28 years of consecutive employment only to start over (guest post by Glenn Suckow)

 

Over the past 28 years of my life I have only held 4 jobs and that is if you count the Army Reserve.  At age 17, I started working for a small local pharmacy and I joined the Army Reserve. After 7 years of catching every persons cold that walked thru the pharmacy I was let go because the post office portion was short some 3000 stamps and obviously I was the one using them to wallpaper my small apartment.  (Never mind the other dozen or so people who ran that counter also.). I didn’t let that get to me too much.  I had been going to a community college to get some of my electives out of the way with every intension to go back and get a degree at some point.

At the suggestion of my girlfriend at the time (Now my wife) I  had applied with a temp service and was working within the next week.  As a temp at this new job I started as a machine operator cutting electrical cords for vacuums and other small appliances.  While still being a temp, I was already noticing that I could be far more productive if only I could learn to do all of the set-ups my self, so every time I went to get my supervisor, I paid close attention to what he was doing…after a while, I started to set my own machine up and had the supervisor check it before I turned the machine on.  After some time, the company hired me on full-time.  This was a piece work job, and it didn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that the more I cut, the more money I was going to make.  After a lot of hard work I was now able to run 3 machines at the same time, something no one they had previously done.  I eventually became the lead person of the cutting department…this allowed me to start learning other things within the company.  At my peak, I was running the cutting department, and fixing or setting up every other machine  in the factory.

After 10 years working here I was offered a job working for a “friend” at a start-up business selling Rotary Lobe Pumps. He was a salesman working for a German pump company that wanted to open a branch here in the U.S.  So it started…we worked out of the basement of the duplex he was living at for the next 3 years…during this time I was sent to Germany on September 10th, 2001…that’s right the day BEFORE the twin towers were attacked.  This would prove to be a difficult 3 weeks in a country that I did not speak the language…in fact, each night after work I would try to watch tv to see what was going on back home, but with only 2 channels to choose from (German or Dutch) it was real hard.  I was there to learn as much about the pumps and the company as possible, and that is what I did.

Over the next 11+ years I learned (primarily on my own) how to do the basics in accounting, how to do CAD drawings using a German CAD program (not a stitch of English), process and fill orders for both pumps and parts.  After 3 years we moved into our first facility.  We bought some general equipment, and decided to start assembling the pumps here to save a lot of money on freight expenses…as we got bigger and moved into an even larger facility so that we had the room to do our own manufacturing and save even more money.  Over time, I had essentially became in charge of final assembly and shipping.

The last few weeks we had a large-scale training event for our reps to come and learn more about out products.  It was at this point that many meetings between the German owner and the one who ran the U.S. facility was held…two weeks later, I was called into his office and told that the company was going in a direction that no longer needed me to work in the office…I was given two options.  I could either step down and take a 6 week severance package or I could go back to assembling the pumps with a pay cut that would put me back to $4700 LESS than I made when I was first hired 11 1/2 years ago.

Well, this was the easiest (and hardest) decision I have ever had to make…I am currently unemployed…but over the past few years, I have been increasingly unhappy with how I was being treated, and by leaving, I now have the opportunity to go back to school to do something that I really have interest in…Graphic Arts!  Over the past 25 years, I have had full support from my now wife…while I was working, she had the excellent chance of finish her schooling…now that I am unemployed, she is urging me to finally get back to school and do some thing that I am interested in and will enjoy.

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