Global Fastener News

1997 FIN – Quality Engineers: Going, Going, Gone

August 26
00:00 2010

October 24, 1997 FIN – Jennifer Dropauergraduated with a degree in industrial engineering from State University of New York/Buffalo in February and even fresh out of college had a long list of job offers to be a quality assurance manager.

She accepted an offer from Star-Elgen Inc. to be the company’s industrial engineer and quality expert.

Dropauer started receiving telephone calls only about a week after starting her new job. “Some headhunters got wind of where I was and started calling,” Dropauer recalled.

“I still get calls,” Dropauer added. “They call me here at work for other jobs.”

Indeed, a non-fastener, California-based recruiter recently called FIN seeking names of any quality assurance people as potential recruits.

That is because quality engineers are in demand in all industries, according to Jody Stein, vice president of Tom McCall Executive Search.

Olympia Fields, IL-based McCall specializes in recruiting for the fastener industry, but Stein said quality engineering skills “are transferable to all industries. And other industries “may pay better and be more progressive.”

Stein said the immediate reason for the quality staff demand is ISO 9000 and QS-9000 programs which automotive and other end users are requiring. “Everyone is under the gun to get certified,” Stein said.

Another part of the increased demand is that “distributors are waking up to realizing manufacturing customers wants quality,” recruiter John Quistorff of the Global Group of Glastonbury, CT, finds.

“Distributorships are no longer a mom & pop business,”Quistorff said. “They are large enough to hire quality engineers.”

Recruiter Don Leahy of Leahy & Associates of Matteson, IL, said overall demand for quality assurance positions “jumped to a new level three to five years ago and has stayed high.”

It started with an increase in demand for quality managers, Leahy recalled. “The biggest difference today is that now companies are needing more staff. They need assistant managers.”

Stein said 10% of the current McCall searches are for quality position. “In fact, we got three calls from companies yesterday,” she added.

Especially in demand are “industrial engineers with college degree and a sales personality,” Stein said. “That is customer driven. When the engineer is the quality assurance contact with the customer, the fastener company wants a degree and people skills.”

Demand and supply has forced some companies to hire temporary people to get through audits.

Those audits also have protected employment for established quality managers, Stein noted. “Plans to replace people have been put on hold until certifications are complete,” she said.

Checking Out Claims

Any high demand – whether from new government regulations or customer requirements – creates a “new cottage industry of experts,” Leahy said.

But recruiters say resume claims of experience in high-demand fields  don’t always check out.

“We guarantee our people,” Leahy said. If an employee he places turns out not to have the skills for the job he promised, then as the recruiter he is obligated to find a replacement, Leahy explained. That is why recruiters check backgrounds carefully.

“You see a lot on paper,” Leahy observed. “When you start scratching away not everything is there.”

Stein said long-term relationships developed within the industry allow McCall & Associates to check backgrounds beyond the limited information former employers will give.

“We know so many people who will talk ‘off the record.'” Stein said.


Keys to Hiring

Stein said candidates’ first concern is “what their future will be with the company beyond ISO and QS. A lot of candidates fear they will temporary.”

If you are asking a candidate to relocate, be prepared to pay extra. One new sales employee she recently placed had to relocate from a Western state to the Northeast and nearly doubled the base salary because of the move, Stein said.

• Quality technicians earn $12 to $15 on an hourly wage, Stein reported. Frequently technician positions are filled by warehouse people “who move into that because they have been doing it already.”

• Salaried staff usually range from $28,000 to $35,000, she said.

• An ASQ certified engineer with a technical degree is “really hard to find” and can earn $35,000 to $50,000.

• Managers generally command $50,000 to $80,000, and experience, rather than degrees, is more important in determining salary.

There is little difference regionally on quality staff pay, Stein said. “Typically, different regions pay the same. In some fields, such as skilled machinists, they get paid nothing in the South, Detroit a lot and the East Coast a fortune,” Stein said.

The high end of the range is for those “who have gone through the QS or ISO implementation process to completion,” Stein said.

The ASQ program, recognized formally in 125 countries, has certified more than 81,000 quality practitioners since the certification program began in 1968.

The certification program requires eight years of work experience, with certain waivers for education and an exam.

Quistorff sees light at the end of the tunnel for those having trouble finding quality engineers. “As people take the courses and get qualified by the American Society of Quality” they will fill the vacancies,” Quistorff predicted. 1997/2010 Fastener Industry News


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