he's 23, 24 years old. In my machine shop, the rest of them are all older and been at it a long time. They bring something to the table for years.

Brian P.: So but in my weld and fab, I've got three or four guys. I got a young kid, a year out of high school, wanted to be a welder. And I knew his folks. Good kid. And he's one of my best guys in the back.

Brian P.: Other than that, a couple younger fellows, cut and grind, and finish. But everybody else is, I look at a resume and I'm like, "You're going to be a good fit." Or, "We're going to teach you how to do this." So very small percentage of mine are non-trained.

Jim Carr: Are non-trained. Okay. Do your veteran talent teach that new guy? How receptive are they to teach the new talent?

Brian P.: I task them with that.

Jim Carr: Oh, you do task them.

Brian P.: Oh, yeah.

Jason Zenger: What does that look like?

Brian P.: It's my-

Jason Zenger: Are you talking about a very deliberate mentorship program?

Brian P.: Kind of not deliberate. But more of okay, my young guy, Brian, the machine shop guy. Good kid. Fairly good work ethic. But we're going to teach him certain things. And it's deliberate. Got to check your ego at the door. Someone's going to tell you how you do this. And you're going to learn how to do it the way we wanted to do it. And so yeah, it has to be deliberate.

Jim Carr: It has to be deliberate.

Brian P.: You can't just let some willy-nilly out there run a machine. No.

Jim Carr: No.

Brian P.: God, no.

Jim Carr: Yeah.

Brian P.: And it's the same in the weld stuff. I've got, like I mentioned the young weld kid. He's doing some stud welding today. He never done it. We got a stud weld, a route stud welding week. Taught him how to do it. And someone's checking him every day and managing. Oh, you have to. You have to have somebody kind of keep an eye on him. It's like, "Okay. You're responsible for this guy."

Jim Carr: They're shadowing.

Brian P.: Sure, exactly. That's a good way to look at it.

Jason Zenger: Yeah. And so what I do in my shop is those new green CNC machinist, I always put them on my old 20 year old CNCs. And I'm like, "Just play around there." Because if they jam that two-inch shell mill right into the table or into the side of the vice, I'm not going to cry. So yeah. That's a tactic that I use in my shop for the new people. What about you, Brian?

Brian Grigson: I think my number is much higher. We're probably about 60%. And I think we go kind of towards to your point, we have someone who can just operate, just stand there and push that button, change out parts. And then the next step would be setting up, doing some offset changes. And then the next step beyond that will be programmers. Where I would think I'd probably have about 30% of my senior programmers that can have four or five guys shadow underneath them at any given time.

Brian Grigson: And those guys, I mean, their tribal knowledge is priceless. And the fact that they could bring these guys in and show them what they're doing. And most of the time, I find that those guys, those gentlemen are more than happy to train these younger generations even excited a lot of the times.

Jason Zenger: Do you have a formalized program for how you manage that shadowing amongst those three different levels?

Brian Grigson: Not, no.

Jason Zenger: No.

Brian Grigson: No.

Jason Zenger: You just encourage them to make those connections and-

Brian Grigson: That's what we do.

Jason Zenger: ... if they're going to, oh, okay.

Brian Grigson: I would say that's the norm rather than the exception.

Jason Zenger: Do you think that sometimes that falls through the cracks when-

Brian Grigson: It could.

Jason Zenger: ... you get busy? And do you think that that's something that you can help solve in order to be more deliberate with your training of the-

Brian Grigson: In creating processes for that?

Jason Zenger: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah, like assigning level one guy with a level three guy?

Brian Grigson: I think you could. But I think at any given time, we're all in the manufacturing industry. We know there's times when it's just something's going crazy. And guess what? It can't happen that day. There might be an-

Jim Carr: There's always a fire to put out, right?

Brian Grigson: I always said in our management meetings, "I'm tired of being a firefighter. I want to be a smoke detector."

Jim Carr: Exactly.

Jason Zenger: So how do you make that transition because I mean, people-

Brian Grigson: Very slowly and very painfully.

Jason Zenger: Well, because I would say if you're going to attract the right people, people don't want to work for a company that's always in a fire drill. At least, the normal person. There's some people that like to work in fire drills all day long. But the normal person wants to be in an environment where they're not always fighting fires. So how do you make that transition?

Brian Grigson: We'd utilize new technology.

Jason Zenger: Okay.

Jim Carr: I agree with you, Brian.

Brian Grigson: We got an automated scheduler up and running a few years ago. It saved lives.

Jason Zenger: Okay.

Brian Grigson: We see things that are coming ahead of us three, four weeks at a time.

Jason Zenger: Okay. And are you using that technology to attract some of those younger machinist?

Brian Grigson: I feel like you have to. I mean-

Jim Carr: Totally.

Brian Grigson: I was going to say earlier, I can control my entire facility from my phone.

Jason Zenger: Okay.

Brian Grigson: I could open the doors. I can turn off the lights. We're working on proximity sensors for the guys so they don't have to actually clock in and out anymore. And I had a gentleman-

Jim Carr: Oh, that's cool.

Brian Grigson: ... a while back ago.

Jason Zenger: Really.

Brian Grigson: Yes. So as soon as they drive in the gate basically it clocks them in.

Jason Zenger: Nice.

Brian Grigson: And as soon as they leave the facility, it clocks them out.

Jason Zenger: Awesome.

Brian Grigson: I mean, little things like that. I had a gentleman I hired a few weeks ago. And he came in, he goes, "Wow. We used to have a punch card."

Jim Carr: Oh, no.

Brian Grigson: And I like, "What?"

Jim Carr: Conk, conk.

Brian Grigson: You might as well fax me something at the same time because what are you guys talking about? And then that kind of goes to... And we knew about this in the manufacturing community, all of us. We knew about this problem in 2012. We knew about it in 2013. We knew about it in 2014, getting worse. And here we are 2019, and we're talking about the same problem. And as a community, we didn't do anything. Or, maybe we did do things. But we definitely, certainly didn't take the right steps to attract this new generation of...

Jason Zenger: I would assume that when you're sitting down with that perspective employee and you tell them all these different things like, "You're punching in and out as you move in and out of the facility. I can manage the facility from my phone. I'm using data in order to best schedule jobs, and be more efficient."

Jason Zenger: I assume that that attracts that person to want to go to work for you. And you're getting the best of the best because of those things that you do. So you're not only investing in some of those processes in the company. But you're also making an investment in people that want to work for you.

Brian Grigson: I say the same thing, and that I said earlier. I treat talent, or employees a lot like I treat my customers. If I could get a customer to come into our facility, they're sold. If I can get an employee to come into our facility that had interviewed at another shop, or another shop and I might not even be offering the same amount of money. But they could see what we have to offer. Nine times out of 10 I'm going to get them hired.

Jason Zenger: What kind of investment is that in time and money and effort to get your company to that point?

Brian Grigson: I'm not sure if it's so much of a money issue as a time-

Jim Carr: I look at it as being different. I always, when I do something I always say, "And what I'm doing, or what I am potentially going to be doing, is it different from the norm?" Because I believe that if you are different, and you stand out amongst the rest that you're going to get noticed. And people are going to be attracted to you for that reason.

Jason Zenger: And it's breeding a culture as well because I remember several years ago when I went into a much bigger facility than mine, and a much nicer facility than mine at the time. And I was walking down the aisle way, and I see an employee. A cart had leaked over on the line, on the floor. And an employee, who it wasn't his cart, just walked over, pushed it out of the way so it was back into the lined area-

Jim Carr: The zone.

Jason Zenger: ... it was supposed to, yeah. And then he kept walking. And I thought to myself, "That is amazing." That wasn't his cart. He didn't need to do that. But at some point in time, he realized that the culture of that shop meant that if that cart was not in its right place, then it was his responsibility to move it into the right place. And you know how much that kind of culture costs? Nothing.

Jim Carr: Nothing.

Jason Zenger: But you have to practice.

Jim Carr: And you have to train it.

Jason Zenger: And the practice starts at the top-

Jim Carr: Yes, it does.

Jason Zenger: ... and works its way down.

Jim Carr: It's just like culture. Culture starts at the top. If the leaders aren't fully invested, how can you expect your team to be?

Hernan Ricaurte: Yeah. And really the only thing I can add to that, and Brian that was... I totally agree with what you're saying. Is that we don't have necessarily a very structured way of doing it. But our seven leads, both day and night, are evaluated on their mentoring of other machinists and then people in their group. Talking about culture, and changing culture and things like that.

Hernan Ricaurte: Our leads know that they're evaluated on the strength of their team. And so little things that we do. For example, we assign notebooks to everyone on the floor. And they know that the worst thing that when I first started was that we have some people trying, learning. Other people, that sort of is going by the day to day. But asking the same questions. Or, making the same mistakes.

Hernan Ricaurte: So in order to mitigate that we are doing little things. And again, like the notebooks. We go around and look at the notebooks. How the leads look-

Jason Zenger: What do they put in these notebooks? This is interesting.

Hernan Ricaurte: Any jobs, of course, we cannot allow them to put drawings and things like that.

Jason Zenger: Proprietary information.

Hernan Ricaurte: Absolutely. But an example, we'll have tooling come out of the tool crib. Sometimes you've got maybe a dull tool. Do they notice that or not? And things like that, they have to note down so that they don't repeat the same mistake. Or, if there's a specific issue with a set up, or how to would you have set up better, what have you. They have to take those notes. So that when they're given the opportunity to do a similar set up, or be a part of a similar set up, they have to improve on what they did in the past.

Jason Zenger: That's interesting. And it kind of reminds me of when we were in North Carolina for a CUMAT, and they talked about their new think developers group that they imbed PowerPoint presentations into the controls of the machine. So that they can say once this job gets to this step, it pulls up this presentation. And it outlines for them, okay, this is how you set up this job.

Jason Zenger: Or, if it gets to another operation, it's almost kind of like your notebook. Okay, this is the point where you need to turn the material over and you're doing the second op on the other side. And that way you don't make those same mistakes over, and over, and over again. But they're doing it in electronics. It's almost like an electronic notebook in that regard. But not everybody's that organized. But I think that that definitely helps.

Jason Zenger: Jim, don't you have online chat for Carr Machine & Tool?

Jim Carr: As a matter of fact, we do. And John just mentioned to me the other day that somebody was chatting with him online. I'm like, "Great." That's all millennials want to do, right?

Jason Zenger: Yeah. And that's why Xometry has it as well.

Jim Carr: I know. It's fantastic. You can just go right to the thing. If you have a question, just go right to the chat box, type in your question. And they can answer it for you right away.

Jason Zenger: Yeah. There's a little box that says, "Help," with a bubble. Type your questions in there and away you go. Go to X-O-M-E-T-R-Y dot com.

Jason Zenger: I have a question that I want each and everyone of you to answer for me. How impactful is perception of our industry on these new impressionable young students, talent that we want, that come into our business? How impressionable is the parents' decision on that kids career path? And what can we do to change that perception?

Hernan Ricaurte: As far as the perception is concerned, I think it really depends on I guess, the target, socioeconomics, and things like that. I mean, from my perspective, prior to joining the family business my perspective of manufacturing was not negative at all. My perception maybe it was from having lived in Japan for a little over 10 years. It was clean. It was automated. It was fast. It was smart. It was a lot of engineers.

Hernan Ricaurte: It was I think that's where manufacturing is going. That's where it is. There are manufacturing in the US and everywhere else I guess is still quite fragmented. So while I think over the next several years, just like the banking industry, just like every other industry. There's going to be a lot of consolidation, and buyouts, and things like that.

Hernan Ricaurte: Even today, I mean, which companies are doing well? The bigger companies are doing really well. The smaller companies are not doing too well actually, if you really, really take a look at it. As far as perception is concerned, I think it really depends. Doing stuff like you guys do in reaching out and trying to educate future manufacturing skilled labor is key.

Hernan Ricaurte: But also again, educating business leaders and owners that you need to motivate. Branding is not a should, it's a must.

Jim Carr: It is.

Hernan Ricaurte: Automation's not a should, it's a must. And especially here in California, labor is expensive. And land is expensive, and taxes are crazy. Our labor force is competing against automation. And one manufacturing leader that I consult with quite often says that, tells his employees, "You're competing against the machine. The difference between you and the machine is that you have a brain." I think that the manufacturing image is not necessarily negative.

Jason Zenger: So you think it's improved over the last decade?

Hernan Ricaurte: Again, from my background, I always sort of saw manufacturing as that Japanese, Kaizen, Kanban.

Jason Zenger: Well, let's talk about that for a moment. What do you think the manufacturing leaders here in the United States can learn from... I would assume in Japan the companies are a lot bigger.

Hernan Ricaurte: Not necessarily.

Jason Zenger: Not necessarily. It is fragmented just like it is here?

Hernan Ricaurte: It is.

Jason Zenger: Okay. So-

Hernan Ricaurte: And if anything, most businesses are more fragmented in Japan than [crosstalk 00:46:05]-

Jason Zenger: Okay. Okay, well, I didn't know that. That's good to know. Well, what could the manufacturing leaders learn from those Japanese manufacturing leaders?

Hernan Ricaurte: We are already, right?

Jason Zenger: We are, yeah.

Hernan Ricaurte: And conversely, I was really surprised at how many companies here, CNC machine shops or what have you, are talking about Kaizen, Kanban. All of these things that are just Japanese words.

Jason Zenger: Yeah. Right.

Hernan Ricaurte: And it's just so funny that you see people on the floor that can barely put a sentence together sometimes talking about Kaizen and Kanban and things like that.

Jason Zenger: Serious.

Hernan Ricaurte: But no, so, to your question. I think we have implemented. But we need to do more.

Jason Zenger: What more can we do? What is the more that you're looking for?

Hernan Ricaurte: So for example, I have a friend that is an owner of a quite large machine shop in Japan. Their facilities are in Japan just outside of Tokyo. And they take up two football fields. So they're recently big.

Jason Zenger: That's a big shop.

Hernan Ricaurte: They do not have any cleaning services. All of their employees clean the floors and everything every Saturday. So I mean, that's-

Jason Zenger: So everyone's responsible for their own area.

Hernan Ricaurte: So that's to the extreme. And again, in Japan, in schools when my son was four years old, he was responsible for cleaning his classroom. There are no cleaning services. So it's just, that is an extreme. But it just goes to show the importance of culture, the importance of responsibility and accountability. Also, although they have a very large facility, they can fit more machines into those facilities than any place I've ever seen in the US.

Hernan Ricaurte: So the attention to detail, the respect.

Jason Zenger: There's a very distinct hierarchy there that they abide to from a respect standpoint, right?

Hernan Ricaurte: Correct. And which is good and bad.

Jason Zenger: Because probably bad because there might be some passion or knowledge, or something that you can get out of that younger person.

Hernan Ricaurte: Absolutely. And to answer your question, I would just say some of these manufacturing leaders maybe need to go to Japan, or interact with them because I learned a ton from visiting shops and manufacturing facilities here in the US. Now, with the experience that I have, I would probably learn so much more from seeing what goes on in places like Japan.

Jason Zenger: Brian Pendarvis, what about perception? Are we getting better, or are we getting worse?

Brian P.: We're getting a lot better.

Jason Zenger: Okay, good.

Brian P.: I think there was an... I want to say the '90s, and the early '20s there was a less of a-

Jason Zenger: The early '20s?

Brian P.: Early 2000s.

Jason Zenger: Okay.

Brian P.: How do you say that? I don't know how you say it. So and what when I'm-

Jim Carr: The early zeros.

Brian P.: Yeah, what I'm getting to is shows like the Battle Bot Show, and shows like that, and How It's Made. I love those shows.

Jason Zenger: Yeah.

Brian P.: The challenge we had was there was a period in the '90s and the early 2000s, there was no shop classes. And that they were all gone. So but that was-

Jason Zenger: That was during my generation. They killed a lot of that stuff.

Jim Carr: They killed them.

Jason Zenger: Yeah.

Jim Carr: That's why, that's probably why-

Jason Zenger: That's a big factor.

Jim Carr: ... your generation isn't there, right?

Jason Zenger: Yeah.

Brian P.: So yeah. So you have this generation of the early '30s to late '40s that just don't have this perception. I have people come in my shop they're like, "Wow. People really make this stuff here?"

Jason Zenger: Yeah.

Brian P.: I mean-

Jason Zenger: That would be the perception amongst my generation. Yeah, what do you mean we manufacture in the United States? Isn't that all in China now?

Brian P.: I had a recent call. I drive by this guy's shop, this office for 20 years. Guy calls me, "I need some big tanks made." Sends me a drawing. I'm like, "Yeah, we're going to make it here in Anaheim." He said, "You guys do that in Anaheim?" Well, yeah, we do. I was blown away. But he was probably 40, 45 years old.

Brian P.: Lets fast-forward. So what I do know, I've been part of a task force through the North Orange County Chamber. We are working to change that perception. There's a whole big old task force. And then I even know in the City of Orange, they're going down the education, there's consultants and stuff all the way down to the junior high, elementary school because there's this study, there's several of them probably.

Brian P.: Eight, or 10, or 15 years ago that we as a society push everybody to college. The reality is there's only X amount of people are going to be good in college. And we pushed them there. There should have been somewhere back in sixth, seventh, eighth grade do some vocational aptitude tests, figure out. And just and have a talk with Johnny and his mom. And say, "I don't think college is the right route for you."

Brian P.: But the perception was that was a negative. I think it's changing. But I mean, Esperanza High School here locally in North Orange County. They have a whole, in a high school, they do 3-D printing, they have a machine shop and weld shop. I got young kids. I've been there, toured it a couple months back. So it is changing.

Brian P.: Fullerton College has a great program. Santa Ana College. But it's the perception. And I think it is shifting. Instagram. Oh, my gosh. I love Instagram. Welding. And all this crazy stuff. I'm all over that stuff. I love watching those things. And I think there is a generation finally realizing yeah, this is good fun stuff. And come to my place, you're going to go home smell a little bit. And that's good. I don't mind. That's just the way it is, brother.

Jason Zenger: I don't mind either. That's the way, that's how it's always been.

Brian P.: That's it. That's right.

Jason Zenger: It's definitely diminished a little bit over the last 30 years. But it's not nearly as bad as it was. That's for sure.

Brian P.: But back to your question. Yes, I do think the perception's changing. And I want to say I'm part of it a little bit. My friends, I got a lot, big circle of friends. They just love what we do at our company. And we kick butt at it too, man.

Jason Zenger: Great. Brian Grigson, perception.

Brian Grigson: Getting better, but I think we've had a serious lag there where we weren't hitting our market, our target in the graphic.

Jason Zenger: Sure.

Brian Grigson: Manufacturers I think got behind the time especially, in social media appealing to that next generation. I know I was of the generation where my mom was like, "You're going to college to be a doctor because your dad was a steel worker. And I don't want you to be a steel worker. You're going to be better." But my dad taught me how to work on cars. And I could change a cam in and out of a 350 Chevy in 30 minutes or less.

Jason Zenger: Awesome.

Brian Grigson: And I grew up working with my hands. So I was naturally attracted to welding in high school. But I think there was this big gap somewhere along the lines where kids stopped working with hand tools and stopped going to auto shop, and machine shop, and welding, and when those things weren't offered. So now the perception of is it a dirty job? Is it a low paying job? And I think we as a community need to change that perception first.

Jason Zenger: We know it certainly is not low paying. And we certainly know it is not dirty, right?

Brian Grigson: Yeah. You could go to a trade school for nine months and get a great paying career. Or, you could go to college four year degree end up with all that student debt. And probably get out of school and maybe not even have as good a job as your counterpart did that just went to school for nine months.

Jason Zenger: I could not agree with you more.

Brian Grigson: And touching on the social media and stuff like that. We put a $40 pumpkin in a million dollar machine and carved it out and put it on Instagram and Facebook. And we got more likes, and shares, and retweets. And then when we put $100,000 piece of aerospace material in there and machine that out, what do the kids like?

Jason Zenger: The pumpkin.

Brian Grigson: The pumpkin.

Jason Zenger: Yeah, because that's more relatable.

Brian Grigson: Yeah. And we got the, "Oh, I didn't know you could do this here. How did you guys make this? How did you do this?" That's where we got to know what demographic are we trying to hit?

Jason Zenger: Right.

Brian Grigson: Because when we put a cool looking aerospace part in there, you know what that is. You know what that is. I know what that is. But for a 17 year old kid, that doesn't mean anything.

Jason Zenger: Yeah.

Male: I'm going to machine a pumpkin [inaudible 00:53:09].

Male: There's a big market, I'm telling you.

Jason Zenger: So what does that future talent look like? How do we identify that person? What characteristics does that person have? So everybody that's listening to this show when they see, hear, and feel, and communicate with that person that they know, they're ripe for manufacturing. And they're going to really have a great career by joining our companies and being trained up.

Jason Zenger: Do they have great math skills? Do they have good mechanical aptitude? Are they-

Hernan Ricaurte: I think it really depends.

Jason Zenger: Okay.

Hernan Ricaurte: I mean, it really does. I mean because in our shop floor for example, some of our best guys have some weaknesses that are severe, but are just brilliant on the machine, are just brilliant programmers, and things like that. So you can't necessarily go by some of the smartest guys that we have are a little bit lazy.

Jason Zenger: Okay. No, I-

Hernan Ricaurte: You can't just pin one thing, right? What I look for are people that want to grow. You were mentioning a moment ago Brian, wanting to do that extra in order to not only learn but to help each other. So maybe not necessarily specific skill per se, but it's just having something in them that they are willing to stay late, or to do that little extra work in order to learn. And how to identify that takes a little bit more than a half-hour interview.

Jason Zenger: One of the Brian's.

Brian P.: I think instill curiosity in people. Curiosity to want to make something. And I think we're moving that in the direction and hiring people. It's interesting what he was saying about the smart guys and the not-so-smart. You've got different skills. And it's just tricky to put a finger on which person's going to be great in the manufacturing world. They got to have a little drive.

Brian P.: But they could be great doctors. They could be good at anything. Very tricky. I've had great machinists. The funniest thing is my best machinist ever, they were a little wonky. They were just, dude, I feel like after a while like, "You're crazy." I mean, they were kind of crazy. I know you're going to cut this part out. That's okay.

Jason Zenger: No, I mean, it's some of the smartest people are a little crazy.

Brian P.: They were... I had the sharpest guy. He could make my mill do stuff we didn't even know it could do.

Brian Grigson: I would say, what I find is people that like to make things from nothing into something. That's what I find. And when they get that feeling of I've taken this square block that was a big chunk of aluminum. And now I've turned it into this really cool aerospace part. The look in their eyes, the excitement they have, the pride in the workmanship. That's when you see, "Oh, you're going to be a great machinist one day."

Jason Zenger: So I've got one last question. And for me this kind of hits home because I've been talking about this a lot. But I think LA for the most part is similar to Chicago in that your city is plagued by some economic issues, some gang issues, some people that want to try to rise above where they're at. Do you think that there's an untapped market out there? Say, in the inner cities where you could train people who don't have the prospect of going to college, but could get a technical education.

Jim Carr: You mean don't have the privilege.

Jason Zenger: Don't have the... Well, probably both.

Jim Carr: Because that's... It certainly is a privilege.

Jason Zenger: No, that's a good point. It's they don't have the privilege, and maybe they also don't have the drive because one of the things I tell people is that being a CNC machinist, being a welder is the highest paying job that you can get without a college education. Do you think that there's an untapped market out there here in LA? In Chicago? Where we need to be reaching out to some of those communities and saying, "You need to get trained to get into the manufacturing industry."

Hernan Ricaurte: I absolutely agree. Yeah, absolutely.

Jason Zenger: And what can we do to get there? Or, what have you guys done? Maybe you've done something and we don't know about. Or, what can we do? Let's just float some ideas at each other.

Brian Grigson: I think-

Jim Carr: Jason wants to solve world problems. Two at the same time.

Brian Grigson: I think a lot of these younger generation doesn't even know it's a viable option for them. They don't know that there's welding careers out there, there's manufacturing careers out there because I don't think that your people are getting to them at that level in middle school and junior high, or high school. Because if they don't know about it by the time they're turning 17, 18, then they're going to work at a warehouse.

Jim Carr: We've missed the boat.

Brian Grigson: Or, they're doing something else. But if you can get them interested in their senior year, or freshman year, or junior year, whenever. And then they know that that's a viable option for them when they graduate high school. And then you can put them into a training center like LA NTMA has, or something along those lines. Then you're ahead of the curve.

Brian Grigson: But to answer your question, I don't think they know it's an option. I don't think we've done enough to-

Jason Zenger: It's a good point.

Brian Grigson: ... put that message out there.

Jim Carr: We haven't done our due diligence.

Jason Zenger: Yeah, that's a good point.

Jim Carr: Yeah.

Brian P.: So I live in... I'm born and raised in Fullerton, been her my whole life. It's a 20 minute drive from here. And the Fullerton area, about six, eight, 10 years ago a group of people... We have a demographics and neighborhood that was really crime ridden and stuff. And a bunch of teachers and other folks in the community got together and they started studying kids. And they partnered with the local junior high and elementary school in this one little neighborhood. It's called Joya Scholars.

Brian P.: And today, what Joya does is they started interviewing kids and parents. And they would go to the schools. In every school the demographics show that there's always these bright kids no matter what. So you talk about disadvantaged. So these little pockets of let's say, 500 or 1,000 kids. The numbers showed that X amount of kids are bright just naturally talented.

Brian P.: So what the Joya Scholars does is they partnered with parents, and kids, and teachers and said, "Look. You give us your brightest, and we're going to get them into college." So what they did is they interviewed these kids, part of the process. And their ambition was to work at the local Target. That was their ambition. That was their hood they lived in, their whole ambition was to get out of school-

Jim Carr: And to work at Target.

Brian P.: ... by the skin of your teeth and work at your local Target. No disrespect for Target.

Jim Carr: No, not at all.

Brian P.: But you had these brilliant kids so that these teachers would identify in their classrooms, all the bright kids. And said, "You know, Johnny, we're going to introduce you to this team called Joya Scholars." So the Joya teams up with college kids and mentor them. And they assign three or four kids to one young adult going through college. And it's all a volunteer organization. Now, they're in two schools. And I drive by them all the... They're right, Maple School in Fullerton. The other one is in Placentia.

Brian P.: But these little pockets of... They're everywhere. So you had mentioned-

Jason Zenger: Do you think we could take that same model to manufacturing?

Brian P.: Very much so. I don't know how to do it. I don't know how to do it, but the reality is there's bright people everywhere. It's statistical.

Jason Zenger: Maybe they don't have the awareness, or don't-

Brian P.: They don't have the awareness.

Jason Zenger: Or, don't have anybody that believes in them.

Brian P.: No, no.

Jason Zenger: Or, thinks that they can do it.

Brian P.: That's just something it kind of lends to what you're talking about.

Jason Zenger: No, that makes sense. Now, were you going to-

Jim Carr: Great story, Brian. Thanks for sharing.

Jason Zenger: ... say something?

Hernan Ricaurte: Yeah, well, to the points that were made. I mean, I totally agree. I think first of all, all of us, its human nature, right, to assimilate to the group that you're around, or surrounded by. And if we give these kids an opportunity to recognize that they can elevate their standards, then absolutely. I think we could tap into something really cool. And help these kids.

Hernan Ricaurte: Another thing that just comes to mind is in reflecting back in my relationship with the machine shop in Japan. In Japan, generally, schools finish the end of February, March whether it's high school, or college, or what have you. And every one starts job hunting. Everyone has a white shirt and a blue suit. Female or male, everybody.

Hernan Ricaurte: Everybody has-

Jason Zenger: So everyone looks alike.

Hernan Ricaurte: Yes. And then everyone has the template resume with a picture on the upper right hand side. You're not allowed to smile. And it's the same thing. But whether you're going to try to work for Goldman Sachs, or you're going to work at Target, or you're going to work at a machine shop, the same resume, template, the same picture, and everything like that.

Hernan Ricaurte: The employees at this machine shop in particular, all start in April.

Jason Zenger: Oh, you're kidding.

Hernan Ricaurte: So they all start in April and they become employees of that company, living, breathing, the culture from that period on. Just makes me think that I would be really interested, and now I'm very much curious as to how they do it in other countries.

Jason Zenger: Well, I know Nick and I have talked about how in Germany they very much have an apprenticeship program there that is very deliberate. And some of these other countries are doing things differently than we are here in the United States. And we could learn some things from that. We really can.

Jason Zenger: So gentlemen, we really appreciate you coming on the show. I think that we've talked about some great subject matter, and you guys have definitely lended some great knowledge to the Metal Working Nation. So thank you for that.

Jim Carr: Absolutely. It's been a pleasure to meet you and share your stories with the Metal Working Nation. And I'm confident that we've done our job to equip and inspire the Metal Working Nation today. And hopefully, I, well, I know-

Jason Zenger: What did you learn?

Jim Carr: What did I learn? I learned we're doing better with perception. To me, that's always been the thing that I thought we've been failing at over the last couple decades.

Jason Zenger: And maybe it was just my generation was the lost generation.

Jim Carr: I think it was. Well, they-

Jason Zenger: The lost generation of manufacturing.

Jim Carr: I think when the schools were having difficulty, they cut those. They cut the funding for that.

Jason Zenger: Yeah.

Jim Carr: And it was just-

Jason Zenger: It makes a difference. So I mean, we need-

Jim Carr: It wasn't relevant.

Jason Zenger: But one of the constant themes that we've talked about through this entire episode is that we need to get these kids young whether those kids come from inner city LA or Chicago, or they come from a community that understands manufacturing. We need to get them young.

Jim Carr: We certainly do. We certainly do.

Jason Zenger: And we've talked about that when had Tony from Haas on the show at our Round Table at ITMS. It was one of the things that she said is that we got to get them young.

Jim Carr: Yeah. So great content in this particular show. How does the Metal Working Nation reach out to anyone of these three people-

Jason Zenger: Well, I think-

Jim Carr: Or, to us-

Jason Zenger: Yeah, I think one of the-

Jim Carr: ... to continue the conversation.

Jason Zenger: I think what I'd like to ask the Metal Working Nation is reach out to Jim and I. Give us your feedback. Let us know if there's something that you could add to the conversation. Email us at or Or, just that'll come to all of us. And let us know what you think.

Jason Zenger: If you've got a great idea on something that we didn't talk about that we can learn from, and you want to get it out to the Metal Working Nation, please engage with us and let us know.

Jim Carr: And subscribe to the Boring Bar. All the lengths to all these people will be there. They'll be able to connect with them on their own level.

Jason Zenger: Because at the end of the day, if you're not MakingChips...

Jim Carr: You're not making money. Bam.

Jason Zenger: Bam.

Narrator: Metal Working Nation, listen up. Manufacturing is challenging. You need to think differently. The day to day whirlwind of urgencies, the pressure to grow, customer demands, workforce development, new machine tools and robots. The list goes on and on. It is possible to stay ahead of the game of manufacturing, but you can't do it alone.

Narrator: We're here to give you access to exclusive content from the leaders as well as videos, blogs, show notes, and more resources designed to equip and inspire you on MakingChips.

Jason Zenger: So you know before you answer that question, Brian. Jim's going to use this word pulse 10 times this episode.

Jim Carr: Yeah.

Jason Zenger: It's his word of the day.

Jim Carr: It is. Yeah, it is a word of the day.

Jason Zenger: Yeah. So...

Jim Carr: Yeah, exactly.

Jason Zenger: If he gets annoying with the pulse, just tell him to use another word, okay?

Jim Carr: Should I go in the Thesaurus?

Jason Zenger: Yeah.

Jim Carr: And get another word for-

Jason Zenger: Use it to get a better word.

Male: 31.

Male: (silence).


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