Saturday, October 28, 2017

Enough About You....

Let's talk about me.

As you may have read here, my work life has been interesting this year.
In that last post about work life, I said that I was about to start a new job.
Let me tell you about that.

When I interviewed for the position, I was sent a job description that was for a different position than the one I was applying for.
I was applying for Assistant Maintenance Manager, which (from the description I was given verbally) seemed more a Maintenance Manager position by another name. The job description that was mailed to me was for a Controls Manager, something I was actually more interested in.

I met with two guys for the interview (let's call then Steve and Tim, because that's their names), one (Tim) being the Plant Manager and the other (Steve) being the Engineering Manager.

They both seemed impressed with what I could offer them and we discussed both roles. They said that they wanted to hire me and would figure which role for me to take later.

I started my first day, but was not given an assignment, so I made it a point to go out on the factory floor and familiarize myself with the processes. While on the floor, I met the Maintenance Manager, who had not been at the interview, and who had not been mentioned to me. That was perplexing.

I ended up staring at a robot assembly cell (EPS, electronic power steering) that just shouted opportunity for improvement. As I was taking notes, Steve walked up behind me and asked what I was doing. He then assigned me to continue developing a plan for improvement of that cell as it was a big bottleneck for them. He also said that they were still deciding on which position I would take and that I would have a voice in that decision.

Over the next few days, I did just that. I called vendors for parts to improve the gripping of the part. The Maintenance Manager had told me that since the cell (and all the equipment on the floor) had been built in Korea, there were replacement parts that he could not source and asked me to find sources.
I started doing that also.

At the end of the second week there, I gave Steve a three page document with a plan to improve the EPS cell.
He then told me that he had just been tasked by the COO (above Tim) to get all the equipment programs (robots, controllers, vision, touchscreens) backed up as soon as possible. I told him I would begin on it Monday.

On Monday I started to inventory all the equipment to be backed up.
I was then introduced to a new hire, Geoff, about my age, as the new Controls Manager.  ???
The project I was working on would normally fall to someone in that role, so I assumed he would be taking it over. In talking to Geoff, he said that he also had been awarded that project, but that he actually wasn't the Controls Manager, that his role was still to be determined. I said I would be happy to work with him on the project, but was confused by the situation. He was also.

In the meantime, this Korean based company was changing it's internal IT system to force every document to be stored in their proprietary cloud.
There were a lot of problems.
I could not take a video of a process and plug my phone into my laptop and transfer the video. The software would not allow it. I could not share it on a server with others for discussion. You could not write to a thumb drive. IT called the new system the MVirus as it was causing them so many problems.
For someone to share a powerpoint presentation, they ended up putting their phone under a camera connected to a projector which would then project the images on the phone's display!
I sat in a training session and asked how we could possibly share large Autocad or Solidworks files with each other, vendors or customers and was told that we could not. Incredible.

One afternoon, I went to the maintenance office to suggest to the purchaser where she might get a replacement part mentioned earlier.
Tim, the Plant Manager followed me into the office. He asked how it was going and I told him about the suggestions I had given Steve. The Maintenance Manager was standing there and asked if I had copied him. I said no, but if he'd like, I would. He got a little upset and said that I should. He then turned to Tim and asked in a very abrupt manner, exactly who I reported to. Tim told him that I reported to the Maintenance Manager, of course. This was the first I heard this.
The Maintenance Manager then demanded I move my desk into his office.
I did the next day. He then gave me some assignments he wanted me to do.
While I was doing some of this, Steve came up to me and asked if I got his email. I said I had not. He said I should have. I showed him my phone, that I had not. I asked what he had wanted to communicate to me. He said he was scheduling a meeting about the software backup project, drop what I was doing and proceed with that.
I found Geoff and asked how I could help. He said he was still planning and would get back to me. I asked him to call me if he heard of the meeting Steve mentioned being scheduled. I went back to my desk to work on what the Maintenance Manager had asked me to do.
At 2:57 PM, Steve showed up at my desk and asked if I was coming to his meeting. I told him that I had not received a notification. Just then, an Outlook popup appeared on my laptop. I told him I would be there and he walked away.
I looked at the notification. It had been sent only a few minutes prior, but the meeting was scheduled for an hour earlier! Whatever.
I walked up front, found Geoff and we went to the meeting.
Steve lumbered in, sat in front of Geoff and began to question him about his progress (in an unfriendly manner). Geoff replied that he was still trying to figure out where all the equipment to backup was, as he was new to the plant.
Steve told him that that was no excuse, that he himself had to learn the plant floor in a short time.
He then turned to me and asked what I had been doing.
I told him I was doing what the Maintenance Manager had me do while trying to support Geoff. He asked why I was doing that. I said that since I reported to the Maintenance Manager, I felt I should do what he asked. Steve said that the decision as to my role had not yet been made. I said that that was interesting as Tim had told me otherwise. Steve stared at me with his mouth open for roughly twenty seconds after which he closed it, and then said, "You are dismissed from this meeting.".
I said "Thank you" and left.
The next day, the Maintenance Manager told me that my new priority was to assist Geoff on the backup project. I did that.
I had also come in on Sunday afternoon and reprogrammed the EPS robot at the request of the Production Manager. The changes I made reduced it's downtime to zero for three days after implementation.
On Thursday morning, at a standup meeting presided by Tim, the Production Manager congratulated me on my accomplishment with the EPS Robot and asked that I apply similar magic to the robot next to it. Tim then assigned me to do so. The supervisors and managers standing around me patted me on the back.
Twenty minutes later, Steve found me and asked me to come up front with him.
We went into an office wherein I met the new HR manager.
I was then informed that I was being terminated.
I asked why and was informed that it was because of the disrespect I had shown Steve in a meeting. When I asked which, I was told I knew. When I insisted, I was told it was the one where I had said that I reported to the Maintenance Manager. I was then also told that I had spent too much time on my phone and that I just wasn't showing the initiative they required.
I asked the HR Mgr if it was normal to terminate someone with no progressive discipline. She replied that they were an "at will" employer.
I thanked them for saving me the decision to quit such an insane organization.
Being fired isn't always the negative it seems to be.
This was the second time I had been fired in one year!
But as bad as that sounds, if you are not suited for a position or vice versa, either you quit or you are fired. It doesn't mean you are unemployable or a bad person.

A friend of mine offered to hire me full time to work on his equipment. He particularly had a machine that he bought that was associated with a controller that could no longer be supported. I was to modernize the automation. I did that for three weeks. During that period, I took calls from recruiters. One of these was a recruiter I had worked with before and respected much. She asked what I had  been doing. When I mentioned Quality Metal Craft, the company I had worked for just prior, she said that they wanted me back. We talked some more.
She asked if I knew anything about laser welding.
I asked if this was for Taylor Welded Blanks, a position I had turned down a year earlier to work at Merit. She said yes, but that another company was also looking. I asked if it was Shiloh and she said yes. I then reminded her that I had worked there from 2006 to 2009. She asked why I had left.

I told her I had left because I was privy to a female managers indiscretions with another manager (I had stumbled on them in the plant in as I was closing it more than once) and complained about it regularly to the Plant Manager (my boss). The affair they were having kept the guy from doing his job which involved providing support for my job.
The Plant Manager left and the female manager took his position and I was laid off and subsequently severanced. This was during the 2009 crash, so corporate wasn't aware. They had been told I quit.
I heard that she was fired earlier this year.

I interviewed with the new Plant Manager and HR Manager. Also the remaining Automation Engineer. During the interview, I was asked for some projects I had worked on to demonstrate my proficiency.
In reply, I asked about some processes out on the shop floor and whether they were still there. The answer was yes. I told them I had built or programmed those.
That was fun.
When I was asked if I would like a tour of the plant, I said I would. When we walked the floor, people I hadn't worked with in eight years came up and hugged me or shook my hand, asking if I was coming back. I never knew.
The Automation Engineer giving me the tour seemed sharp. We talked about changes that had been made since I had left.
I liked the guy.
He escorted me back to the door. I got home to a phone call that said they wanted to make an offer.
I was thrilled, as was Scherie. Except for the circumstances of my leaving, that job was one that held the fondest memories in my career.

I started last Tuesday.
As HR was putting me through orientation it turned out that most of my personnel file was still in the system, including a picture of me from 2009!
God is good.
Yesterday, a robot stopped behaving the way it should.
I mentioned that I had seen that happen with another robot there eight years ago, and that I had written a software routine to patch it.
Looking on the server, I found a copy of that robot program.
We (my new work partner and I) copied and pasted it into the offending robot and got it running again after he massaged the code some to meet the newer application. We're a good team.
God is good.

And during this time I was trying to get the first edition of the newspaper Scherie and I had bought to press.
My radio co-host  and friend Gary sold it to us, as he had personal reasons (of which I was aware) for selling it.
It's been a real trial and I will tell the story in another not so long winded post.
But the issue can be seen here.`


  1. Busy man! And congrats on getting 'back' to a good position!

  2. God's plan can seem awfully convoluted, but He always sees that we end up where we belong. Congrats on your progress back to your future!

    1. Back To The Future! Why didn't I think of that?

  3. Your paper seems to generate good ad volume.

    For some reason I enjoyed the garden column.

    1. I had the same thought regarding the ad rev. Real good support. What's your circ?

    2. Nice! Any audit count or guestimate on digital eyeballs?

    3. Digital has been neglected.
      Post and forget.
      I wonder if godaddy can tell.

  4. I enjoyed reading about you ... and I thought the paper was very well done. Congratulations on both accounts.

    Semper Fi

  5. Paper looks great - and wonderful to hear about the blessing of the new work situation.

  6. Faith can lead down some strange paths, but never leads you down the wrong path.

    Good luck and God bless.

    1. Faith can lead down some strange paths, but never leads you down the wrong path.
      That's quotable.

  7. So happy to hear things have turned out well. What an ordeal at the last place. One minute, a slap of congrats on the back for a job well done, followed shortly by termination by a butt-hurt bureaucrat. God is good!!! And Ed is 'special'!

  8. A pox upon your former employer's managers.

    Two words come to mind and the first one is cluster. My bet is the managers are incompetent and also on drugs.

    Glad it is turning out well.

    1. Kid, that company is owned by Hyundai.
      You are familiar with Koreans :)

  9. I've found my way to really good things through dark and tangled pasts due to faith. Good on you Ed.

    1. Sometimes when God wants to bless us, it's a strain on us :)