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Where Have All the Workers Gone? MH&L Salary Survey 2015 Comments

March 25, 2015
Finding and retaining talent is at the top of the wish-list for material handling and logistics professionals.

Putting together the MH&L 2015 Salary Survey, we included a small sampling of comments from survey participants, as they weighed in on their take-home pay, their job satisfaction, their opinions on what the government ought to be doing (and NOT doing), and numerous other topics. As in years past, respondents felt free to open up as to what they really think, since all responses were anonymous.

We asked respondents to identify the biggest challenges to managing their supply chains, and as you’ll see, finding and retaining talent is right there at the top of their wish-list for ways to improve their companies and the industry. 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 material handling and logistics industry today?


Ability to retain good employees at a cost effective rate.

Accessibility to software talent.

Accessing and retaining talent.

Accomplishing more with fewer resources.

Acquiring a skilled workforce.

Adequate staffing.

Aging workforce.

A lot of pressure.

Attracting quality candidates and employees.


Automation, JIT demands.

Automation, lack of jobs.

Being competitive in the world market.

Being thought of as overhead, with executive management being resistant to investing money needed for equipment, staff, etc.

Budget constraints, government regulations, security, high cost of doing business, not enough skilled workers.

Budget cuts.

Business is so up and down, no consistency.


Capacity of goods and safety norms standardized.

Capacity of trucks.

Capital investments for future growth.

Carrier capacity.

Changes in pricing.

Changing opportunities to make a profit.

Changing prices.

Cheap imports, healthcare costs, rising raw material inputs.

Clear understanding of material handling and logistics department being a very important component of decision making process in an organization.


Committed employees who are willing to put in the time/energy to learn the business.

Competing with new generations.




Competition from Internet sellers.

Competition, innovation, and staying relevant.

Competitive market on the financial side of moving product (overseas).

Consumer expectations.


Corporate budget and buy-in.






Cost control.

Cost of fuel.

Cost pressure.

Cost pressure.

Cost savings and availability.



Cutting costs and doing more with less capital.

Dangerous goods.

Decision-makers who do not have practical knowledge or experience in the fields they are making decisions about.

Delay as estimated.

Delays and constraints.

Delays in capital spending projects.

Delivery time to customers, freight costs, advanced technologies and workers’ ability to employ them on the job.

Delivery times.

Demand forecasting and transportation management.

Demonstrating how integrated the profession is in all aspects of the business.

Dependability in supply chain (price, delivery and quality).

Digital consolidation.

Dimensional weight rates.


Dollars to move my freight.

Driver shortage.

Driver shortage.

Driver shortage.

Driver shortage.

Driver shortages.

Driver shortages for the trucking industry.

Economic conditions and price of oil.



Economy trends.

Educated manpower.

Electronic logs and rates.

Employee motivation.

Employee turnover and lack of skills.


Energy costs and outsourcing.


Equipment failures.

Equipment maintenance and new technology.

Expanding market share without acquisition.

Export shipping/port congestion.

Finding and keeping good employees.

Finding and keeping qualified individuals.

Finding and keeping qualified people.

Finding dedicated workers.

Finding people willing to get their hands dirty.

Finding qualified applicants to fill positions requiring field experience.

Finding qualified individuals with good technical skills.

Finding qualified people.

Finding qualified, experienced people.

Finding qualified, safe material handlers, with safe being #1.

Finding qualified people.

Finding the right fit.

Finding the right people for the job.

Finding the right people.

Finding trucks.

Finding, hiring and keeping quality distribution personnel that consider material handling as a long-term career path for themselves and their families. Competing industries offer better pay, shorter hours, better working conditions, less stress and allow more time to spend with family.

Flat demand, and automation.

Focus solely on revenue.

Foreign competition moving companies out of the USA.

Foreign manufacturing taking domestic manufacturing overseas.

Freight carrier damages and pricing.

Freight cost.

Frozen material.


Fuel cost volatility.

Fuel costs.

Fuel prices.

Getting material to the customer in a timely manner at great cost.

Getting through to the correct person.

Getting upper management to buy in to the process.

Global competition.

Good employees.

Good service techs.

Good workers; pay scale to attract and retain talent; dimensional pricing with carriers and freight costs.

Government red tape.

Government regulations.

Government regulations.

Government regulations.


Growth in economy.

Handling booking from the client; annual inventory.

Hauling capacity.



Hiring over-the-road drivers.

Human capital sourcing.

Implementing automation to improve customer response time.

Importing supplies.

Incompetent employees.

Increases for vendors/suppliers passed on to us.

Increasing domestic ground carrier costs (dimensional weight pricing).

Information system security.

Injecting new talent into the industry.


Innovation in a stagnant economy.

Integrating siloed work groups.

Integration with automation and changing technology.


Inventory control and good employees.

Inventory management.

Keep costs low.

Keeping up with demand.

Keeping abreast of technology changes.

Keeping costs down.

Keeping costs down.

Keeping enough stock.

Keeping on top of technology.

Keeping pace with industry changes and finding skilled employees.

Keeping the pace of savings improving productivity.

Keeping up with changes.

Keeping up with changing market conditions.

Keeping up with material handling and WMS technology. Retaining quality employees.

Keeping up with technology.

Keeping up with the advances in technology to handle the material more efficiently.

Keeping up with the changing dollar and the new rates that some companies are now charging for our freight.

Keeping up with the changing times.

Labor, FMCSA, FSMA, HOS rules.

Lack of attention to detail when processing transactions by counterparts throughout the supply chain, mainly on the part of Millennials (short attention span effect, perhaps?).

Lack of knowledgeable people in the field.

Lack of qualified help.

Lack of skilled professionals.

Lack of the right people.

Lack of truck drivers.

Lean maintenance budget.

Learning computer skills.

Locating and hiring qualified personnel.

Logistics costs.

Logistics costs.

Long-term supply chain stability.

Los Angeles port dispute.

LTL rating structures.

Maintaining safety in light of business efficiency improvements required to stay afloat.

Managing costs of material in relation to supply chain sources. So much is sourced based on costs but the supplier is located far away. The management of this challenging.

Managing growth.

Manufacturing outside the United States.

Margins, competition, poor management.

Material flow from overseas.

Material movement.

Meeting customer demands.

Moving the goods.

Multi-channel distribution.

New talent entering the market has been trained in logistics/supply chain management since colleges are offering degrees in those fields—but the problem is then normal business sense needs to be developed. They are stronger on the logistics side, but weaker on the business side.

Not enough jobs available in this industry. Not enough incentives for this sort of job. Too competitive in nature. Finding the right people willing to do this job.

Not enough skilled mechanics.

Not enough skilled workers to fill certain positions. Not enough good paying jobs in this industry.

Obtaining new business and stagnant growth among current client base.

Ocean container availability.

On-time deliveries.

On-time delivery.

Our current Presidential Administration.

Over supply.

Over-the-road drivers, USA.

Parcel freight costs.

Pay rates.


People involved with the decisions.

People wanting to work.

Perception that many equipment options are a commodity.


Port congestion/vessel space.

Predicting future trends.

Pressure from OEMs on tier 1&2 automotive suppliers to increase capacity with little/no guarantee to sustain this output.

Price fluctuations.

Price fluctuations and network errors.

Price of fuel.


Product availability.

Product maturation.


Qualified carrier service (domestic/export).

Qualified employees.

Qualified employees.

Qualified employment candidates.

Qualified material handlers.

Qualified people.

Qualified personnel, particularly drivers.

Qualified staffing.



Quality people.

Quality personnel.

Rising transportation costs.

Rapid change.



Recruiting outside of the industry to combat the aging workforce.

Reduce shipping costs.

Reducing cost.

Reducing damage to inventory and utilizing warehouse space efficiently.

Reducing freight costs.

Reducing inventory dollars and space while being able to give production what they need without waiting and without having too much inventory.

Reducing spend, managing flow.



Regulations and compliance issues.




Return on Investment over a much shorter time period to keep up with the dynamics of the industry.

Revenue to keep technology current and maintained.

Rising cost.

Rising cost of fuel.

Rising costs and customers not having enough inventory, using us for fulfillment.

Rising costs for everything, including labor, transportation, materials.

Rising freight prices.

Rule changes and price fluctuations.


Safety and regulatiodn.

Safety and technology.


Satisfying vendors and their need to always give low prices to their customers. So I will say cost cutting will always affect material handling and logistics industry.




Shipping costs.

Shipping costs.

Shipping product cost efficiently.

Shortage of qualified drivers.

Shortage of truck drivers and increased delays in inbound products.

Shortened lead times.

Shrinking margins.

Shrinking workforce.

Skill sets of individuals.

Skilled, dependable workforce.

Skilled labor.

Skilled workforce.

SKU proliferation and compressed timeframes.

Social media and impatience from customers.




Stable workforce.


Staff reductions.

Staffing during peak with skilled workers.

Staffing. Turnover.

Still learning the material handling business.

Supplier product availability.

Supply chain resiliency.


Technology and personnel.

Technology update.

The amount of money people use.

The purchase of reliable equipment.

Third-World products and competition.


Time and money.

Time restraints.

Timely and accurate data entry.

To lean more about logistics industry.

To overcome material handling and logistics growth and development on applied SCM methods and to progress in the SCM growth path.

Today it is longshoremen, tomorrow it’s a shortage in drivers, thus creating a capacity shortage. The beauty of logistics is the parameters are constantly changing.


Training, people.



Transportation availability.

Transportation capacity.

Transportation costs.

Transportation costs.

Transportation costs.

Transportation expense.

Transportation network instability/flexibility (port capacity, union labor disputes, peak volume planning).

Truck drivers.




Truck driver capacity shortage.

Truck driver shortage, and keeping up with technology changes.

Trucking laws.

Trucks—need more drivers and drivers willing to do more than drop & hook.

Unemployment in the field.



Unpredictability of intrusive government regulations/controls.

Unstable fuel costs.

Upgrading technology infrastructure.

Upper management.

Upper management’s lack of knowledge of material handling.

U.S. economy.

Vendor management.

Visibility (accurate tracking of freight).


VP level management having a full understanding of how the “ins and outs” work.

Warehouse space.

We do not have enough material handling and logistics people.

When required equipment is not available for the handling of the material.

Working together.

Working with less staff.

Open-Ended Comments

A lot depends on the economy.

About myself, I need to seek new work at another company to give me all I financially need. I am flexible to my work like driving truck/forklift operator/encoder/handling booking/wholesale inventory/messenger/processor/office staff/documentation (export/import).

Ageism exists at my company.

All supervisors (managers) here feel that they are underpaid.

As always the industry is always in a change due to better approaches or new customer demands. Never feel that you cannot do something better.

Availability of infrastructure in handling the project.

Because of the world we live in today, especially over the last 20 years, those in the material handling/distribution field are being asked to do more, in less time, while being measured against impossible-to-maintain metrics and achieve these ever-shrinking yearly budgets.

Challenge of increasing sales and market share to position and grow our company. This will give us the opportunity to better reward our employees.

C-level lack of understanding.

Concern: USA’s need to stimulate a renewed interest with challenging opportunities in manufacturing, to aid in choosing a career path, before entering the workforce.

Defense industry suffers during these times of international unrest.

Demand less than supply causing poor business decisions on competition to keep accounts.

Difficult to find electro-mechanical technicians these days. Hard to compete with the big companies who can offer internships, higher wages and greater opportunities.

Diverse workforce requires multi lingual management.

Due to market pressures, the company has taken away once large bonuses, defined benefit pension plan and full paid health insurance. The added costs of saving for retirement and paying for 70% of my healthcare insurance, along with the loss of bonuses, made my 2014 take-home pay less than what I took home 17 years ago when I arrived at this company. With the gutting of U.S. manufacturing, the conveyor business has shifted to very competitive warehousing type conveyors from the more lucrative product in equipment needed for factories. Our government must start adding the cost of our government regulations and corporate tax rates to the goods coming in from outside our borders to stop 30 years of trade deficits of $500 to $800 billion per year. That wealth is bypassing working-class America totally now.

Due to the flat economy everyone is fearful they can lose their jobs.

Fair salary.

Flat salary potential but sky is limit for sales staff. No incentives or bonus potential.

For my job title I am paid bare minimum, but I do not have my degree.

Government regulations.

Great field to be in with a great company.

Growth and change are exponential. Trying to stay ahead of the growth and improve operations is critical.

Have not gotten a pay increase in 18 years except cost of living but took on many more responsibilities, including material handling, rigging and employee training.

Having recently undergone a merger, one of the largest challenges is still stabilizing the leadership workforce. As can be expected, there continues to be instability as external job opportunities come to fruition.

Hoping the economy turns around for the oil & gas industries

I am fine.

I do not see the value of experience being capitalized on.

I feel I just hired my replacement and know it’s time to move the old guy out.

I feel in my current job I am being stagnated. I have currently embarked on achieving degrees that would add value not only to myself but to uplifting the company, but that fact is being ignored. My philosophy is to not get angry but move on to bigger and better things.

I feel that the base salary could be higher because of the responsibilities associated with this position.

I have been fortunate working with a progressive, dynamic company.

I have been in the transportation industry for about 10 years and enjoy it. I was laid off almost five months ago and found another position in the industry. However, my boss is a very hard man to work for who doesn't compensate his employees well.

I have to do a lot of “secretarial” things in my job as regional manager, which I feel is because I am female. I feel for all the things I do that do not relate to my title as regional manager I am underpaid. My company also does not provide us with the tools we need as regional salespeople to do our job.

I started with this company 23 years ago before it was a company. I worked long hours without any extra pay to get this company going. It is now a $15 million company. I understand that it’s time to retire, probably this year; however, I will look for something else to do.

I started working in the logistics department in 1998 as a logistics assistant. My organization, which is humanitarian, had its office in Nairobi as Eastern Africa Region Head Office, and in 2007, the chief logistics officer and the logistics officer resigned in two consecutive months. I acted for nine months in the two capacities and after an appraisal, I was promoted to the position of a logistics officer. They brought a person with a degree from our field office to take up the role of a chief logistics officer. I trained him in the job, and did most of the work. They ultimately fired him and I was later promoted to a chief logistics officer with three staff members under me but serving 10 countries. Later on the organization decentralized the system and each country comes under the head office in Oslo. I feel I would have achieved a lot in terms of promotion and better remuneration if I had a real professional certificate. But being in Africa with a large family some of this might not be realistic now. I have my first child ready to join the university and I will want to make sure that she achieves all that my parents were not able to support me to achieve, and she has eight more siblings who are in the pipeline at different stages of their secondary and primary education. Yes, I believe that with a professional certificate you can make a difference in your career and better salary, unless you are as burdened as I am to take that courageous step to the right direction.

I think I could make more money.

I was out of work for 10 months, and had to take a significant pay cut in order to “get back into the game.”

I work for a company who supplies maintenance items to the material handling market.

I would like more recognition.

If you have a great boss, work alongside good and dedicated people who possess a great sense of humor, and have a reasonable and non-frustrating daily commute, my advice would be to stick with your current position.

I’m a part time employee making $40/hour trying to get on full-time.

I’m the materials manager and also the quality assurance manager for my company.

In this industry, we find it a challenge every day to compete with industry.

Industry changing very fast.

It has become harder to find skilled workers while training non-skilled workers, which affects production.

It is a very nice area to be in.

It needs to be more secure. It needs to have a higher wage. It is interesting work. It is challenging work. It is never boring. It has long hours.

It needs to improve more. It is too much work for too little pay. Not enough skilled workers to fill good positions.

It’s a sacrifice and self-denial to survive.

Job is fine, but too many co-workers have no clue about the real world situations.

Lack of talent with customer service/sales skills in the industry to drive operational performance.

Learn more.

Looking for new growth and vistas in 2015 for material handling and logistics.

Looking for computer skills to become a project manager.

Many personal positions are being given to robots. Automation is an expensive step in the beginning, but pays for itself over time.

My job is very diverse and interesting—there is always a challenge to meet. I truly enjoy it. More senior management continues to require education on the pitfalls of material handling and logistics. Staffing for seasonal fluctuation of the workload is a challenge to my managers—they hire temps, which requires them to spend more time training than they can afford.

My main concern is that New Hampshire is considering a proposal to double the minimum wage increase. This will certainly hurt New Hampshire’s businesses and may force some to relocate to a different state.

My pay grade is well below what it should be and my job situation is well at this time. I like what I do.

My personal opinion is that in this industry a white male would have a greater salary than a minority woman.

My potential bonus is both quarterly and annual and is equal to my annual salary.

My salary hasn't been raised in over five years, and my last promotion was in 1988.

Need an increase of salary.

New difficultly is moving off our old outdated IT platform and need to move to the cloud.

New management goals from Europe.

No value is added to the material handling field in this part of the world.

Not enough salary for my experience and education.

Our company does not understand logistics. They only look at the yearly increases in rates, and not the reasons behind it, not seeing that production is not keeping pace with orders, causing needless delays in getting product on the road to customers.

Pay is okay, not great. Job is somewhat stable. It is redundant and repetitive work most of the time. It is important work. It has good benefits in the long term. It is challenging work.

Reliable transportation providers both in courier and road transport services at reasonable rates.

Repressive government regulations will continue to have a deleterious effect upon business and industry, whether it is shippers, clients, or carriers.

Salary is not enough; we are living from hand to mouth in this situation. Nobody can work from heart and soul.

Salary is very low compared with other professionals, learning is not happening, job is stable, but due to huge competition profitability is decreasing.

Salary should be greater.

Salary under industry average for current role.

Sales are dropping off annually without a plant to revive.

Senior business leadership needs to compensate middle managers and labor or we may see a huge labor uprising in this country soon.

Short of financial needs/reduce staff.

Some younger people think they know more than anyone else.

Sorely underpaid for the knowledge that I bring and results that I am able to deliver.

Staying on top of changing regulations is challenging.

Still recovering from 2008.

Supply chain/logistics is a very hot job right now with a greater emphasis being placed on it by companies, which is great to see. We need to ensure that the new entrants to the job force have a good foundation of business principles as well. This makes them very well rounded and able to see the entire picture of a company’s operations.

The base wage seems rather low for the job responsibilities and expertise level. Finding dedicated, loyal talent to hire and develop for succession planning purposes.

The company I now work for has little respect for the professional expertise needed from a maintenance manager to maintain and/or improve facilities and supporting equipment. I am searching to find a company that will provide this with the proper compensation.

The disconnect in technology from various components of our supply chain.

The economy has made it difficult to award performance through annual salary increases.

The industry does not value experience anymore like they used to. All they look at is the salary being lower for younger engineers that will not stay in place for more than five years. They then lose all the experience/knowledge and wonder why things start going bad. I have seen it much more since 2005!

The job market is wide open for smart people that will work hard at what needs to be done. America’s dream is not dead if we take the time and money to train our people for the skills needed to compete in a global marketplace. We need more drug-free tradespeople. Even as we lose manufacturing jobs we cannot find skilled millwrights, ironworkers, electricians, plumbers and pipefitters to run the plants we have left. We have plenty of people applying that need to work but no one has been taught to do anything. What happened to Voc Tech in high school, or FFA, wood shop, mechanical drawing?

The salary doesn’t meet the need of the market; it’s less than what is needed in the market.

The seemingly endless proliferation of regulations that seem to do nothing but increase costs of doing business.

Too much emphasis on cutting labor to do a manual process while simultaneously refusing to invest in automation/technology to offset reductions in personnel. Personnel are treated as a piece of equipment rather than as key, valued workers. Public comments and actual practices do not line up.

Use of robotics and technology will increase as well as further developments in both.

Way underpaid for work that is performed.

We have had problems trying to find a suitable warehouse management software program that will work with our accounting software.

We serve the food, beverage and consumable product manufacturing industry and the distribution and fulfillment industry. Both have been ever changing over the last 30 years and have offered tremendous opportunities.

Will be interested to see how I compare to others regarding compensation.

With Arizona being a right-to-work state, salaries are always going to be low.

Women in business are not as valued as men and it’s reflected in their salary.

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