2018 was a challenging year for JB Cutting. A serious lack of workers created a bottleneck in our everyday operations. New machines were purchased and installed, but many times sat idle without operators to run them. However, we pushed on visiting customers and attending shows. Customer sales stayed steady and many of our existing customers experienced record growth. We also added new colors to our lineup including Nizza & Equinox, Summertime Blues, several new Arauco Prism matches and in late December, Ashen.
I speak to quite a few business owners throughout my day. The conversations over the last year revolved around the same topic, the inadequate amount of workers available. As of November, the unemployment rate was unchanged at a 49-year low of 3.7%! What has JB Cutting done this past year to tackle this frustrating issue?
In February we added an onsite, full time recruiter and professional HR person to our staff, Kristen Kummerl.
She is sourcing highly qualified candidates to join our team. She is also focusing on our culture and providing a better on-boarding and training experience for new hires. Throughout the year we hosted several events for our workforce including a BBQ, an Ice Cream Social, a Ballgame at our local Minor League Ballpark and Fowling (a combo of bowling and football) at our Christmas luncheon. At the start of the second quarter we hired a marketing firm to build our brand to potential employees. They have completed “the jobs to be done” portion and in 2019 will focus on an employee website and marketing campaign. We are hopeful to reap the rewards of these new programs in 2019!
We finished installing two nested based Homag routers and a dust collector that were purchased in 2017. These machines are showing a return on investment with decreased run times and energy efficiencies. We will continue to install a few new pieces of equipment into the New Year as we add a flipping and buffing station to one of our presses, a new five-piece door machine and a sander. We are also hoping to have the first phase of Global Shop (ERP software) running by the fourth quarter.
Our existing customer base showed record growth this year and it was truly a team effort to satisfy their needs in the absence of staff. The IWF show in Atlanta proved to be a successful event this past year which prompted us to sign up for AWFS in Las Vegas. This will be our first time exhibiting at the AWFS Fair and we are excited to see what this show will bring. We also hosted a rewarding Manufacturing Day Event which our state rep Bill Sowerby attended!
I want to sincerely thank our customers and employees for their patience this past year. We’ve had some difficult times meeting customer due dates as well as packaging and freight issues. We are committed to improving and have already positioned ourselves to start the year off on the right foot.
Best wishes to all of our partners and friends for a healthy and prosperous year!