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- 2011 - May - 24th -

Recession recovery: Manufacturers to talk shop

Jacksonville manufacturers plan a workshop this week to review their “Post Recession Business Strategy” practices.

The First Coast Manufacturers Association will present the workshop, which will feature panelists to discuss their views and take questions from the audience.

Among the topics to be covered are how to recruit former employees and how to determine if you are offering the right pay scale and benefits; replacing or supplementing an aging workforce; the best means of training new employees; and what is involved in succession planning.

Panelists include representatives from small businesses, large companies and international companies. Those participating include Lisa Harris, Safariland, a division of BAE Systems; Renee Vozel, Ameritape Inc.; Neil Ross, The Ronco Group; Carlos Zanoelo, Gerdau; Susan Hamilton, CSX; and moderator Matt Waesche, BAE Systems Southeast Shipyards.

“If your business has survived the past couple of years during these tough economic times, you have done a great job,” said Lad Daniels, president of the association.

“But it isn’t over. It is critical that companies take advantage of specific measures to help them rebound from the recession,” he said.

The workshop is planned from 7:30-10 a.m. Wednesday at the University of North Florida University Center. The cost is $35 for members and $50 for nonmembers. For information, email sherri@fcmaweb.com or call 296-9664.

The experts say... When did the
recession end in
your industry?
What are your hiring plans? What recession-survival strategies will you
continue to use during the recovery?
What is your biggest challenge now?
Lisa Harris
Human Resources Director,
Safariland and Protection Systems
BAE Systems Inc.
Overall it hasn’t ended. In segments, we have strong orders, depending on the product, and in others we are still soft. We are in a recovery mode because we can see a slow increase in our orders and demand. To match talent with the job, hire flexible people, use contingent work force. Pay which rewards employees with an increase in their pay rate as they demonstrate they have attained additional skills. By making employee growth and development a priority, we will create a flexible work force, utilize cross-training to create a high-performance work force, reduce staff turnover and retain our best talent through continuous improvement. Another strategy is engaging our employees through roundtable sessions, employee opinion surveys and a continuous improvement program, which has empowered employees and enhanced knowledge, skills and abilities. We do find people who have the capacity and motivation to learn a new skill and we provide them the opportunity and tools to train. Retaining our key talent employees is one of our biggest challenges. In response to this challenge, we have developed a talent development program that will not only grow our talent, but give them opportunities to develop a career path based on their personal and business goals.
Renee Vozel
Vice President,
Ameritape Inc.
I’m not sure that the recession has ended quite yet. Compared to 2009, sales began to consistently get better beginning in March 2010 and year-to-date sales for 2011 are more than 2010. We are reluctant to hire more full-time employees at present, but we are hiring part-time employees in preparation for growth. Be very cautious with spending. Utilize employees’ existing skills and increase training and cross-training for a stronger cohesive work force. Monitor customers’ credit and limits. Stay close to the customers and make accommodations if possible or offer new solutions that are beneficial to both of us. Helping to keep employees motivated and boost a positive morale. With a great deal of negativity about the economy and the stress in everyone’s lives today, this can’t help but transfer to the workplace. How can we help encourage a better, more comfortable and healthy work environment?
Matt Waesche
Human Resource Manager,
BAE Systems Southeast Shipyards
Jacksonville/Mayport
It is my opinion that manufacturers will agree that there is greater confidence in the economy, but still a cautious mindset exists. In ship repair, since most of our work is mission-essential government-related, the impact of the recession has been minimal. On the commercial side of ship repair, we have experienced a slowing in new construction projects, as our customers have been impacted by the recession and their ability and confidence to invest in large capital projects has translated down to our business. Continue to hire and retain the skilled work force needed to effectively and efficiently execute and complete safe quality ship repair, overhaul, conversion and new construction projects. Due to a continued commitment of government work, 2011 will realize an increase in the hiring of professional nonproduction types of positions, along with internships, at a higher rate than in 2010. Our goal is to continue to protect our employees and their jobs. We continually strive to maintain our core work force of skilled labor. We forecast our workload in order to ensure that we can minimize work force layoffs due to downturns in workload and when there are gaps between projects, often offsetting the peaks and valleys with temporary labor. Our biggest challenge now, as always, is to keep the shipyard full of new work to its full capacity potential. A full shipyard is optimal as it allows us to keep our work force fully engaged and to hire additional employees as needed. As the workload in the yard falls off, the threat of losing jobs becomes tangible and we seek to aggressively avoid this.
Carlos Zanoelo
Vice President and Division Manager,
Gerdau
We cannot comment on the recession per company policy. Hiring managers and hourly employees. Strong work force engagement, variable compensation according to the performance, expenses management and export opportunities. To find, develop and retain top talent. Reduce energy cost.

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