November 30, 2007
I won $30 in fuel cards during an all-staff meeting earlier this week. It's an enticement for people to come to the meeting and an overall nice thing to do for the employees—especially those with a long commute.
I'm one of those employees. It's a 106-mile round trip for me each day. And the fuel card amount didn"t even fill up my tank. My wife is really pushing me to get a smaller car, such as the vehicle actor Richard Farnsworth drove in the 1999 release The Straight Story.
Like most Americans, however, I'm living with it. Luckily, working long hours and a long commute prevent a person from spending money on frivolous things like fun. Well, you know what I mean.
Metal fabricators are living with it as well. Some aren"t too happy about it. I heard a couple of stories from shop managers that the increase in fuel costs are eating into their profits. Maybe it's time for these shops to do a little outsourcing of their own.
I remember a conversation I had this summer with Chris Hollenback, president of Integrated Manufacturing Solutions (IMS), Shakopee, Minn., a small shop with a big investment in automated laser cutting equipment. He outsources everything—accounting, human resources, and transportation—just so he can concentrate on metal cutting and bending.
He recounted a story about hearing another shop bragging about some new trucks it was purchasing to deliver painted goods. "What would I want those trucks for?" he said with a laugh retelling the story.
He might be correct:
Of course, you don"t get to advertise your company on the side of a third-party courier or delivery truck. I know someone who has a pretty long commute in northern Illinois, and he might consider advertising your company for the right price. The starting price is more than $30 in fuel cards.