Industryweek 11112 Power Manufacturing

Concern for the Future, and a Deep Belief in the Transformative Power of Manufacturing

March 8, 2016
We asked our readers to share any comments they had regarding salary, job situation, the state of the manufacturing industry, or professional challenges, and received an outpouring of thoughtful responses. Here’s a cross-section of what they had to say.

Job Satisfaction

I think it is absolutely wrong to tell young people college is the only way to build a good life. The days are not gone when a talented self driven person can progress in manufacturing.  –-Engineering Manager, male, 60+, consumer goods/durables sector.

My work is rewarding in terms of new opportunities and challenges. The freedom to be me and develop a “family work environment” [is a plus]. However, there is no opportunity to move up professional or financially, and benefits are inadequate. –Supply chain/logistics manager, female, 50-59, industrial machinery sector.

Working in manufacturing is a wonderful experience. The employees seem to really care about their jobs even when discouraged by cheap imports flooding the marketplace, and other factors outside their control. –Human resources manager, female, 50-59, metals sector.


Operations management from VP down do not understand the value of using everyone from the shop floor on up for continuous improvement. They focus on dollars spent, managed from the top down. There is little trust of middle management, engineers or operators to contribute. It's a big waste that causes disengagement at all levels.—Manufacturing/production manager, male, 60+, wood products/furniture sector.

Large corporation wants to use an ERP system that works well for buy/resell businesses, but does not work well for MTO equipment manufacturing. Wish there was a large system that worked with both. --Manufacturing/production manager, male, 60+, industrial machinery sector.

Front line supervisors are not well-trained or supported, causing a high turnover rate. Senior management does not invest in training and educating junior management.—Supply chain/logistics manager, male, 50-59, metals.

Our company was bought by a multi-billion dollar company.  It then proceeded to divide our company between three different divisions. This greatly affected on a negative basis our ability to do business, while the corporate administrators talked about how much money was saved.  We will be lucky if the manufacturing unit survives as the sales unit was taken away from us.—R&D product development manager, male, 50-59, paper/printing/publishing.

Skilled Worker Shortage

Vocational training programs at the high school level are helping.  Improving community college technical training is helping.  Companies focusing on developing internal training and apprenticeship programs are helping.—Financial manager/controller, female, 30-39, metals.

The apprenticeship programs are very important to sustaining a skilled workforce in the coming years. --Operations manager, male, 50-59, stone/clay & glass.

Engineering and school programs like Kettering University balancing work/study are a very successful model. –Operations manager, male, 40-49, automotive/transportation.

Our workforce is aging and we can't find qualified replacements. I am the training director for our company. We are involved in Youth Apprenticeship and we started two adult apprentices this year to try to help ourselves, but it's not enough. I am on the Tech Ed advisory board for our county and the condition of the shop classes in our local high schools is terrible, yet funding for schools continues to be cut. I think this country will be in serious trouble in the next 20 years or so.—Manufacturing/production manager, male, 50-59, industrial machinery.


Who knew that political science would be more useful than an engineering degree, and that the most pressing issues would arise from decisions that are made in Washington rather than those made on the shop floor?—Quality manager, male, 40-49, metals.

I am nearing full retirement and am a majority stockholder of this business. My partner and I are looking for ways to pass the business along to our sons who work in the business, but we do not want to face large tax burdens for them or the business. This is a difficult thing to do in the US due to our tax laws!—CEO-level executive, male, 60+, apparel/textiles.

Regulatory compliance is draining the available capital needed to keep assets competitive with less concerned nations. The ACA Cadillac tax will erode manufacturing company health care plans.—VP technology and product compliance, male, 60+, paper/printing/publishing. 

The State of Manufacturing

Manufacturing is declining in the Midwest, capital machine tool sales are saturated, and the salesman's earning potential at the distributor level is declining.—Sales/marketing manager, male, 50-59, industrial machinery.

This geographic area has been hit hard with plant closures and workforce reductions (GE, Joy Global, etc.), making an already unstable employment situation worse.—Manufacturing/production manager, male, 50-59, industrial machinery.

It is exciting times in manufacturing as intelligent decisions are being made considering broad aspect of the business and supply chain rather than just cost. However, competing to launch more products more often using time-to-market strategies is costing companies money and reputation with an unprecedented number of recalls. --Supply chain/logistics manager, male, 30-39, electronics/high tech/telecom equipment.

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