It seems there’s been no shortage of employee shortages over the years.
Former Trailer/Body Builders associate editor Jim Shephard led his January 1969 piece “Warm Bodies or Skilled Men” like this:
Not since World War II have so many companies been so desperate for employees. Companies are hiring warm bodies in hopes they can be trained. Other companies go for wholesale pirating of trained men from competitors and other industries.
Shephard goes on to detail some of the contributing factors, including employees leaving trailer and truck body manufacturers for more money in other industries, like ship building and aircraft manufacturing, the cost of constant turnover, and ways to keep employees on board, including longevity incentives.
He also touched on one of the best ways to entice people to stay—making them feel they belong.
Do employees feel they are a part of the organization? Employees should say “our plant, our bodies, our company.” Man is gregarious and wants to feel important within his group. If he feels he is a vital part of the company, it is harder for someone to sell him on changing jobs.
We might add men and women want to feel important, and place more emphasis on reaching and teaching younger generations about manufacturing, but much of what Shephard said 50 years ago still applies today, and just like in the year of Woodstock, skilled workers still are a manufacturer’s most valuable commodity.
The January 1969 edition of Trailer/Body Builders also touched on other hot-button issues still sizzling in 2019, including improving automation in factories, light-weighting trailers and chassis, and early “data analytics,” in the form of trailer hubodometers for tracking things like tire mileage and suspension warranties.
In other words, it pays to remember the past while keeping an eye on the future. So, climb in the TBB Time Machine, powered by the latest flux capacitor (although we still need roads where we’re going), and travel to January 1969 with the only magazine for producers and sellers of commercial truck bodies, trailers and truck equipment.