The Bullseye - April 2011

Friday, April 1, 2011

In This Issue:
Learning From Your Critics,
Alumni Update,
Paying Off Your Mortgage Early,
Congratulations to This Month's Winner,
Participate in Orion's Transition Corner,
February 2011 ISM Report,
Connect with Orion

Learning From Your Critics

Career counselors and human resource professionals often advise employees to avoid their critics or redirect the tone and/or course of the conversation. And while employing the “art of avoiding conflict” is a great principle, there are other ways to deal with a critic. One way is to learn from them. The Dalai Lama XIV has often said, “In the practice of tolerance, one's enemy is the best teacher.”

Many employees complain their supervisors don’t give them enough feedback regarding their performance. This is true, in some, if not many cases. But getting feedback on your performance can be just as valid if it comes from a critic. Of course, not all critics deserve your attention or respect. Find out if they have an alternate agenda. If the critic makes you look bad, will they be promoted above you?

Sure, everything the critic says may not be correct, but if you listen carefully, there may be an underlying theme. Something you have heard more gently before from other co-workers or leadership figures. Ask yourself if there is some truth in what is being said. How can you take that information and apply it to make yourself a better (and therefore more promotion-worthy) employee?

Another important question to ask yourself is whether or not the critic challenges you to think in new, different, or innovative ways. If the answer is yes, then you are learning from that person. You may not like the critic, but there is value in any lesson learned. This is especially true if it helps you advance and/or get along better with co-workers.

The key to this technique is really looking at criticism as a gift, even when it doesn’t feel like one. How can you turn negative into positive and make it work for you?

Alumni Update

Joel Keels

Orion International is continuing its 20th anniversary celebration this month by featuring another of our very first placements, Joel Keels. Placed with Schneider National Carriers in 1991 by Orion, Keels is a United States Naval Academy graduate who served five years in the Navy Civil Engineer Corps. During his time in the Civil Engineer Corps, he served as the Resident Officer in Charge of Construction (ROICC) at Naval Weapons Station, Yorktown, VA, where he managed over 50 construction contracts with work-in-place totaling over $6.3 million, and as the Engineering Officer for the U.S. Navy Cargo Handling and Port Group (NAVCHAPGRU) in Williamsburg, VA, where he led 45 Construction Battalion (SEABEE) personnel.

Schneider National offered Keels a position at their Charlotte, NC, Operations Center, near his family and home of record, which helped in making his transition from the military smooth. Schneider National also appealed to Keels because it was a large, successful, and well-respected company that showed a good track record in hiring veterans.

Since his initial transition, Keels spent eight years with Schneider, where he advanced to Senior Service Team Leader at their Charlotte, NC, Operations Center. When an opportunity with KCI Technologies Inc., a multi-disciplined engineering firm, arose in 1999 that allowed for more involvement in facilities construction management more closely mirroring his overall experience in the U. S. Navy, Keels made the move.

Twelve years later, Keels is still with KCI Technologies and has progressed through many roles with the company. He started with KCI as a Field Project Manager, in construction management roles, and advanced to Operations Manager in 2003, where he provided oversight of field construction management and inspection personnel.  In 2006, Keels was promoted to Vice President and Division Chief of Construction Management/Mid-Atlantic, leading a 50-person division providing construction management services for public, private, military, educational, healthcare, and other clients.

Keels is now in a position to hire other veterans. He finds that former military personnel that have good experience in construction and contracts administration work well in his company. Keels goes on to explain, “I welcome the opportunity to find good candidates from the junior Military Officer ranks, and will even admit to having hired a West Pointer!  I value the experience and leadership capabilities of JMOs.”

Keels’ continued success in his civilian endeavors is a great example of just how valuable veterans are to their civilian employers. Orion is proud to have helped Keels with his transition 20 years ago and wishes him continued success with KCI.

Paying Off Your Mortgage Early

Financial planners are increasingly hearing the question, “Should I pay off my mortgage early?” Many people fear having the rug pulled out from underneath them because of the real estate crisis, and some people just don’t want the monthly burden of a large mortgage payment. Here are some things to consider when thinking of paying off your mortgage.

1. What are you financial needs? If you have zero credit card debt and have maxed out your 401k, then you might be a viable candidate to pay off your mortgage early. First, make sure you have enough in the bank to cover medical expenses or cost of living for at least six months barring job loss or other misfortune.

2. Do you have debt elsewhere? Do you have a personal loan or education loans that need to be paid off? What are the interest rate differentials? Be sure to pay off any higher interest rate debt first.

3. How long do you want to live in your current home? If you are planning on downsizing or even getting a larger property in a few years, it wouldn’t make sense to pay off your mortgage now. According to an article, “Should You Pay Off The House?” on Yahoo Finance by Lisa Gibbs, the real estate market will likely not recover for a while longer. Therefore, according to financial planner Christopher Van Slyke, "You don't want to tie up your cash in your home and then not be able to sell.”

4. What would you do with the remaining money? Would you invest your money in stocks and bonds, which generally give a higher return than real estate? Are you close to retirement? Are you planning to invest the remaining money in a CD or other low interest savings plan? The answers to these questions can effect whether or not you should pay off your loan. Consult a financial expert regarding your personal situation and to make the best possible decision.

5. Would being mortgage free be beneficial to your stress levels? Believe it or not, for some people, having a mortgage isn’t a big deal. Yes, this tends to be the wealthier crowd or those who have been frugal with their money and now live comfortably. But, it is a question to consider. If your health is negatively affected by the monthly mortgage bill, then paying it off might be a good option.

Before considering paying off your mortgage, it is essential to consult a trusted financial advisor. Most importantly, remember that mortgage interest is tax deductible. Also, tax savings decline the older the loan as more money goes toward principle. So, you’ll need to determine what you’ll gain from the tax deduction.

Congratulation's to This Month's Winner



Jason Clevelle won the Job Seeker Referral monthly drawing and is the winner of a $50 gift card.  
Ready for your chance to win a $50 gift card? You’ll receive an entry into our monthly drawings for Client and Job Seeker referrals for each referral that you submit – good luck and thank you for the referral!

Participate in Orion's Transition Corner

Orion is currently looking for alumni to participate in Transition Corner. We developed Transition Corner to fulfill the need among transitioning service members for guidance and advice, as well as being able to learn from the experience of a fellow vet who has recently been through the same transition. And we'd like your participation!

As an Orion alumnus, you know that transitioning out of the military and into the civilian workplace can be an overwhelming and uncertain time. And, having successfully transitioned into the civilian workplace, this is your opportunity to serve as a resource for fellow military veterans and share your transition, job-search, and civilian career experience, as well as tips or advice.

Would you like to be featured in Transition Corner? Please contact Allison Thomas to learn more!

February 2011 ISM Report

The Manufacturing ISM Report On Business is published monthly by the Institute for Supply Management (ISM) and is a national index based on surveying purchasing and supply executives at over 300 industrial organizations. ISM is largely considered the most respected supply management organization in the world.  The report’s market importance is extremely high. It is the most valuable of all manufacturing indices.

Economic activity in the manufacturing sector expanded for the 19th consecutive month, and the overall economy grew for the 21st consecutive month, the nation’s supply executives reported in the latest Manufacturing ISM Report On Business. The PMI, continued its strong performance and was at 61.4%. This level had not been achieved since May 2004. Fourteen of the eighteen manufacturing industries reported growth. Four industries reported contraction in February.

The New Orders Index registered at 68% in February. The Production Index was 66.3%, an increase of 2.8 percentage points from January. Any Production Index above 50.4% indicates an increase in the Federal Reserve Board’s Industrial Production Figures.

The Employment Index registered 64.5%, 2.8 percentage points higher than January’s 61.7%. This was the 17h consecutive month of growth in manufacturing employment. Fourteen of the eighteen industries showed employment growth. They are: Textile Mills; Petroleum & Coal Products; Transportation Equipment; Apparel, Leather & Allied Products; Computer & Electronic Products; Machinery; Food, Beverage & Tobacco Products; Electrical Equipment, Appliances & Components; Printing & Related Support Activities; Nonmetallic Mineral Products; Paper Products; Fabricated Metal Products; Chemical Products; and Miscellaneous Manufacturing. The two industries reporting a decrease are Plastics & Rubber Products; and Furniture & Related Products.

Following seven consecutive months of growth, Manufacturer’s Inventories contracted in February registering at 48.8%. The Customer’s Inventories Index registered at 40%, 5.5 points lower than January.

The ISM Prices Index in February was 82%, and the Backlog of Orders Index was 59% in February, one percentage point higher than the previous month. ISM’s New Export Orders Index registered at 62.5% in February. This was the 20th consecutive month of growth in the New Export Orders Index.

The industries reporting growth in February were: Apparel, Leather & Allied Products; Petroleum & Coal Products; Transportation Equipment; Electrical Equipment, Appliances & Components; Machinery; Chemical Products; Fabricated Metal Products; Computer & Electronic Products; Textile Mills; Food, Beverage & Tobacco Products; Printing & Related Support Activities; Paper Products; Wood Products; and Miscellaneous Manufacturing. The four industries reporting contraction in February were: Plastics & Rubber Products; Primary Metals; Nonmetallic Mineral Products; and Furniture & Related Products.

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