Thought I would say a few words about work, before it once again becomes busy to the point of unpleasantness. This is usually the dead season for us but the company is trying hard to do a few things different in order to avoid the train wreck of last year. First, they've picked up a lot of the early retail shells we've been getting made in China. This way, the layoffs are fewer (and thus not only are you sharper for the season, but not as many people who learned the business last season wander off to greener pastures). Some are being finished here, and some sent to the Ft. Wayne plant. Second, they hired 4 new cutters to train on the retail stuff so that they are good to go when all h breaks loose. (Of course, 2 of them quit this week, but the other 2 are hanging in there.) Third, we got rid of Country Casual, which was a tremendous drain on time, patience, and supplies, along with being 90% of our brought-in foam consumption. By dropping them, we eliminate half of our customer complaints, 40% of our recuts, and gain several hundred square feet of warehouse space once dedicated to foam that can be used more productively. They also dropped some other little customers that took up time to no good effect such as Viva, Meijer.com, Sams Club, and others that most of us never heard of (like Stacks and Stacks). Fourth, they moved Lisa Coburg into the sewing and cutting supervisor spot, leaving Rhonda to pay attention to just shipping and finishing. I can't help but believe that a lot of the resentment over Rhonda's being stretched too thin (and working like it wouldn't have made a difference) and letting the "front end" slide will dissipate.
But it is still the dead season, and so in order to keep the new guys working, the remainder of the crew (Jose, Jorge, Ullisses, Laurie, and I) have been getting farmed out to do various other season prep work. Over the last two weeks, Laurie and I have: shipped unwanted items such as old poly, used cushions, and other garbage to Ft. Wayne; moved poly hither and thither; stacked bags of finished cushions in the warehouse; boxed up pallets worth of discontinued (but we may yet get orders for) cushions; counted and/or stacked finished shells; took down signs; painted red squares around the fire extinguishers; moved and re-moved allegedly discontinued fabrics to pallets or racks where they will be buried until we inevitably need them; and put snow fence up on the racks in the hopes that they will help hold the ever-collapsing stacks of bags upright. Ullisses spent a day and a half taking the fabric scraps that we were saving for a recycling deal and throwing them into a dumpster when the deal fell through. He's also swept the sewing tables with the shop-vac, peeled several yards of floor tape off of defunct aisles, and actually had to clean the top of the pop machine one morning. Jorge basically cuts the umbrella shells, takes them to the sewers, takes them back from the sewers and frames, cleans, and packs them.
Dark clouds begin to gather already, though. Lisa is going through the beginner nerve-fraying as she learns her new jobs (which are in addition to her old job in inventory). She and Mike have already been at odds over using Jamie (our warehouse guy), to the point that he's actually getting some of his duties farmed out at long last. There has been a mini-rebellion over rates (which no one had to deal with much last year as we weren't doing retail) by both sewers and stuffers; the two guys working the Blow-fill machine both apparently quit on Monday morning, but were back Tuesday, I guess. We are in the process of cutting 1,560 cushions for Menards retail one roll at a time (works out to about 160 at a lay) because our cheap Chinese fabric suppliers have no idea how to make the stripes reasonably line up from roll to roll, which of course is just a fascinating slice of the fabric defect issues that dogged us all last year and so far this season.
Still in all, at least its not 65 hour weeks -yet. And it's better than filling out unemployment vouchers.