The Supply Chain’s Biggest Challenges: 2014 Supply Chain Salary Survey Comments

Feb. 20, 2014
There’s no love lost between supply chain managers and the amount of government regulations they have to deal with on a daily basis.

In our preparation of the 2014 Supply Chain Salary Survey, we not only solicited facts and figures from respondents but we also invited them to share comments regarding their salary, their job situation, the state of the industry, or professional challenges. All responses were posted anonymously.

We sought to identify the biggest challenges to managing a supply chain, and as you’ll see, there’s no love lost between supply chain managers and the amount of government regulations they have to deal with on a daily basis. We also asked respondent to share their viewpoints on any workforce-related issue important to them.

Some of the following comments have been lightly edited (primarily for clarity).


What is the biggest challenge facing the industry today?

Acquiring and keeping the right people.

Being competitive with foreign competition.

Buying customers.


Cost of doing business.

Cost of goods, inventory, transportation.

Cost of raw material.

Cost reduction.

Currency manipulation by China.

Customers’ continuing pressure to reduce order lead time.




Energy prices.

Engineering resources.

ERP software.

Expenses that are mandated by law and become virtually uncontrollable, i.e. healthcare, EPA, OSHA, taxes (all kinds).

Federal regulations, taxes and domestic supply.

Federal taxes.

Finding qualified job seekers for tech positions.

Finding qualified workers and government regulations.

Foreign competition from China and other Asian countries who do not pay the same wages and benefits. Social media invading printing. Increasing union benefits.

Government regulations and interference.

Getting good quality people.

Global competition.

Finding and keeping employees.

Government regulations and restrictions.

Government regulations.

Growth to become a billion-dollar company as our management vision.\

Higher insurance cost; higher taxes; more federal and state controls.

Hiring qualified people at a competitive wage.

Just-in-time stocking.

Hiring qualified people.

Hours of service on trucking.

How the market acquires product.

Imports and lack of government support.


Inability to plan for supply chain needs due to buyers’ confusion over taxes and economic uncertainty.

Interfacing with the Internet.

International competition.

Keeping up with appropriate technology.

Lack of management leadership and vision.

Lack of skilled workers entering job market.

Lack of vision and leadership.

Lean manufacturing at low costs.

Loss of business.

Low-cost competition.

Maintaining competitiveness while being able to offer quality livable wages.

Market growth.

Out of vogue in attracting talent.

Negative effects of globalization.

Next generation.

Not enough resources being applied to training and technical advancement. Also need to push public education system to encourage more STEM education.


Our government.

Personnel working together.

President Obama.

Product applications.

Qualified people.

Recruiting young employees that are motivated and consider it a profession instead of just a job.

Regional loss of manufacturing base both currently and over last 30 years.

Regulations, transportation.





Sales and not finding skilled people.

Shortage of a skilled workforce and literate career-ready citizens.

Skilled help.

Slow economic growth exacerbated by uncertain government fiscal policy and increasing non-productive regulations.

Supply chain stability.

Talent development, aging Baby Boomers.

Taxes and health insurance.

The economy.

The global market is changing very rapidly and is not stable. Also the development of data and tracking cargo movements.

The President of the United States.

The unknown from our government.

There is no cohesive manufacturing policy in the U.S.A. That does not help!

Trained workforce.


Uncertainty about government regulations.

Uncertainty over the economy.

Worker ability and training.


Open-Ended Comments

A job is what you make of it and put into it.

After working in manufacturing for almost 40 years, I am making about 20% less than I was 10 years ago. After being unemployed four times in the last 18 years, this is definitely not my dream job. There is a fundamental lack of understanding that we need manufacturing to create wealth. Wall Street is making a few very rich, but no longer creating real wealth.

As a commission sales rep my income in 2013 was in excess of $225,000. Other than 2008 my annual income for the past 20 years has consistently been in excess of $150,000.

As owner of the company, we have been in survival mode for the last three-and-a-half years because of the economic uncertainty. Both we and our surviving customers are trying to make to better times so we can recoup much lost capital.

As we all know money is the one thing that matters most, but benefits is running not far behind.

Companies are seeing a high rate of talent turnover.

Competitive practices have reduced profitability.

Considering the current job environment I am pleased to be gainfully employed in manufacturing.

Corporate downsizing has taken place on a regular basis about every three years. Never know when your job may be gone.

Country needs more manufacturing activity; government needs to recognize value of this industry and give it more support.

Customs regulations and HTS compliance.

Demand planning software is not a panacea!

Economy appears to be getting better.

Education system and culture not attuned to the importance of manufacturing to the well-being of society.

Government—local and state and federal—does everything it can to get in the way of cost-effective business growth. If you look at the fees and restrictions on manufacturing 30 years ago compared to now, you see what the most difficult challenges are.

Having the right people in the right places to be effective in proper control procedures and receiving and departure and facilitating a smooth and precise operation.

I am getting ready to close the company down. Very little new business coming in, thanks to a lousy economy.

I am happy to have a job as many people are unemployed.

I am in my 21st year of managing. And I have seen major changes in the industry, especially in the automation portion of the business. I have received a lot of skilled training that has proved very valuable to me, but I have not received the proper salary to complement my knowledge base.

I believe our administration needs to get their act together, show some willingness to move our country forward, or we will be recession bound and manufacturing will be in trouble.

I could probably have a better base salary at another company but I enjoy this company.

I am currently pursuing a certification in logistics and supply chain management to advance my career.

I feel very fortunate.

I will give on base salary but benefits are very important. As a global player travel is major and benefits in relation to travel are important to me.

I would rather have more base salary than high bonus potential. I have 35% bonus potential, but each year it is harder to hit the max based on the requirements.

I’m afraid I won’t be able to support my family on the income I am currently earning.

Improving productivity, competent workers for the rate of pay, space justification.

In partner with brother, second-generation family business. He thinks I should not have as much salary as he does.

It is getting harder to make a profit than it was years back.

It is good for the time being. It requires a lot of time away from home. It has good pay and benefits. It is competitive with other industries. It is constantly busy with new business.

It is good to be in the beer, wine, and spirits business!

It’s all good.

Job satisfaction with comfortable take home.

Keep up the good work. It is nice to have a pulse on the industry.

Keeping up with all the marketing problems.

Local government is more interested in promoting sports and tourist venues than industrial needs. The federal government doesn’t have a clue.

Logisticians are problem solvers and should always be compensated as such.

Long hours—70-75 per week average over the last year.

Management styles seem to be changing. There is more dictating from the top and little concern for people. It is sad to see.

Manufacturing is coming back but two issues will slow or stop its growth: lack of literate career-ready citizens and the government’s lack of a pro-business policy or the understanding on how to help businesses grow.

Manufacturing operations are generally not agile enough to keep pace with demand and supply variability.

Many firms have middle management jobs at lower base due to job market.

My business revenues are off 60%+ from 2006-2007 with a gain over the past year by 15%. My customers have either left the Southern California area or have scaled back their operations or put any expenditures on hold until there is a major change in our government’s economic policies.

Need better salary.

Need work—out of work for seven months.

Not enough recognition of the importance of material handling.

Old owners are fading away—young staff needs to be trained and learn how to be leaders.

Opportunities in meeting challenges in packaging and leading construction in new buildings here and in Mexico.

Our country as a whole is not in as good a shape as the media projects. Durable goods/appliances are not selling like they were. Companies are not hiring like they used to. Great employees are being laid off and forced to retire early to improve the immediate bottom-line with no thoughts of next year’s needs. Many unemployed people are being forced to take opportunities for less salary because companies can get engineers cheap. It is a sad state of affairs in the U.S. currently.

People are considered a commodity. More often than not, I have heard stated from multiple companies in multiple meetings to multiple people, “You either hit the numbers or you will be replaced” (paraphrasing). This lowers morale and makes it hard to explain to people why this is a great career path without lying about the work conditions. Furthermore, the mentality is, “Hurry up and wait” in which sales and the executive management want total flexibility, resulting in some days being 16-hour days and others being minimal. Additionally the term “long-term” in the industry is relative. For instance, I could not be solid in telling you what I will be able to do next year since I do not have a clue if my account will still be here as my whole field is treated like a commodity. Also all this should be followed up with I am considered a “high performer” and in the top 1% of employees (actually top 10) out of 15,000 FTEs total.

People around me are quitting to find higher paying jobs. I am looking for the same thing.

Printing is a dying business giving way to social media; it cannot be expanded so how do we survive?

Salary (money) is the driving force behind getting and keeping good employees.

Salary and bonus is lower than I am used to, since bonuses based on profits have been non-existent in recent years. Our industrial machinery is sold to wood products companies, mostly in North America. Our customers have had a tough past five years and that has carried over into our business sales as needed capital projects were deferred or cancelled. We are seeing more inquiries for relatively large capital projects in 2013, if the economy can muster steady growth and government does not get in the way.

Sales volume is picking up, but companies do not want to rehire new staff, making it hard on the few employees that are there.

Seems to be a stable industry.

The commodity manufacturing business is a challenge with the world economic situation. It will have to improve to attract the future leaders in the metals industry.

The job is interesting and enjoyable. The salary is average. The industry is slowly rebounding from the recession but has a long way to go still. The industry is competitive with other types of jobs.

The state of the manufacturing industry is lack of skilled personnel and people not wanting to really work, learn and be efficient and effective.

The U.S. is poised to recover the manufacturing base that has left this country if we had a government truly interested in job and wealth growth. Our debt is ruining our future.

Trying to keep manufacturing in the U.S. with this current political group is hard.


Wages have been stagnant for the last five years, and benefits reduced. Owners are getting richer and workers are getting poorer. CEO salaries are so disproportionate to workers it’s pathetic, and is going to causing major issues if not rectified.

We need closer cooperation and more effective coordination among the public, private and educational sectors to continuously improve our competitive ability in this global economy.

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