Different variations on the theme of this blog’s title have been floating around for more than 150 years. But regardless of where the idea originally came from, it certainly has application in sawmilling. For example, consider a sawmill employee, who because of limited training, makes the same wrong decision every day causing less than optimal log to lumber recovery. The cost of that repeated mistake can add up to hundreds of thousands of dollars or more per year. This is because sawmilling is a business where buying logs is typically about two-thirds of total operating expense and any mistakes that decrease optimization of log to lumber recovery have significant negative financial impacts.
So, in this, The Beck Group’s first ever blog article, we review the rationale for training employees and the benefits of training. Not so coincidentally, The Beck Group is offering a Sawmill Management Training Workshop at The World Forestry Center in Portland, Oregon December 4 -6, 2018; see more details and register here.
Sawmill Management Training Rationale and Benefits
Sending an employee to offsite training can come at a substantial cost. On top of the training program and travel expenses, there is the cost of that employee being away from their job for days at a time.
So why do successful lumber companies send their team members out for training? The simple answer is that they understand they are making an investment in that individual, and in the future of their own company. The Beck Group has trained hundreds of people through our Sawmill Management Training Workshops, and has gained some insights about why the industry’s top manufacturers continue to send key employees out for training including:
New Tools and Techniques – Training can offer even experienced employees new tools for solving problems and analyzing their business. As an example, sawmill leaders might learn how to diagnose lumber quality control problems, or how to analyze payback on a capital investment.
Broader Understanding of the Business – Many times, team leaders in wood products manufacturing have come up through the ranks as production employees and may have had a narrow focus within the operation. For example, we often hear from sawmill department leaders that know little about lumber drying or surfacing. Attending a training event can help broaden their perspective through learning about other aspects of the process, from log procurement through finished product sales and shipping.
Focus on Learning – Being off-site for training events give leaders a break from the daily grind and allows them to focus on what they are learning rather than being interrupted with distractions while on site at the sawmill.
Confidence and Morale Building – Employees who are sent out for training recognize that their employers are investing in them and preparing them for the future. This demonstrates that they are a valued team member leading to improved morale and company loyalty.
Networking – One of the greatest benefits cited in feedback on past Beck Group Sawmill Management Training Workshops is the opportunity to network with peers from other companies in the industry. The workshop format allows for discussion and problem solving in small groups that often includes members of different companies. Additionally, there is ample time during breaks and a reception dinner for more informal socializing with peers. The information sharing in these settings is a key part of the learning that happens at workshops.
Preparing for Generational Transition – It is no secret that many of the key leaders in our sawmills are approaching retirement age. Training events present an opportunity to transfer wisdom and lessons learned from industry veterans to the next generation.
The Beck Group is a forest products planning and consulting firm based in Portland, Oregon. We take a results-oriented, practical approach to helping clients make better decisions and improving their financial and operational performance. We offer a variety of services and we operate throughout North America and overseas. Our blog posts highlight work from recent consulting assignments and feature topics relevant to anyone interested in forest products. We welcome your feedback and comments.