When Jim sent us an email about the value he finds in listening to other fabricators on StoneTalk, I already knew he was a good manager. But, as I only live a few minutes away from Portland Marble Works, I thought I’d go see for myself.
And after 26 years in the industry and having a naturally open and friendly disposition, Jim proved me right. We talked about a lot of the ups and downs of working in a countertop shop. He also talked a lot about their growth and the changes that come along with that. Mostly, we chatted about the importance of hiring the right people and what it takes to keep them.
Hiring for Attitude
All of us involved in the stone industry are painfully aware how hard it can be to find great employees. Especially, during a labor shortage. The pool of options is small and every shop prioritizes different talents, skills, and personality traits.
What often happens is that a shop hires someone based on their years of experience, even if they don’t seem like a good fit for the rest of the team. And while experience is important and can be a really great addition to the team, is it possible that attitude is more important?
Both Jim and Tom, the owner, think so – they both emphasized that they’re hiring for attitude. It’s so important to them that they’re currently producing as a four person fabrication team with a growing customer list. And while it’s hard to wait, it’s a greater priority to get the right people on the team than it is to fill the gaps with the wrong people.
What’s the cost of culture?
It’s expensive to hire. And it’s expensive to lose employees. Portland Marble Works understands that taking the time and prioritizing attitude will benefit everyone – including customers. Maybe an applicant has limited experience, but has a good attitude and a personality that will fit in with the team they already have. Are they a better option than the applicant with 20 years of experience but a bad attitude?
Portland Marble Works (and Moraware) would argue that yes, it is a better option. You can always train someone, especially if they have the good attitude we’ve been talking about. Hiring someone who isn’t a good fit for your shop can cause a lot of problems ranging from employee arguments to costly mistakes from a lack of communication. And I can guarantee that no customer wants to experience waiting longer for their countertops.
Hiring the right person can add to the environment, encourage team work and communication, and prevent mistakes. These are the skills that can’t be taught.
Keeping your great team
Jim knows that he’s asking a lot of his small team while they’re looking for those good fits to add. He shows his appreciation and works hard right alongside them. He’s constantly educating himself with industry resources and learning how to be better.
But mostly, his years of experience in a fabrication shop have shown him what a good manager does and doesn’t do. For me, Jim summed it up best with this quote: “A good manager does things right. A good leader does the right thing.”
Thank you to the team at Portland Marble Works for taking the time to show me around and talk shop, software, and donuts with me!
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