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I am a lifetime member of MEA. I currently have a small one-man firm. So this story is not about now – it’s an “old story” from the timeframe of 1993 to 1998, in the Austin Texas area.

The reason I am an MEA member is that earlier in my career I was an engineering manager in semiconductor factories in Austin, TX. I hired both engineers and technicians. As a team we were responsible for maintaining very complex equipment that costs $400,000 to $3,000,000. Our portion of the factory may have 50-60 sets of equipment. This equipment often operated at the edge of its capability, 24x7x365. Therefore the quality of the maintenance of the equipment was critical. One small misstep and the equipment goes out of specification possibly causing hundreds of thousands of dollars of ruined microchips and disruption of the flow of product through the factory.

As I looked at hiring technicians, I had a few options. Hire away from competitors, hire new grads with 2-year technical degrees, or hire men and women leaving our nation’s armed forces who has been responsible for maintaining equipment. There was no comparison. By leaps and bounds, the returned service men and women were the better employees. They were also well suited for promotion into leadership positions.

Some of my fellow managers felt that hiring techs with experience on their particular equipment set was important. What I realized is that the elements of character, teamwork and discipline – possessed by Marines returning to the private sector – is by far most important. Specific equipment attributes are easily learned – but one of the ways this discipline showed up with the in quality of execution of a “preventative maintenance procedure” – or PM as we called it. This required the discipline of following a sequence of highly technical steps with precision. Some techs would allow their egos to take over – get overconfident after performing the procedure a number of times. This always led to a disaster. The Marines had the discipline to follow the procedure. They also had the brains to seek continuous improvement and look at how the procedure could be improved for future “PM’s”.

So I quickly decided to focus more of my hiring efforts in that area. As a result, my department operated more efficiently than the others. When I moved to Carlsbad, CA, I heard about MEA and immediately joined even though my current business does not require new hires.

I’ve told this story over and over. If you are a business with current or future need for employees, you would be foolish to not hire our U.S. Services men and women that are returning the private sector. Once you experience the results, you will be just as passionate as I am.

Are excellent employees found outside of this group? Of course. They just happen to have a very high percentage of excellence.

It’s not about “helping” our armed forces – it’s about your profit and success. Surround yourself with excellent people!

John O’Reilly

O’Reilly Wealth Advisors

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