"another" and "better" career alternative?.....

Arthur Sowers arthures at magpage.com
Tue Jan 9 00:40:20 EST 2001

On mainly sci.research.careers I have, over the last couple of years
occassionally posted information about jobs/careers that are: i) low
tech,, ii) blue collar, iii) etc., that pay as well, and sometimes more,
and require less formal education and credentials than sci-engineering
jobs and have more long term job security and more immunity to

For those who don't know me, I am a 57 year-old, formerly grant funded
ex-research professor who lost his career in 1995-6 throught the "grant
lottery" where funding is dependent more on what is trendy than what is
competant reserch.

Here is another one: small company movers. Yes, as in moving furniture,
belongings, etc., from one house to another. We just had a load of
belongings moved from our old house to our new house and I asked a lot of
questions about the business. Here is the lowdown:

The company is made up of essentially two guys (the owner/manager and his
"sidekick"). There is a wife or sister who answers the phone on weekdays
and sets up some scheduling. They own a truck with a 22 foot box, and the
truck is a six wheel job that can carry about  8,000 lbs. The
owner/manager has been in this business for 19 years and in response to my
question, not complaining about anything. The sidekick has been doing this
for 9 years and in response to my question is not looking for anything
better in the line of work.

Our "move" took them just under 2 hours to load, about 2 hours road time
from old house to new house, about 2-3 hourse to unload. Total bill: $750. 

The main overhead is the truck. The guy uses about $7,000 in diesel fuel
per year, and puts in about $8,000 in maintenance on the truck. They are
working continuously 6 days per week. The owner/manager, a quite
intelligent and articulate guy (I did not ask if he had a PhD in
anything), bids low on jobs and gets most of the jobs he bids on. Assuming
the truck is working 265 days per year, then his primary overhead is about
$50 per day for the truck (cf. Uhaul rates for a medium sized truck which
would be a daily fee plus per mile fees that might run up to maybe $100+
but surely not over $200 for a run such as ours). This leaves, basically,
$750 minus $100, or 650 per two guys, or basically $325 each for a basic
day of sweatwork that is roughly eight hours in length. I think most of
the guys on this NG should be able to do a rough back-of-the-envelope per
hour estimate of what these guys might be getting on an hourly basis. They
surely make a little less because they are paying the girl back in the
office (at someone's home) something to answer the phone, pay for adverts
in the local yellow pages (a few hundred per year), and pay for business
cards, and maybe payments on the truck (such trucks, if you buy one
outright can be from $50K, used, to $100K new, but you could rent/lease
one for roughly $100 per day, too).

A United Van Lines rep came out to bid on the same exact job and gave us
an estimate for, believe it or not, $1700, and gave us the exact same 
"time and effort" estimate for doing the job. UVL surely has more overhead
costs to pay for national advertizing, pay for some overpaid and
underperforming CEO/executives and their entourage, and high rent district
office building wherever they have their national headquarters.

One last item: we packed all boxes ourselves. They just loaded &
unloaded. The bulky heavy furniture, including washer, dryer,
refrigerators, etc., they carried onto truck and wrapped in mover's
quilts. The local guys were very good, very professional. I did a lot of
schmoozing with the owner/operator and when I asked where he lived, he
gave a community of mid range housing where I know the houses are in the
300K-400K price range and this is not a high rent district area of the
country like Silicon Valley. So, I'd say the guy is doing fairly well and
certainly better than many PhDs (and laid-off programmers, engineers, and
others that, when they reach an age of 40 or so, start having trouble
finding new work AND are exposed to company/economy induced layoffs). 

The owner/manager also told me that he previoulsly worked as the
"sidekick" in another small company situated about 20-30 miles away and
then split off on his own many years ago and he sees, and has seen in the
past, nothing but growth ahead in this business. He never gave any
indications of worrys or concerns about crap, politics, concerns, etc., in
his line of business.

  Arthur E. Sowers, PhD
  | Science career information website:   |
  | http://www.magpage.com/~arthures      |

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