60 seconds with Howard Bernstein, Atlas Companies

Modern spends 60 seconds talking with Howard Bernstein about materials handling education.

By ·

Howard Bernstein, Atlas Companies
Title: Founder and former chairman, Atlas Companies (including Atlas International Lift Trucks, Atlas Material Handling, Atlas Bobcat)
Location: Schiller Park, Ill.
Experience: More than 75 years in the materials handling industry
Primary Focus: Promoting materials handling education through the Howard Bernstein Material Handling Distribution Scholarship; http://www.mhia.org/about/mhefi/howardbernsteinfund.aspx

Modern: After a long career, you’ve sold your companies and are focusing on educating the next generation of materials handlers and distributors.
Tell us about that.

Bernstein: It’s payback for the wonderful opportunities I’ve had in this great country of ours and in this industry. I want to do my best to encourage other young people in the field of materials handling. I was president of MHEDA 45 years ago. Back then, there were about five universities in the country that had courses in distribution. When I visited Texas A&M, I discovered that students in industrial distribution didn’t know anything about the materials handling field or where we fit. We wanted to change that. Today, there are about 27 universities with industrial distribution and engineering courses. They recognize the materials handling opportunities.

Modern: You’ve contributed $150,000 to launch a scholarship program. We understand that it has led to a number of other contributions.
Bernstein: Yes, and I can tell you that I had no thoughts whatsoever of receiving any other contributions in this fund. My target was to provide $30,000 a year for five years. The program will cover five $5,000 scholarships a year. The other $5,000 is for promotion and advertising. The fund received some very nice publicity and other people began sending in money. So far, something in the neighborhood of $25,000 has come in, and I’m confident we will receive more. That means instead of having five scholarships, we’ll have a minimum of seven scholarships and have seed money going into next year. We’ve exceeded my original plan already.

Modern: What level of student are you focused on?
Bernstein: The program is earmarked for college-level students. There are other groups supporting vocational and technical school programs, and over the years we did that at my company. The gentleman who is now president of the Atlas Companies came to work for us at the age of 17. He started as a trainee mechanic and has been president of the company for 12 years. So, I recognize the value of those programs. But this scholarship fund is geared toward starting-level professionals.

Modern: Why is materials handling education so important?
Bernstein: I think it’s important that we educate and have a way to measure the impact of our programs. When I took that first visit to Texas A&M years ago, there were just 35 students enrolled in the program. Today, they have more than 500 students. Materials handling is necessary for this country and its leadership. For instance, we need advanced materials handling and technology systems to bring more manufacturing to this country. Its what allows us to compete with low labor costs. Remember, materials handling touches everything.

About the Author

Bob Trebilcock
Bob Trebilcock, editorial director, has covered materials handling, technology, logistics and supply chain topics for nearly 30 years. In addition to Supply Chain Management Review, he is also Executive Editor of Modern Materials Handling. A graduate of Bowling Green State University, Trebilcock lives in Keene, NH. He can be reached at 603-357-0484.

Subscribe to Modern Materials Handling Magazine!

Subscribe today. It's FREE!
Find out what the world’s most innovative companies are doing to improve productivity in their plants and distribution centers.
Start your FREE subscription today!

Latest Whitepaper
Hydrogen, the Future of Materials Handling
Large, successful organizations are integrating hydrogen fuel cell technology into their lift truck fleets and benefiting from lower operational costs, reduced emissions and improved reliability.
Download Today!
From the October 2016 Issue
Brownells’ new Iowa distribution center has taken touches—and miles—out of the order fulfillment process and increased throughput with near 100% accuracy.
System Report: Brownells new DC is flexible and responsive
Pallet Usage Report: Pallets Remain Critical in the Modern-Day Warehouse
View More From this Issue
Subscribe to Our Email Newsletter
Sign up today to receive our FREE, weekly email newsletter!
Latest Webcast
Pallets: Supporting Product, Processes and the Enterprise
The smallest leak in performance or cost can bring a lean, nimble and speedy supply chain to a halt. During this 30-minute webcast we'll examine how Modern's readers use pallets to keep the wheels turning as they maneuver a road filled with sharp edges and potholes.
Register Today!
Brownells: Designing for Efficiency and Growth
Brownells’ new Iowa distribution center has taken touches—and miles—out of the order...
Industry celebrates National Manufacturing Day
Fourth annual Manufacturing Day is a grassroots effort by U.S. manufacturers to improve the public...

American Eagle Outfitters’ omni-channel journey
The fashion retailer has used warehouse execution software and automation to create a true...
The data-driven lift truck
Now that manufacturers and distributors are using the data from their automated systems to drive...