Sunday, June 24, 2012

Maintenance of Your Machine

I wanted to start tonight’s blog with a quote.  Here it goes

The place to improve the world is first in one's own heart and head and hands, and then work outward from there.”
Robert M. Pirsig

Why this quote is so relevant is because what I want to talk about.  Maintenance.  Yes we develop maintenance plans for our machines, our mixers, our trucks, but do we our employees?   How does one develop a maintenance “plan” for people?  It’s not like you can change the oil every 3 months or replace a belt every 12.  What do we do?  Is it necessary?  My opinion is yes it is necessary and what do we do…three things. Listen, learn, and educate. First listen.  Listen to your employees.  Stick your finger on the pulse of the company.  Is your employee going through tough times, is your employee hiding something, is your employee elated about something?  Every day is different, but this goes back to some of my old blogs, you are only as good as your employees make you.  Listen to them!  There may be something affecting them that could swing you positive or negative.  But like I said every day is different; keep your finger on the pulse.  That is the only way to maximize productivity.  Second and third learn and educate run together.  Your employees can teach you things and you can teach things as well.  It’s a give and take.  I always find it amazing, at our plant we have one guy who can look at something and take it apart in his mind.   Any engine, any machine, he can dissect it.  Well every time something needs repair it’s a learning experience.  I find myself thinking every time what happens when this guy retires?  You can’t replace this knowledge, but what can you do?  Learn and educate.  Teach another, teach each other.  Along the same lines we have an employee that is time and time again the most recommended delivery driver job after job after job.  What does he do differently?  Again I find myself thinking, “We need to keep this mentality up, what happens when he is gone?”  Every person on your floor or in your fleet has value! They all can teach and they all can learn!  Open it up let them be teachers, let them be the students!  I cannot stress this enough.  We are a society of learned citizens who always yearn for the next step, the next plateau, and we as managers/owners need to lead to those plateaus.  And a lot of times those plateaus are within the company, we just never knew it.  That being said we also have more resources than our shop employees.  Why not use them?  Case in point.  I have started an education fund for our employees where I will match whatever money they put into an “education fund”.  This fund will pay their way to educational courses put on by our national organization, the National Precast Concrete Association.  Why do I do this?  Everyone wants to reach that next plateau, they just don’t know how.   Flip the coin over, this is preventative maintenance on my part.  I invest money in my employees to be better educated in their job, what is my return?  A better understanding of their job and a better respect of what they do.  Money well spent period.  That will give more of a return than any extended life filter or belt you will ever buy.  So it’s like Robert says, “The place to improve the world is in one’s own heart and head and hands, then work outward from there. “  Maintenance on a man will go infinitely longer than any machine.  Listen, learn, EDUCATE!


  1. You ask employees pay for a portion of NPCA classes?

  2. Robb--
    We actually have empolyees that want to pay for the courses. Thy believe, as I do, the NPCA has the best courses for furthering the knowledge of quality precasting. We are a very small company and have never been able to afford to send anyone to the educational courses. That is why I started the fund. I want to get some of them to the courses this year.

    Thanks for reading!