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Where Have All the Tradesmen Gone?


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#1 Samurai Appliance Repair Man

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Posted 20 January 2007 - 05:50 AM

When was the last time you tried to hire a skilled and competent tradesman? Seems you either can’t get anyone to call you back or the ones that you can reach you wished you hadn’t. Why is that, Capt. Ron? As usual, the Samurai has the answer. Open your skull and let the light of wisdom shine inside that empty space betwixt your ears.

I’ve been saying for years that there are just too many over-indulged, pampered progeny going to college. The ample supply of easily-available, low-interest, gubmint-backed student loans has spawned hordes of puffy little cherubs trotting off to college ostensibly for “higher learning” but who actually spend most of their time in laboratory studies of intemperance and concupiscence. This is when “college” becomes “collitch.”

As Charles Murray, at the American Enterprise Institute (a group usually too neo-connish for my tastes), correctly points out:

Government policy contributes to the problem by making college scholarships and loans too easy to get, but its role is ancillary. The demand for college is market-driven, because a college degree does, in fact, open up access to jobs that are closed to people without one. The fault lies in the false premium that our culture has put on a college degree.

For a few occupations, a college degree still certifies a qualification. For example, employers appropriately treat a bachelor’s degree in engineering as a requirement for hiring engineers. But a bachelor’s degree in a field such as sociology, psychology, economics, history or literature certifies nothing. It is a screening device for employers. The college you got into says a lot about your ability, and that you stuck it out for four years says something about your perseverance. But the degree itself does not qualify the graduate for anything. There are better, faster and more efficient ways for young people to acquire credentials to provide to employers.

The “over-educated idiot” is a cliché in our overindulged society. We all know people who went to collitch, graduated with a degree in something like African Percussion Interpretation but, hmmm, just can’t seem to find a job. Either that or they hate their job and feel stuck working for Da Man and so lash out by voting to take Da Man’s money through taxation, gubmint-mandated minimum wage increases, or various other hare-brained wealth-redistribution schemes right out of Marx’s imbecilic Manifesto.

So why aren’t kids going into these trades? Simple: pretend you’re an overindulged 18 year-old snot-nosed punk with no clear vision of what you want to do with your life or what you would even study in collitch. In your 18-year old brain, your impression of working in the trades is to work for someone like Cheeky the Repairclown (or, worse yet, to end up like Cheeky!). And suppose that you had the choice of working for Cheeky or enjoying four years of drinking and carousing in collitch on someone else’s dime (i.e., low-interest, gubmint-backed student loans, Mommy and Daddy, grants, etc.). Which would you choose?

Another problem is that parents have this goofy notion that their spawn has a “right” to go to collitch and, by God, to collitch they will go! Nevermind that the only thing this kid has any intention of studying is the bottom of his beer mug and his girlfriend’s chest.

The result is that the poor kid will struggle through collitch (in between parties) and then, if he’s lucky, end up in some miserable Dilbert job on a cubicle farm wishing he’d gone to work as an apprentice for Uncle Joe, a Master Electrician. He would have had his own Master Electrician license by now and been in a position to either buy Uncle Joe’s bidness or start his own. Guess that degree in Underwater Basketweaving wasn’t such a good investment afterall. Go figure.

But, despite not learning very much that matters during his collitch career, the kid will certainly pick up the usual collectivist claptrap from the last remaining Marxists on the planet, the collitch faculty, about how more gubmint is the answer to all our problems from global warming to jock itch. In most cases, collitch of today has devolved into nothing more than a factory cranking out swarms of gubmint-loving, liberty-hating voters who don’t understand the free market and are actually scared to death of it. These are the people who will vote themselves, along with the rest of us, into slavery.

I have always maintained that these misguided souls would be much happier and wealthier learning a trade. Instead of all this spite, envy, and disgruntlement, these very same people could be living the good life as successful entrepreneurs running their own trade bidness and getting a taste of the Ameedican Dream.

What, exactly, is this Ameedican Dream of which I speak? It is running your own life the way you choose and controlling your own destiny. It’s having a work situation where the amount of moola you earn is dependent on your efforts and not on Da Man counting out the beans and saying, “You can have this many, the rest are mine.” In the Ameedican Dream, YOU Da Man! In today’s economy, the easiest way to get there is by running a bidness in one of the skilled trades.

According to my state-of-the-art prognostications, here are some of the trades I see as the most viable and valuable both now and in the forseeable future (in no particular order):
  • Plumber
  • Electrician
  • Nurse
  • Carpenter (rough and finish)
  • Mason
  • Pest Control
  • Diesel Engine Mechanic
  • Auto Technician
  • Industrial Equipment Technician
You may have noticed the conspicuous absence of appliance repair technician. I don’t consider appliance repair to be one of the long-term viable trades because the mega-trend for appliance repair techs has diminishing opportunities for an in-home service bidness; the shining exception will be servicing high-end appliances.

So, if you’re a collitch student majoring in Effing-Up, do the world and yourself a favor by dropping out and learning a trade instead. You’ll thank me in a few years.


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#2 jahjahbinks

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Posted 20 January 2007 - 09:46 PM

I think you falled to mention what trainers and employers face as well

willingness to learn

dedication

trustwortherness

drivers lisenes

patiences

upper schooling teachs how to avoid all things these things untill your so far in debt that you now have to beg uncle joe/bob to show you a trade just to repair your own apartment and then and only then will they realize the difference in working for da-man and what thay could with some thing they like to do (the untapped resource)   

I think the more people want to pounce on us the more they should pay for the privledge (whinning rich adult snots) who complain about scratches and fingerprints v/s those who would simply welcome a service tech (pay without complaint) to get the unit working again .

I tell my kids and my customers that everything breaks even people, how you handle the break will determine your satisfaction level.

to me , to be in the trades is just if not more valuable then getting that phd in toilet training

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#3 nickfixit

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Posted 21 January 2007 - 03:00 AM

The one common factor of those listed jobs is they can not be "out-sourced" to India or China. That is something anyone planning a career has to consider.

As I drive around running my calls, I see many huge developments of expensive homes. I can't understand how so many people can be making so much money. There are entire communities of relatively wealthy people. A great number of these folks are in "middle management" and I think many will find their jobs in jeopardy fairly soon.

Many, or most, companies have cut costs by eliminating as many blue collar positions as possible and sending administrative and support jobs overseas.  This improves their "bottom line" and makes share holders happy.

Now company's find their "blue collar" staff is barely adequate to get needed functions done. They can not cut any deeper without harming the business. They have already sent the support and administration jobs overseas, so there isn't anyway to reduce costs there. The only place left for major cost cutting is middle management. Eventually the need to keep the shareholders happy will force companies to reduce the size of the management staff.

I see a future where you will see these high end developments full of "For Sale" signs. I expect to see home prices in this category to fall substantially.

I take no pleasure in this condition, I just believe it's going to happen.

Nick

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#4 sheldontv

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Posted 22 January 2007 - 01:48 AM

:D what about Electronics Engineers like myself here in the UK ???......where im located there are only two others in the trade who are carrying out repairs ......and all of us are very busy-but it is slowly going downhill as some items such as dvd players ,cd players etc are just throw away items now due to the cost of buying a replacement is sometimes cheaper than repair......think ill retrain as a plumber or bricklayer..........

regards mike

 


#5 That Guy

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Posted 23 January 2007 - 11:47 PM

I know how to fix TVs and other consumer electronics, but what's the point? With the products being throwaways and most jobs taking an hour or more plus parts, most people just go out and buy a new one.

I'm afraid appliances are going the same way. At least the low end ones are. Its almost cheaper to buy a low end dryer now, then to repair it. Most of the new appliances seem to be cheaply built and I doubt if may of them will last 10 years. All of the companies have gone to the one year warranty, partly to help push their service contracts, but also because the products aren't holding up very well.

Microwaves are a good example. When they sell for $35.00 at Kmart, there is no way I can repair them for that price. If I tried to get the circuit board for one, it would cost at least 2 times what the microwave did, then you still have to install it.

I miss the good ole days when appliances cost more and lasted longer. Nowadays most people are too cheap to buy a decent appliance, and even if they did, may of the "better" appliances aren't holding up well either.

In my town their aren't any young people that want to do appliances. I'm 47 and I'm one of the youngest still working on appliances. Not to mention, starting your own business in my state is a exercise in futility. Nebraska ranks as one of the worst states to have a small business in. Its like 47 out of the 50 states. None of the local places that sell appliances here have their own techs. They would loose too much money if they had to do their own service work. Instead they get me to do it and then they laugh all the way to their banks.


#6 rgracie

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Posted 24 January 2007 - 01:15 PM

Interesting observations Samurai, and a very "smoooove" delivery.. ;-) I would only add HVAC/R Technicians to your list of excellent opportunistic trades...
 
We are having a terrible time finding even un-qualified HVAC/R tech’s much less qualified..


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#7 Pegi

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Posted 24 January 2007 - 02:09 PM

A very good evening to you, Mr. Robert Gracie, is so good to see you in here...this forum will be much richer for this, much richer indeed...looking forward to reading of your wisdom and professional insite.  We are blessed to have Mr. Gracie in this forum.  Perhaps you could convince your Dad to join us also........Pegi
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#8 ratherbfishin

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Posted 24 January 2007 - 03:03 PM

yes a lesson i learned around 1980 when inexpensive electronics became disposable.   and i wonder whats going to happen to household appliance repair, the big boys charge so much i don't see many people repairing them.
"ratherbfishin"

#9 rgracie

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Posted 24 January 2007 - 03:42 PM

[user=533]Pegi[/user] wrote:

A very good evening to you, Mr. Robert Gracie, is so good to see you in here...this forum will be much richer for this, much richer indeed...looking forward to reading of your wisdom and professional insite.  We are blessed to have Mr. Gracie in this forum.  Perhaps you could convince your Dad to join us also........Pegi

Peg,
 We have talked about this "Mr." thing.... Do we have to "go there" again... ;-)  I will see if pops will make an appearance, but you know it's going to cost me... :-)

The Samurai caught my attention with his colorful banter, one funny man he is..




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#10 rgracie

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Posted 24 January 2007 - 03:46 PM

[user=533]Pegi[/user] wrote:

A very good evening to you, Mr. Robert Gracie, is so good to see you in here...this forum will be much richer for this, much richer indeed...looking forward to reading of your wisdom and professional insite.  We are blessed to have Mr. Gracie in this forum.  Perhaps you could convince your Dad to join us also........Pegi

Peg,
 I just noticed,..... 9616 posts…., where in the world do you find the time... Wow, you are amazing..



 


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#11 Pegi

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Posted 24 January 2007 - 03:57 PM

Oh Yea, the Samurai is funny indeed...not sure who to award the funniest to , the Samurai or Larry the Cable Guy....LOL
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#12 Pegi

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Posted 24 January 2007 - 04:06 PM

Well, Robert, sleep seems to be over-rated at times.....also the internet is my vice....not as bad as other things I could think of that I could be doing...;)...also I just like to help, knowledge is such a waste if not shared.
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#13 AccApp

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Posted 24 January 2007 - 08:26 PM

[user=17175]rgracie[/user] wrote:

Peg,
 I just noticed,..... 9616 posts…., where in the world do you find the time... Wow, you are amazing..


What is the record for most uninterrupted Pegi posts to a single topic? Got to be around 10 or so. BwaaHaaHaa

 She is extremely knowledgeable, untouchable as far as knowing where to find info.

"When you have eliminated all which is impossible, then whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth." Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.


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#14 Samurai Appliance Repair Man

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Posted 25 January 2007 - 03:59 AM

Some great comments here!  I'll try to reply to 'em all:

Nick:

The one common factor of those listed jobs is they can not be "out-sourced" to India or China. That is something anyone planning a career has to consider.

This is an excellent point and is one of the forces driving the changes we're seeing.  Charles Murray raised that exact point in his article as one of the compelling reasons for going into the trades.  

Sheldon:

what about Electronics Engineers like myself here in the UK ???......where im located there are only two others in the trade who are carrying out repairs ......and all of us are very busy-but it is slowly going downhill as some items such as dvd players ,cd players etc are just throw away items...

Gadgets have been disposable items for a long time already here in Ameedica.  If it ain't under warranty, people throw it away, buy a new one, and then post a crappy review of it on Amazon.  

That Guy:

With the products being throwaways and most jobs taking an hour or more plus parts, most people just go out and buy a new one.

I'm afraid appliances are going the same way. At least the low end ones are.

This has actually been true for quite a while now.  Changes sometimes happen so slowly, like the movement  of a glacier, that it can take a while to perceive the effects.  The trick is to see where the glacier is ultimately heading and make preparations accordingly.  

For example, I limit the number of service calls I do on low-end appliances.  I try to screen them out on the phone or, if I schedule the call, it's only for a long-time, repeat customer, almost as a favor.  Given the market forces today, going out on new calls for low-end appliances will only make you look bad.  The reason is that people can't think clearly.  They look at what it costs to buy a new appliance and, in their flabby little brains, think this should control how much it costs to fix it!  

You can't change the way people think (especially if they're incapable of learning or if they distrust you) so servicers need to increasingly gear their businesses to servicing high-end appliances.  

More on this topic: rgracie:

I would only add HVAC/R Technicians to your list of excellent opportunistic trades...

Welcome to the forum, Robert, and you raise a great point.  That was an omission on my part-- I agree that HVAC will be one of the indispensable trades.  I'm sure there are others and my list should be taken as more illustrative rather than exhaustive.  

ratherbfishin:

and i wonder whats going to happen to household appliance repair, the big boys charge so much i don't see many people repairing them.

The times they are a-changin', Budrow. 


Thanks to all the various Masters for taking the time to read the article and comment on it.  And I especially want to thank everyone for spending some time helping to answer questions and sharing their copious and hard-earned wisdom here in this fount of appliance repair know-how.  The best part of running this forum is associating with the finest band of brethren in The Craft found anywhere on the planet.  And a special thanks to Pegi, TTH, Nick, Mad Mac, and Willie for their abundant contributions of wisdom to the forum.  :dude:




#15 Mad Mac

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Posted 25 January 2007 - 10:05 AM

Just to add my $.02, as I believe is the vernacular here, I used to find that people had a cutoff point when it came to spending money on repairs, and it was usually around $200. Most "electronics-related" appliance repairs would cost that just for the part(s). If it was a new-ish appliance and repairs were over $200, they would generally put their misfortune down to experience. If it was several years old, they would accept it under the heading of "things don't last as long as they used to".

I think our illustrious leader has it just about right - there IS some future in the business, but that future is largely dealing with higher-end appliances where it is "worth repairing" or would require a kitchen remodel to replace the unit e.g. built in ovens/refrigerators. What we do is, with all due respect to the esteemed Masters/Mistresses, "not rocket science". Most homeowners could, with some pointing in the right direction (e.g. the RIGHT way to open up a Whirlpool-built direct drive), repair most appliance issues. It never ceases to amaze me that many people who won't hesitate to tear a car engine apart won't touch a washing machine.

Mad Mac....Pray to God he's out there....somewhere.

#16 ratherbfishin

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Posted 26 January 2007 - 02:09 PM

 master as of next week i for one will not be working for a/e.  am going to venture forth into another direction,  back toward the sales side of the business.
"ratherbfishin"

#17 Samurai Appliance Repair Man

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Posted 28 January 2007 - 10:46 PM

Best of luck to you in your new gig, ratherb, but I hope this doesn't mean you'll be venturing away from this Round Table.  :tokin:


#18 coolstreak

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Posted 14 June 2007 - 03:49 PM

Well, from my recent experience one doesn't have to have any training to become an appliance repair person.  Just get yourself a beatup van with some lettering on the side, a clip board with an official-looking form on it, a mobile phone, and learn to say, "Ohhhh.  This is going to cost so much to repair, you'll be better off buying a new appliance.  That will be $85 for the service call, please."  Happened to me twice in the last few months.

That's why I just joined this forum . . . . . I've got to learn how to repair these things myself.  Or, at least, REALLY know when to buy v. repair.  So, can I really learn from your aphoristic (No, that has nothing to do with sexual desire--focus on the topic, please.) instruction, exploded diagrams (There goes your wondering mind again.), and jabber by those who worship at your temple?

Further, can I find in this vast digital university step-by-step procedures, voltages, proper techniques, specialized tools, . . . . . . ?  Or, a broader question:  Where does one go to learn the trade?  Carry Bennie the Repairman's clipboard around for four years?  Wait!  I don't have that long; I have a Maytag dishwasher that's got a problem drooling liquid soap after the wash cycle is complete and I've got to fix it before my wife calls a repairman and he tells me I need a new unit.





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