MH&L’s 2011 Salary Survey Comments

March 1, 2011
For many material handling and logistics managers, maintaining the status quo in 2010 was a step up from the recession years.

As part of the MH&L 2011 Salary Survey, respondents were invited to share comments regarding their salary, job situation, material handling and logistics industry, or professional challenges. All responses were posted anonymously. You’ll also see their responses to the question: “What is the biggest challenge facing the material handling and logistics industry today?” Some of the following comments have been lightly edited (primarily for clarity) or consolidated, in instances of redundancy.


100% of industry investments have gone into improving production output with no consideration given to updating warehouse processes. The warehouse workers are just told to “work harder.”

As part of the trade show industry, I am in quite a unique industry. There are not as many opportunities for efficiency / automation. Even in regards to WMS, most are designed for manufacturing / production; we build custom trade show booths which are seemingly modified for almost every show.

As with many of my friendly competitors in the building supply industry, we are having to reinvest in our companies with our own monies (no thanks to the banks) in order to survive. This is one of those times where you’d better have deep pockets. Our customers are leaving the trades in droves, and this is going to be a case of who is the last man standing. One doesn’t have to look too far to see that no new faces are going into the trades. When this downturn is over those that are left will be able to charge anything they want as there will not be enough mechanics that know how to use the products. Add to that the hurdles being imposed by regulations, and the small entrepreneur has his back against the wall. Prices are sure to escalate in all facets of the building supply business, including material handling.

Base salary is of importance as I am within sight of retirement. The other most important benefits are health care and job stability. We need to be able to try to plan for the future for our families.

Commission based. Commission against draw. Average income over the last ten years has been around $90,000.

Company has stated we will be getting raises this year after two years with no reviews and a temporary pay cut for a year. We lost 401K match and educational reimbursement while the top management revalued their stock options down to the new lower stock option price. When the economy picks up the departure rate will too.

Company is moving overseas; fewer and fewer industrial companies are in the U.S. Heavy industry is leaving this country; we are getting dependent on the third-tier countries; the economy is going down.

Compensation is made up with salary and up to 40% bonus; no bonus for three years so in effect a big pay reduction. Earned less in 2010 than 2003 due to no bonus payments. The industry is nowhere near recovering from the recession. I wish the government could see this.

Corporate does and indeed must concentrate on “the big picture,” but more time and notice should be given to the real loss and potential savings — not to mention the “green” effects that could be realized with simple but better movement of resources.

Due to cutbacks and limitations on spending, the need to improve is very limited to what we can do in this field.

Due to slow sales, everyone had salary reductions. Now that sales are back, management (my upper bosses) have had maintenance problems (extra taxes, etc.) and job stability is still uncertain, but for different reasons than last year. Rising healthcare costs have affected this small business.

Economics and stability are the main concerns, especially in Arizona.

Everything is straight commission and they want younger people.

For the area I live in, I am fortunate to have such excellent employment.


I am an accomplished supply chain logistics manager with over 18 years of experience. But I have yet to find an organization that can use all of my skills (importing/exporting, etc.).

I am so disappointed in the new conveyors, vertical lifts, palletizers and wrappers that we installed this year.

I am working towards becoming a professional stock options investor, so I’m not the most enthusiastic about my current career.

I believe that corporate bigwigs fail to remember where they started or just how important this line of work is to the rest of the world, or have not come up in this industry and overlook it from the workers’ standpoint.

I seem to gain so much more work due to CSA and Hours-of-Service changes. It seems like it takes more and more time to learn all of the new stuff and still stay on top of the old!

I would be happier if the people who are in the know would understand what their greed has done to individual lives.

I’m fine with things.

In our area of the country and at my age, I am thankful to have a job, although having my salary frozen this year after a one per cent increase last year is not a desirable thing.

Increased responsibilities and duties have stretched manpower thin, making it harder to do the job correctly.

It is getting harder and harder to do more (better machines) for fewer dollars. Even finding engineering help in today’s economy is very tough. Hope things get better soon!

It should be easier to deal with the rail industry — it’s very time consuming to gather rates , etc.

It's just a job.

Long-term benefits were put on hold due to slow cycle in the industry. Salary increase was also affected.

Low wages – man’s world.

Merger and acquisition improvements, and expansion.

Must continue to improve one’s skills through continuing education.

My salary three years ago was 40K. The company closed operation and my new salary is 25K. Some companies do not recognize the importance of material handling.

Not sure how much my company’s pay plan is affected by the economy.

Our area is low paid.

Our labor pool is getting scarier by the day. As our education system pumps out graduates that function at grade school levels, businesses continue to suffer.

Our part of the industry, waste material handling, is still very antiquated.

Please do not get us started down that path – it is obvious when looking at the effects caused by the Wall Street and the banking debacle.

Salary has not kept up with the cost of living, which seems to have tripled in the last five years.

Salary is based on actual hours worked. Could vary significantly. Business is slow; normal salary was about $135,000.

Salesmen should be salary plus commission in today’s sales world.

So many issues are coming at the U.S. material handling and manufacturing industry: value added tax, government regulations authored by professional know-nothings fresh out of liberal colleges. The failure of the U.S. to work out balance of trade, allowing foreign industry to decimate U.S. manufacturers.

Stay abreast with global and technical changes to maximize production and profits.

The amount of aged receivables is my biggest concern and the amount of businesses going under.

The area (warehouse) was very vital in the decision of rewarding a new 10-year contract.

The cash flow shortfall is a killer.

The “decreasing revenues” budget is not as critical to employee salaries as being asked to do more with less and the executive management not recognizing the worth of employees.

The quality of 3PLs is suffering and their ability to recognize value-added services is poor. They have too much emphasis on up charges and squeezing a buck out of the client. The 3PL today needs to be creative and needs to listen to their customer closely or their services will be terminated.

The U.S. must develop a national plan to keep jobs at home and to utilize all energy resources in order to maintain our status as No. 1, otherwise we will deteriorate into a service only, non-manufacturing workforce with supplies left in control of outsiders who do not have our best interests at heart.

Time-to-market with innovative ideas is the greatest challenge I face due to resource constraints.

Too many government regulations.

Too many to list, but I would say the bottom line is feeling as if the company needs you as much as you need the job. If you stay positive and continue to strive for excellence, the salary will come someday.

Took 5% pay cut in 2009 and still have not gotten that back yet.

Very tough right now to advance in the current economy. Things should turn around soon, we all hope!

We need to get people in government out of the rule-making business as it applies to industry. I can think of no one in the present administration that knows squat about industry and material handling in general (except perhaps juggling books!).

We need to interconnect better and transition more quickly to the new climate of doing business. The industry is stuck in the 1980s.

While things are improving, there are a lot of changes still going on. Everyone should be constantly checking their direction.

Wish there were more potential.

* What is the biggest challenge facing the material handling and logistics industry today?


Accurate costing and recognition of same.

Adapting to the new economy, technology and changing market.

Adequate economic support to sustain and improve operational capability.

Adopting the Japanese style.

Affording current trends of bigger business.

Affording the conversion to new technologies.

Aging workforce and poor health affect the ability to perform lifts safely. This puts a lot of pressure on the material handling industry to “find the fix” to make it so easy that no one can get hurt. Gas prices are going up which makes efficient packaging so essential, and this isn’t always in line with the best ergonomic fix (e.g., smaller containers).

Amount of the documentation and records to maintain.

As far as we are concerned doing more with less when it comes to staff and budget.

Automation. Software issues between vendors and customers.

Availability – ocean containers, trailers, ships, airplanes, etc.

Being in the government/military area, we don’t face many of the challenges faced by others.

Being recognized as having the potential to make major contributions to the company’s performance and bottom line.

Budget allocation.

Capacity constraints and rising costs.

Changing regulations.


Companies are not spending money on improving operations. Too much uncertainty.

Companies now compete not only on their products, but with their supply chains.

Competition drives costs out of the process, and fewer customers are willing to “pay” for expertise or service.

Consolidation of the industry.

Constantly changing global sourcing.

Containing costs.

Contingency planning for the unknowns.

Continued movement of jobs offshore.

Contraction and consolidation.

Controlling distribution costs.

Cost constraints and economy issues.

Cost cutting modes of every organization has impacted the market by “price shopping” by organizations.

Cost justification during recession.

Cost of materials is up, requests for material made with them down (rising costs but less income).

Costs [and variations, cited numerous times].

Current economic conditions.

Dealing with young management customers that have no clue how to treat people. It’s like they are a talking computer. No vendor or employee respect. Never been taught how to say thank you!

Decreased business.

Delivery expense.

Demand, cost structure, foreign competition.

Demonstrating to the company how logistics is value-added.

Disincentives to domestic businesses.

Doing more with less – cost control, productivity and fuel costs [or variations, cited several times].


Dwindling resources, especially personnel and pay reductions.

Economy [or its variation, cited several times].

Embracing technology.

Environmental issues.

EPA is becoming Big Brother, making it harder for U.S. companies to compete with all the regulations.


Establishing the value we add to the bottom line.

Everything else is changing but the need to grow material handling cannot due to lack of funds.

Excessive imports.

Excessive regulation and taxes are killing U.S. manufacturing.

Experienced personnel.

Finding alternative fuel sources for transportation. Making automation options more affordable for smaller users.

Finding enough time in the day to get the work done and finding the most efficient way to do it.

Finding qualified employees.

Forecasting logistics expense.

Foreign competition and U.S. government regulations and interference.

Fuel costs and prices.

Getting new equipment from superiors.

Getting paid for services rendered.

Getting people to spend money for new equipment. Also collecting on orders.

Getting reliable equipment.

Getting the material moved by transportation.

Getting carriers to deliver on time.

Getting Wall Street and bankers off the backs of corporate America and freeing up needed capital funds for manufacturing to return to the U.S. and not be outsourced offshore.

Global logistics and trade compliance.

Global sourcing and sustainability.


Government regulations.

“Green” – trying to be eco-friendly while still fulfilling our clients’ needs.

Having to carry more product types. Cost of material handling equipment. Transportation costs.

Implementing new ideas to increase production and shipping efficiencies.

In the building trades, having sales/materials to deliver. Too few orders.

Increased difficulty doing business in California.

Increased requirements for efficiencies.

Increasing costs.


Internet junk sales.

In-transit visibility.

Just on time delivery keeps productivity from increasing and warehousing cannot have items on inventory that are not used frequently.

Keeping equipment going in the face of “stagflation.”

Keeping jobs in America.

Keeping up with trends. Training. Complacency of job day in day out.

Labor pool.

Lack of qualified personnel.

Lack of sales/demand.

Lack of visibility for the industry makes recruiting very challenging.

Lead times, lack of knowledge and poor customer service from 3PLs.

Lean, cost, ergonomics.

Logistics people ripping off trucking companies.

Long-range projection on over-the-road delivery. Fuel cost and insurance.

Long-term workforce availability.

Loss of production and carrier capacities.

Low rates.

Lowering costs.

Maintaining a well trained work force that also is adequately compensated and rewarded for their contributions. We tend to only reward the top executives for their hard work.

Maintaining qualified material handling equipment suppliers.

Make sure you load when you schedule trucks in. Why pay detention for a driver sitting there doing nothing when he can be delivering your material?

Meeting challenges of world-class manufacturing. Looking at alternative powered vehicles.

Manufacturing presents a wide diversity of opportunities, more so than the distribution side of things. America needs to rebuild its manufacturing base and there does not seem to be the desire to do so.

More business.

My biggest challenge is finding new business. Some existing customers have increased their activities, but we are still struggling a little.

New capital equipment profitability with additional Asian products competing with heart of line products.

New OSHA regulations.

No money = no inventory. No inventory means no warehousing.

No one is building inventories so the public warehousing industry is being affected adversely with this reduction as no one is using outside storage.

Not staying updated and current.

Outsourcing caused reduced headcount and a lot of overseas headaches.


Price, quality and service. On-time schedule on material handling. Taxes and associated costs.

Pricing pressure.

Pricing pressures reducing margins.

Production over supply.



Providing customer service at the same level with reduced manpower.

Putting the pieces in place to handle the future driver shortage and the impact of CSA2010.

Qualified help.

Rising costs due to oil prices and currency valuations.

Realizing that most of the goods we transport/warehouse used to be produced here in the U.S. Now it is produced overseas and this increases the cost to the consumer.

Rebuilding staffing.

Reducing operating cost while increasing capacity/service.

Reducing transportation costs.

Reduction in force, doing more with less.

Remaining competitive in difficult economic times.

Rising cost of materials and supplies.

Safety and undefined OSHA regulations.

Safety, and freight hauling, using aviation equipment.

Smaller shipments.

Storing of spent nuclear fuel.

Staying competitive with pricing and freight charges. To the customer everything boils down to the almighty buck.

Stiffer competition over a limited client base.

Supply chain on time delivery.

Technology improvements faster than can be implemented.

The China trade issue. The U.S. global corporations are selling out American small businesses and workers. China is also a military danger to the U.S. like Germany was in 1930s-1940s. If U.S. industry is going to hire and provide good jobs, we must stop exporting our jobs to foreign countries and must require balanced trade with China.

The global environment we work in today.

The people you deal with.

The recession.

Transportation costs.

Trying to develop Generation X and Y into being the next managers.

Trying to keep more jobs here in the U.S.

Trying to make a very basic down and dirty industry too complicated

Turnaround time.

Uncertainty, both in the sales and delivery of parts.

Unnecessary waste.

U.S./Canadian exchange rates.

We have found that the price of doing business has increased steadily over the last five years.