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Separate Yourself from the Competition: MH&L 2017 Salary Survey Comments

Feb. 14, 2017
Staying competitive by developing and retaining the best workforce possible is of prime concern to material handling and logistics managers.

If you've already read our MH&L 2017 Salary Survey (and if not, click on that handy link right now), you're familiar with the sampling of comments we included from survey participants, as they weighed in on their take-home pay, their job satisfaction, their opinions on what their companies should be doing (or 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.

What follows is the entire collection of comments we gathered during the survey process. We asked respondents two direct questions:

• If you could change one thing about your job, what would it be?

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

And we also gave them the opportunity to weigh in on whatever workforce-related issues were most important to them. So here are the opinions and viewpoints of nearly 500 of your peers, fellow material handling and logistics professionals, collated for your reference (and occasionally, for a good laugh). Some of the comments have been lightly edited (primarily for clarity), or to eliminate redundancies.

If you could change one thing about your job, what would it be?

A better direct supervisor for myself who offers more support and puts more importance on warehouse activities.

A reduction in the delays that are involved in every project.

Ability to attend more professional development seminars and industry trade shows.

Ability to work remotely.

Add additional staff to the department.

Adding more clerical staff.

Additional growth and add personnel.

Be able to staff warehouse with higher caliber personnel.

Become more market-focused to turn opportunities into realities.

Being paid for the skill set, experience and education that I bring to my job.

Better benefits—we and overall industry have slashed benefits dramatically.

Better company-wide communication.

Better health insurance.

Better material planning tools.

Better standardization.

Better tools for success. Compatible hardware and software.

Bigger bonus.

Bulk locations.

Career path.

Chance for advancement and higher salary.

Change of software.

Change staff’s salary structure.

Choice of vacation time or money for annual increase.

Company-wide basic understanding of operations and logistics. There are steps to be accomplished to properly get stock pulled and out the door.

Corporate culture.

Corporate IT infrastructure support.

Create more space, to be better organized.

Develop a clear path for advancement.

Different carriers

Direct reports—reduce the number of them.

Easier access to important information.

Easier collaboration.

Educate “professionals” to be just that—professional. Many have the title but lack the characteristics. Often they are too lazy or afraid to explore options for improvements.

Effect change in employee understanding of their role in safety at work.

Eliminate the strategic business unit concept at my company and organize around function. The decentralization creates internal competition and added costs.

Executive structure.

Expansion into more markets.

Fewer meetings.

Find a new industry to help affect positive change. No more challenges here.

Flexibility in hours and being able to work from home.

For it to be more challenging and to be able to enjoy being in my current role.

Geographic location.

Get a new job.

Get paid more money.

Get rid of some positions that really aren’t necessary.

Get rid of the union.

Get some investors.

Getting more support from upper management.

Getting others to realize the difficulty and the time it takes to actually create and ship the parts. (Dropping off at 4 pm today and expecting them to be in Hong Kong at 6 am tomorrow morning probably will not happen.)

Greater autonomy.

Have a degree,

Have a WMS that would allow us to be more efficient and provide useful reports for individual and group productivity.

Have it 100% privately run.

Have more future years in it.

Have people respond to e-mails.

Hire a secretary.

Hire skilled workers and to be able to meet their needs.

Home base, less travel.

I would expand the amount of responsibilities.

I would like to receive compensation for the increased workflow.

Implement a stronger proactive safety program.

Improved recognition of supply chain.

Increase automation and implement new software applications that will create better information for analysis.

Increase staff.

Increased time to manage.

IT experience.

It would be closer to my home.

Lack of funding.

Larger warehouse.

Later start in the morning.

Less computer work and more time on the floor.

Less involvement in day-to-day decisions

Less reactive, more strategic.

Less stress.

Less travel.

Less uncertainty about future business.

Leverage more technology.


Make it easier to remove sub-par performers.

Make it easier to take classes, get certificates, etc.

Making people see what the importance of the job is.

Management to recognize that we are limited by our heavy administrative expenses and are therefore less competitive than many of our competitors.

Management’s understanding of the need for packaging.

Managing directives.

More buying customers.

More choice in carriers.

More consistent delivery of our finished product.

More control.

More enjoyable atmosphere.

More financial resources to support needs of the department.

More flexible hours.

More flexible work force to keep up with manufacturing schedule.

More freedom to explore new ways of accomplishing tasks, i.e., not using the same solutions for similar problems every time but rather considering other options that may have been developed or matured in the recent months.

More hours in a day, maybe a 25 or 26 hour day? I guess that would require a change in Earth’s rotation speed, like climate change, oh yeah, we can’t control that either.

More influence over the timeline for processing changes.

More innovative thinking by employees.

More latitude in making sound decisions.

More recognition of supply chain’s importance at the highest levels of the company.

More resources.

More salary.

More skilled personnel to allow more delegation of duties.

More spending authority and sourcing based on commodity strategies.

More stable/reliable employees.

More strategic and less tactical work.

More teamwork from the top down.

More time for my family.

More time for research.

More time off.

Most company executives do not understand the role logistics plays in the success of the business.

Move from government to private sector.

My boss.

Need to relax travel restrictions. I cover multiple locations.

Obtain additional help.

Offer flexible work schedules such as a 9/40 or 10/4.

One single building instead of three ...across street.

Our warehouse operators are the entry-level position at our facility. I think it should be a job that people aspire to have, not hire people right off the streets.

Owners need to leave the day-to-day to their management staff.


People’s behavior.

People’s perception in terms of job simplification without understanding the strategic aspect of the job function and the constraints we often experience.

Process versus reaction.


Raise its internal importance. Product is important but process is how you get there.

Reduce business hours.

Reduce federal regulations.

Reduce mundane tasks.

Reduce non-productive administrative tasks.

Reduce work hours.

Reduced travel.

Require more time in my schedule to implement internal training programs for staff.


Revise job description to include supply chain functions/roles added.


Sales pressure from manufacturers to meet unrealistic market share.


See more women at work to enable gender balance in workforce.

Shift in responsibilities.

Show or demonstrate that savings are more than a function of price.

Smooth out the workflow.

Staffing and management understanding what it is we do.

Steady work hours.

Stop the micromanagement, which makes working conditions very stressful for all involved.

Take up a big project and deliver.

The deep dives into data that don’t really result in anything other than the drill to do it.

The old building.

The owner.

Title that is relevant to my responsibilities.

To get others to think and go beyond the “norm” or “just enough” mentality.

To get our company to join the MHI for more brand-name recognition.

To hire cycle counters to eliminate hours wasted for our logistics and planning team.

To work closer to home since I have a little one and for upper management to hold all employees accountable for their work/actions.

Upper management letting go of the reins to their managers more.

We would have purchasing software to manage our warehouse stock.

Work 40 hours—we are currently working a 36 hr work week due to a decrease in orders.

Work fewer hours.

Work from home two days a week.

Work on diversity.

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


Affordable warehouse space.

Aging workforce and no younger replacements with experience nor a good work ethic.

Anticipated changes in international trade.

Apathetic and under-trained employees


Automation and AI.

Avoiding damages and getting product on a timely basis without having to pay an arm for it.

Avoiding human order entry errors.


Bad roads and poor road network.

Basically it is difficult to get labor for this field. Robot automation for this field is the trend now in order to overcome the labor shortage and high wages.

Being able to receive materials and ship product through severe winter conditions.

Better ways for clean air.

Budgetary commitment.

Capacity forecasts. In-network inventory management. Alignment of manufacturing and logistics. Systems integration. Information sharing.

Changing regulations which impact training and cost.

Changing technology in production of documents.

Companies wanting to do more with less and outsourcing.

Competition and prices.

Companies moving out of the country.

Competing with overseas; however, that is changing with more business coming back to USA.

Competition lowering rates.

Compliance with regulations.

Consistent pricing.

Continued automation to meet our customers’ growing demands which can only come from automating almost everything.

Controlling cost.

Consolidation, mergers, bankruptcy.


Cost and efficiency.

Cost and management.

Cost and response time to supply.

Cost control, shortage of drivers.

Cost of inventory.

Cost of raw material and taxes.

Cost of transporting.

Cost reduction requests from customers.

Costs and availability.

Costs of materials and labor.

Culture—getting everyone on the same page as to why it is important.

Customer satisfaction.

Customer expectations of same-day order and delivery.

Data integrity.

Decision making & problem solving.

Decline in economy due to energy sector.

Delivery expense.

Delivery problems.

Delivery times and port charges are major concerns.

Democrats blocking the current administration’s policies for moving forward the next four years!

Disruptive technology is the biggest challenge which the industry is facing.

Getting quality technicians interested in the industry. Upper management does not promote the industry.

Driver logs and equipment cost.

Driver rules.

Driver shortage and government regulation.

Driver shortage.


Economic variance in global shipping and demand for natural resources.

Efficiency and consolidation.


Employee engagement.


Energy costs.

Excessive regulation.

Experienced job pool.

Failure to communicate.

Finding employees.

Finding and retaining employees.

Finding customers.

Finding experienced technical people.

Finding good employees.

Finding good techs and the cost of training.

Finding good talent and retaining personnel.

Finding hard-working individuals.

Finding labor.

Finding people to keep up with the growth of e commerce.

Finding personnel that want to work in this environment.

Finding qualified people who will work.

Finding qualified people.

Finding quality people to service equipment.

Finding quality, entry-level professionals.

Finding staff.

Finding suppliers who can deliver on time, at a good price.

Finding the money in the budget for upgrading equipment.

Finding the right people to hire, and keeping them.

Finding the right people.

Finding young people interested in material handling as a career field.

Flexibility to implement new technologies.

Freight cost.

Freight increases.

Fuel costs and wages.

Fuel costs.



Gaining efficiency through use of so much data that is hard to turn into good, actionable information.

Getting good quality products.

Getting materials at an affordable price and in a timely manner.

Getting new business.

Getting qualified employees who want to work consistently.

Getting the products to the consumers fast enough (everyone wants same-day or next-day satisfaction in the U.S.).

Global competition.

Global supply chain.

Government regulations, under-educated workforce.

Government restrictions on truck sizes and weights.


Having product ready on time and finding carriers.

Having reliable, flexible systems, providing timely, accurate information is paramount.

Having systems, data and equipment that work appropriately to help reduce labor.

High shipping costs.

Hiring new employees with a good work ethic. This generation is more interested in social media than working and they act like they are owed something without earning it. They aren’t looking for a career—it’s all about the money for them.

Hiring qualified truck drivers.

Hiring qualified, experienced people.

How to automate more while retaining quality.

Hiring quality personnel at all levels.

HR and hiring new employees.

I believe the biggest challenge is companies want to be world-class but they do not understand the manpower and time required to reach that. It’s not possible with two team members. It takes a whole team of cycle counters, material planners, material schedulers, logistics, engineering help, etc. With a team like this a company can stay competitive and become world-class.

Implementation costs, design and acceptance of new technology.


Incorporating growth and technology.

Increased need to replace existing fleet due to government requirements.

Increased vehicle volumes have a negative impact on supplier performance. Suppliers are stretched.

Increasing customer satisfaction.


IoT implementation and driver buy-in.

Job and production growth.

Juggling between public and private sectors.

Just-in-time customer demands.

Keep the costs low while increasing efficiency towards customers.

Keeping current business and trying to expand.

Keeping equipment up.

Keeping transportation pricing down, while improving logistics.

Keeping up with the pace of change. IoT is starting to gain ground and adoption by small/mid-size organizations.

Knowing what the Donald will do.


Labor market.


Lack of appreciation of our role and strategic importance to company’s growth. Rising overhead that creates the perception that material handling and logistics functions are cost centers rather than seeing how efficient materials handling and logistics functions save money that would have left the organization.

Lack of educated, highly skilled, experienced workers to fill the gaps.

Lack of new work.

Lack of open systems/data sharing; driver shortages; lack of preparedness for anticipated disruptive technologies.

Integration of automation into existing operations, both order fulfillment and transportation.

Layout optimization.

Lack of space and/or drivers.


Linkage of internal systems.

Linking manufacturing and logistics.

Little to no new business growth in our territory.

Localization due to manufacturing changes—3-D printing or additive manufacturing.

Logistics and shipping.

Low profit margins due to an increase in competition with low priced inferior product as well as government policies demanding more of our revenues.

Maintaining qualified staff.

Maintaining skilled workers.

Maintaining the cutting edge.

Making the switch from manual paper to digital handheld scanners. Some managers seem reluctant.


Managing a small-scale operation in an industry that tries to have everybody be in a billion-dollar sales club. Some niche markets are simply too small to ever see that kind of volume but the discounting structures within the industry work hard to discourage low-volume operations.

Managing cost while providing the highest level of service.

Managing multiple on-time deliveries.

Managing process and software changes quickly.

Manufacturing customers reinvesting in plants.

Manufacturing in the U.S. has been contracting over the last 15 years. As a result, it is difficult to find motivated employees with the necessary skill sets willing to work.

Market competitiveness due to fewer business opportunities.



Millennial workforce.

Minimum wage.

Moving systems to third parties and the cloud.

No engineering talent.

Obtaining product in a timely manner.

Onboarding talent at reasonable rates.

Online security.

On-time delivery.

On-time incoming POs.

Operating costs of maintenance and repair.


Outsourcing or inhouse; standardization.



Overseas suppliers.

Performing to meet customer expectations and level of service.

Planning and delivering.


Poor vendor response.

Price for transportation and duty tax.



Profits versus customer threats.

Providing newest technology and equipment.

Qualified applicants.

Qualified candidates.

Qualified employees.

Quality people that find this industry challenging and rewarding.

Quality, hard workers with the ownership of responsibility.

Regulations & healthcare.

Regulations and shortage of qualified employees.

Regulations are the biggest challenge; next is opening new markets to our products.

Regulatory compliance.

Regulatory costs and lower unemployment will mean higher wages and lower availability of labor.

Retaining good people.

Retention of staff.

Rising freight costs due to inputs

Robotics replacing workers.

Rules and regulations.

Safety and efficiency.

Meeting scheduled delivery times.




Shallow pool of available new-hires.

Shipping cost.

Shortage of good drivers.

Finding, hiring and keeping good quality, reliable, dependable and safe workers.

Shortage of quality resources.

Shortening the lead times.

Skilled labor force.

Skilled labor.

Software and increased throughput requirements.

Software upgrades and/or new systems.

Speed and efficiency.

Staffing a new generation of employees. Finding the right type and mix of technology.

Staying aggressive.

Staying competitive while costs increase.

Staying current with technology.

Supply chain and freight cost.

Supporting growth.

Talent acquisition.

Talent gap and adoption of new technologies & automation of material handling processes.

Technological platform to enable a reliable tracking and information availability.

Technology and automation.

The biggest challenge still is to separate yourself from the competition, provide a competitive rate to your customers while being able to provide stellar service while still making a decent margin.

The economy.

The end customers’ requirements.

The need for younger employees entering the field.


Trained and ambitious workers.

Training and development of people—either new hires or current staff.

Transportation cost and capacity.

Transportation cost.

Truck drivers.

Trucking (long term).

Trucking regulations.

Trump election’s possible effect on North American Free Trade (NAFTA).

Trying to find freight that paid something.

Trying to stay up to date on the public side and continuing to stay up to date in the government.

U.S. economic growth, long-term, 10+ years at least.


Unknown changes due to new Trump administration.

Unreasonable demands.

Upper management understanding and committing to continuous improvement in warehouse, shipping processes, applications.

Variations in weather, economies, marketplace—there is no steady state.

Velocity and changing to adapt.

Visibility and asset utilization.

We are seen as not important because we don’t actually build the busses.

Workforce keeping pace with technology.



Open-Ended Comments

A career in this field can be difficult on families.

All those in this industry need more challenges in our daily tasks. Some employers don’t seem concerned with improving skill sets of their employees.

Always a challenge.

As I tell the youngsters, if you’re in the material handling field for more than two years, then you’re likely in it for life. Not so sure now, though, with these millennials.

Business slow, no growth.

Chargebacks from customers when we know we shipped accurately and we are billed back or fined because pallets weren’t received correctly.

Company does not give raises.

Customers are hard to come by.

“Do more with less” attitude from upper management. No training.

Due to the fact that most of what I do is related to the oilfield industry and with the new President I am optimistic that things will improve, but at what cost?

For me, the biggest challenge for some time now is to be able to identify and obtain a position that is equal to my level of experience, whether that be in logistics or another industry. It’s frankly been very frustrating.

Getting harder every year to compete due to healthcare costs.

Global markets need to realign themselves to face the specific challenges clearly and the decision-making process should be strengthened.

Go Trump!

Growth of 3PL potential providers is out of control. They are damaging logistics’ reputation internally and externally. This market segment has become whorish.

Here we have very low pay or not equal to others.

I am in a position that isn’t challenging at all. Frustrating, but I had a difficult time finding any other opportunities.

I am looking for better salary and benefits to overcome the economic chaos. Also to drive me to do my best in my field.

I am retiring this year and will struggle to make ends meet. Will need to work part-time.

I arrived at the company where I now work with no previous experience in the sector, but the first thing that I noticed is that all the management, while having a wealth of experience, lacks the necessary organizational tools and insight to run a business successfully. Therefore the space for improvement is enormous.

I believe customers will continue to look for new ways to reduce costs associated with material handling and thus our industry will see continued growth and much interest in new technology in years to come.

I feel my salary and job stability are good at this time.

I have a position/job I enjoy. I make a good salary and bonus and would not want to change industries.

I have not received a raise in six years. I’ve been told I should be happy to have a job.

I have several years of upper management/directorship experience in the transportation Industry, and I have only been able to find a middle management position. Very frustrating because I feel underutilized for sure.

I learn a lot, but I am not well compensated compared to the responsibility and workload.

I love supply chain and logistics.

I perform duties that equal the job description of a director but am paid as a manager.

I recommend big suppliers of every sector establish a network between them and their customers worldwide. This network may contain producers, shippers, insurance companies, clearing agents, internal transportation to reach maximum utilization of their capacities and reduce cost as much as possible.

I think the ELD [electronic logging device mandate] is going to hurt the small business company.

I work for a large global company with great growth potential. I appreciate my position and my company realizes the importance of material handling, logistics and transportation to the overall business success.

I’m hopeful that with a new President, more jobs will remain in the U.S. and not be farmed out to foreign countries.

I’m satisfied with my salary and job situation. I have a broad range of responsibilities and am empowered to do my job. It is difficult to find reliable material handlers and packers. Transportation is expensive and delivery has become less reliable.

I’m still concerned about an aging carrier fleet and the plan to attract and retain young talent with the salaries they pay.

I’ve been in the material handling and logistics business for a long time and no matter how much technology you have, if you put garbage in you get garbage out. The number one thing to learn and always follow in MH&L is SAFETY.

Industrial Internet of Things looks to greatly impact the MH&L market.

It is the old saying: getting from Point A to Point B in the cheapest and safest way for my employees and equipment.

It is what it is. I’m just glad to be employed.

It seems that with 3PLs taking over so much freight, there are fewer and fewer logistics pros out there working within an organization who have a clue how logistics works.

Low profit margins.

Material handling and logistics is not an attractive career choice that has people knocking down doors to join. Companies need to do more to keep the loyalty of their employees as I feel we are going to see an influx of good workers leave this field over static pay and no room for advancement.

Material handling is no longer just lifting boxes and driving forklifts. It is much more complex and the compensation does not match the knowledge and skill level required. Most company executives do not understand the role material handling plays in the operation and the financial impact it has on the company’s bottom-line.

Merging with a very large global corporation is a painful and difficult experience, especially when the legacy company was very profitable and proficient prior to the buyout.

More automation working for smaller companies.

My company ships a lot of dangerous goods and it is a challenge to follow the law and ship cheaply at the same time.

My job is more like being with family. We are a close-knit company.

Need for more women. I have a very satisfying job and career.

Need skill service techs to maintain automation equipment. They must also be able to work off-shift as repairs and maintenance occur post-daily business cycle.

Need to grow.

New robotics have a huge potential but are too costly to install due to initial cost and maintenance at this time.

Our pool of qualified candidates in our geographic area is presently shrinking. This adversely affects our overall quality and ability to maintain and increase our growth potential. We need to get our young people into trade type work and off of welfare and other public assistance programs. We will continue to see a decline if something isn’t done very soon.

Overworked and underpaid. Dealerships are designed to support non-profitable sales organizations.

Passion for supply chain and logistics.

Salaries/wages have not increased as they should have. We pay more and more for health insurance and everything else we need to survive. Job security is a big factor in being able to come to work with a healthy attitude; unfortunately, with all of the outsourcing that has been going on over the last 30 years that is a difficult task. We have lost over 5 million jobs in manufacturing since 2000. Big business outsources work to other countries to cut costs, people are laid off in the U.S. and are not able to find suitable work, the people at the top earn millions of dollars in pay and bonuses, and this has played a big part in destroying the structure of our great country. Without the middle class contributing to the tax base as we once did with good paying jobs, we are not the trendsetting nation as we once used to be. Sad. I am hoping that our new President can turn this around and make our country great again! It is not going to happen overnight. President Trump is a fresh set of eyes with a business mindset on a system that has been destroying our country and I know that he will turn it around. He will surround himself with a great team and collectively make the decisions to get us back on track and respected again. It is going to be an exciting time in history to be alive and witness the great changes that will be coming our way. God Bless America!

Salary growth is not keeping up with normal inflation.

Salary is too low. It is not commensurate to my work experience and academic qualifications.

Semi-retiring at end of this year. Currently working in upper state New York but home is in Connecticut. No jobs in CT. During most of my career, logistics has been an afterthought to upper management. Only in last five has it become more important.

State of material handling and logistics: with implementation of technology, I believe the industry will grow and diversify as drivers will need to be more knowledgeable and technologically skilled.

Still don’t believe the contribution that a properly managed supply chain and logistics program adds to the company’s bottom line is appreciated as much as it should be.

Still feel there are some barriers because of being a female. I feel as if I am not always taken seriously or seen as an important part of the business.

The ability to obtain additional offsite training is difficult to manage.

The belief that every student coming out of high school must have a four-year college degree is truly hurting the trades industry. I put the dockworker, the packager and the general warehouse position in that category.

The company has added six additional duties to my position with no compensation other than the annual 3% raise.

The company is very dynamic. We are trying to empower folks to have better leadership. The issue is we employ ~65% of our employees in Asia where they are very robust in execution but leadership is a gap for them culturally.

The first three quarters of the year were booming. The last quarter has been slow.

The salary could be more generous.

The supply base is busy. Most suppliers are not expecting a slowdown in 2017. I am looking for a slowdown as the world slips into recession.

There is a need to close skill gaps in the profession and expose people to IT innovation.

There is no chance to grow in this job.

There is still the challenge of not fully appreciating the strategic importance of logistics and material handling and its addition to the bottom-line. Hence logistics and material handling personnel roles/contributions are perceived as a little lower than a counterpart, say, in Sales. So also is the “silo approach” to information handling and sharing that reflect the importance that management places on it, which I believe can only get better with leveraging technology to ensure timely data sharing to aid end-to-end product visibility and improve its image. It also suffers the challenges of having few professionals and “interest in involvement” which training and exposures could bring about.

There will be revolutionary changes enhancing the logistics industries if additive manufacturing is positively combined into logistics and material handling.

Unfortunately the upper management does not promote this industry. The national trade association (MHEDA) does an excellent job, though. Also, the consolidation is adding pressure which is shrinking margins.

Unfortunately we as a society do not promote the trades in the New England region as they do in other parts of the country. This causes an exodus from the region and also costs of living to rise. If there was a philosophy of “a job for everyone” in our education system, we would afford a more varied education for the younger people in our area. Also management in the area is feeling the pressure of poorly planning their exit strategies, causing a negative attitude to be pervasive. Smaller companies are more likely to experience this and yet make up a large portion of the business out there. Federal and state regulations are also forcing the hand of smaller employers to look for selling to larger corporations.

Upper management doesn’t compliment our successes and only focuses on the failures. No opportunity to improve or advice to correct our mistakes. People skills and teamwork are very lacking.

We are transitioning between old-school thoughts and trying to bring in a clearer vision with new management. This is going to take some time but sooner would be fantastic.

With more government regulations it is getting harder for drivers to make the kind of money they are used to getting so a lot of them are leaving. Even in the maintenance department the employees don’t like all of the regulations and electronics they have to keep up with.

Work keeps increasing but remuneration does not.

Working for the state I don’t expect the highest wage since we have other benefits; however, I still think that we are underpaid, compared to other states and universities.