Pumps & Systems staff spoke with Kevin Jagielski, Director, Sales and Marketing for Graco, Inc., about what the company expects in the new year.
Are changes in the workforce affecting your company? What are you doing to try to mitigate issues related to the skills gap? What are you doing to attract millennials and younger workers to the field/your company?
With unemployment at a low level, we are finding it more and more difficult to find new people with the skill set to work in our factories. What we have done to alleviate this problem is we developed a learning cell to run our machines. New employees work as apprentices for six months where they are rotated through various machines every six weeks. We also work closely with local high schools where we have open houses throughout the year and the area vocational schools to give tours and find the top prospects. We have been fortunate in filling professional positions such as engineering, sales and marketing staff. Even though there appears to be fewer candidates, the open positions are being filled.
What should we expect from the oil and gas industry in 2018?
Oil and gas has picked up with the increase in oil prices. We are hopeful that the modest growth trend experienced in 2017 will continue into 2018. Many of the customers who use our products have expressed optimism for 2018.
What keeps you up at night?
We are seeing an industry that is rapidly changing. Distribution channels are consolidating and traditional geography lines are getting blurred. We also are seeing end users becoming more lean and it is becoming more difficult to get an audience at the end user level where we can provide valued input on processes and solutions.
What are you most optimistic about in 2018?
We are optimistic about business continuing on the growth trajectory we saw in 2017. We are seeing end users showing a lot of interest in new technology and innovation. Everyone seems to be looking for opportunities to improve their process and make it more efficient.
What were the biggest lessons learned in 2017 and how will they impact the industry moving into 2018?
Buying patterns of end users are evolving. The internet is becoming more prevalent in purchasing decisions.
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