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60 Seconds with Mike Field, President and CEO of Raymond’s University Research Program

Modern's editors sat down with Mike Field to discuss to discuss Raymond’s University Research Program

Mike Field

Raymond’s University Research Program

Title: President and CEO

Location: Greene, N.Y.

Experience: Eleven years in the top job at Raymond. Seven years as chief advocate of the lift truck company’s efforts to support university research into next generation supply chain technologies.

Modern: This idea that a materials handling equipment supplier would fund university research is novel. Why does Raymond do it, and what do you expect out of it?

Field: As a Toyota Industries company, The Raymond Corporation’s efforts here are focused on helping university researchers move the industry forward by supporting their interest in developing cutting-edge technology. It’s also a chance for industry and the university community to collaborate and build synergies.

Now if you ask me exactly what we expect from these efforts, that’s a lot harder to say. This isn’t about selling more lift trucks. That’s for sure. Instead, this program helps to elevate the visibility and importance of materials handling across the value chain of all industries. And we also believe that collaborating with academia’s best and brightest will fuel the exploration of new technology and foster innovative approaches.

Modern: That’s all quite impressive. How many research grants have you made so far?

Field: This is our seventh year, and we’ve awarded 15 grants to 45 professors for a total of more than $4.3 million. A typical grant is about $250,000, but that’s just a starting point. We’ve awarded as much as $500,000 for an idea that’s big.

And it’s across a wide range of subjects. Past subjects include: a modeling framework for materials handling in Industry 4.0; intelligent materials handling systems for warehouse applications; and omni-channel facilities supported by modular and moveable robotic platforms.

Modern: Just the titles are cutting edge, just like you said. And you’ve certainly handed out some significant money. But what’s the measure of success here?

Field: We want to continue to push the envelope in the value chain. We want to directly connect dots in the world of supply chain practice to dots in the research world. And we want to know that we had an influence by opening the door to next generation research. And so far, we’re doing all three quite successfully.

Modern: Once the research is completed, what happens to it?

Field: We aren’t trying to do research for the sake of research. So, we do our best to give the professors an opportunity to talk about what they’ve done and why it’s important. They’re encouraged to present and publish their results in their academic communities and at industry venues such as the ProMat and Modex shows and at Raymond-sponsored seminars.

Modern: If a professor is interested in applying for a grant, what should they do?

Field: The next round of applications is due Oct. 31, 2023.

To start down that path, visit

Our university ambassador here is Steve Medwin who once headed up R&D for Raymond. People can contact him through the site or at universityresearchprogram@

And if the October date is too tight, there will be another round of applications in the spring. We’re looking forward to a lot of great new ideas from the university community now and for the foreseeable future. 

Check out this other interview with Mike Field

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About the Author

Gary Forger's avatar
Gary Forger
Gary Forger is an editor at large for Modern Materials Handling. He is the former editorial director of Modern Materials Handling and senior vice president of MHI. He was also the editor of the Material Handling & Logistics U.S. Roadmap to 2030.
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