The local Y, the place where I work out daily, recently hired a maintenance guy. His attention to detail is phenomenal. His first week was a Daylight Saving Time change weekend. When I saw him pull out his smart phone and check the time as he set clocks in the locker room, I knew we had a winner..

Especially during the years when I went into plants daily helping customers solve problems and hopefully selling some products, I’d look in electrical panel enclosures with an eye toward the workmanship of the wiring. Were the wires pulled and uniformly bent? Neatly terminated in devices and terminal blocks? Labeled?

One day I called on a small stamping plant in my area. There was a new general manager, whom I met with. he was interested in press safety equipment. We walked out to the machinery. On one operating press, the cover of the electrical enclosure was hanging open held by a single screw out of the four that should be there. Wires were sticking out in a rat’s nest tangle of spaghetti.

I couldn’t get out of there quickly enough. And I never went back. There was no way I was selling a piece of sophisticated safety equipment in a plant with such poor electrical practices and attention to detail.

In my youth I hung out at times with older guys who could be described as “good ol’ boys” or “rednecks” I guess. But they could tune cars and rebuild engines better than the factory guys.

I have a lot of respect for people like that. Attention to detail. Caring about their work. Developing skills mostly on their own.

This Monday is Labor Day in the US. A last vestige of the labor movement of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, it’s a Federal holiday to remember and celebrate the nation’s workers.

Certain management types may have condescending views of workers, but I respect these people–electricians, pipe fitters, mechanics, millwrights, and all the other trades and workers. We would not have built great manufacturing without them.

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