employee wages in Maine


CGF, Certified Grumble Framer
Jul 24, 2004
Round Pond, ME
OK.... I need HELP!!!!!! Can't keep up with the work by myself and really don't want to hire anyone right now as I've only been open for 8 months...... and the thought of having someone else make mistakes, having to have re-order materials to cover those mistakes, then pay the employee on top of that!!!!!!
Needless to say, I may have to hire someone. What do other framer's in Maine pay their employees?
"What would you do if you weren't afraid."

Being afraid or not being afraid has little to do with it if the job has to get done. You just do it and be done with it.

What do you pay a framer anywhere? Hiring help is like just about everything in your business. You want to get the best you can at the least amount of money.

What if every shop in Maine was paying their help $75.00 an hour? That really does not have much to do with you does it? You have to offer what you can afford.

If you can not afford much over minimum wage, plan on doing your own training. That actually is the way I do it anyway. Why would I want to hire someone who frames things differently than me?

I hired a young woman at just above minimum wage a few years back. She is now making more than $40K a year. This is not because I am a generous guy, it is because through her efforts, I can easily afford her salary.

Like you, a good employee will make their own way within your company. It does not matter if you are a one man shop or a huge corporation.

Salaries and effort will eventually equal themselves out. That is a two way street, if someone is working their butts off for you, and they do not get rewarded for their efforts, guess what? Salaries and effort will eventually equal themselves out.

Based on all of the above, put your offer out there, and see what you get.

Do you need someone full time or part time? We only need part timers, and we’ve had pretty good luck at getting them from a local high school.

We approach the guidance department who, in turn, contacts the art teacher who does the preliminary screening for us. We tell them what we are looking for – seniors with good academics, good study habits, acceptable hygiene, polite, etc.

They send us a bunch of kids and we grab the best. Of course, they can only work in the afternoons and on Saturday, but that is what we want. The real advantage for us is that since they are under their parents roof, they need no medical benefits. Since they are so young (generally without any work history) we get by by paying them just a little over minimum wage, but, through an arrangement with the school, we end up putting one dollar into a scholarship fund for each hour the kid works.

This make us look like great benefactors (we advertise this at every opportunity) and it looks good for the kid who is able to cite on his/her college application that he/she received a scholarship. It is win-win for both of us.
Bill: That's a great idea. I think I'll give that a try. I was paying someone (mom to one of my son's friend)$10/hour untrained. She makes $18/hour cleaning houses and is a good worker and is good with interior design, so I thought it would be worth training her....... but she had a hard time with the mat cutter........ kept forgetting to check the stops between mats. I had a big job for a local hotel, all same size stuff. Well, I had to redo at least a dozen mats, plus pay her..... with the extra time it took to run over and help her (after she'd had several days training) she was still calling me over to the mat cutter every minute (so I couldn't get any work done, and still forgetting to check the stops......). I kept reassuring her that it was OK, just to calm down and try again. Anyway, I was wondering what an experienced framer should get for wages. Also,
what type of work do the High School students do? Do you train them to cut mats, moulding, etc... or do you just have them put the paper and wire on the backs?
what type of work do the High School students do? Do you train them to cut mats, moulding, etc... or do you just have them put the paper and wire on the backs?
We start them out fitting, making sure that they get that right; gradually teach them to cut glass and mats; and, if they have all their fingers after that, elevate them to the chopper. I have always been a little reluctant to have them use the saw (probably for no good reason). Also, I definitely keep them away from the dry mount press.

I am almost always in the shop with them (they are teenagers, after all), so I almost always tackle the customers at the design counter. Since they are “art students”, I have found that they try to impress the customers with their art background and color theory which seems to get in the way of real life picture framing.
Originally posted by Bill Henry:
I have always been a little reluctant to have them use the saw (probably for no good reason).

This may vary by state, but in Vermont at least, employees under the age of 18 are not allowed to operate power woodworking equipment.
And remember, Gina, the restaurant in Damariscotta that got cited for allowing the teenage help to use the mixer. It made the papers a couple of seasons ago.
If I were training this employee from scratch I wouldn't let her work on cutting mats for real orders until she is proficient at it. Just use scrap matboard. You can pay an untrained person a lot less but, there will be some lag time before they are productive for you. I always had like a 3 month window for newbies to be super productive. Asking an unskilled person to practice on the real orders is a huge amount of pressure on her, not to mention costly for you.

I also have to say, the last place on earth I would look for employees would be a highschool. It makes me shudder just thinking about it. I'm way too jaded after the procession of children I had to work with at Michael's. For part-time people I always had the best luck with stay at home moms or college students as long as they were not "art" students. Art students just want to use the supplies and equipment to frame their art. As I said, I am very jaded, that is what 6 years at Michael's will get ya.

In Colorado we have laws about kids and machinery too. At Michael's we had a 17 year old working in the backroom and she cut herself with a razor blade. We could not take her to the doctor for stitches, she needed a guardian to do so. Made me realize the huge liability issues.......
Luckily, my experience has been better than Kathy’s with the high school kids. Of the six we have hired, only one was less than satisfactory. Ordinarily, because of the school year, they start working at the end of September and go through the middle of May the following year when they graduate. That works for us since summers are usually our slowest months.

I have developed a pretty good rapport with the art teacher who does the initial screening – she’s a bit of a gossip – so I get the low down on the applicants. The one who was unsatisfactory, I had to let go after the holidays. Despite the warning from the art teacher that she had “issues” i.e. folks getting a divorce, boyfriend problems, I hired her anyway. I felt sorry for her. My mistake!

All of the kids we hired seemed to see a link with picture framing and their art careers. For most kids that age, the alternative to a relatively clean, high status, picture framing environment, is getting spattered with French Fry grease at Mickey D’s or stacking broccoli at the supermarket. For all of our part time, kid employees, this was more than simply a job to earn money for their cell phone bills.