Jesse Underwood, Regional Sales Manager with Servomex, sat down with us to talk about the changes in the industry over the decades and their effects.
How are things different now in the engineering field compared to when you were starting out?
Accounting never used to make all the decisions in companies. The majority of big decisions used to be made by engineers. Then, in the 90's, accounting folks became more and more involved in those decisions.
A chemical plant I worked at in the 70's had 5000 full time employees. When i went back in the mid 2000's it was down to 1500.So there's been a natural movement to cut costs in manpower on the engineering side of things.
Accountants underestimating their need for engineers.
Right. Plus, there's been a lot of retirements in the last 5-10 years, so a lot of that knowledge base has moved on.
And what's the net effect?
Fewer people, less tribal knowledge, and lower training budgets combine to lead the customer to lean on vendors a lot more. End users lean on engineering companies tremendously to address the deficit in qualified analyzer engineers. It's even more prevalent in engineering companies than it is in end user companies. A major engineering company might only have one analyzer engineer. So whenever a major end user needs to fill that gap, they just throw an electrical engineer or control systems engineer, who isn't necessarily qualified, at that project and it inevitably flounders. That costs money. So then the engineering company leans on us even more.
Then you're basically training engineers from other disciplines all the time?
Teaching a junior engineer how to be an analyzer engineer has become a big part of my job. Yes.