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Corporate America or Private business

 
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changeofpace
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 15, 2008 11:03 am    Post subject: Corporate America or Private business Reply with quote

OK, I am wondering if i can get some input from my fellow boaters on the pros and cons of working in private business versus corporate America. I currently am stuck in a corporate world type of job and with each passing day wonder if "the grass is truly greener on the other side of the fence".
When I started working for this company back in 1989, it was a small German company ran by a man who treated everyone as a family member, knew everyone by name, and felt employees were the companies most valuable asset. Since he retired in 2000, this company has slowly been changing into a corporate nightmare full of politics and greed. In discussions with friends, this seem to be prevalent in most of corporate America, so changing jobs would only change the names and not the problem. Since I've never worked in the private sector, I cant really know what to expect if I go out on my own. so.... How about it, anybody out there have any help for me as I try and weigh the next 20 years work I have left?
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shawn_carlson
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 15, 2008 12:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Terry,

Sorry to hear the job is wearing you down. Best of luck with whichever you decide.

Shawn
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 15, 2008 3:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks Shawn, My decision will be a tough one, I've been here so long its hard to picture leaving. The attitude of the management staff here is really killing the place. I have lost both of the guys that worked for me due to their lousy 1% raise and the reduced sick time HR thought of to save money (they cut the sick time in half and then cut the un-used payout to half of that). Since i no longer have anybody working for me, I'm now a working manager and have to do all 3 jobs. My wife lost a brother and a sister 8 days apart in March and I was supposed to go on a business trip. I said I needed to stay home as my wife needed support and family was more important than money. The big boss's reaction? He said I could alway come back since they were not my brother or sister. That just about knocked me for a loop. I told him he could fire me when he got back because I wasn't going to go period. he didnt fire me but now its like I'm in a fish bowl with everyone watching everything I do. Since I traveled for this company for almost 20 years, I'm pretty well known in the industry and could hopefully make a go at being a consultant. I have a son who will turn 15 in June and his college bill will be coming soon, so I dont want to spend his college fund trying to live if consulting doesnt work out. I am hoping for some feedback as to how tough the move out of a corporate world into the private sector really is and what should I need to do before I do make the move
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shawn_carlson
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 15, 2008 4:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Terry,

The best answer maybe to try consulting part time to see if there is enough demand. If the busniess does well then you have your answer.

Shawn
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rebait
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 15, 2008 10:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Terry,

I have been working for my "current main employer" 36yrs. this coming September. The reason why I say main employer is that I always worked at least another part time job. I never put all my eggs in 1 basket. I guess you can say that I work in Corporate, Public and Private Sectors. Corporate, I work for a major electric and gas company. Public: I teach part time at a county vocational and technical school. Private: I fabricate and install body panels for a restoration shop. We can even throw in Self Employed, I had a few part time businesses thru the years and my wife and her sister have an ice cream shop. The point that I am trying to make is that the grass is always greener. Whenever I would work in a private shop I would think that the owner had it made and he would tell me that he envied me and he wish that he had my job. Talk about politics, I have been teaching at the school for 15 yrs and I ignore politics and I don't get involved, but it seems that they love to gossip and cut the other one down. During my 36yrs at the electric and gas co. we have been thru good and bad times. I had one manager who insisted on being called mister and tried to micro manage and have complete control over everyone and everything. The most recent bad time was during a recent failed merger/aquisition. The good outweighed the bad. The 1% raise and major reductions in benefits may indicate a financial problem. I think that maybe I would throw my hat into the ring with your contacts or just go fishing and see what prospects troll up. The way the economy looks, it may be a bad time to go out on your own. I also notice that bad managers seem to fade away or they are tuck away. About that it is like you are in a fish bowl, as long as you are doing your job and producing, ignore it and don't let it get to you. Do like I do, kill them with kindness. Make it a game. If they know that you are mad and the job is getting to you, sometimes managers target you and make you the scapegoat or zero producer. Every day make it a point to say good morning in a cheerful manner and make sure to wish everyone a good night. I have been both union & management and I know how to work both over. Don't get pety or vindictive, they will flop by themselves, but always cover your butt by having all your ducks in a row and have the answers when needed, dazzle them with enhanced BS if your are not sure and confuse the crap out of them and make as if they are familiar with the subject and it was their idea. Bad managers don't know what they are doing and if you make it technical sounding and they feel uncomfortable they will never ask you to clarify because they are intimidated. Do it with a smile and in good humor. Avoid heated confrontations whether it is with your boss, a co worker or subordinate. Be the nice guy and just state that you are uncomfortable with the situation and or feel that you are being taken advantage of. Make sure you have all the facts. If it continues, I make sure that I have that individual in private and I read him the riot act with all my facts. Please convey my condolences to your wife on her loss of her brother and sister.

Good luck and feel free to vent,

John
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 15, 2008 11:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks everyone, its probably not a good time to go out on my own as a lot of my customers are hurting for business. Some have closed and a lot have moved production to China and Mexico to produce cheaper parts. As for this company having money problems, I don't believe it for 1 second. Their ebitda is still over 30%. The reduction in employee benefits was the brainchild of the HR director who got a 10% raise and hugh bonus for all the money she saved the company by cutting sick time. What a deal right? Lets look at the math. We have 3 chemical operators, one for each shift that never called in sick so they could get the sick time paid to them. Now, their time is cut in half or 15 days (600 hours total) saved. If one of them calls in sick, then he gets 8 hours sick pay and then the other 2 get 4 hours each for the over time. That makes 20 hours for each sick day or 2 1/2 days pay per sick day. Each operator now uses all 5 days costing the company 37.5 days total ( 2.5 days times 15 days) Wheres the savings? Seems like the money was taken out of the Hourly employees pocket and put in top managements pocket. The 2 guys I lost were valuable employees who have been with me for over 10 years. The reason for the 1% raise? HR said they were paid above industry standard yet could not produce any documentation to prove it. Now, every possible candidate has turned down the job offers because the pay rate was too low and they took another job with better pay, How could that be if the pay scale is above the industry standard???? Shouldn't people be knocking down our door???? See, I don't have a business degree, only an engineering degree, so I'm too dumb to follow the business end of running a business since these things just seem to be sinking the company not improve it. I have several feelers out but have to be real careful not to tip my hand. I might see about starting a web based consulting business. Kind of like this site but where questions can be asked and technical help given. Financing could be a small user fee and a corporate fee for participating companies who would supply literature, samples or product to the questioner.
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leokow
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 15, 2008 11:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Terry, sorry to hear about the job troubles, but I sort of got that uneasy feeling when you told me what they said about your relationship to your in laws. Terry, I've worked for big companies and on my own and believe me the grass isn't green on either side unless you are busting your hump. I had my own business for twelve years and I lived , ate, and slept that business. In your field I would think you would be much better off checking with some bigger companies or some of your suppliers, just drop some hints around, see what comes up. I know your doing the work of three now but that helps you a little in that if they fire you WHO is going to do anything ?But don't bet your butt ,that their not looking around after you didn''t g on that trip.These guys aren't the people that hired you all those years ago. If I were you, I would try to find something in another company, especially until your son gets thru college. Making enough money for that and medical benefits alone is enough to bury you.
Good luck in whatever you decide to do , but I hope things calm down where you are and soon get back to some kind of normality for your sake anyway....Later Leo
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 16, 2008 8:55 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks Leo, I think you're right, until they get a replacement they wont do anything. Problem is, they want top notch people for bottom pay. I have quietly talked to some of our customers and businesses about an interest in moving. I got a call from our main competitor but that means I would have to move to Mass. Since my wife is now the primary caregiver for her mother, thats not an option. I had worked with a chemist at an epoxy flooring company here in CT and they were interested until they found out what my salary was and just lost interest I didnt even have a chance to explain that some of my salary is based on the travel requirements of my position and I would consider less pay if I didnt have to travel Sad
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merwin10
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 16, 2008 9:13 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Terry -

I have done both I worked for Schlumberger for 27 years and climbed the corporate ladder to VP of R&D high speed electronics division. As you, I got dissatisfied with all the demands on my time and travel. But the straw that broke the camels back was the corporate politics as it relates to future direction. I read the writing on the wall and made the move one year later they closed the division and laid everyone off. What they called a future business direction.

I too have many contacts in the business world and made a choice to consult. At first the money was great and easy to come by. My time at home was great and no politics. You need to remember you are it, you have to pay for everything health, taxes, dental, travel expenses, research, marketing, sales and etc. You are everything from the floor sweeper to the decision maker.

In my case the electronics industry went soft and still is. The main reason for this is on the high end of the market we had reached the physical limits of known knowledge. Basically, computer electronics and such are not going to get much faster until the industry figures out how to rewrite the laws of physics. My last project was for a little unknown government agency NSA or better knows as "NO SUCH AGENCY". In 1997 we where trying to create a 256 bit pipe line processor with clocking speeds greater than 20GHz. This thing was much like the first transistor. Sometimes it would work other times it would just fry itself even submerged in liquid Freon cooling. The issue is pure physics and the project was put on the shelf after 10's of millions of dollars was spent. We experimented with different substrates other than silicon and different methods cooling. After that high speed electronics consulting dried up and the industry as a whole exploded the known technology into other areas. Now in 2008, 11 years later, most fast computers are still 3GHz and below. There are a few 10GHz and faster processors but you will never hear about them.

Now I am fully retired! And have been since 1998!

My advice is to use your contacts now and explore the consulting idea with your trusted contacts. Most companies use outsiders because they donít have the knowledge internally to get the job done. Make sure that you are not a captured consultant now, one that is an employee of a third party that has a solution that is patented. You may seem to be consulting now but all you are really doing is selling your employers products into a solution. Ask yourself how many industries can create new solutions and have the capability of producing them or are they just looking for ready made solutions from another company. You are a chemist, which is a high value employee both in cost of overhead, labs and so forth, and in experience.

In my opinion, you would be better off developing some patentable product which you could sell and get royalties off of and retire. Most of my patents became corporate property however I do have a few that keep me going.

YOU asked and that is MHO!

Mike - Rolling Eyes
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 16, 2008 9:48 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Mike, Per my contract, anything I create, develop or patent belongs to this company. They even try to prevent employees from leaving and going to the competition by forcing you to sign a non-compete clause. So far, everyone who signed, left for the competition and gotten the demand letter has countered with threats of a lawsuit and won. The wording of the non compete clause is why they lose. It states that you can not work for any company that did business with or competed with them for 5 years after you leave the company. Since this company does business with just about everyone, this means you in effect can not work in your trained field for 5 years. They will not pay you to not work and you have to earn a living so they can not prevent you from working in the field. Another little paragraph in this clause is the statement that you are an at will employee and as such, they can ley you go at any time for no reason. They canned a few people using this and everyone of them sued and won for wrongful termination. Its like I said before, I guess I need to go back to college and get my business degree so all of these things make sense.
Consulting seems to be where all old chemists in my field end up since most companies are looking for younger people. thats how I started, no experience just a desire to succeed. I have worked my way up from a technician to the manager position. I have been here for the development for over 60% of all of the companies products. I have solved problems for all of the main paint and plastics companies. The knowledge of the products is key and can not be just taught to new people. I left the paint side of this company 8 years ago and last year I was the only one who could prove that a specific problem a customer was having was not related to the product they were complaining about. 8 years and the guy who replaced me could not figure it out. (wow sounds like I'm blowing my own horn), sorry I guess what I'm trying to get at is that the current management team seems to think only about the bottom line not about the business end.
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merwin10
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 16, 2008 11:47 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

YEP! That is the usual non-compete agreement! I had one from Schlumberger but I was compensated for six years. Worked out well as that division was gone in a year and corporate had to honor the non-compete agreement. So I had a sizable separation pay plus the 6 years of compensation of half my last years salary $71,000. Yep they tried to break the agreement cost me about 6 grand legal fees that was part of the settlement, in the end it cost them allot more than if they just paid me.

As you know, your experience came from your employment! As you said college kids don't know the business. Business degrees help if your interest is in management. But if you like to get your hands dirty you won't be happy in management. One of the things that companies do when times are good is build layer upon layer of managers. When thing start going bad middle managers are the first to go! The technical people that keep the company going are the last to go usually just before a merger.

I am sure you know all this!

Mike -
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 16, 2008 1:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

OK, we've gotten off subject here, enough of my whining. From what I see, working in the private sector is a lot like working in corporate america with the following exceptions: In corporate america, you have benefits for medical and life insurance and the hard work you do is for the good of the company. In the private sector you have all of the hard work and can keep the credit for success but dont have any of the fringe benefits and insurances. I still think having no politics even if it means working 60 hours a week for 1/2 the money is the best perk of being in the private sector. Now I have to go and do some research and see if what I have in mind is feasible and not protected under someones intellectual property laws. I can start part time and grow from there. I can also hopefully get the guy at my club who was looking for someone to take over his marine upholstery business to teach me how to run his machines. seems he always has a ton of work all winter and is hanging out fishing all summer. I want to see if he is still interested in a partnership
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merwin10
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 16, 2008 2:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I tell you what Terry! The one thing you will get is to spend more time with your family, particularily your son! I he still likes to hang out with you better take advantage of it because he soon won't and then be to busy with his own life. Don't worry he will back around again about when he is 30 or so!

Mike -
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