Kris Harmon, 2017-07-12 23:04:03
Feed mills: Just like our work, so let’s make them our work I started sheet metal work because I thought everyone will always need heat and air. My grandfather was a founding member in Local 747, which merged with SM Local 36. My father had over 40 years in Local 36. Originally, I didn’t want to follow in those footsteps, but upon reflection (and the heat-and-air thought above), it seemed to be the smart move. I have since put in 22 years in the local and was recently hired as the organizer for the Central Missouri and Springfield areas. To become an organizer, I left a project management job with one of our larger contractors in Central Missouri. I decided I had given 21 years to “the contractors” and that I would give my remaining years to the Local that had provided so much for my family. All along, I had witnessed the changes to our industry, and I tried to follow trends and technology to keep myself and my contractor up to date. From AutoCAD downloads to plasma tables to Total Station point layout, I kept an open mind to the changes. A whole new market When I agreed to manage work for my company, I got to know one member with a special set of skills that, to my knowledge, we do not take enough advantage of: feed mill work. Much like my “brainstorm” 22 years ago about everyone needing heat and air, the same can be said for feed mills: we all need to eat, and as long as there are a substantial number of human beings on this Earth, large feed mill operations will be needed to provide for them and the food they consume. I knew we had a few industrial contractors that pursued some of this work, but I did not know just how much of it was out there. You probably don’t notice these mills either, but if you have train tracks in your town or a major river nearby, you have a feed mill. Familiar sight, familiar operations These mills are the large tower systems with pipes going into grain bins (as I used to think of them in the beginning). After working with mills for a while and researching how they work, I concluded that they are not that different from HVAC. Here is how: • Grain comes into a facility and goes into a dump pit; think of this as your return air plenum. • It is taken via screw or drag (think ductwork) to an elevator leg (think air-handling unit) that takes the grain up to an elevation from which it can properly flow as it discharges to a distributor (think control damper). • From the distributor, it goes to spouting (ductwork again) into the grain bin that was calling for the grain. We could go on about grinders, mixers, pellet mills and bagging systems, but this is an article—not a book—and it is focused on a market we are not pursuing with our skill set as sheet metal workers. Maintenance builds hours Unlike the air we move in HVAC systems, the grain moved in feed mills is destructive to the materials used to move it—so there is a constant need for replacement or repairs to the equipment. The mills run all day, every day—so bearings go out, motors go bad and metal wears out—all requiring replacement. As population grows, raising demand for livestock and thus more feed, feed mill facilities will also need to expand. Typically, the work needs to be done immediately and requires overtime because the mills cannot be down long without major consequences to production and distribution. Even normal maintenance typically requires weekend work because mills cannot afford to shut down during the week. All of that adds up to members getting some nice checks and extra hours throughout the year. And because most jobs are completed quickly (even new mills do not take that long to build and get running), payment is turned around quickly, without retainage, and our contractors are happy. Skilled work—our work I had been bidding this type of work for almost nine years and did not see very much competition on the larger projects. Someone with a welding set in the back of the truck can do a lot of the simple patching and repairs, but once we get in on a project that goes beyond that, even that minor work will come to us. Our wage package can be handled in this industry, and I have seen more and more contractors providing this work or willing to travel considerable distances to perform it. I have a list of at least a hundred in my area. The numbers are out there—we just need to get out and introduce ourselves. We need to continue to expand our view of “our work.” We need to take back the work that has been taken from us and add these new lines of work to grow our Union back to where we should be. NUMBER OF FEED MILLS IN THE U.S. • 6,012 total feed mills • 1,005 facilities producing medicated feed • 541 pet food facilities SOURCE: FDA, April 22, 2015 ECONOMIC IMPACT • 1.98 million jobs • $371 billion in gross domestic product • $65 billion to household incomes SOURCE: United Soybean Board, 2013
Published by Mosaic - SMART . View All Articles.
This page can be found at http://digitaledition.themosaicteam.com/article/Organizing+%26+Contracts/2832715/423538/article.html.