Joe Versus the Manufacturer: Losing Employees

Editor's Note: All of the letters below are in response to Mark Skaer's editorial "A Question of Ethics, " Aug. 14.


I just read Mark Skaer's article about "Joe" losing employees to the manufacturer. While I don't see how he can stop this company from hiring his employees, (absolutely not ethical) why not consider asking the manufacturer for compensation for the training he invests in each person. It would be kind of like a training/trade class. Why not get paid for doing a great job of training!

Toby Rooks
Amsco Supply
Lenexa, Kan.


I found Mark Skaer's column on Aug. 14 particularly interesting, even though I'm not in the specific situation described. But it raises some sticky and challenging ethical questions, above and beyond what is technically legal. It seems to come down to simply "what is right," although I'm still not sure what the answers are to the many questions Mark posed.

Elva Legere Clements
Alvare Associates
Byrn Mawr, Pa.


What to do about the situation would depend on several factors:

  • "Joe" should look at why his employees left. How does his pay and benefits compare to the manufacturer (most likely not as good)? And what about long term, is working for the manufacturer perceived as a place with a better future and Joe as limited upside potential?

  • Is Joe a jerk to work for? Does he have the employees' wives in love with his company as well? Has Joe read "Gung Ho" and "How to Win Friends and Influence People," and does he apply those ideas to inside customers (employees) and support customers (wives and children)?

    As far as firing the manufacturer, as described, and after introspection, I would have to say so, with one reservation. If the manufacturer employed half the town I worked in, I would have to say keep 'em.

    The manufacturer should look into hiring outside the immediate area and relocating employees. The caliber of people it sounds like they are hiring would very likely be willing to move.

    Mike Paino
    A Better Heating & Air
    Lovejoy, Ga.


    I can feel for the "Joe" in Mark Skaer's editorial in the Aug. 14 issue. We have been in the electrical/HVAC trade since 1948 and have seen a lot of good employees come and go.

    I believe in this day and time the word ethics does not mean much, especially to those in the big corporate world.

    All of us in the industry know how hard it is to gain, train, and maintain average, good, or superior employees, and if we do not have the resources to offer them to stay, yes, they are going to go to something better. That is and always will be the name of the game. We cannot offer our staff the benefits that the big guys can, and I always tell anyone who is leaving, as long as you're doing it to better yourself, I have no issue with it, no matter how much it hurts.

    As far as the ethics issue, if "Joe" really likes the manufacturer and the product, he should stay with them, to show them that they don't bother him with their "questionable hiring tactics."

    He may want to approach them to provide a better discount, since he is providing them with some quality employees.

    Tell "Joe" he has to be doing something right, to keep employees for that many years and to be proud of what he has done. As hard as it is to let them [employees] go and to gain new ones, when one door closes another one always opens.

    Roger Casey
    Crestview, Fla.


    I am of the opinion the contractor is correct to think the manufacturer should leave his people alone. Let's face it, just because the company puts its manufacturer arm and contracting arms under different banners, it is still the same company.

    In my opinion this type of behavior is exactly the reason why this industry always is complaining about not having enough people. The manufacturer needs to spend its resources training its people and not taking the contractor's.

    Frank Arnold Jr.
    President, Prudential Heating and Air Conditioning
    Louisville, Ky.

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    Publication date: 09/04/2006