The 2013 Oklahoma Manufacturers Register reports that manufacturing jobs are up in Tulsa. That’s the first time that’s happened in five years.
Dick Havir is the operations manager for the local firm Crane Carrier Company, which manufactures parts for construction and garbage trucks.
He says, although business got off to a slow start this year, in the last few months, it’s been gaining momentum.
Catherine Roberts: So I guess the big question then is: business on an uptick, does that mean that you guys are looking to hire people?
Dick Havir: We have actually hired a significant number of people in the third quarter, which will no doubt continue throughout Q4 and probably well into next year.
CR: So, how different is this from the last three years, four years, when we were in the midst of a recession?
DH: Well, certainly it’s been a challenge, especially for municipalities. When faced with very, very difficult decisions regarding tax dollars, replacing trash trucks is not high on the list, and we understand that. So it’s certainly good to see that tax revenues are back up, and that municipalities can start replacing worn out equipment, that, in many cases, because we offer a very clean and green CNG option, is going to be better for the community that’s receiving that equipment.
CR: Okay. Talk to me about the Tulsa work force. It is easy to hire here? Is it hard to hire here? Are you finding that you are able to get the workers that you need with the qualifications that you need?
DH: The quick answer is, and I think you’d probably hear from anybody, it’s always difficult to find the best talent. We’re all competing for the best talent. It seems that kids today don’t understand what a great job manufacturing is: how much money they can make, what a long career they can have, you know, they just don’t think of it. Parents obviously want to do good for their kids, and so they push them in, many times, a collegiate-type setting that may or may be what the child actually wants. And we hope we can really start to attract people back to manufacturing roots, because in many cases, we will actually start people at a much more significant salary than they would coming straight out of college.
CR: So, I think there’s a fear of, obviously the buzz word being outsourcing, what advice would you give to students who are thinking about this who are worried that they might lose their job to someone in another state or another country.
DH: Yes, I’ve got a little bit of stuff outsourced, and there’s half a dozen shops here in the Tulsa area that are terrific partners and make wonderful product for us, but we keep it all right here in Oklahoma every chance we get, and I think if you talk to most manufacturers in the area, you’ll find the same thing. We look first to outsource that here locally if it’s not a core competency, before we ever look out of state, or certainly outside of the country.
CR: Do you see the manufacturing sector playing a key role in Oklahoma’s economy in the next 10, 15 years?
DH: Well, absolutely. It’s hard sometimes to see, you know, if you’re not in this industry, you look at the big players only, and probably don’t notice the literally dozens of small businesses that have between one and 10 employees that are sitting there, playing a very vital part in the Oklahoma economy.
Havir said he thinks the days of what he calls “irrational outsourcing” are over, and that many companies are moving operations back to home base.
He says there’s almost nothing he needs that he can’t get right here in Oklahoma.