I Quit … At Least for Now

By Lyle R. Hill

It was late and I was tired, but the allure of a ringing phone is just too hard for me to resist. I picked it up as it began its third ring and as usual, offered up my well-worn salutation.

“Thanks for answering, Lyle, I know it’s late and I wasn’t sure if I would catch you. My name is Nick Ferranti. We met at the show in Indianapolis and after we talked for a while, you said to call you anytime I thought you might be able to help. So I’m taking you up on the offer.”

“Sure, Nick, not a problem,” I replied while trying to remember our conversation and place the name with a face.

“Thanks for your help, Lyle. Here’s my story. Three months ago my right-hand guy, Jay Pinkos, quit and went to work for a competitor.”

“Is that his real name?”

“No, Lyle. His real name is Barry Atkins, but I thought you might make
an article out of this so I didn’t think I should use his real name. He reads USGlass magazine.”

“Please continue.”

“We’re not a big operation. There are 12 of us all together and he was kind of the number-two guy. We had worked together for about 14 years and while we didn’t always agree on everything, we always worked it out. His leaving hurt and it is virtually impossible to replace a top-notch person right now.”

“Right now it’s almost impossible to replace or find anyone of talent, Nick—top-notch or otherwise. Did this Barry guy tell you why he was leaving you after 14 years?”

“Yes, he did, Lyle. They promised him a new truck, more money and a
credit card for all vehicle expenses … business or personal.”

“And did you offer to match that deal or was that out of your price range?”

“No, I didn’t try to match the offer! I was pretty upset about the whole thing. Over his 14 years I had paid him for time he took off for personal matters and he never missed a full paycheck, even when we were slow or the weather kept us from doing any work. At times I carried him, but apparently it meant nothing to him. I wasn’t about to beg the guy to stay!”

“Nick, I’m hoping maybe you had someone who could move into Barry’s
spot … at least temporarily.”

“I did. A guy named John Greg.”

“Not his real name either, I’m guessing.”

“No, Lyle. His real name is Kevin Dunn, but again, I didn’t want to use …”

“Yeah, yeah, I get it, Nick. And was this Dunn guy able to handle Barry’s job?”

“Pretty well, but then I needed to replace him in his spot so it’s still a hurt on the business. And as soon as Dunn realized he was more valuable to the company than he had been before Barry left, he wanted more money or he said he might start looking around, too.”

“Nick, if it’s any consolation to you, and I’m guessing it’s not, this kind of thing has been happening forever and right now it’s probably worse than ever because of the lack of qualified people and the surge of work available.”

“But what happened to loyalty, Lyle?”

“I think it still exists, but maybe not to the degree it once did. I think you need to remember that a person’s first loyalty is not, and should not be, to their employer. In his biography, legendary Green Bay Packer coach Vince Lombardi, considered by many as the greatest football coach of all time, used to tell his teams the following: ‘Think of only three things: your God, your family, and the Green Bay Packers—in that order.’ He recognized that there were things more important to his players than the Packers and nobody
demanded loyalty and effort from his people more than Lombardi.”

“I understand. I don’t expect to outrank God or an employee’s family, but don’t they owe me something, too?”

“Nick, I don’t know enough of the details to comment too much, but I have gone through this and I know all too well how much it can hurt.”

“Well, Lyle, let me give you the rest of the story. Now, after three months, Barry called me and says he wants to come back. Seems the grass on the other side was not as green as it was promised to be. Of course he wants more money to return and I’ve already given a raise to the other guy. This has really been frustrating and I’m kinda disgusted about it all.”

“I understand, Nick. And now you have to make a decision or two. You’ll have to evaluate the costs and benefits of Barry’s possible return and what impact allowing him to come back has on the rest of your team and especially this Dunn guy who you promoted into Barry’s old spot. Maybe he’s the first person you need to talk to. Try to put yourself in their shoes if you can. I  am pretty sure that you’ll come to the right conclusion and I’d appreciate a call when you have resolved all of this. Then when the dust settles, you’ll have to think about how you can better avoid this type of thing in the future. I have confidence in you.”

“Okay, Lyle, thanks for listening and I will let you know what happens. One more thing — could you let me borrow that Vince Lombardi book? I need all the help I can get.

Lyle R. Hill is the managing director of Keytech North America, a company providing research and technical services for the glass and metal industry. He also provides glass-related advice on glass.com. Hill has more than 40 years’ experience in the glass and metal industry and can be reached at lhill@glass.com

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