Why you should use third-party engineering firms (or work for one)

Posted by Steve Beyer on Apr 27, 2017 4:17:59 PM


How do you work on the most stimulating and meaningful engineering and manufacturing projects across a wide variety of applications without working directly and exclusively for one of the world's biggest manufacturing companies?  Work for a firm that services those companies and participate in select projects that are sourced to your firm.

Recently, Industry Week magazine ran an article ("Employees' choice: the 10 best manufacturers to work for" April 20, 2017) about the attraction of certain manufacturers by their branding, performance, and reputation as an appeal to prospective employees.  Companies such as Apple, Tesla, SpaceX, and General Electric each have a cachet that draws prospective job candidates to them and their mission.  These companies, and others like them, are generally perceived to be working on important projects, having deep pockets, and lots of cutting edge innovation opportunities. For up-and-coming engineers, designers, and other knowledge workers these are truly appealing characteristics in a prospective employer.

But there are several realities challenging this appeal. Geography and location may not always work out. Also, getting to work on the best projects is not always an option for the job seeker -- many of these very large companies often require that you work your way up from the bottom and pay your dues before getting into the juiciest projects.  Also, competition can be fierce for the best jobs at these companies.

Despite, or perhaps because of, the size and needs of these large companies, some portion of their work is usually joined by third-party firms such as Optimation. This collaboration enables these firms to take advantage of the diverse and broad capabilities that such an integrator, or third-party manufacturing firm, can provide.  For our organization, the opportunity to participate in the development of novel fuel cell technology, or cutting-edge electronics for personal communication technologies, or breakthroughs in medical device testing and safety, etc. are all ways to leverage our diverse experience to the benefit of various clients, who are often members of these elite world-class manufacturing companies.  It provides our employees with project diversity, and independence from industry-specific cycles and ruts.

Their needs to get additional capacity, experience, and resources steer them to firms like Optimation and we function as an extension of their teams.  We come and go as project needs dictate. We service energy, food manufacturing, medical device and pharmaceutical companies, and many industrial/chemical manufacturing firms as well. World-class names choose us and firms like us to supplement their work as needed. This presents flexible opportunities for us to apply our experience across a wide variety of opportunities, and provides the manufacturers with knowledgeable, experienced, and accountable teams to add to their resource pool and add value to their products and projects.

While lacking the same reputation and name recognition of the large manufacturers mentioned earlier, firms like Optimation offer unique opportunities to prospective employees to participate in those kind of leading edge products and technologies even though not working directly and solely for one of those big firms. Very often, the location, work mix, and cultural benefits of the smaller, diverse integrator or manufacturing firm has a different appeal for many job seekers.  Being able to work systems or subsystems for an electric vehicle, or to help develop a safe method for testing a medical device, or prove out a means to produce mass quantities of dairy products to feed our population, sometimes all in the same week, is an experience that is uniquely available at an integrator that services the best and the most innovative manufacturers.

So, while some big companies get the reputations and the aura of the cool work and the edgy opportunities, remember that some of that gets shared with capable and unique smaller firms, like Optimation, that bring specialized expertise and value to some of that same work and on different terms.  It's worth considering next time you think about hiring an employee instead of contracting out work, or before you assume that you must work for a big multinational company in order to participate in a groundbreaking project or technology.  Much of that can be found right in a smaller, local firm that is well-connected and capable in their own rights.

Topics: Manufacturing, Resource Planning, Trends

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The goal of this blog is to be helpful to readers by providing useful information about applications in industrial engineering, design and skilled trades, as well as industry knowledge. We're passionate about manufacturing in the United States. We have a little fun with it too.  

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