Trail King clueless about a 99.99% worker turnover

Wow, when I read this story, the first thing I thought is how things haven’t changed in 24 years, literally.

They seem to think it is an employee problem, seems to be an employer problem. Reading comments on FB, I hear the same complaints I heard 24 years ago from one of my friends that worked there, NO air conditioning or ventilation for the welders. He was hardly a slacker, he was a hard working farm kid who was a very talented welder and loved doing it, but when you can’t breathe doing your job, it’s time to hit the road. I think he lasted about 15-30 days.

I applaud the Argus and Steve Young for doing this story, it will blow up in Trail King’s face, and they might finally realize that treating your employees like oxen instead of humans will eventually catch up with you.

Remember this is the same company who took state tax dollars to recruit workers. It’s time for all former employees to speak out and tell the governor and the CEO of the company that we have had enough of this less then human treatment from employers.


#1 caheidelberger on 05.05.15 at 9:18 pm

“…can’t breathe doing your job”?! What the heck are you talking about? Lawrence & Schiller say South Dakota has lots of oxygen.

#2 l3wis on 05.05.15 at 9:29 pm

Just not in the Trail King factory. I heard progressives die there to, but that is just a nasty rumor 🙂

#3 scott on 05.05.15 at 9:38 pm

my sister in law’s brother works there. he said back in 08, they fired everybody, made them re apply, then paid them $3 less an hour. for some reason, he still works there though.

#4 l3wis on 05.05.15 at 10:06 pm

Comes down to pay and acceptance of abuse. As I understand it, they pay well (for Mitchell) where they cut the corners is on how they treat their employees (I am speculating). It’s like a beaten dog, they finally just accept the situation they are in and glad they have a roof over their head and food on the table.

#5 hornguy on 05.06.15 at 8:43 am

Based on the comments, it would appear that this is another case of the Argus Leader’s relentlessly pro-business approach to news. I wonder if “reporters” like Jodi Schwan and her friends will ever stop taking business’ word for it when it comes to the topics they cover.

#6 Welder on 05.06.15 at 9:27 am

I remember the first time I heard about the trailer maker in Mitchell from welders we were hiring. They would comment on how disgusting the place was. Dirty, congested, abusive and poor benefits were just some of the comments they made after they started working for us.

It’s not hard to make a welding shop clean. The commitment to cleanliness start with the management caring for the people hired. I have never had sympathy for employers who complain about their human beings working for them. A real caring employer cares about the health and safety of the person they are hiring before profits.

Employee problems start with uncaring and unknowing management. My experience and belief is 99.9999% of staff problems are caused by lousy management.

The trailer plant in Mitchell has been well known since the 1970’s for abusing their staff or we would not have succeeded in hiring away from them.

#7 Sy on 05.06.15 at 9:55 am

Or they could move the plant to Mexico or China and be done with this shit once and for all. That seems the end game of the “living wage” crowd. I love how those who’ve never run a business find it so easy to tell people how to run theirs. Just like I’m sure if the CEO of Trail King gave you a quick lesson on how to blog or paint properly I’m sure you’d be all ears, right?

#8 l3wis on 05.06.15 at 10:22 am

Come on Sy, you know if your family business had that kind of turnover in a year that you and your brother would be making some changes in your hiring practices and the way you treat them. Sometimes it is not just about money, some people actually like to go to a job THEY ENJOY.

#9 Sy on 05.06.15 at 11:22 am

It’s a different ball game these days L3wis, talk to ANY manager or owner in any business these days that requires the following:

-Show up when you’re supposed to work, call or text if you can’t
-Pay attention to the instructions you get from the manager, ask if you don’t understand
-Treat people with respect or as you prefer to be treated
-Take some pride in your work and make your time at your employer productive to where positive results can be easily seen or felt
-Put your fucking phone away until break time or lunch, take allotted time for either.

Seriously, ask around. Home builder, window washer, coffee shop, printer, painter or food service. There’s a vast, nationwide shortage of workers who can perform the above for longer than 1 week. Those who can have been manipulated into thinking they should be making $75K a year to start with no experience. Say hello to more outsourcing and automation, because that’s the only clear path to most employers any more.

#10 Sy on 05.06.15 at 11:34 am

Also, you can thank the political class for making the road to entrepreneurship significantly more uphill than even a decade ago:

Combine that with this Admin’s immigration policy/actions and God help you if you try to build a career in manufacturing these days.

#11 hornguy on 05.06.15 at 12:01 pm

Paul Ten Haken nailed it in his response in today’s paper. Old guys in blue collar industries are, like many boomers, prone to thinking that the thing that motivates younger employees is the same thing that motivated them. More often that not, that’s money. And that’s where they’re wrong.

I’m guessing, as former employees have noted in the article comments, that Trail King’s problem is really one of company culture. The boss can’t see that the culture is the problem and, absent that realization, can’t figure out why he can’t retain employees. So therefore, it must be a problem with the employees, right?

#12 l3wis on 05.06.15 at 12:52 pm

Sy – I get your points, but I ask the question again, did your family business have a 99.6% turnover in the past year or even past three years? Doubtful. Crap, WM even does better then that with a 50% turnover.

#13 rufusx on 05.06.15 at 6:04 pm

Taking 1960’s minimum wage as a “living wage”, in todays dollars that would be approx. $32K/year. MINIMUM WAGE. Those welder jobs (high skill) pay less to that. LESS to the 1960 equivaqlent of a minimum wage. Tell us again Sy – who’s been successfully “manipulating” people in re: to earnings expectations over the past 50 years?

#14 rufusx on 05.06.15 at 6:06 pm

BTW – I can tell you with certainty, when I was an employer – my employees earned more than I did. How does that work for you Sy? You have employees that make more than you do?

#15 rufusx on 05.06.15 at 6:08 pm

The superior KSAs (Knowledge, Skills and Abilities) of my employees are what made my business succeed.

#16 John on 05.06.15 at 7:56 pm

‘There are no bad regiments, only bad colonels.’ Napoleon

#17 scott on 05.07.15 at 6:30 am

if it is so tough to run a business, why not close it and get one or two of those 2000 plus jobs mmm is bragging about.

#18 Poly43 on 05.07.15 at 7:07 am

This thread and comments pretty much sums up where this country is headed. There was a time when one income could provide for an entire household. One $3 an hour job in 1968 could provide for the households within our I29-I90-I229 beltway. Today, within that same beltway, it takes two jobs for the same inflation adjusted dollars. Is it really any wonder half our school kids are on free and reduced meals. But hey, if you don’t like the new reality, then we’ll ship em overseas. Income inequality is the new reality. As more and more of the middle class slip into the ranks of the working poor, the unrest we are seeing in Baltimore will play out everyday somewhere. Not condoning violence at all, just sayin it will become the new reality.

#19 Scott on 05.07.15 at 11:36 am

There is a point to be made about work ethics, but the Trail King guy is clearly not the guy to do it. In fact, anybody who uses the “everybody gets a trophy” line should be automatically taken off the story.

#20 Sy on 05.07.15 at 1:23 pm

I know and like Paul, but he’s talking apples and oranges when it comes to employees coming to work in tech vs. manufacturing.

Could I take one of his new hires and teach them to fabricate stone effectively? Sure. Could he take one of mine and teach them programming or site building? Sure again, but under a much longer time frame.

In either scenario the person who shows up consistently and follows my points above will eventually succeed. Easier said than done though.

& Poly, times have changed…that’s my main point. Back then, you took the best job you could get and stuck it out even if you hated the work, the boss, your co-workers or whatever. You didn’t jump ship unless you had a much better opportunity in hand, partly because of the stigma in doing so and partly because there was no safety net outside your church. Today, a vast number of people who have jobs scan the online jobs boards weekly. A vast number of workers have been programmed to say “fuck it” and walk with no plan or other opportunity in hand. Today’s population consists of over 90 million people who’ve dropped out of the workforce for one reason or another, and that’s almost 1/3 of the entire population, yet hiring is still a nightmare more often than not.

#21 Scott on 05.07.15 at 6:14 pm

There’s a reason I’m “semi-retired” these days, and a good part of it is included in this not-so-eloquently told story. At some point our family just couldn’t endure any more.

#22 Ol'Bubbleguts on 05.09.15 at 9:14 pm

I have personally visited Gallup in Princeton NJ

Can’t believe you all accept the spoonfed BS
from 8 dorks with worthless degrees and a laser printer and letterhead in a farmhouse basement.
Once again what has led to the disappearance of rational cognitive thought?

Its your serpent tongued owners that’s who
“perched on top of you from birth until death”

Not really a holy roller,but that scene shockend and awakened me.

#23 Al on 05.14.15 at 3:10 pm

As a member of the so called ‘Entitlement Generation” that this article whines about and also as one of the few Millennials in this community that has dealt with places like Trail King, I can say that the Argus Leader obviously is very one-sided on this story. What about the portion of the 279 workers that quit who were older than the Millennials? Are they okay to quit because they’re older? No wonder you all nicknamed it the Gargoyle Leader!
The reason for the high turnover at Trail King and the other manufacturing places here is mostly due to a poor and often dangerous work environment. I have been in plants here where equipment was so worn out that it belonged in a metal shredder, the plant is filthy and covered in scrap and trash (this is why I would generally not eat food that is processed in SD) which is obviously a major safety hazard, the plant has an awkward production layout (no, I don’t think that a 2″ diameter part will fit into a 1 15/16″ hole) and there is a mentality of jimmy rigging everything. I’m surprised that the plants out here haven’t caved in due to management wanting to use duct tape to hold the place up or something like that! Seriously, does Yakley and the other CEOs really think they can pull stuff like this over everyone?

Speaking of Yakley and the other CEOs, your patronizing attitude is what’s getting you in trouble, not your kids. (For the record, you as a whole raised them. Maybe their lack of a work ethic says multitudes about YOU) I can guarantee you as a ex-potential future customer that I would NOT do business with the majority of South Dakotan companies given that this is a typical attitude from the local businesses here. Yes, you can blow me off as some entitled brat but you’re on the losing streak in the long run. South Dakota is grasping for straws and you’re running out contrary to the media’s opinion. The anti-Millennial attitude isn’t unique to South Dakota but it’s more prevalent here and it’s going to cost you. This is why the young people leave, it’s not the weather or the restaurants or whatever the Arrrgus Leader is whining about, it’s the dingbat mentality in South Dakota that drives them out. Get a clue!

#24 Ty on 01.07.17 at 7:05 am

I’ve worked at trail king 1 1/2 years and I love it. I make over 18an hour. You people saying how bad equipment is. Funny….if something is ready for a shredder it gets trashed an replaced. Trail king is the best job I’ve had with awesome benefits. Today people dont like to work. I agree that a lot of people do have a poor work ethic. I see it all the time,people not wanting to do there job. If you dont want to work and don’t like being hot maybe Welding isn’t for to all you misinformed people get your story straight.

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