PF Blog

MATT KIRCHNER: "The Number One Problem Facing Surface Finishers Today"

By: Matthew Kirchner
26. January 2012

The absolute best part of my job is spending time around paint, powder, e-coat and plating facilities and leaders. Custom coaters, OEMs, job shops… you name it, I love it. One of my favorite questions to pose to the leaders of these facilities during my visits is: “What’s your biggest challenge right now?”
For more than a year now I get the same answer almost every time. The number one problem facing surface finishers today is … finding qualified employees.
On its face, this almost defies belief, and had I not heard the same answer from so many coaters and experienced the problem in my own business, I would have a hard time accepting it myself.
As of the date I author this article, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics places the official unemployment rate at 9 percent. According to Gallup, the underemployment rate—which takes into account those wishing to work additional hours, an additional job or a new job with longer working hours—hovers just above 18 percent.
With nearly one in five American workers either unemployed or underemployed it seems inconceivable that coaters and manufacturers alike would have such a difficult time finding the right people. Mention this problem to a friend working outside the manufacturing sector and your statement produces a confounded gape. Raise the issue with a coater and watch for the knowing acknowledgement. What’s the problem? There are three, actually.


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