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Andel and Handling: Opportunity Knocks with Your Name on It

Sept. 3, 2014
The material handling professionals you need thrive on scholarship. If you fund it they will come.

There's no shortage of smart people in material handling and logistics. In fact plenty of high school and college graduates land in warehousing—which is why this year's annual MH&L Editorial Advisory Board Roundtable report makes a distinction between smart and smarts. 

We've heard a lot lately about the talent shortage in logistics. But Ann Christopher, general counsel Kenco Group, a 3PL, says during our discussion that being smart and professional isn't always the same as being wise and practical.

"I have been in this industry for several years now but I am constantly learning from some of our general managers saying 'Did you think about this? Did you think about that?' And you just can't replace that," Christopher says.

The only way young professionals get those kinds of smarts is by networking with other people who earned them the same way. Most people learn a lot at school, but applying that knowledge is a different talent. If you're looking for the kind of talent Ann Christopher talks about, you may need to take an active role in cultivating it.

Howard Bernstein is a master farmer of human talent in the material handling field. He entered it in 1951 when he started Atlas Lift Truck Rentals, based in Schiller Park, Ill. Since then he has expanded his enterprise to include seven companies offering diversified material handling products and services. In all those years he realized material handling talent doesn't grow on trees. Your business must become part of an education supply chain, linked with partners in academia, if you expect to enjoy the fruits of their labor.

That's why, in collaboration with the Material Handling Equipment Distributors Association (MHEDA), the Material Handling Industry (MHI) and the Material Handling Education Foundation, Inc. (MHEF), Bernstein provided $150,000 of seed funding to create the Howard Bernstein Scholarship Fund ( This fund is designed to entice young people to pursue careers in material handling and logistics. It awards a minimum of five scholarships per year to five universities with dedicated curricula in Industrial Distribution.

As you'll read in MH&L's roundtable report, the demand for talent development in this field will only grow as technologies like cloud computing and the Internet of Things change the nature of material handling. But as Bernstein explains, young people must be drawn to this discipline. Employers should no longer hope that talent will find them by accident or by luck.

"Even young people who have made a four year commitment of their time and money to get into distribution don't necessarily recognize material handling," he says. 

He's committed to changing that. Today 74 universities have courses qualified for MHEF scholarship. They combine material handling with distribution and engineering. Material handling is presented as tying these applications together, from raw materials, through manufacturing, warehousing and transportation. 

"Material handling specialists don't just sell forklifts and storage racks, they offer movement of product at the lowest cost in a safe environment," Bernstein says. But he's quick to add that the Bernstein Fund isn't supporting Bernstein scholarships. They're in the name of companies willing to make a $5,000 investment in a student's scholarship. And there's a parallel investment Bernstein wants to inspire.

"We're encouraging those who make the investment to stay in contact with one or more of the universities and to speak to their students to sell them on the wonders of material handling," Bernstein concludes. "This is an opportunity to let them know you are trying to maintain continued growth in this field."

It's also a chance to make your life a lot easier in the near future when hunting talent.

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