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Modern’s 5th Annual Salary Survey

Companies are increasingly rewarding hard work by key players in an effort to not only keep them around, but keep them happy.
By Josh Bond, Associate Editor
September 01, 2012

Keith Rhodes counts himself among those who are very satisfied, and he is also likely to recommend a career in materials handling. Rhodes has been in the industry for 15 years, first as a warehouse design engineer, then as an inventory manager, and finally as a director of supply chain management—all for the same company. Rhodes has both supervisory and budgetary responsibilities, and receives a monthly bonus based on sales and profits. His employer is the world’s largest vinyl wrap materials wholesaler into the sign supply industry and has 67 facilities across the United States.

Rhodes quit a career in aerospace engineering working on classified military projects to pursue his true passion: inventory management (supply chain). “My interest was not in being an engineer on a team designing some of the most technologically advanced systems in the United States,” says Rhodes, “It was in inventory management. There is nothing in the world I would rather do.”

Rhodes says he sees an ever-greater interest in materials handling as a profession. He suggested that statistical salary averages and medians might drop as more young talent enters the market, and so cautioned against reading too much into the figures in terms of the overall industry.

“We are in an emerging profession that is catching the attention of everyone from new college students to the boards of some of the largest companies in the world. The addition of young professionals is inevitable and welcomed, but their introduction will give movement in the average salary [as reported in this survey]. That’s the way the math works. But it does not indicate stagnation or reduction of salaries in the materials handling job market in any way,” says Rhodes.

New employees of any age are likely to stick around once they are introduced to materials handling, says Rhodes. It’s the rare case when workers looking for more money or responsibility have to search outside the profession to find it, he says. Besides, Rhodes says a résumé that indicates an employee moves around too much can be an instant deal breaker for some employers. “I don’t see people hopping around a lot once they enter this profession,” says Rhodes. “People are going to secure a job and stay with it.”

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The numbers support Rhodes’ feelings, with 41% of respondents indicating no interest in seeking another job­—up 5% over last year. The same 37% who said in 2011 they are “open to other possibilities” are still keeping their options open in 2012. Only 16% are passively looking for work elsewhere, 4% less than in 2011. Just 6% are actively looking, and are motivated primarily by compensation (49%), the desire for new challenges (43%), and a lack of advancement opportunities (32%). Rhodes is among those looking passively for ways to advance his career. “I’d like to move up, but I don’t know that it will necessarily be with this company,” he says.

Like Rhodes, O’Connor counts himself among those satisfied with his profession and ready to recommend it to others. He welcomes an influx of college-educated “young blood” into the industry, and encourages his fellow materials handling professionals of all ages to aggressively pursue success. “The opportunity for merit-based pay is huge,” he says. “Simple innovations, relationships, partnerships, and the like all have a real and immediate impact on your company’s profitability.”

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About the Author

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Josh Bond
Associate Editor

Josh Bond is an associate editor to Modern. Josh was formerly Modern’s lift truck columnist and contributing editor, has a degree in Journalism from Keene State College and has studied business management at Franklin Pierce.


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