Manufacturing Is Not For the Faint at Heart -- IndustryWeek's 2008 Salary Survey Comments

When asked to comment on the state of the industry, manufacturing managers throughout the United States share a common concern that the odds seem to be stacked against them.

As part of the IndustryWeek 2008 Salary Survey, respondents were invited to share comments regarding their salary, job situation, manufacturing industry, or professional challenges. All responses were posted anonymously. Some of the following comments have been lightly edited (primarily for clarity). Also see the responses to the question: "What is the biggest challenge facing the manufacturing industry today?"

This is a great time to be in manufacturing.

National uncertainty on carbon legislation.

Companies must truly believe in, invest in and recognize their people. It is easy to justify the expense of equipment, try to justify rewarding people ... "our most important asset."

Being not profitable at this time makes it difficult.

I worked for a small company that was recently taken over by a large corporation, and now all they care about is the bottom line, not the people who are making the money for them. If they would just give back to the workers we would do more to support them. Every shift is short staffed and when we do have extra people instead of letting them clean the shop and work on improvements they get sent home, so our plant has really gone down hill since the takeover.

The most significant challenge is to remain up to date with job skills and changing technology.

Being competitive in the U.S. is a major industry challenge. Going offshore extends distance from most of the customer base.

Manufacturing is regressing to no insurance, no holidays, no benefits, salary freeze or reductions just to stay competitive.

I feel my salary is low due to the area of the country I live in.

NAFTA is a joke.

I feel the inflexibility with unions and continuing pressure from the investment world are hurting manufacturing in America, to the point where we have lost our competitive advantages and our ability to produce quality goods, deferring this production to our international competition. Only through open communication and teamwork between management and unions can we regain this advantage by increasing efficiency and productivity, thereby increasing our bottom line. I am also concerned about our failing education system. To regain our competitive advantage sweeping adjustments must be made immediately. Our educational institutions must partner with industry, allowing American industry to compete with the rest of the world.

Healthcare and pension costs must be brought under control in the United States.

Rising costs of raw materials, petroleum-related components and products, health insurance, utilities, and other input costs make profitability difficult. We can only absorb so much before we have to pass these costs on to our customers. U.S. steel mills are mimicking the oil companies and we expect to have steel shortages while being gouged for the material they can supply within the next year. More laws and regulations give employees more rights and manufacturing employers fewer rights. We spend so much time minding our P's and Q's so our workforce is not taken advantage of that it leaves little time to plan growth strategies for our company. Workforce availability is quickly dwindling. We will have to resort to hiring immigrant workers and outsourcing more processes if we can't find enough local help.

Dealing with the EPA needs to be easier and less of a drain on time.

VPs, president and CEO all took wage reductions in 2007 to delay a workforce reduction.

Manufacturing is only part of what my company does. We serve as a distributor for manufacturers as well.

Need more time off.

The importance of manufacturing to the U.S. is not fully appreciated for what it contributes to the economy. The concern is the decline in wages/salaries of the American worker at some point will not allow them to purchase the products of American manufacturers. Competition has been good to drive manufacturing to be better, but at the same time has cost jobs.

Not for the faint at heart.

If the U.S. is to remain independent, we must have the wealth and power that comes from manufacturing.

Success is a philosophy and needs to be distributed within an organization daily.

Industry is competitive.

Job requirements are enormous, 60 hr/week is not enough.

Some are overpaid, some are underpaid; many don't value training/growth as necessary for increase in pay and responsibility.

Long hours for little reward.

Incentives are important and should be more widely used in manufacturing, as they are in sales.

Concerns about outsourcing and the long-term effect on the U.S. economy.

I have always been treated fairly.

Resources overstretched.

My current company has announced a plant closure.

Work in a state environment and pay a challenge.

There is a high level of uncertainty in the automotive industry.

In ten years, unless something changes, this will be a wasted survey because there will be no manufacturing left in the U.S.

Upper management is ignorant and stingy.

It's hard to break through the mindset people have that because labor is cheaper in China it makes sense to manufacture there. Labor is such a small piece of our overall costs.

The tax burden on business should be less and government should be more supportive of corporate savings and reinvestment. The tax burden required to maintain social services is too great and the general population is not benefiting from them other than a dependency on the government taking care of their needs. Rewards without work creates weak people. The fall of a great nation...

Our U.S. Government has lost focus on how critical a strong manufacturing base is to the national well being of our country.

The manufacturing industry has to continue to utilize lean to compete with low-cost country outsourcing.

Engineering/manufacturing as a profession has lost importance in the U.S.

More domestic suppliers need to be looking at lean manufacturing, to help the trend to LCC (low-cost country) suppliers.

I am pleased to work for my management due to their recognition of the working people in the factory, regardless of level. We are all valued and those of us in management are regularly recognized and thanked for the effort we expend on behalf of the company's success. The manufacturing industry faces challenges with the quality of people available for entry level positions. Work ethic, education and general appearance are less than some of us would prefer. We hire with an eye towards the promotability of the new hire. It is very important for America to raise the standard of working labor positions and support the U.S. manufacturing industry.

Medical industry is healthy and competitive. I worry about keeping medical manufacturing in the United States.

Company downsizing. Must decide if I want to relocate.

I am currently underpaid for responsibility and results obtained.

I view the current state of high Chinese imports, which do not adhere to the same rules that govern American industry, as a significant challenge. When workers in China get paid as little as 1/15th or less than an American worker, that economic advantage they have is difficult to overcome even with automation and improved techniques. The trend to outsource to foreign companies is equally challenging and over time will have a negative impact on us. We will lose our manufacturing base.

Very underpaid for the responsibility I have.

The biggest challenge facing manufacturing today is the lack of vision. Everyone wants to make the money without the investment in the equipment and employees to do so. Unattended manufacturing is still not where it should be and too many machine programmers have no real world experience. The shortage of knowledgeable manufacturing engineers grows while the importance of replacing them is overlooked. Sweat equity is no longer the normal way to gain experience. Paper is given more respect than good old-fashioned experience. To know how things work you need to get your hands dirty and be willing to accept that as part of the responsibility to yourself, your company and this nation. Without it we are falling woefully short on keeping manufacturing alive in America.

Concern over economy again, and cyclical challenges.

Lack of leadership at mid-level commercial management.

Challenging and invigorating to save U.S. manufacturing jobs and to learn to compete globally.

Difficult to hold prices in a competitive market with ever increasing costs of metals and petrol-based products. Also difficult to find workers who appreciate steady work and understand about working their way up the pay scale. So many younger people (20's) don't want to work hard for their pay.

American manufacturing is at a world disadvantage due to state and federal encumbrances (requirements) in doing business efficiently, the legal environment and Chinese imports. More and more manufacturing is moving out of the U.S. and this will drive even more out due to the lack of all support systems (personnel, suppliers, vendors, etc.) that will diminish.

Determining which direction to lead, ISO 9000, lean manufacturing, TPS, etc.

I have a real fear that not much is going to be left when the U.S. no longer has a solid manufacturing sector.

The long-term outlook for the U.S. manufacturing sector is gloomy, and I see very little being done by our government to protect it.

The biggest challenge is being able to absorb some raw material costs through innovation, and continuous improvement each year. Satisfaction is being able to see improvements in the process, systems, the ability to make a difference in the way others feel about their jobs.

My job has been eliminated due to consolidation and I was let go.

Bonus is linked to performance of company. $100k is target point but can go up 50% or down 100%.

Have to wear numerous hats.

We are in sad shape.

Outsourcing is killing the U.S. manufacturing market and leaves the U.S. with no ability to be self-sufficient.

Need to think long-term instead of short-term profits.

Financial management has become overly focused on compliance reporting and support of auditing. This has added costs to U.S. industry that are not required by foreign sources. Salaries have not kept pace with real inflation. Direction of business by the finance professionals has been reduced due to a near-100% focus on SOX compliance and supporting auditing activity.

Glass ceiling for women is still intact.

Work load keeps increasing, profits decrease, global competition are making U.S. jobs very difficult.

Satisfied.

Ever-increasing detailed analysis is needed.

We need to realize that the U.S.A. is hypercompetitive in a global market.

Manufacturing science is very good at coming up with efficient ways to make things, the "how" to manufacture products balancing cost and quality; what is needed today is more creativity and imagination in figuring out "what" to make - new products. What products don't exist today that need to exist tomorrow?

Manufacturing needs to demand that the company be led by people who truly understand what the customers will need now and in the future. I love lean manufacturing but you cannot kaizen or Six Sigma your way to market-leading growth. That comes from delighting the customers you serve.

People are all different and you have to treat them all different. I think the owners need to take care of the people who take care of them. Good year a good bonus, bad year no bonus.

Excellent company, but salary is not enough to go along with job responsibilities.

Manufacturing is currently undervalued, both in terms of economic importance and as a career path. This is reflected in the salaries compared to other professions.

It appears the U.S. politicians have no idea how to stimulate manufacturing job employment by helping the U.S. be competitive. Ultimately other countries like China have placed their full political power behind a manufacturing concept of growth.

I am very concerned about the theft of IP from Asian competitors.

Experienced people are being viewed as cost reduction opportunities instead of valued; age/salary discrimination.

We can't compete with 52 cents/hour Chinese labor.

Rising raw material costs and the fall of the U.S. dollar vs. the Euro are really putting pressure on companies to downsize further.

To satisfy customers, upper management and all personnel is a delicate tightrope we walk every day. The stress levels we endure is difficult to deal with, but satisfaction in being able to achieve some success makes it worthwhile.

I feel like my salary should be increased as soon as company profits allow.

Job security is no longer a given no matter what your ability level in manufacturing management.

Imports are killing the furniture industry.

Being global (not just international) requires new norms for relocation and cross-country work structures.

The global economy's rise in energy and material costs combined with low labor costs in Asia and western Europe have forced U.S. manufacturers in high cost of living areas to cut prices to levels where companies are running at break even and simply for the sake of employing their workers until they can no longer survive. Eventually the playing field will even out - Asian companies will be forced to maintain infrastructure created but then we will be faced with energy shortage issues. In any case this will happen 25-50 years down the road. U.S. manufacturers are in need of a solution for now. Focusing on research and development or quality signature may be our only way of maintaining our economy.

My base salary is much lower than it should be; however, I have moved into this position only recently and struggle with making changes, etc., to better the department (with the top management, CFO).

There remains a significant difference in male vs. female salaries in like titled jobs, regardless of experience or background.

The move overseas is costly. If we spent the same amount of money on infrastructure we could increase national employment and keep the U.S. dollars in the U.S.

Manufacturing is dying in the U.S.

Beyond China, the U.S. economic situation is not helping our business. I left a very large, stable company to come to this company to (1) help it turn around, (2) use my skills, and (3) learn. I did not leave my old job for money, and in fact in the short run it will likely cost me as salaries will be tight here for awhile. However, the chance to make a big difference in a small company and keep manufacturing in the U.S. was important to me. The pressures of offshore competition which are more political than real hurt as do the high fuel costs and a damaged banking system from what everyone knew was unwise housing loans. All of the while Congress focused on their own pet projects that have bankrupted this country. American manufacturing is better than ever from my eyes, but we need some help from our elected officials for that potential to be realized. Then, we can all make more money.

Salary should be based on dividends. No dividends, no salary. No options, no bonuses, a simple payment of 4% of all dividends would suffice. This way your shareholders would be happy knowing you are taking a small part of the profits, if any.

Challenging to work with the big GEs, P&Ws, etc., that are NOT supplier-friendly.

I am director of an R&D group of 19 people. We support manufacturing operations but are not directly involved. Maintaining open lines of communication between my group and manufacturing, and ensuring that both groups recognize and value the goals we share has been an important part of my job for a number of years now. We are a lean organization, and this mutual support and respect is critical to our success.

Salary is below average.

As my business has grown I sometimes find that my responsibilities are not as enjoyable as when things were smaller and simpler. I find that I spend much of the day handling human resource issues, government regulations, tax issues and contract reviews. Much of my personal relationship with accounts has been relinquished to marketing staff. I worry about exit planning and my sons taking over the business. It has been a very rewarding career and sometimes I need to pinch myself to appreciate how far the company has come.

Fewer job opportunities in manufacturing and in general lower pay/benefits for similar skills.

I am surprised that the low unemployment rate in my town has not driven salaries up.

I look forward to a new President soon, one who will focus on the issues on our home soil rather than the endless strife on the other side of the world.

Chinese sourcing isn't all it's cracked up to be.

Skilled trades (electricians, mechanics, toolmakers) is an area that needs to be developed quickly. People are not going to trade schools these days, and it will have a huge impact in the next 5-10 years.

The term "the manufacturing industry" is a little broad to address. I would like to narrow my comments to U.S. manufacturing. The diversity of the industry seems to be in retrograde even though we continue to preach diversity. In the automotive industry the players are becoming less numerous so we will probably see less innovation as the wagons are circled. There must be a renewed trust and investment in U.S. manufacturing. This is not only an economic concern but a potential national security concern.

Recruiting bright, talented young people to manufacturing should be a top priority.

Many challenges face businesses today. I believe that many have let customer service slide to an all-time low. Companies do not know their customers any longer, and need to get back to taking care of them.

I have seen too many jobs moving out of our area to offshore - China specifically - while the CEOs get to keep their jobs. No regard for personnel. Not everyone can be a rich CEO, and not everyone can work at McDonald's.

Once you hit middle management, further advancement is all about agreeing with the top brass - even if you feel they are wrong.

The manufacturing industry must effectively adapt to a global supply chain while preserving core competencies which will give them the base to adapt to future evolutions in the global landscape.

As manufacturing continues to become more global, our suppliers must also act globally and not just state they are global ("walk the walk"). We have spent much time and resources to develop global supplier relationships and at the end of the day, have had limited success in driving the necessary change in supplier development from region to region.

Companies must make more logical decisions, and quit letting accountants call the shots.

The mainstream U.S. hourly manufacturing employee has not woken up to the fact that we are in a global economy and that the only way they can keep their jobs from going to China or India is to increase their productivity. We have an aging workforce who for the most part want to coast to retirement.

Pay is good, title means little. Personal growth important. Company is growing steadily every year. Sad to see manufacturing going out of U.S. The U.S. needs to do more about bringing manufacturing to the schools. Teach the children that there are options to earn a good wage without the typical "office" job.

I derive immense satisfaction from managing a successful and growing operation in central Illinois. So much for the rust belt.

Safety people take the heat for all incidents and receive no credit when all is well.

Our company has become focused on the investors, mostly due to incentives of executives. Blanket statements are made that we need to outsource 20% to China when in reality there are many hidden costs. Too many running companies these days are accountants and attorneys with little understanding of manufacturing.

I am the owner and president of an "S" corporation. My salary is usually exceeded by my dividends. Domestic manufacturing for the domestic market seems to be strong in niche and quick-ship markets.

The U.S. bias against manufacturing is becoming more evident, more restrictive. This forces offshoring - driven by increased costs and regulations in the U.S. Climate change will make this impact significantly greater, particularly compared to developing countries.

Recently went through a career change after 25+ years with a large corporation of 6,000. On a positive note, it's given me a chance to use my previous skills with a smaller manufacturer (400), to question the status quo, implement ergonomic and lean manufacturing techniques. It has challenged me to learn new processes, investigate new products, fewer meetings, less red tape. Long-term state of manufacturing will depend on how we can attract more young people to manufacturing (technical/maintenance areas) as the baby boomers begin to retire.

Our government and Al Gore are going to kill us.

Succession in a small, family-owned manufacturing company.

Concerned about U.S. manufacturing competitiveness in global market.

Disappointed with the fairy tales told in job interviews.

Too many people are too interested in what's in it for me and communication of the big picture is so limited to the rank and file that with few good leaders most plants falter.

Trying to increase engagement.

As companies move to reduce costs by starting manufacturing operations abroad, it is imperative that the core skills of the nation's manufacturing companies continue to flourish so as not to lose our country's position as one of the global leaders in manufacturing goods. We have taken a couple substantial hits in this arena through stubbornness and inflexibility and we need to find better efficiencies in order to retain work in this country and yet still make money. Deming told us 50 years ago that this was needed and now most "old" companies are trying to catch up with our foreign competitors. There could potentially be 100+ years of shopping manufacturing around the globe before we have improved the economies worldwide to bring every country into a comparative cost range and then the only cost benefits that will be realized will be through process improvements and design for manufacturing.

Can't seem to get ahead without changing jobs periodically.

Under paid, over worked (60hr/wk), under appreciated - no carrot.

I am learning each day, productive and satisfied.

Contract manufacturing requires too much and rewards too little

There is a point of being too lean.

Management has become too "next quarter" focused.

Opportunities seem more and more limited to 50+ year olds than they used to.

We need our jobs here so our manufacturing will have work.

Innovation and value-added service are key to keeping the work in the U.S. The steel mills will also need to make some changes in order to allow us to continue to compete. The higher steel prices over the past couple of years are having a serious impact on our ability to compete with China.

The market is changing. We are losing too many companies to China, India and Eastern Europe. Finding capable young people to operate machinery in the various production processes.

Spread too thin with job responsibilities - currently performing three separate jobs.

Recognition of a good job is N/A.

My title and pay is human resources admin support, but I perform generalist duties. Want to be compensated for my actual duties performed and education level (currently in HR management graduate program).

We began lean in 2001 and now are coming up on a Shingo prize nomination for 2009 (we hope). Our lean pull system in a seasonal hearth appliance business has saved us big time during an industry downturn. Our competitors are laying workers off, while we are at peak employment because we have low inventories and so do our customers. We have shifted to a build-to-order environment.

Manufacturing does not provide opportunities for professional growth as much as other industries. Top management is more concerned with training specific to their industry (how to run their machines, how to acquire their raw material, etc., which limits professional growth.

Not a good choice to be going into at this time.

Underpaid.

Doing the work of two to three people at management level at less than management pay - not good.

Salary is too low.

I am satisfied with my salary, job situation and career path with my current employer.

Job security is weak and advancement usually means jumping ship to the competition. Education that benefits manufacturing is nearly nonexistent.

Difficulty changing the organization's culture to more of a lean manufacturing culture.

While a skilled labor shortage is a major problem, foreign competition, healthcare costs and tax policy are all of extreme importance.

I want to carry over my experience with lean into areas other than manufacturing.

We continue to see an increase in Chinese goods in the furniture industry, which has a negative impact on local jobs.

Manufacturing often does not receive the support needed to ensure operations can maintain competitiveness.

America needs to wake up. We continue to outsource manufacturing, as well as other jobs, to foreign suppliers. Some of these suppliers are our friends, but many are not. The advantage a country like China has over the U.S., even though it is touted as a labor savings, is the currency valuation. There is not an Indian or Chinese worker that would be willing to work in the U.S. for $.75 - $1.50 an hour. What is wrong with this picture?

No job security in times of recession or hard times.

Being up against unfair labor practices such as China. Their products are 30% to 50% cheaper than just our material costs. U.S. manufacturing will die and no one will be able to have a good job to buy products.

Too many corporate buyouts/takeovers that drain the company of cash and then sell them or any remaining assets.

Corporate restructuring without considering existing employees and not attempting to reposition those employees.

$50k salary out of college with a 2.2 GPA - not too shabby.

I am fortunate to work for a company that is successful even though the economy is not in our favor. Our company has an ever-changing business plan that allows us great success.

Very satisfied.

As an owner I believe strongly in manufacturing in the U.S. If the U.S. can stay competitive, we will continue to provide superior products the world wants.

Our manufacturing operation, as well as our whole division, are again for sale, the third time in four years. Job stability, takeovers and finding young talent (both skilled and unskilled) with the work ethic and abilities are increasing challenges.

For the U.S. to be more competitive in the new world economy, we must start with the basics, a strong energy trade and energy policy, commitment to education in technology and renewable energy technology. Without a serious effort by industry and the state and federal governments, we will not be able to sustain and grow vital industry not only for economic growth but the pursuit of happiness for our generation and especially our children.

In the last five years, I have seen many colleagues with extended years of service to the company forced to resign or be fired because of their failure/inability to meet the requirements of constantly changing management philosophy. It seems as though it is perceived to be easier to throw out the baby with the bathwater, rather than to retrain and counsel for improvement.

Even though at times I have lost jobs from corporate takeovers and downsizing, I am very satisfied with my manufacturing career. I am encouraging both of my sons to pursue careers in manufacturing. After all, without manufacturing jobs to create value and wealth, the service section would cease to exist as we know it.

Global competition and rapid change will continue to create consolidations of businesses and will change employment profiles.

Our government is being run by big business. The U.S. and the Vatican are the only countries in the world that do not have a value added tax on imports. A tax on imported goods would help small manufacturing to compete and would also bring jobs back to the U.S.

Concerns with Chinese competition.

There are fantastic opportunities for a dwindling group of new and younger employees who have engineering degrees that can be applied to the manufacturing sectors. As my age group passes into retirement, I see a big gap in talent and interest in this field. My two sons, who are both engineers, have many opportunities ahead of them. Employers are searching for good candidates amongst a dwindling entry level base. That spells good news for me as well in terms of retention after average retirement age.

I think the principles of regarding someone's work and controlling their moral work attitude is important to how the company runs their business.

With extensive experience in our field, we succeed by doing. All employees are well compensated via salaries and profit sharing program.

I am grossly underpaid. I constantly receive very favorable reviews but my compensation for my position is in the lowest 10% of others sharing my same job in the southeastern U.S. according to salary.com.

Manufacturers need to continue to drive for world class performance to keep up with the changing pace of global environment. U.S. manufacturing is not dead and can compete on the world stage.

We are a 300-person company that has added 100 people during the past year, approximately 75 on the shop floor and 25 in professional and semi-professional classifications, and we cannot find trained people. It seems that most young engineers just coming out of school are turned off by manufacturing activities due to the working environment and having to get their hands dirty. At our company, the engineers follow their projects through manufacturing to first article buyoff. Pay-wise we are very competitive if they consider "total compensation." This includes a lower base pay and a "good" profit sharing program, where all employees "bet" part of their pay on the success of our company.

Shareholders seem more important than employees.

Our owner is mostly unwilling to staff most departments at adequate levels for today's needs.

For American industry to survive there needs to be a balance between cutting to squeeze every last ounce of profit out of the operation, and properly maintaining an operation so that it can operate efficiently and effectively.

Upper management does not invest in the future. We are running in the stone age with antiquated ideas. ISO is a piece of paper and inventory is a good thing.

This position/job/company is my second career. I retired after 30 years with a major automotive manufacturer. My salary is based on this expertise and the information/knowledge I bring to this job position. The biggest concern is with the emerging markets and price pressures that are being put on U.S. suppliers. If we continue to reduce our costs, then ultimately, the standard of living for our children will surely be compromised. I don't expect our children to have what we were able to accomplish. Right now what I thought was a given on health benefits after retirement from a major automotive manufacturer is being reduced.

I am concerned about manufacturing jobs in the U.S.

Manufacturing is a cut-throat world, margins are shrinking, energy costs are rising, stockholders are whining, and the resources that keep the wheels on the cart are suffering. When did the blue collar worker become something not worth investing in? Take a long look at the true face of business... poor health insurance (due to cost), replacement of pensions with a lackluster 401k incentive, yet at the end of year the companies post record earnings. And someone was just chauffeured home with a multi-million dollar stock option? As a manager I see the need to return to my blue collar roots and appreciate the blood and sweat that is donated to capitalism.

Manufacturing is finished in the U.S. R.I.P.

Bonus, stock options and vacation are additional key elements to my compensation package.

I am concerned about the growing influence of low-cost countries on the U.S. economy. I see first-hand the impossibility of U.S. workers competing in the manufacturing environment. The process improvements we make here are quickly transferred to the low-cost countries resulting in a never-ending cost-cutting cycle. Our plant in Mexico is now feeling the pinch as well. They are no longer the low-cost country.

Finding talented leadership to backfill the baby boomers entering retirement, who enjoy being in an industry that still makes things. You cannot have a country based on retail and services.

Global sourcing or bust.

Illinois companies are struggling because of many state government regulations, taxes, etc., that make it impossible to remain competitive.

Finding technically qualified employees is a major concern.

I see a lot of potential for continued growth and career advancement in this field.

I am working for a U.S. footwear company with manufacturing in the Dominican Republic.

Companies are always looking to downsize to cut costs.

We must have leaders at the higher levels of corporate organizational charts who have significant manufacturing experience - who know the "nuts and bolts" and know the realities of what takes place on the shop floor. That experience needs to be joined with those who are highly educated with a college diploma and can properly administer a company down the right path. We must encourage those coming behind us that manufacturing is an honorable profession and that it is just as viable to be successful by learning and proving yourself through the production ranks as it is to step into the front office right out of college.

We are not in the industrial loop. We are located in a small, quiet town. This does not allow much competition for salaries. However, it does allow for a great place to live and raise a family. Individuals have to weigh those options.

The little guys are being driven out and initiative is dying or more realistically being killed.

Salary too low for the responsibility.

The people in upper management need to reward and understand those that work under them.

I live realistically within my means. Could I manage with more (or less)? Sure. My job situation is stable. Our market appears to be expanding. We have a lot of real and potential business for the coming year. We are projecting 30% growth in sales for 2008. I have seen a trend in our business toward outsourcing piece part fabrications to smaller, more agile suppliers. We are becoming an assembly company. Our core competency does not appear to be moving away from parts fabrication. This on the other hand opens another door for the small fab shops that can do it faster and more economically. The professional challenges that I face today are finding, and keeping, good people and trying to encourage the bright new talent out there to embrace manufacturing as I have tried to over the past 35 years.

U.S. manufacturing is losing competitive advantage in the market due to continuously reducing ability to respond to the market with innovative products.

My job is being eliminated and moved to St. Louis.

Using lean manufacturing initiatives for cost control, finding enough knowledgeable workers and getting them involved in the production process - not just mechanical robots but thinking and participative workers.

Good pay, good job, growing industry, difficult boss.

A lot of potential for new emerging technologies yet to be tapped.

Salary is about where it should be. The job is exciting for someone who is mechanically inclined and wants to learn how to be a solution to machine failures caused by lack of lubrication. The manufacturers in this country do not look seriously at how to improve their maintenance processes to reduce costs.

It appears that when companies grow beyond private ownership they lose control of departments and waste is created. Communication systems are not coordinated soon enough and equipment is underutilized. The focus is on ROCE and divisions avoid consolidating because of management egos and the need for change standing in the way of merging growth.

Having been recently acquired by a large corporation, surviving to retirement.

Family-owned companies may offer stability but career advancement and base salary are the biggest reasons in my negative evaluation to my current employment situation.

Doing more work with less people and the pay staying the same. Benefits continue to cost more and outweigh merit increases, pay increases are delayed, bonus are not paid out for meeting plant goals, pension fund has been eliminated, not investing in new technology to stay with competitors, corporate does not listen to plant management.

My salary is OK for where I live, but still low for the position.

Need to attract bright engineers into U.S. manufacturing.

Lack of skilled machinists and CNC operators.

I am back into manufacturing after being on the "other side," in sales. This gives me an appreciation for manufacturing I otherwise didn't have.

U.S. trade policy has been abominable under Bush.

I do not like my job location.

With all the focus on equal opportunity, as a white male I feel like I'm getting passed over.

Communication between upper management and line managers must improve. We are all in it together.

Green manufacturing/environmental issues are a growing challenge as we move forward.

There is a real need for succession development within our company. In the next 5 to 10 years many experienced managers will be retiring and there are no qualified people in place to fill their roles.

I believe my employer is falling behind the market in compensation.

Design engineers continue to be paid a premium over manufacturing engineers. This drives talent away from manufacturing engineering and is a serious morale bust on the manufacturing community when we have to constantly fix design engineers' mistakes and remind them that they need to actually understand the functional requirements of the products they design. They put tolerances, surface texture requirements, etc., on parts with no clue what those specifications mean or how to measure them, that we can't actually reference to a non-existent point in space, or what functionally matters about the part. U.S. manufacturing is plagued by accounting and MBA operations managers who look for "quick wins" in cost reduction and remove the necessary training and knowledgeable support staff that make a plant run. They never see the results of their handiwork, but their successors are completely surprised when the whole operation goes to hell a few years later and are completely ill-equipped to fix it. There is also a GIGANTIC lack of knowledge or understanding of physics by operations management, but they are making decisions and pushing things that screw the value stream and company. If we continue to be idiots, the justification for offshoring manufacturing will shift from cost (even though that is often wrong, but still done) to quality because U.S. manufacturing won't be able to make a damn thing. In my own words: "God made the laws. Newton wrote a few of them down. Management refuses to be constrained by them. Problem is... God wins."

Salary is 45K. I work on the clock opposed to salary in an arrangement made for increased responsibility without the title. I schedule the plant plus I am the shipping/receiving manager and I am also for responsible for the materials handlers. We call them production control assistants.

Enjoy my job, wish I was paid what others in the area in my capacity are paid.

Outsourcing overseas hurts quality.

Very concerned with the abundance of short-term thinking in the manufacturing arena, the amount of investment by companies overseas, and the lack of interest in manufacturing by young people.

U.S. manufacturing has to assist customers with understanding the benefits of cash flow, short lead times, logistics coordination, quality, and service levels versus just purchase price of a product. Government taxes, documentation and regulations along with higher environmental requirements are stacked against U.S. manufacturing and increase costs to manufacture.

Paid too little for the time invested.

With all the experience and some schooling companies are always concentrating on education. Talent in manufacturing by years of experience should account for more than a degree. Not all businesses over the years started out with people that had higher education. Once the knowledge is retired what do we have left to build our manufacturing base?

Only through investments in people as well as technologies can we overcome lost jobs and the ever increasing imports.

Manufacturing faces major challenges in this country.

More state and federal emphasis needs to be placed on keeping jobs in the U.S.

We are behind on total compensation for industry.

Manufacturing still pays very well, but we have huge challenges that others do not face. If you want to grow and develop and you have a lot of energy, it's a great industry to work in.

Bonus exceeds annual salary.

More and more to do with no additional staff.

Manufacturing is continuing to move out of the U.S. I am concerned about the impact this will have on our future - what jobs will our children have, what standard of living, national security.

I have the best job, great money, interesting people, and challenges every day. I am at the time in my life where it is time to give back and mentor the next generation of managers. What a thrill.

I was not working as a direct hire employee for about 18 months then I landed this job about six months ago.

My salary should be greater for the position I have and functions I serve.

CEOs and other leaders of industry must realize that low-cost does not always equate to greater profit margin when using low-cost labor countries such as China, India, etc. At some point, which these CEOs and others do not want to admit, you have to be strong enough to tell your low-cost supplier that if the quality level does not reach the purchaser's requirements then it is time to shop elsewhere or bring the manufacturing back in house, where the expertise resides.

I am glad I am getting closer to retirement. Young people starting in manufacturing are going to have several challenges to face.

I don't care what they say - there is age discrimination.

We must train today for tomorrow.

The entire business climate in manufacturing in the U.S. is currently in grave condition. Poor government incentives and extreme overtaxation have created conditions that make it impossible for industries to compete worldwide. Job instability and business uncertainty absorbs too much time of every working day.

As the manufacturing world changes, so changes the marketplace as people will continue to be out of work. This is the challenge we face. One opportunity we have is to re-build the infrastructure in the U.S. to accommodate modern-day activities. This would put people back to work at least for some time until other opportunities come about. Just a thought and idea.

Salary is fair for what I do and my responsibility.

Management in the U.S. has one fundamental problem: They truly do not appreciate or understand the importance of their workforce. I estimate that in 90% + of manufacturing facilities across the country workers are viewed as expendable commodities. It is in those companies that value their workers as their companies' most valuable asset that truly exceptional performance is achieved.

The new generation's employment expectations.

Worried about losing U.S.A.'s industrial backbone to foreign ventures - leaving "service economy" with fewer and fewer to service. Will hit our children/grandchildren for sure.

In the next few years, the manufacturers left in this country will be the best in the world or they'll be gone.

Too often top management feels that they are the reason the company does well. They need to fully realize that they too can be replaced tomorrow and the company will still succeed. It is the sum of the whole that makes the company successful, not just those at the top who get the big rewards.

My job remains pretty constant due to the fact I fix equipment. However, getting it done faster with less people and money is making for an interesting day. I was here when they wanted to "do more with less" and now they want us to be lean.

The furniture industry has been destroyed by imports with no plan of sourcing by retailers.

Reducing my bonus to the level of a supervisor when I am the manager - therefore managing a higher level of stressful daily interaction at the facility - does not show I am a valued employee.

Interesting work, can be very creative.

Marketing, because it is so often perceived as soft science and ROI/value are not perceived as key outputs from my area so salary sometimes takes a hit.

I believe our biggest challenges are based around companies not buying the technology to support outsourcing appropriately, such as PDM/PLM.

I do not work for an automobile manufacturing company, but our company is a supplier to GM, Ford and Chrysler, but the others such as Toyota, Honda, Nissan, etc., only buy a few token products from us. They buy from their homeland as not to hurt their country. I believe we should take a stand against this and buy from GM, Ford and Chrysler and other U.S.-made products before manufacturing and all the good-paying jobs associated are gone.

U.S. manufacturing needs to do a better job prepping potential workers for manufacturing at the high school and college level. Not everyone can work in the service industry, such as banking and financial planning.

We should have higher base salaries.

I am satisfied with my salary, though my bonus dropped a little, not because of personal performance, but company's financial performance. Government regulations, labor and technology costs are making a negative impact on manufacturing.

Manufacturing in a global economy is a high-stress endeavor. We need to find ways to add some fun and allow some escape from the day-to-day pressure to perform. We need to attract and retain the best and brightest who are selecting careers outside of manufacturing.

I am under-paid and over-used. The company is very slow in adopting new technology. They have just started buying new equipment in the last 10 years. I am frustrated with the current skill level of our employees and even more frustrated with their personal initiative to learn more about their jobs. All in all I am just about burnt out.

Housing market bad. Environment issues bad.

Took a 25% cut in pay to work in a more stable environment with good benefits (defense contracting).

The challenges for the U.S. is to remain competitive while keeping the U.S. economy strong.

Cost of raw materials and scarcity of some raw materials are severely eroding our profitability. While we have managed to stay in the black, it has been a struggle. The labor pool in this area of the South is another challenge. A high school education does not even guarantee a candidate that can read and write. Due to the limitations of the workforce, key employees have to work long hours to make sure the business is well managed.

We need to use more of our own resources, not other countries'.

Our businesses are top-heavy with too much management.

I feel that the rapid pace of change requires companies to push decision-making and strategy down to the lowest level possible. Adapting the flow-to-work model and adapting that model to flow-to-strategy is paramount to the success of manufacturing companies today.

Paid less than the industry standard.

It has been very hard to compete with offshore pricing while costs (raw materials, energy, freight, labor, health insurance) continue to increase.

Global opportunities continue to abound for manufacturing.

Global manufacturing is a critical skill set.

I feel that I am underpaid for the job I do.

Our purchasing department is being moved from California to Georgia. There are five people who will lose their jobs - all due to the housing industry.

Salary: top ended for several years; job situation: waiting for corporate decision to move manufacturing offshore; state of manufacturing: declining base in U.S. will be one of the lead items in the coming recession; professional challenges = age discrimination.

My company is in the semiconductor industry. Our CEO has openly chastised our manufacturing operations on several occasions so it does not take a rocket scientist to know he has little or no use for us. He would just as well see even more good paying jobs go offshore.

TAGS: Talent
Hide comments

Comments

  • Allowed HTML tags: <em> <strong> <blockquote> <br> <p>

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
Publish