2012 IW Salary Survey: Readers Sound Off

Survey respondents share the positives and negatives about the future of U.S. manufacturing, their jobs, their salaries, the skilled-worker shortage and more.

Respondents to IndustryWeek's 2012 salary survey were invited to share comments about their jobs, their salaries, the state of U.S. manufacturing and anything else they wished to voice. We have captured many of those comments in the text that follows. To read the main 2012 Salary Survey article, click here. The 2012 salary survey data charts are available here.

From the 2012 IW salary survey respondents:

As we get older, time away from the job becomes more important. director of manufacturing/production in the paper/printing/publishing industry with 26-plus years of experience, living in the south Atlantic region and earning $128,500

My bonus is tied to profits instead of sales. When bonuses are tied to sales, it does not reflect the health of the company. sales/marketing manager in the electronics/high-tech/telecom equipment industry with 26-plus years of experience, living in the North Central region and earning $120,000

Plant was shut down for 1-year, then reopened. Unemployment in California is extremely high so having employment is a major achievement. Wage freeze has been in place for three years so there are pressures to remove the freeze. Its a difficult time for anyone to be in manufacturing, either in management or as a production worker. Need to reevaluate our current leaders in the next election. If we dont elect business-friendly leaders in both the federal and state, we deserve what we get. plant/facilities manager in the plastics and rubber products industry with 26-plus years of experience, living in the Pacific region and earning $86,000

Manufacturing jobs will continue to lose significance as wages continue to suffer. The average assembly line worker today cannot feed, clothe and house his/her family on their entry-level wages. With the advent of two-tier wages, the days of having meaningful gainful employment in manufacturing seem to be disappearing. engineering manager with 26-plus years of experience, living in the North Central region and earning $109,000

Flawed Trade Policies

Very concerned our nation has turned its back on manufacturing even though it is the most important factor in maintaining a thriving middle class. Our politicians, blinded by the perceived immunity of the U.S. economy, have sold the country down the river with very flawed trade policies and agreements. corporate/executive manager (CEO, COO, CFO, President, GM, etc.) in the apparel/textiles industry with 26-plus years of experience, living in the South Atlantic region and earning $175,000

Salary is fine. Job situation is fine. State of manufacturing industry is better due to consumer spending being up. Professional challenges are logistics and unmotivated employees that would rather sit at home and draw a government check. purchasing/procurement/sourcing manager in the food and beverage industry with 11 to 15 years of experience, living in the South Central region and earning $60,000

We as U.S. manufacturers have got to recognize the true cost (both soft and hard cost) of offshoring and reevaluate the importance we place on "lowest cost" on materials and manufacturing. -- sales/marketing manager in the industrial machinery industry with 21 to 25 years of experience, living in the North Central region and earning $94,500

I am absolutely bullish about the future of the manufacturing sector in America. sales/marketing manager in the plastics and rubber products industry with 26-plus years of experience, living in the North Central region and earning $145,250

My geographic requirements limit my opportunities or I would likely be moving on to another position. lean/continuous improvement manager in the metals industry with 21 to 25 years of experience, living in the North Central region and earning $88,000

If only we manufactured 50% of the goods we now import, more than a million jobs would be created. engineering manager in the apparel/textiles industry with 26-plus years of experience, living in the South Atlantic region and earning $96,000

Salary is satisfactory but actually going backward financially is very frustrating in the current world situation. engineering manager in the construction/building equipment industry with 26-plus years of experience, living in the South Atlantic region and earning $81,000

Nobody to Teach

No ability to pass on technical expertise or memory to anyone. There is simply no one to teach! Will most likely mean a contract employee job after I retire though. Our manufacturing base continues to erode in the U.S. and is now down to roughly 11% of the total economy! DANGEROUS for the U.S.! engineering manager in the chemicals industry with 26-plus years of experience, living in the Middle Atlantic region and earning $130,000

Management no longer understands details of manufacturing which is driven partly by need to comply with regulations. Specialist are hired to make sure regulations are followed but these folks are not interested in learning basics of the business. New generation has little interest in "hands-on" details but they like reports and meetings. manufacturing/production manager in the chemicals industry with 26-plus years of experience, living in the Pacific region and earning $107,000

Personal ethics by business leadership has compromised the healthy workplace which existed for many years. engineering manager in the industrial machinery industry with 26-plus years of experience, living in the Pacific region and earning $124,900

My supervisor mentioned 8 months ago about getting me an increase in salary. He hasn't followed through. Would like additional education in my field. engineering manager in the metals industry with 26-plus years of experience, living in the Mountain region and earning $46,950

Since 9-11 and the devastation that has ensued in our economy, it has become a challenge to collect from customers. Normal terms seem to have changed in as much as 30 days has become 60, 60 now 90, etc. We are not a bank and cannot be a bank. We pay timely and expect the same in return. Additionally, more and more accounts are "walking away" from paying their bills or simply closing their doors. -- corporate/executive manager (CEO, COO, CFO, President, GM, etc.) with 26-plus years of experience, living in the North Central region and earning $50,000

Cost of benefits at all-time high. Salaries down in the printing industry operations manager in the paper/printing/publishing industry with 26-plus years of experience, living in the South Central region and earning $65,000

Senior engineering job after 30 years is only 50% more than starting salaries. Believe there is a lot more value than given in salary for the 30 years of experience. engineering manager in the construction/building equipment industry with 26-plus years of experience, living in the North Central region and earning $94,000

Even though our company managed the economic downturn well, our company is focused on reducing expenses. engineering manager in the chemicals industry with 16 to 20 years of experience, living in the Mountain region and earning $116,000

Management is an Obstacle

The most difficult obstacle is to convince management of the changes (and cost) to modernize the operations in the organization before manufacturing falls by the lack of modern technology. quality manager in the medical devices/laboratory equipment industry with 16 to 20 years of experience, living in the Pacific region and earning $96,000

Our company continues to struggle with a stagnant housing market, rising commodity prices and negative profit margins. -- environmental, health or safety manager in the automotive/transportation vehicles & equipment industry with 26-plus years of experience, living in the south Atlantic region and earning $73,000

Not-My-Problem Mentality

It seems that while we have 6 Sigma, lean management and various tools for cost control and quality management, getting personnel who take a personal interest in the job they provide is a great challenge. What I experience most is the concept of "it is good enough" or "not my problem." The majority of the American workforce today gives the impression that you owe them a job and as long as they show up that is all that matters. We have created this atmosphere ourselves by promoting on talking ability and charts and not on work ability and experience. The workers producing the parts are the lowest on the corporate ladder. It does not help when you see a CEO run a company into the ground and then get a $50 million severance package, and all the workers get is a sob story on how the company lost money. As such, why should the American worker care? quality manager in the petroleum industry with 26-plus years of experience, living in the South Central region and earning $49,000

Money is not everything. Location, quality of colleagues, being trusted and freedom to lead are very important factors in personal job satisfaction. general manager in the chemicals industry with 26-plus years of experience, living in the Middle Atlantic region and earning $225,000

Not always easy to quantify the progress we make in fundamental areas like mentoring other professionals so that in coming months and years we make better process decisions. Too much emphasis right now on hard cash numbers, quarter by quarter, and not enough on healthy professional attitude that could drive the process forward over a one to five-year time span. engineering manager with 16 to 20 years of experience, living in the North Central region and earning $125,000

My company has locations all over the U.S. and the world. They are closing our facility and sending all of our work to Mexico. -- environmental, health or safety manager in the metals industry with three to five years of experience, living in the New England region and earning $34,000

Military Training Helped

I would not be where I am now without my previous military training and was lucky enough to be with a company that changed upper management for people who were into changing things when our business started going in the wrong direction. quality manager in the electronics/high-tech/telecom equipment industry with 26-plus years of experience, living in the South Central region and earning $70,787.

Companies are taking advantage of the lack of jobs by requiring workers to work excessive amounts of overtime and reducing benefits. Most workers are staying at current employer not because of loyalty but because of lack of other opportunities. maintenance department manager in the industrial machinery industry with 26-plus years of experience, living in the Middle Atlantic region and earning $80,000

I still believe that our sales and profits would be enhanced by a national policy of "Fair Trade." -- corporate/executive manager in the metals industry with 26-plus years of experience, living in the Pacific region and earning $77,000

Compensation is below market, but employer does not feel need to increase given poor economic conditions and high unemployment. -- financial manager/controller in the automotive/transportation vehicles & equipment industry with 26-plus years of experience, living in the Pacific region and earning $204,000

The manufacturing industry is becoming extinct in most states in the country. The companies cannot compete with overseas companies that produce the same goods for less. There are less manufacturing plants around and less employees looking to work in manufacturing. Salaries have gone stale for the most part and hiring has slowed due to the poor economy. director of manufacturing/production in the automotive/transportation vehicles & equipment industry with 16 to 20 years of experience, living in the North Central region and earning $50,000

Unrealistic Performance Goals

Concerned about continued unrealistic performance goals and objectives. As companies continue to struggle to meet revenue growth metrics, more and more pressure falls on procurement/supply chain departments to fill in the "gaps." -- purchasing/procurement/sourcing manager in the consumer goods/durables industry with 26-plus years of experience, living in the Middle Atlantic region and earning $141,000

I have not had a raise in seven years. Our company just got out of Chapter 11. director of purchasing/procurement/sourcing in the metals industry with 11 to 15 years of experience, living in the Middle Atlantic region and earning $38,000

Salary increases of individual employees fall behind advances in profit of industry (not sufficiently balanced). -- director of manufacturing/production in the medical devices/lab equipment industry with 11 to 15 years of experience, living in the Mountain region and earning $115,000

I believe I make a fair market salary, but the challenges of running a profitable business in todays marketplace and competition weigh on everyone. environmental health or safety manager in the food and beverage industry with 26-plus years of experience, living in the Middle Atlantic region and earning $78,000

Stock Options and Bonuses

We also have stock options and bonus[es] -- corporate/executive management (CEO, COO, CFO, President, GM, etc.) in the automotive/transportation vehicles & equipment industry with 26-plus years of experience, living in the Middle Atlantic region and earning $215,000

Very satisfied with job, salary, etc. Not at all happy about the governments lack of assistance for small- to medium-size businesses. They should be helping by lowering taxes for business and providing incentives to manufacture in the U.S. instead of attacking business by class warfare. -- corporate/executive management (CEO, COO, CFO, President, GM, etc.) with 26-plus years of manufacturing experience, living in the South Atlantic region and earning $200,000

With children in school, location is important. lean/continuous improvement manager in the construction/building equipment industry with 16 to 20 years of experience, living in the North Central region and earning $86,000

American unions have virtually wiped out the ability of American manufacturers to compete with overseas suppliers. Union mentality of fighting to the very last to keep the most unqualified, underperforming, unsafe, unethical and laziest workers employed at all costs paralyzes management and demoralizes the minority of union members that have a strong work ethic and overachieve. Union mentality and union member peer pressure discourages exceptional or outstanding performance by those union workers who feel a duty to do so. quality manager in the automotive/transportation vehicles & equipment industry with 16 to 20 years of experience, living in the North Central region and earning $115,000

Unsatisfied with salary for current workload and personal performance. Looking elsewhere but difficult to change employers in today's market. lean/continuous improvement manager in the consumer goods/durables industry with 26-plus years of experience, living in the South Central region and earning $59,800

The pay for years of service is not factored in the salary when compared to a starting engineers salary. engineering manager in the automotive/transportation vehicles & equipment industry with 26-plus years of experience, living in the North Central region and earning $96,000

For awhile we lost sight of the importance of "know-how." More focus coming back to that, but we have lost a lot of experience we could have used to better shape the future. Corporate management rewards need to also be tied to the long-term sustainability of the enterprise. engineering manager in the aerospace and defense industry with 26-plus years of experience, living in the North Central region and earning $116,000

Our company is in small town; difficult to find people to work. My biggest challenge is to keep plant manned. human resources manager in the plastics and rubber products industry with 16 to 20 years of experience, living in the South Central region and earning $53,000

After age 50, you are forgotten and not taken seriously. Building expertise in an area is not being stressed enough, and the young upstarts are being promoted before they learn the job they are in effectively. engineering manager in the construction/building equipment industry with 26-plus years of experience, living in the North Central region and earning $108,000

Enjoy the Work, But Pay is Down

My situation changed from 2010 to 2011. My former position was eliminated and finding work in the Midwest was tough. Took a position in the Inland Northwest in a different industry. Really enjoy the work, people and location, but took a 60K cut. Hopefully the industry I have moved to will not be as cyclical as the automotive industry. vice president of manufacturing/production in the industrial machinery industry with 26-plus years of experience, living in the Pacific region and earning $160,000

Compensation package for responsibilities and size of company are adequate. Our industry has suffered a long and serious decline due to unequal competitive marketplace (worldwide) caused by over-regulation and unrealistic government mandates. Largest professional challenge I face is family ownership and the resistance to change. Second challenge is finding and securing trainable employees who want to work. vice president of operations in the metals industry with 26-plus years of experience, living in the North Central region and earning $120,000

I enjoy the content of my job. However, it is less and less enjoyable because of poor leadership that prevents our department from being as successful as it could. I am struggling to figure out how to communicate in a way that "gets through" to the leaders about this. lean/continuous improvement manager in the metals industry with 26-plus years of experience, living in the North Central region and earning $88,000

Lately I have been very frustrated in current position. There is no advancement possible and feel often just get lip service with very little back up. Money's ok in this job market, so I stay. environmental, health or safety manager in the chemicals industry with six to 10 years of experience, living in the Middle Atlantic region and earning $44,000

All the Work We Can Handle

We currently have all the work we can handle and more. It's becoming more and more challenging to meet our customers delivery needs when their expectations are so unrealistic. Projects are often in the works for months, but are only in their preliminary drawing stages when we receive a purchase order and they want us to get started with no room to move on delivery dates but with the complete understanding that the released drawings will come with changes. Just insane expectations. corporate/executive manager in the metals industry with 26-plus years of experience, living in the Pacific region and earning $120,500

Motivating a discouraged workforce to care and continue to producing a quality product in the face of a bleak future with no reward other than to receive a paycheck and continue to have a job is quite difficult. The responsibility to continue to motivate and ensure a quality product is being produced with no reward other than receiving a paycheck and having a job is even more difficult. Maintaining a mentality of thankfulness rather than of entitlement is key to pushing forward to encourage and produce a quality product so that we all continue to have jobs and receive paychecks. director of manufacturing/production in the paper/printing/publishing industry with 26-plus years of experience, living in the North Central region and earning $72,800

Due to current business for the last few years salaries have remained fixed. Need to have some adjustment for health benefits and other cost of living that keeps rising. engineering manager in the industrial machinery industry with 26-plus years of experience, living in the North Central region and earning $78,000

Better Marketing Needed

We are on threshold of significant growth in manufacturing, but we must better market ourselves and our industry. supply chain/logistics manager in the aerospace and defense industry with 26-plus years of experience, living in the New England region and earning $90,000

We need to replace all politicians after a maximum of two-year terms. This is the only way we will get elected officials to listen to what is happening in the manufacturing sector. director of manufacturing/production in the electronics/high-tech/telecom equipment industry with 26-plus years of experience, living in the New England region and earning $109,000

Out-of-control healthcare costs are now exceeding our annual salary increases. quality manager in the computer equipment and peripherals industry with 26-plus years of experience, living in the Pacific region and earning $91,687

Money is good with the position, but it is stressful. manufacturing/production manager in the industrial machinery industry with 26-plus years of experience, living in the North Central region and earning $65,000

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