Do You Feel Appreciated? MH&L Salary Survey 2016 Comments

Feb. 12, 2016
Managing the nation's supply chains is a huge responsibility, but apparently that memo hasn't reached everybody's desks yet.

Putting together the MH&L 2016 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, gaining the respect from senior management as well as industry regulators is a vexing matter to some material handling and logistics professionals. Finding and retaining talent is another challenge that needs to be solved to ensure the continuing vitality of 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?


Accountability, i.e., inventory control.


Adapt to new technologies.

Adapting to change.

Adequate staffing for peak periods; increase in pricing for shipping small packages.

Always changing demand.

Applications of solutions to business needs; getting past pushing product sales to applying technology and expertise to the need/opportunity.

Attracting and finding somewhat qualified people.

Attrition at the hourly level.


Availability of transportation equipment.

Balancing capacity, rate fluctuations (balancing accessorial charges like bunker and fuel vs. base rate changes); ocean carrier consolidation.

Being the “source” for your customer.

Business growth with the challenge to reduce my budget.

Capacity and scheduling of equipment.


Capital investment funding.

Carrier capacity and driver shortage.

Change related to automation.

Changing consumer expectations.

Changing global markets.

Changing technology and finding personnel that can work with the new technology.

Chemical regulations and railroad dependence.

Commodity pricing.

Communication across multiple channels with varying levels of technology.

Competing with China.


Competitors lowering their prices.

Competive pricing.

Compliance with safety regulations.

Congestion/time management.

Constant mergers reduce the individual customer base, resulting in a few logistics groups having most of the material handling activity; lower cost of operation and increasing efficiency will be a great challenge.

Continuing to be efficient.

Cost and speed.

Cost increases.

Cost of insurance.

Cost of transportation.

Cost reduction, time to market and inventory control.

Cost reductions.


Costs rising.

Custumer satisfaction improvements.

Customer investment.

Customer loyalty—willingness to buy sub-standard quality to save money to make themselves look good in the short-term because no one stays at a position long-term. Chances are within five years they will be in a different position, different company, or their present company will be under different ownership.

Customer service.

Delivery compliance.

Demand forecasting accuracy; human resource availability; role of social media and analytics.

Developing a company uniform standard in distribution with many different business types (retail, wholesale and commercial, franchise and dealers).

Driver retention.

Driver shortage.

Driver turnover.

Dynamic technology.


Ecomomic uncertainty.


Efficient space.

Employee retention.


End-to-end visibility.

Equipment supply directed to big-box organizations, not enough on a timely basis available for the medium to small enterprises.

Excess inventory disposition, cost reduction of managing this inventory and generating profitable returns with this inventory.

Experienced associates.

Finding and retaining good personnel.

Finding competent people.

Finding good people in electrical, controls and software—people with knowledge of the latest technology in the industry.

Finding good workers.

Finding good/competent drivers.

Finding qualified associates.

Finding qualified employees willing to work and learn at a wage the market will bear.

Finding qualified people to staff the open positions.

Finding qualified professionals with a strong materials background.

Finding quality people.

Finding skilled workers or finding non-skilled workers with good work ethic and willingness to be trained.

Finding vendors.

Finding young people to come into this industry as upper management feels it is not a profitable industry compared to others.

Finding younger employees interested in material handling industry to replace retiring employees.

Flat manufacturing due to it being an election year.

Forecasting space utilization.

Foreign competition.

Freight increases especially with FedEx and UPS small parcel annual increases.


Front-line employee turnover.


Funding & infrastructure.

Getting good workers.

Getting more customers, staying cost-competitive.

Getting orders in shipping and out the door on time.

Getting people more involved.

Getting suitable vehicles for transportation.

Globally competitive market.

Going green.

Good help.

Government regulations.



Hard workers.

Having less inventory and availability.

High turnover results in inexperienced people.

Higher costs.

Hiring entry-level positions.

Hiring quality people.

Holding on to growth.

How much material do we have left to manufacture and where will we get the transportation to haul the materials?

How to continually drive efficiencies with fewer resources.

Human capital.

Human resources.

Humans—unreliable truckers—money.

Implementation of new technology.

Implementing systems and coordinating between different business elements.

Improper packaging materials.

Incorporation of new technology is too slow; challenges to find qualified personnel.

Increase in SKUs and SKU turnover.

Increased labor cost and changes in the retail industry.

Increasing cost.

Increasing efficiency.

Inefficient warehouse personnel.

Inexperienced competitors.

Infrastructure to handle increasing volumes.

Inventory control.


Investment in automation.

Is the company a company of yesterday or is it one of tomorrow, and if it is one of tomorrow what is the company doing to support that? Many say they are a company of tomorrow but only are superficially.

Keep growing.

Keep up with e-commerce and its dynamic growth. Customers are demanding faster responses, so we too must deliver faster, more dependable equipment to accomplish that task.

Keeping and maintaining and updating equipment.

Keeping costs down.

Keeping costs to a minimum.

Keeping experienced managers.

Keeping the fleet updated.

Keeping up with the demand of what your customers need.

Keeping up with the pace of the customer’s anticipated lead times.

Keeping young people interested in this as a challenging career.

Knowledge management.

Knowledgeable employees.

Labor workforce.

Lack of cooperation between vendor and carrier and buyer.

Lack of corporate flexibility to adopt new technologies.

Lack of funds for equipment upgrades/replacement.

Lack of innovative products.

Lack of people interested in working in material handling and logistics.

Lack of qualified potential job candidates.

Lack of quality drivers.

Lack of skilled labor.

Lack of skilled, experienced mechanics.

Lack of trained material handling engineers and project managers.

Local economic situation.

Losing industry in my APR.

Losing jobs to overseas.

Low oil and gas prices.

Managing costs and finding skilled labor.

Managing time and order response.

Managing transportation capacity and service quality; first- and last-mile shipment visibility.

Mandated electronic logging.

Manual handling.

Market becoming price-driven vs. value-driven.

Market disrupters via more nimble start-ups leveraging Amazon.

Maximizing efficiencies.

Moving freight on time.

Multiple jobsites and conditions.

No innovation!

Not enough drivers.

Not enough resources.

Not enough vendors.

Not replacing aging infrastructure.


Obtaining value in a timely fashion without increasing staffing.

On-time delivery.

Operational costs, and infrastructure.


Our biggest challenge is getting the right help. Qualified people are getting harder to find and it’s not because of the education level in school. Motivation and drive are almost unheard of anymore. I now get people coming in that want to fill a mechanics opening but don’t want to get their hands dirty.

Oversaturated sales market of companies offering the same items (forklifts).

People assume we just push boxes all day which is not the case.




Pool of qualified hazardous material drivers.

Poor economy in U.S. and China.

Poor road network, lack of infrastructure and climate change.

Poor transportation management .

Price and delivery.

Price erosion.

Pricing pressure.

Purchasing the correct equipment.

Qualified employees.

Qualified personnel and technology changes.

Quality and available time. Also, government regulations.

Quality of resources.

Quality of services.

Quality people/regulations.

Quality technicians.

Rapidly changing technology.

Reduced capital spending.

Reducing costs.

Reducing time to delivery to every customer.


Reliability of over-the-road drivers.

Reliable service and on-time delivery.

Retaining key employees.

ROI on automation.



Selling value to procurement departments.

Shipping cost.

Shipping rates.

Shortage of CDL truck drivers.

Shortage of drivers in the U.S.

Shortage of drivers is starting to become very apparent with no immediate change in sight.

Shorter lead time expectations, reduced volumes, tighter cost controls.

Shrinking economy.

Smaller deliveries.

Space on container shipping lines.

Speed to customer.



Strategically managing assets to maximize efficiencies and cost. Regulatory compliance is also a challenge that must be met.


Supply & demand.

Supply chain turnover.

Sustainability and costs.


Talent—hourly to salary.

Technician shortage.

Technicians & customer service.

Technology and how/what systems to utilize.


The changing shopping habits of the customer require the adaptation of systems designed for one purpose to be used for another.

The economy.

The normal challenges are trying to maintain a lean inventory in a company, quality product with good pricing, and then keeping freight cost low along with always improving transit time and keeping damage cost down.

The push to move from internal combustion lift trucks to electric and the warehousing issues that causes.

The real world.

Timely deliveries at a competitive price.

Timely delivery and quality.

Timely positioning in remote and socially convulsed areas.


Too long lead times between ordering and receiving material.

Too many competitors.

Total packaged weight.

Training and retaining new talent.

Transit times.

Transportation capacity.

Transportation costs.

Trucking capacity.

Trucking expense.


Trying to automate.

U.S. to Canadian dollar.

Unorganized players.

Updating systems.

Vendor issues related to delivery.

Vision and our means to achieve the same.

Warehouse space.

Warehousing space & efficiency.

Warehousing shortage.

We contract with the Department of Defense and the budget constraints and uncertainty means a flat low margin on service providers. We’re continuously asked to do more with less and the company needs the business so badly they cave to the demand instead of getting fair compensation associated with additional services. The employees suffer as a result.

We mainly focus on emergency works so we face transport problems.

Wearing proper PPE.


Open-Ended Comments

As a retired professional and then retired professor, I am able to utilize my expertise developed over the long experience in the industry.

Automated material handling is still seeking acceptance and buy-in from the North American marketplace.

Been in this position for nearly 20 years with very minimum wage increase.

Bonus is tied to things outside my control. Too many “chiefs,” not enough “Indians.”

Company struggling to get profitable again so no money to upgrade systems and processes. Focus is on maintaining infrastructure. Feel underpaid but stuck until I reach the age I can retire. Even then the need for medical coverage will require me to get another job, probably in the same industry.

Competition in the field of logistics services is very high, but we must continue to work to achieve new successes.

Considering the size of our company and its annual revenue, the salary is fair. Job situation is always challenging given the fact that the volume of work is continuously increasing and there are always new challenges ahead. I feel there are no more professional challenges ahead of me having reached an old age.

Consolidation, technology changes and global economy are challenges.

Continued new government regulations will continue to increase costs and complexity in the supply chain.

Economy is not getting better.

For a manufacturing business segment specialist the salary is good.

For the education and experience I have, I feel I am underpaid. On the other hand, if the job is reliable, convenient and pays OK, it’s an effort to look for a better opportunity.

For what I do I believe I am more than fairly compensated. I believe there will be a downsizing in the logistics industries and consolidation of companies. There is a real need for trained warehousemen and the workers compensation needs to be higher in order to retain good qualified employees to stay on the job. Their responsibilities have changed over the last 25 years and they are not just a grunt that pulls parts. They are warehousemen, inventory control, data entry, customer service and housekeeper all wrapped into one package.

Getting clients to come to grips with better utilization of all assets when the economy shows little growth—work smarter.

Getting paid for what I am doing for my company. Environmental managers make a lot more than what I am being paid. Doing the job and not getting any recognition for doing it.

Government regulations, taxes and union demands continue to put pressures on our industry and many others. Frankly if the President, Congress, our state governments and unions do not recognize the pressure and demands they put on, they will continue to see industry move towards robotics/automation and the elimination of humans. No Humans = No Union Dues.

Hard to find people that want to work in logistics and material handling even though demand continues to grow for skilled workers.

I am happy with my salary. My biggest challenge is managing my time with the multitude of different tasks I have to complete in a day. Managing personnel, ordering and receiving parts, planning work & PMs, scheduling, managing projects and the need to help in the field due to lack of personnel.

I am involved in national account sales of forklifts.

I believe industry salaries for the logistics management positions are still not as high as they should be. I think logistics is still looked at as a necessary evil in some corporations, rather than as a tool or an opportunity to better position companies to compete and achieve financial success.

I do not have any big concerns.

I feel that this industry will be evolving at a greater pace than most people are anticipating due to the manufacturer’s position of dealer ownership and technology changes. The manufacturer is not recognizing the need for people and their importance in the profitability of an operation and is simply viewing people as an expense rather than an opportunity for improved profitability.

I have a feeling my salary is in the lower spectrum of my profession and even in my own company. Our younger generation doesn’t have a good outlook for the logistics of our industry. Barcoding materials make the younger generation not have to learn what products really are or what they are used for, so it makes it difficult for them to advance.

I really like my job. I am challenged in my tasks and I am recognized for the great job I do. My only wishes are for a shorter commute and more money.

I think management underestimates the importance of my position and that I make things work fluidly without a lot of fuss and worry on their part. If I was to leave where I am now they would have to hire three people to do what I am doing. In light of that, they do not pay me for the actual job I am doing for them.

I think my salary is fair. Job situation is good. The industry is taking a more serious role within business. I believe all professional challenges are solvable. I’m satisfied.

I think the material handling industry has been, up to now, very responsive to the fast customer demand on efficiency and low cost of operations. That is going to be a bigger challenge in the near future.

I worry most about government rules, regs and other interferences.

I’m a female so I’m sure males doing the same (or less important) jobs get paid better.

Increasing end-to-end service focus.

Industry needs more recognition for a job well done.

It’s a great challenging industry.

Job is comfortable.

Lack of importance put on operations and outsourcing to 3PLs.

Logistics and supply chain has afforded me many opportunities and I have always been gainfully employed. It is a great field to have a career in and I would encourage anyone to pursue this as a career.

Looking for higher responsibilities.

Make everything safe.

Materials management is an exciting profession and it’s offered me a rewarding and successful career for 40 years.

Men in the same position are making more money.

More flexibility in my job could positively impact my overall compensation.

My salary is not encouraging which affects the job situation. Material handling and logistics is the fastest growing industry in the world today. Am in need of job placement if any.

Organizations need to look at how they are paying people. In the material handling industry there needs to be a share-the-wealth approach so that silos are broken down and people are encouraged to improve and grow. Too many organizations reward too few. A slightly smaller amount of a bigger pot is often more than some of a small pot.

Political friction of nations in some areas is a challenge.

Position should pay more.

Professional challenges; keeping up with the latest in technology and applications.

Raises come when times are good. However, when times are bad your VALUE now appears as a COST.

Regulations / taxes / healthcare make it more difficult to be profitable.

Salaries have been stagnant for too long as cost of living rises.

Salary has been held down the past seven years while duties have increased and no end in sight. Disappointing pay for the years of service and proficiency gained.

Satisfied with where I am.

Sexism and racism are very prevalent and need to be handled in a more proactive way through human resources. Also, top management needs refresher courses on how culture affects production.

Some foreign companies claim lack of infrastructure in Mexico, but at the same time are unwilling to invest in internal infrastructure which creates employees frustration.

The challenge we have is pressure to stabilize our rates while our labor costs are increasing, especially on the West Coast. Automation investments are rarely possible as we are not given a long enough time commitment from our customers to amortize the investment cost.

The regulatory conditions for business are getting to be a full-time job (i.e., 401(k), health insurance, workers comp., etc.).

The state of material handling is still wanting.

This is a great industry to be in. It’s what makes the world go around.

This is still a very male-controlled industry.

Update with the new tech in logistics, warehouse management system, and supply chain management.

Upper management not giving credit to the shipping / transportation department getting equipment moved when it is never done on time.

What could increase my salary, I don’t know. Please let me know how.

With reductions in staffing it has been difficult to stay current with what is changing in the industry.

With the raise in the U.S. currency over the Canadian currency the last year and half, we have seen a 45% increase in cost of material handling equipment. This is having a dramatic change on how companies are obtaining new equipment.

Women are not as valued as men. Their opinions don’t seem to matter as much, but they are over-utilized to get the job done.

About the Author

Dave Blanchard | Senior Director of Content

During his career Dave Blanchard has led the editorial management of many of Endeavor Business Media's best-known brands, including IndustryWeek, EHS Today, Material Handling & Logistics, Logistics Today, Supply Chain Technology News, and Business Finance. He also serves as senior content director of the annual Safety Leadership Conference. With over 30 years of B2B media experience, Dave literally wrote the book on supply chain management, Supply Chain Management Best Practices (John Wiley & Sons, 2021), which has been translated into several languages and is currently in its third edition. He is a frequent speaker and moderator at major trade shows and conferences, and has won numerous awards for writing and editing. He is a voting member of the jury of the Logistics Hall of Fame, and is a graduate of Northern Illinois University.

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