Cutting Tool Engineering
March 2010 / Volume 62 / Issue 3

One size doesn't fit all

By Michael Deren

Small, medium or large? Everyone prefers a certain size of company to work for. It may take a few years working at organizations of various sizes to find your niche workplace because each has its advantages and disadvantages.

Let’s start with the large companies, which I define as having more than 500 employees in one location, usually as part of a large conglomerate. Here, you’re just a number, except to the people you work closely with. Typically, you work in a specified area, do a specified job and rarely venture to other areas.

You are usually paid more than your counterparts at smaller companies, receive the best benefits and have more opportunity for advancement. There are in-house training programs specific to the company’s needs, but they benefit you as well. If you call in sick or are otherwise off, chances are excellent the facility will not miss you, which is not necessarily a bad thing.

The closest I came to that scenario was when I worked for a steel supplier with about 20 facilities and 2,400 employees nationally. The facility in Chicago where I worked employed more than 600 people. I rarely ventured from my department unless invited, but the opportunities for advancement were limitless, the pay was excellent and the benefits were terrific. The company regularly conducted training programs and assessment programs. The latter were used to help promote from within, which was regularly done. I don’t know what I was thinking when I left except “the grass is always greener on the other side.”

Medium-size companies include companies with 100 to 500 employees. At these closer-knit organizations you have good benefits, good pay scales, opportunity for advancement, but not as many in-house training programs. You also get to know a lot of the people there.

I worked for a couple of mid-size companies. One company in Wisconsin had perhaps 2,000 employees, but I worked in a division off-site from the main facility that employed about 125 people. Although the division was part of a large corporation, it had the feel of a smaller company. Because we were down the road, our facility didn’t interact much with the main plant. We were our own profit center, with our own hierarchy.

Another company I worked at out east was similar. It had from 100 to 150 employees. I had a defined job but was able to venture into other projects.

Finally, a small company employs 50 or fewer workers, and I have worked for a couple of small companies. The advantages are that you get to know everyone from the president on down, and you feel as if you are on a team with a common goal. You can make suggestions and have your voice heard. If you call in sick, you feel like you’re letting the team down. You can get involved in various projects, and your work day is ever changing. The downside is the pay and benefits are not as good as at a larger company, and opportunity for advancement is almost nil.

I worked for one company that had just 20 employees, including sales engineers, applications engineers, field service engineers and office staff. It was a technical sales and service facility for machine tools. I was involved in sales, applications, running demos and other activities. It made for a quick day most of the time.

As I got older, I came to prefer working for a small to medium-size company. The atmosphere is not as intense as in a larger facility. I get involved in more projects and interact more with people at different levels. When I was younger, on the other hand, a large company was the way to go, with more pay, opportunities and perks. Where do you stand? CTE

About the Author: Mike Deren is a manufacturing engineer/project manager and a regular CTE contributor. He can be e-mailed at

CUTTING TOOL ENGINEERING Magazine is protected under U.S. and international copyright laws.Before reproducing anything from this Web site, call the Copyright Clearance Center Inc.
at (978) 750-8400.