The Manufacturing Executive
The Manufacturing Executive

Episode · 1 year ago

Doing the Dirty Work: How to Find Qualified, Consistent Labor w/ Gary Konarska

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

We hear grumblings about automation taking away job opportunities. But inside the manufacturing sector, companies are struggling to find high quality, consistent human laborers.

The real challenge facing the industry is this: Baby Boomers are exiting the workforce, and there aren't enough people in the skilled trades to replace them.

Gary Konarska, Executive Director & CEO at American Welding Society, joined this episode of the podcast to discuss how to attract and retain high quality labor.

Gary and I talked about:

  • The opportunity cost of college and the value of learning a skilled trade 
  • How to address the shortage of welders
  • Ways to attract fresh talent through creating great content
  • How to upskill the current welding workforce

Resources we talked about:

To ensure that you never miss an episode of The Manufacturing Show, subscribe on Apple Podcasts, or Spotify, or here.

And I think over time- and it's reallybeen probably a two decade journey- that that pendulum is started to swingback, where the emphasis on vocational skills of bringing back those types ofprograms into the high school level and then into the post secondary level, hasreally started to gain. Steed. Welcome to the manufacturing executivepodcast, where we explore the strategies and experiences that aredriving midsize manufacturers. FORARD here you'll discover new insights frompassionate manufacturing leaders who have compelling stories to share abouttheir successes and struggles and youill learn from btob sales andmarketing experts about how to apply actionable business developmentstrategies inside your business. Let's get into the show welcome to another episode of theManufacturing Executive podcast. This show is being brought to you by oursponsor cadinus part solutions: I'm Jo Sullivin your host and a cofounder ofthe Industrial Marketing Agency Garilla. Seventy six. So we talk a lot on thisshow about top line growth sales, marketing lead generation and so on.Attracting engaging winning and retaining great customers is reallyhard work, but so is attracting engaging hiring and retaining greatemployees. If you talked to the average person in the general public, youprobably hear grumblings about automation and other technology takingaway job opportunities from the workforce. But when I look inside themanufacturing sector, what I see is one company after the next struggling tofind high quality and consistent Labor. The reality today is that many peopledon't want to do the dirty jobs. Work night shifts operate heavy machinery ND.On top of that, in many cases not enough skilled labors are being trainedto replace those that are on their way out. So, in today's episode, we'regoing to tackle some of this head on my guest is Gary Kanarska, the executivedirector and CEO of the American...

Welding Society or Aws Darias spentmore than twenty years in the welding and automation industry, most recentlyworking for the Lincoln Electric Company, where he held roles, includingvice president of global automation, Managing Director of Southeast Asia,Korea and Taiwan, based in Singapore and director of Business Developmentbased in Shanghai, China throughout his career Gary, is focused on sales,strategic planning, international business and fosterd relationshipsamong highly diverse teams. Gary Welcome to the show. Thank you joeappreciate you have the me on here: Yeah thrilled your hair. Well before weget into the nity gritty Gary. Can you tell the listeners a bit about yourpersonal journey up to this point of your career and also just tell us alittle bit about aws and what you guys do over there? Yeah sure yeah so from apersonal standpoint, tain an indutial engineering degree, but realized that Iprobably didn't want to be kind of tied to a desk or inside of facility. So Iactually went into technical sales, so stayed in the industrial space, butwent into kind of the more dynamic aspect of sales spent about seven yearskind of on the streets really looking at. How do I add value to an en usercustomer? So Thi was one of the beautiful things is you know I wasn't aproduct sales guy. It was a solution sales guy early on, and so you knowearly in my career, I was really trying to help people be more productive andeffective in their operations. Have t e unique opportunity actually work as ha?Next Patriot, which was supposed to be a two year assignment, but I end upactually spending ten years living ind working in Asia, so kind of went overas kind of a senior level sales guy trying to mentor some local resources,but that kind of expand into kind of regional subject, matter, expert typeroles and then eventually, moving on to you know, director of BusinessDevelopment as well as abandone the director Oll for about a thirteencountry region in Southeast Asia. You know after that, as I repatrioted backto the US. You know I moved back to...

Cleveland Ohio and I kind of left kindof e core business which was product based and went into the automationindustry so still with the same organization, but focused on providing,firstly, arc welding, robotic solutions, so basically addressing that skill,labor shortage or try to help increase productivity of manufacturers thateventually took own a roll where at actually thirteen locations around theworld that we're doing all kinds of automations for material handling, Te,laser processing, welding processes so kind of quite the start, as as a salesguy to eventually leading a pretty substantial fookprint as a business,Laider, good background and and now with aws, can you can you talk a littlebit just for anybody, who's unfamiliar about sort of what aws is and does yeahyeah thanks yeah? So I joined a s just here in April of Two thusand and twenty,and so the mission of the American Welm and society is to advance the SCIENCEOCtechnology of welding, joining and allied processes. So we are therecognized body. That's created the standards at which US manufactures inparticular adhere to from a welding standpoint. So if there's any type ofcode, quality welding, any type of classifications and welding productssuch as Wellin consumarbles, those would adhere to the standards that weredeveloped by a WS. We also actually provide certification program, so ourlargest program being a program called the certified welding inspector, whoactually they're kind of they work in the quality assurance space. Looking atthe reliability as well, the safety of welded products, and so we are anindustry trade association. We do also have individual membership, which isnearly seventy thousand members of the AWS, both here domestically as well asinternational. So I mean we're here to support the Welmin community. You knowour job is kind of dual focus is to...

...provide services to the wellmancommunity, but also one of our core missions that we have is that wepremirely promote through our what we call the Aws Foundation is to helpaddress the shortage of welding personnel in Industry today, and sothat is actually something that I personally am passionate about. Is Oneof the interesting things that had they looked at this opportunity to join awswas really kind of that balance. Between you know, running a businessbut also giving back to, in this case the welty community, and so thehopefully, you know today we'll talk a bit about some of the things that we'redoing not just here, Ta ws, but also kind of what industry participants cando to kind of do this at a local level to help you as a manufacturer yeah.That's exactly! I think what what made me say. I think Gary would be a greatguest on this show because it's it was alluded to in the interout of thisconversation. One of the things I I hear most commonly for manufacturers. Iit's really difficult to find high quality and consistent Labor to atractthem to retain them, and so yo. I'd love for you to be able t to duringthis episode speak to that from your experience in the welding industry, butalso think of it. You know more broadly for our audience inside themanufacturing space, because it's absolutely a problem that you know is,as is I'm sure you know, is probalyt kind of throughout manufacturing. So sotell me I guess. Well, we start at a high level Lik. What are you seeing onthis front in terms of this, the the the shortage, an in skill labor andthis gap that has to be filled, maybe start by talking about it in thewelding industry yeah, I mean don't ad kind of Personal Adticdote to it otlytwenty years ago, twenty five years ago, when I was myself going through highschool, you know I was in a bit of a rural area. I grew up in Michigan andthere wasn't really vocational programs available to there were, but the typesof student that were enrolling twenty...

...five years in the vocational programswer the ones that were deeme the ones not going to college right when thereis a negative connotation to going and andbe enjoying the skilled trades, andI think over time- and it's really been probably a two decade journey- thatthat pendulum is started to swing back, where the emphasis on vocational skillsof bringing back those types of programs into the high school level andthen into the post secondary level, has really started to gain steed. I waslooking at some data. I do see that we're making progress on that front,but the challenge that we face is we do the baby boomer generation. We knewthat there would be a large number of people exiting the workforce at somepoint, but we didn't really see the effects and take action, probably earlyenough. So as we start to see more and more of this generation retiring, wedon't have as many entry level people andtering the industry as well, and sothat's the real gap that we're really trying to address is we've got morepeople exiting and we could say skill trades, specifically welding as well,but there's more people exiting the skill trades that are entering theskill trades today, yeah that I think you sumed that up really. Well, it'sthere's a book that I read recently. It's called leveraged learning and theauthor is Danny Inni an if you've come across this, but it immediately struckme because the book is really about. Like I'm going to read a quote herethat I have bookmarked, he wrote it's not colleges who will provide thelifelong learning of the future from the only place that it can come fromthe experts and professionals on the cutting edge and front lines of theirrespective fields. They're, the ones whose knowledge and skills will besufficiently up to date to provide what learners will need, while their skilllevel and opportunity cost will command a premium. The transformation they willdeliver will justify paying for it. And...

...when I read that book, I flagge that,because it's this is so relevant. I think in themanufacturing industry, because I've seen this I've heard this from others.This shift you describe as the pendulum swinging back toward vocationalprograms and the fact that you leave high school. You go into oneof these and you learn a skill and what you know t the opportunity cost of ofyou know college at this point. Sometimes can? U Do almost doesn't evenjustify. You know what you could be doing: learning usable skill going intoa really good job and being trained to be an expert in you know something likeinwelding right. So I think it's really interesting. Haveyou you talking about this? I don't know if you you agree with sort of youknow that quote and what's being said thereyeah, I mean absolutely. I mean when you look at kind of skill set and likeright now as an example, I'm looking to hire a director of global sales and I'mlooking at the experience of that individual has. You know the skillsthat they've developed the course of their career, and I actually just madethis joke. I looked at a number of great candidates. I couldn't tell youwhat what university any of them went o right. It's not really at this point ofthis type of role. It's really about the experiences that the GAIM. Now whenyou look at a role like a skilled trade right, experienceis, really what makesthat role so important, but getting that founational start. That's wherethe vocational programs are continuing technical education programs gettingthat salid foundation, Ti learning the basic ways to approach problem, solventright, that's what's so important for that longer term career wher canmaximiz earning potential long term, and I mean if you look at- and I havesome data on. The welding industry in particular on the median income, isabout forty three ousand dollars right mean. That sounds like a pretty goodstart. If I'm looking at, I just...

...graduated high school, I'm looking atmy options, I could look at a continuing technical education program.You know. Typically, they have a pretty low cost to go through them. They're,not typically that long. You know often time six months to a year right andthen you're out in the R in the workforce. You know earning so on thealternative. You Look at college right. Many people take out loans, theyr sayout of what high debt right four years, if you're lucky typically five rightand then you look at now, you look at starting to earn. So you dig this whole.You create this debt and long term is a earning potential. Maybe Higher Yeah,you could say that there is a potential that, over the course of a forty year,career that the earning potential could be higher. However, at what point doesthat cross? Because now, if you've gone into a vocational program, you startedearning t, let's say: Nineteen years old, you don't have debt at that point,so you've got to pour your head start you've. Also, now you know beenbuilding your experience, which means you're more qualified for further roles,and you continue to expand upon your skill sep, because in most skill tradesthere is progression to be made right. There's more difficult machinery run asa machinist, there's more difficult welding processes to learn it caprogress to running automated equipment, doing those process, so there'stremendous career opportunity within these different skill trades that canreally make a great career for an individual. I love it totally love itso give some contexts, maybe for listeners here from maybe what you guys.I know you've mentioned that there are things you're doing at the Americanwelding society initiatives. You have under way that sort of address thiswelder shortage. Specifically, can you talk a little bit about that sure yehighlight a few of the different things were doing here Ataws, so you know oneof the things that we recognize is that...

...you know for those that are leavinghigh school, it's important for the parents, as well as the students tounderstand what a career in welding might look like, and so we've createdwhat we call a website called careers of welding. That kind of highlight hanumber of the different career pats that an individual can take whenentering the field right. So we're really trying to present. You know theknowledge process of what does it mean to become a welder? What does that looklike now? There's a lot of testimonials from actual people that are in theprofession today, so they can learn to identify with you know what does thefuture look like? If I go into this particular field, we're also doing anumber of things financiall, so we have the aws foundation and the AWSfoundation is our arm. That's really looking at direct support to theindustry does an example in two thousand and nineteen we actually gaveout one point: eight million dollars in scholarships and grands across theUnited States. From a scholarship standpoint, there was more than onethousand individual students received a scholarship from a WS to basically goand attend some type of welding related program, so that could be actuallylearning to weld itself. It could be going to get an associates degree inwelding technology or even a four year, engineering degree and university aswell, and so in addition to that, we then have offered a series of grants toeducation facilities so whether to expand the capacity of an existingprogram to meet increase demand in that area or even to help school start awolding program right. So there's some specific campaigns to actually focus inTa places that need Ho introducer want to introduce welding into theircurriculum or the vocational programs. And so when we look at we're reallystrying to get into the the career entry point attracting people too welding asa career right. Another thing that we...

...do is be AV. Something called we have awelding mobile trailer that travels around attends things like the statefairs right, the future farmers of America, Annual Convention Boy Scoutsof America Annual Convention and on that Thur's theye welding simulatorsfritn. So the wellbing similar is a virtual reality system right and thatvirtual reality system actually gives a student or anybody an opportunity totry welding, basically near Tshirt and shorts right. So it gives you that reallife experience even gives you the sound. It doesn't give you the smell ofthe heat, but it does give you the chance at least try the skill to say.Hey. Do I have an aptitude for this? It gives great exposure and actually,during those events, we run a competition because those virtualreality machines actually score your well the highest score of every one ofthose events, earnd a scholarship to a welding prover. So we're trying togenerate awareness that you know you can have a great career and somethinglike welding and really trying to get out and bring people into the industryis kind of a lot of our focus. We're going to take a thirty second breetherhere for a word from our sponsor cadinus part solutions. Let's talk realquick about getting specified. Are you a component manufacturer? Maybe yousell architectural products to parks or large facilities, engineers andarchitects need models of your products to test fit in their designs. That'swhere cadenus comes in to help you create a dynamic, sharable, cadcatalogue. You put on your website. Designers can preview the product fromany angle and download it in the format they prefer. They get the data theyneed for their design, and you get a fresh lead to add to your marketingpipeline to get one of your products turned into an online thred model forfree use, the code executive at part, SOLUTIONSCOM executive. You know,there's a staggering parallel for me as...

...a guy who's come up in marketing andsales to between Le Generation, for new businessand attracting talent, at least in the way. I believe it should be done. Wehave on our R guerilla site. If you go into the career section you'll see wehave a separate blog called to get a job blog. Well, our made main blog isfocused on helping manufacturers figure out how to do sales and marketing it'sUST purely in sightful, resourceful information tbut I get a job log whichis sort of in its infancy, but are objective, is to help teach people whoare either you know in college or or prior or in the marketing, in trying tobreak into the marketing this industry help them learn what skill sets theyneed to acquire, how they can be successful, trying to get intomarketing. And you know, as a result of this, we attract a lot of really great MarkYoung Marketig candidates, and so it's very similar thing to what you're doingyou're becoming the resource. The organization, that's helping people,you know sort of picture for themselves or paying a picture of what a careercould look like put themselves in that situation. Make it tangible, like thevirtual reality thing you just described, is such a great idea. Theseparate website- that's purely about you, know, careers and welding, and Ithink, there's a lot that even a small or midsize manufacturer can take fromthis, because you can kind of do the same thing. You know, regardless ofwhether you're a CNC, machining company or a you, know, equipment, manufactureror a contract, manufacture of some kind. You think about the type of people thatyou're trying to tract that are so hard to attract, and can you be a resourceto them and open up conversations and help them picture what it would be liketo have a career not only at where you are but you're your organization, butin this industry it's a really smart thing to do so. I love it yeah I meanwhen we look at what can somebody do at the local level right? So you know I'ma small tomedium size, manufacturly anywhere in the US right, we always say,get engaged so get engaged at the local...

...vocational programs. You know offerapprenticeship offer internships. I normally you think, of internships inthe marketing space, the engineering space, but a welder right, a kid goingthrough elming school also needs some real life experience as well right, solook at program for you part time they could come in and be a helper rightoffin times. You know just like any career progression h when somebody thathas less experience they may come in and do know the more simple task right.That then frees up those that are more experienced to work on the more complextasks right, but gette engaged at that local level and if you really form aclose relationship with those schools over time, what ends up happening isthose that do a great job of supporting the program start to receive thebenefits of you know: Hey. I've got a really good student coming through, ifyou're in the market, to find a good welder right. Here's here's yourindividual. You start to kind of have that, where you know it's a it's agiven take and it's a mutual beneficial relationship to those schools into thatorganization. It's such a good point Gary, and I see it in my world too. Ithink I'm sure this this point transcends welding and manufacturing.It's certainly, president in my world we're about two miles down the roadfrom Washington University in St Louis, which is where I went to college theirprogram. There is they produce great designers. You know, theresthere's avisual Communications Program University of Missouri Columbias gotone of the best journalism schools in the country and there there you knowfew hours down the road and, of course we're talking about universities there.But the point is, you know: We've built relationships inside of the journalismschool there inside of Washington, universities, visual communicationsprogram and we're always getting great candiates a lot of our employees. Ourbest employees oveur time have come out of those programs because they knowthat that you know girrils a place.

People have enjoyed working they've hadstarted their careers here, they've pat in because we have al had a lot ofinterns from these places and there's no reason why this same thing can't behappening and welding or other areas of manufacturing. You know, and you getyou can get really great work done to you kind of sad it like you candelegate take the things that can be. You know a process that can be taughtthat's now: You're Doure delegating work from your full time: Full salaredemployees down to more junior people who are using that to learn and gainreal hands on experience and there's just benefits for everybody there so mglad you brought that up. Is there anything you're seeing from otherorganizations or companies, you know to things are doing to upskill, thewelding work force, so people are armed with the right skills to meet demand.You know other things outside of what you've talked about with with as yeah Imean one one thing that we have seen and it tend to be more the medium tolarger size organizations you know, are doing more focus, work on inhouse,traning right, you know actually doing more a structured standpoint ofbringing in an employee without the skills and starting to give them theskills, either on the job or through a structure. Training Program Right, youknow anymore. You know just like you know this may be a live thing in thefuture foryou right now, it's all virtual, but there's a pluster of greatlearning tools available now that are online right when the fremoster fromother providers and other skilled trades area there's a lot of onlinelearning that is really readily available and their great programs aswell, and so as a meat, small, Temediam side, F, manufacture, hardner withorganization that have those develop. You know, programs right. They can helpyou at learning pats right. You know, I'm actually, you know now we'reworking with some parts of industry. Ber, there's a need, that's onfulfilled,and so you know as a small demedian...

...size organization, you might not beable to stand up your own training program, but working with program, Otparters out there Y. U know they can look at well. I have ten partners H, Iame fifty or I am an entire industry like for us that has a veed and hasmore people understand what that need is which, in this particular example,would be in house training. Then those needs can be met by various types oforganizations right, so I do see that, there's more and more of that that'shappening of people recognizing that okay, I can't just hire a skill set atthat's that I'm looking for- and you know right now, even in these times orstill know, a hundred thousand hundreds of thousands of openings across the USfor skilled trades. At this particular example, welding right, I may need todo something to bring in somebody that doesn't have the exact skill set, thatI need and help them to develop. Those skill sets right when you look at kindof the current generation workforce. One of the things you talk about whenpeople say how much they're engaged or like their organization is thatinvestment into the employee right that personal development tha professionaldevelopment that the organization provides. Now that's one of the numberone factors why people would stay at a place like Garilla right is they're notjust staying standing that they're not coming in with the skill and that's allthey've got each day and month and year that goes by they build their skill.Set and when you're small, the medium size company it's hard to formulizethose process, I think that's kind of one of the things. What you're lookingat skill trads in particular you've got TA, look at potentially formalizingsome of these processes right, but you don't have to do it alone. There arepeople out there, there's there's organization that focus primarily onthis that can help you to develop those inhouse programs. Well, I know theyounger generations are looking for it to that's. You know it's becoming moreimportant for them to...

...they value it advancement in theircareer and learning and gaining skills. More than past generations, likethere's enough ta data out there that that represented it's not just abouthaving a stable income. You know there's a when they feel like they'relearning and growing that matters a lot. What would you say to incumbent workerslike what skills should they continue to build through ongoing training sothat they can remain competitive? I mean in most the skilled trade technology isbecoming part of whether it's the the equipment itself, how the job hisactually done. But tthere is a technology. COPPONENT T that's alreadyhere and will continue to grow, grow and peliferation across Manu facturing.You know so if today and I'll use welding as an example today, I'm awelder, so I need to start building my understanding of how to run and theyCNC equipment. Perhaps I need to learn how to program a robot right, there'stechnologies that are being introduced and even across small themadium side,manufacturers are probably adopting them as fast at this point has largerscale. Manufacturers is to build that technological understanding right andto start that process of learning right, so whether you're learning technology,whether you're practicing your skill set, but you've got to be developingyourself beyond just on the job. I'm doing my job therebfore, I'm learningyou've got to go a little bit beyond that. That might mean after work. Yougot to spend thirty minutes or an hour. You know utilizing tools if youremployers allows you to do that, to kind of build up your skills right. IfI use WELMI into example, there's many different processes right. The moreprocess is that you're profission at the more valuabl you bot more valuable.You are as a welder right if you're a machinist, the more types of machinethat you can run the different brands, the more valuable you are to anemployer right so continuing to upskill,...

...to expand your knowledge and thetechnology piece is the most important, probably long term, because, as wetalked about things like industry for Point, oh we talk about automationright, I mean there. The Industry for point O is monitoring equipment thatethe its either maintained or operated by a human today right at some point inthe future, like one of the other podcast you had talked about, Otechnology is here, and humans are here and that interaction is happening. It'shappening now, it's going to continue to happen. You Know How do you get onthe leading edge of of being that robot programmer right of learning how toanalyze data today, I'm a welder, but if I understand the process, Iunderstand the variables that make me go faster or slower. How could Itranslate that to a shopwide solution to help my employer to say today weonly welled this munch. If we were to take data around this, we couldprobably improve our productivity by five percent. Ten percent smallintrements, like that o the course of time, are massive productivity gamesfor the employer, but that's all around technology and the application of itand using robotics a ad direct experience. In that know, we alwaysused to say: Is it's easier to teach a welder how to program a robot that arobot programmer? How to well right? You Know Hen, you think, aboutprogramming programming, a pretty linear process. Typically, you can kindof learn the steps you could study thi steps even and become proficient atthat at least small debase medium type proficiency as a welder. You can'tlearn that in a book, it's all time actually physically doing that so hen.You think about that to learn to...

...program versus to learn the world. Ifyou don't spend the time under the hood in this particular case right, it'smuch more difficult, so you think about more robotics. More automation. There'sstill typically need a welder to actually operate that equipment. Well,Gary I'm more accustomed to talking sales and marketing, and so this was areally interesting conversation for me and I think all of your experiencebrings such a great perspective to this really real challenge, with closing theskills gap and finding good labor. So I appreciate you coming on the show: canyou tell listeners where they can connect with you online and how theycan learn more about what aws is doing yeah? So the primary website is a wstot org right, so that's the best place to learn more about what we're doing isAmerican whelming society. You Know My name Gary Kanarsky, you can find me onlinke in I enjoyed to grow. My network really enjoyed following a grilla.Seventy six in particular, because Joe is very good about you know offeringyou know tangible insights that you could actually go out and startapplying right. So those are probably the two best ways if you want to getmore information, and if you want to reach out to me directly to learn moreabout some of the things I've done in the past is something we're doing inthe future. I'm very open to anybody reaching out and if I can help, I wouldlove to do that beautiful. Well, I would encourage all of you listeners totake Gary up on that offer. Well before we wrap it up. I want to say quick,thank you again to our sponsor cadinus part solutions for helping make thisepisode reality and Gary. Thank you for being on the show today reallyappreciate you taking the time ont your day. To do this. It was a reallyinteresting conversation. I know everybody's going to get a lot of valueout of this yeah. Thank you joe for having me great well for the rest ofyou. I hope to catch you on the next episode of the Manufacturing Executive. You've been listening to themanufacturing executive podcast to...

...ensure that you never missed an episodesubscribe to the show in your favorite podcast player. If you'd like to learnmore about industrial marketing and sale strategy, you'll find an everexpanding collection of articles, videos guides and tools, specificallyfor B to B manufacturers at Grilla, seventy sixcom, flash and LEARNN. Thankyou so much for listening until next time.

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