Managing Expectations -- IndustryWeek's 2007 Salary Survey Comments

Feb. 7, 2007
Given the chance to weigh in on the state of the industry, their companies and their employees, manufacturing managers reveal what you always suspected: Things are tough out there, and they're likely to only get tougher.

As part of the IndustryWeek 2007 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 "What is the biggest challenge facing the manufacturing industry today?"

Below is a sample of the survey comments:

Previously retired from a larger corporation and higher salary. Base pay was not the primary driver in returning to work. Job satisfaction and ability to contribute and make a difference was key.

Company has been struggling due to pressure from retailers for 8+ years.

As a part owner, the continued success and growth of the company is the biggest challenge and the most important aspect of my job.

Good pay, good company but not in the 75% percentile (top 25%).

Restarted in a new position after being downsized, previous salary with bonus 125k, GM position, there aren't many manufacturing opportunities left in our area.

Companies within the manufacturing industry need to look inside their own four walls to make sure that they are doing everything they possibly can to produce their product as fast and accurately as possible with the least amount of overhead before blaming the market, or the increase in foreign competition.

Salary low compared to benchmarks. No advancement opportunities.

To grow and improve every year -- efficiency, labor cost, material costs, competition challenges, outsourcing, etc.

I want to earn enough money to be comfortable and have enough free time to enjoy out-of-work pursuits.

Some peer level management do not exhibit good work ethic or professional demeanor that sometimes affects department's perception by others.

Today's challenges are to reduce costs and manufacturing time while increasing quality. The goal is that reducing lead times and cost should increase sales volume of our specialized products.

My decision to take less compensation was a quality of life decision to remain in this area.

The instability of all manufacturing jobs in the U.S. combined with the tremendous amount of work, time, effort, worry, etc., required to meet ever-present challenges, and the constant pressure to reduce costs (including wage/salary costs) make me wonder why anyone would want to work in a manufacturing environment anymore! The folks out in the trenches work incredible hours, get mediocre pay, and generally are castigated for not getting enough done. Who needs it!

I face the same glass ceiling my grandmother faced. We are still in the dark ages regarding women in career fields.

It's a jungle out there!

The company treats me well and compensates me (and other employees) well based on the success of the company. We are family owned and the values of the business are incorporated in how people are treated.

Salary is most important since I am a single parent.

Manufacturing is in dire straits in this country due to corporate management greed, governmental inaction for a manufacturing policy, governmental overregulation, and the general don't care attitude of the American citizen toward what actually builds wealth in this country.

More challenging every year to make a good profit.

I have spent the last 15 years working for a not-for-profit sheltered work shop. This has greatly limited my earning potential, however I like the challenge of wearing many hats, including purchasing, quality control, production operations, sales and marketing. I basically have full control of all production operations at our facility with about $5 million in sales.

I spent over 20 years as an engineer and over 25 years in sales/marketing. We are not graduating enough engineers in the U.S. Top management in most large companies have no appreciation of technical product knowledge & are short-sighted. No one worries about two to five years, but only two to five months. There is a total lack of flow-down to middle management. Top management. only worries about the short term & their own pockets.

The forces of overseas competition are painting a gloomy picture for U.S.-based companies (mine included). Future success will be predicated on intellectual prowess in the global arena. Personally very satisfied with work, responsibility and pay!

The U.S. manufacturers must start thinking about their employees more. It is absolutely ridiculous that after working for 15 years in three different companies your vacation time is only 3 weeks. When people have time to get away and take a vacation they are more productive when they get back to work.

I retired after 32 years with one of the leading manufactures of flexible (plastic) food packing. After a year became bored and started consulting on continuous improvement/Six Sigma projects. This led to a job offer and the position I'm currently filling. The most difficult thing to accomplish is getting management to accept change. Typically they want change, but don't want to move out of their comfort zone or relinquish authority. The current plant I'm in is 60 + years old, union, and had a very traditional management style "I'm the boss, do what I say with no explanations." The new plant manager has embraced change and empowering the workers which has resulted in nearly $3MM in cost savings in 2006 vs. an average the previous three years of $400M/yr. The union has supported the process as we involve the hourly workers in self-directed work teams and give them credit for the results. They know they were on the edge of being shut down and wanted to keep their jobs, but felt management was in their way. Capital is now slated for 2007 and we're looking forward to even better results than 2006.

Biggest challenge is getting senior management bought in to the need for change and continuous improvement.

Agility and flexibility are not recognized in job requirements nor rewarded in salary.

I feel my salary is fair but below industry standards. Traditionally I have been able to make up to 40% bonus. This program was cut last year so that 20-25% is more expectations for future. Our company relies on stock option grants to subsidize our pay. In past two years the increased costs have caused us to miss earnings which makes stock option grants worthless. My insurance went up 69% last year on reduced coverage. My salary went up 3%. I see lower increase rates going forward, lower bonuses, reduced profit sharing contributions, and slowed growth of option grants for the next few years. Total compensation today is less than 5 years ago.

Finding it difficult to locate young, dedicated electrical engineers and electronic technicians. Seems like only people with these skills are over 50 years. What happens 10-15 years from now?

Manufacturing is becoming more and more unstable for a career for senior managers.

The union has priced and handcuffed many corporations out of business. My facility is non-union, but many of the other union facilities within our corporation have all but closed due to the ridiculously high overhead and wage costs associated with union run facilities. This thinking has triggered our upper management into outsourcing our work to cheaper lower cost countries with no consideration of facilitating more non-union facilities here in the US.

I love my job. I would not want to work anywhere else!

I am an non-exempt employee. At one time we received yearly bonuses, our exempt receive yearly variable pay bonuses, we are requesting the same for office personnel. What is the point of reviews if we are not rewarded for good ones?

We have had three years of record growth. Over 50% of our products are made here and sold into China. This is our 60th anniversary, the founder/owner is alive and his son runs the business. 60 years ago the founder believed robust (quality) products, meeting promised delivery, and high customer service value will always sell and sustain a company. (60 years says he is right.)

Cigarette, tobacco manufacturing is very integrated with the domestic markets and historically has paid elevated salaries to attract talent in a declining industry.

There is much more market pressure for "lowest price wins" or "Internet bidding" than ever before. Accountants, not manufacturing engineers or production or actual equipment history, decide what capital equipment is bought.

Concerned about escalating costs (loss of international competitiveness) caused by downward trend in availability of a skilled workforce and the resulting upward trend in salaries companies are willing to pay to fill skills gaps.

Globalization has been the biggest challenge to small to medium U.S.-based manufacturers. There needs to be a rethinking of the failed trade policies of this and the previous administration, to make it more fair and reduce the trade deficit.

Bonuses have continued to decline as the family becomes more involved. This company has always been the 'cash cow' and the revenue they take restricts our growth potential.

Through a recent change in management, it is encouraged to obtain professional certification in my area. I am anxious to see what happens to my salary when I complete my CPM.

Curious to know where my compensation stands amongst peers in similar positions

I would like to make more money and advance form my position.

Finding the right combination of employees and mid-level management personnel has been the biggest struggle we have had over a five-year period since I bought the company. Commitment from the mid-level technical personnel is very hard to find in the right employee in the ages from 24-35. We are looking to groom someone to fill in the top management spot to replace myself at some time in the future (2-6 years).

Current job is due to age discrimination (I know it does exist!) in my previous career path. Having to basically work as a junior engineer just to pay the bills.

Although most in our field would agree, I am sometimes frustrated with sales and marketing and their lack of understanding of the difficulty of production and their idea they changing things is easy. I realize I may sound like I'm whining.

Presently the operation where I work is being transferred to Mexico.

After many years of being underpaid, I am probably getting a fair salary. We have had no raises for years, basically since 9/11 when the economy tanked. I got my degree in a totally different field, but could not find a better paying job in that field (human services/counseling). This small family company has become my second home.

Just changed jobs from manufacturing to consulting. Consulting is doing very well. The company has a merit based promotion system and bonus system which I like.

Largest challenge for my business is the continual need to understand the voice of the customer and through this understanding, improve our business to be a global competitor beyond the borders of the United States.

The U.S. is in trouble and in danger of becoming a third-rate power and it is happening slowly and right before our eyes. When we have politicians who call "gambling" (they like to use the term "gaming") an industry, we all in bigger trouble than we think. I have worked in the manufacturing sector since 1977, the shifts are obvious and they aren't pretty in most cases. When I see the average level of talent in many plants these days it can be encouraging in some specific bright spot areas and downright depressing in too many other areas. It simply is not cool to be an engineer any more, unless you are a foreigner and then you know the value that studying engineering can bring when you go back to your own country and your fellow country people do as well. We have too many people who like to be close to the money but provide little in the way of value to their companies other than to work the purse strings to their own ends. If you're an engineer and really want to make the big bucks you graduate to non-engineering money changing slots in your company, that's where the money is. Engineers are kept on a subsistence diet when it comes to relative pay for value given. Non-technical Luddites are too stupid to see this.

Small company many hats.

Our industry has show a steady decrease in business over the past 3-4 years, much of it going overseas. We are expanding our capabilities to offer wider services & more varied products.

I have been with a private company(s) for all my career. And now our company alas been acquired by a large public company. So now I'm dealing with everything to my own salary cap, to and including dealing with SOX. The time spent micro managing by computer and actually building the product is to far out of balance.

I'm comfortable and find a way to enjoy something each day

Challenges facing the manufacturing world are survival, survival, and survival. As stated above, a master plan must be developed for our entire industrial base and buy-in by all parties for the US to survive long-term.

I have found manufacturing (specifically manufacturing engineering) to be a very challenging and rewarding experience. Even with the long hours and intensity of the manufacturing environment, I consider my job more of a hobby than a job.

Salary should be more, but company has had a few rough years. We are doing much better and this should be a good year.

Very satisfied.

I would only recommend manufacturing for someone interested in spending their career outside of the United States.

Manufacturing is declining in importance in the U.S. and is moving elsewhere. You have to be able to go where your customers are and quickly move. You have to be nimble and not set in your approach to problems and you have to have good people around you to make the right decisions.

"New" (different) management team brought in to turn the company around. Owners informed of problems and potential solutions throughout old CEO's tenure, placing my job in jeopardy. "New" management team made large cuts in employment to get company back in the black but is demonstrating a high degree of incompetence by generating poor financial performance for owners. I am only key manager retained by new team. Looking to leave before the next wave of inevitable blood-letting. Very disappointed that owners keep repeating the same mistake in selection of CEO.

Disappointment with shift to a finance-driven manufacturing company, elimination of manufacturing engineers that are necessary to keep the U.S. competitive with offshore manufacturing.

Manufacturing compensation for technical leadership position lags our counterparts in development.

The small manufacturer needs to be recognized as being the back bone of U.S. industry. If manufacturing is going to survive in the U.S. the government is going to have to lend small manufacturing and also large manufacturing a helping hand and loosen up on some of the excessive regulation and taxes.

New owners are totally unappreciative of the contributions made by anyone but the owners/mgt team.

I have been in design and in manufacturing and am very disappointed that manufacturing engineering positions generally are paid at a lower rate than design engineering positions.

The prospect of future salary and bonus increases looks bleak. We are probably going to see an increase in turnover.

Manufacturing is a very good and honorable profession. A college education can be important, but there should be two ways to the top; highly educated or highly experienced. I believe the most effective organizations are those that have a mix of individuals directing the company that includes both highly educated people(theoretical business applications) and those with a practical education (grew up on the shop floor) and know what takes place in the real, everyday world of manufacturing. Many companies today have few people in executive positions that have that practical experience.

I have seen this business remain a "man's world" job with no possibility to be considered a purchasing manager, rather than a basic secretary. This is because I am a female. Therefore, I am still paid a secretary salary and not a purchasing manager salary. This upsets me very much, but in a small town there's not much I can do about it.

Small manufacturing companies are being squeezed by their customers to reduce prices or loose business to global competition to the point that it isn't possible to be profitable.

Surfactants have been commoditized by the Wal-Mart effect along with excess domestic capacity and the threat of import material already packed in consumer packages.

Job stability is a problem.

Salary & benefits need to be improved to entice young people to select engineering as their career choice. Outsourcing engineering and drafting chores is not good in the long term for US corporations. This only results in lack of product knowledge within the company and eventually lack of engineering resources to be competitive.

Salary is only a result of our economy, culture, legal and political system, and our efforts in innovation. The most important part of marketing ourselves for profit is our product: Ourselves.

Manufacturing is too concerned with cookie cutter programs like ISO9001, ISO14001, Six Sigma and lean manufacturing. Good business practices will draw from all these programs, but management does not recognize that a cohesive program to run the business will require much thought before it will be truly effective. There are too few charismatic leaders throughout the ranks. Most managers manage, not lead.

Professional challenge of manufacturing by numbers (Six Sigma) in a lean environment and correctly presenting a ROI for capital improvements to executive teams.

Our product is somewhat customized, and must be delivered fairly quickly. (Our standard options list offers thousands of combinations). This requirement is what keeps our assembly here in the U.S., and what will keep us fairly safe from Asian intrusion.

I think that privately held companies need to understand the value of family, vacation, and flexible work schedules. Privately held companies should take lessons from some of the larger publicly held companies that value flex time and family time. The salaries should also be commensurate with the market and not below. They also need to remember that an executives success is not measured by the number of hours worked but by how smart they work .

For survey purposes it's important to identify whether the firm is private, public or solely owned. I am the sole owner of the firm.

This is the best time for employment in the U.S. However concerning factors for the future are million dollar executive salaries compared to minimum wage floor worker salaries, shortage of skilled worker, lack of management loyalty to work-force, instability and high turnover in workers will challenge manufacturing in the U.S. In contrast Chinese cheap labor or if I may call it "slave labor," improving quality and low price of goods may slowly erode the manufacturing base in developed countries leading to higher unemployment.

I love my job and employees and the everyday challenges.

Although position is receptionist/ customer service, I have an Associates Accounting degree. I created inventory database and process invoices for material purchases upwards of $60,000 per month. Although purchasing materials & inputting into inventory, owner of business and co-workers do not reward or respect my efforts. I get very discouraged with environmental attitude & then get disrespected if my attitude isn't always "up" (although the positive attitude also contributes to lack of respect, being female.) Is there anything better out there, places where a/p & inventory recording are respected and appreciated?

From a marketing perspective, significant variation in the marketing competencies across manufacturers continues to create opportunities for those companies with respectable know-how and determination.

Its interesting the spin that our government puts on such issues as NAFTA, GATT, and CAFTA. The claim is that such legislation is good for American manufacturing because of the markets it opens up for us. When we (our company)look at our world wide market the South American market is literally beans. The truth that is not being told is that this legislation helps big business by allowing American companies to capitalize on slave labor south of the border. And the part that absolute baffles me is that the National Association of Manufacturers supports this legislation.

Materials cost and insurances are the big problem to turn a profit by manufacturing industry.

The Sarbanes-Oxley regulations have re-directed the role that finance and accounting serve in the management of the business. The overarching nature of the resultant auditing standards have diverted managements attention to the important matters of managing a business. The focus on minutia details of no consequence has served to undermine the importance of financial leadership in business decision making.

In a small company the greatest challenge is explaining the global market and the requirements necessary to compete against larger companies.

Not currently being paid comparable with similar positions in my area.

In all cases for continued success organizations' personnel must keep in mind objectives of the key stakeholders (customers, corporate personnel, suppliers, and lastly ownership). Politics of personal interests -- minimized success of the organization means success of related personnel and ownership.

I am an engineer employed by my company as a contractor ('rental employee'), and have been for the last five and a half years of my career. Although I enjoy my work, my family must use my wife's benefits package, since the one offered through my contract engineering agency is much less than optimal. (Full time positions in my area of expertise, in the Midwest, are somewhat scarce these days, and I have been passed over in coming on full time at my current employer.) Industry seems to be gravitating towards using more professional contract labor, and I feel there needs to be an emphasis on better benefits packages through the agencies.

Management has not capitalized on the knowledge of the work force.

Buyouts and shutdowns continue to cost jobs at all levels.

With all of the uncertainty in the manufacturing sector, it's difficult to innovate and to grow your business. We must seek governance and legislation that gives U.S. manufacturers a level playing field with the rest of the world. Otherwise our economy and our workers will suffer tremendously.

Professional challenges: 1) One of my biggest bottlenecks is language and the loss in translation with communication to our off shore (specifically Asia) design and manufacturing teams. We spend more time on conference calls (probably double if not more) compared to my South American supplier base. 2) Time delay -- the delivery of product (raw materials/parts) in and out of China requires more follow up and even has 'extra charges' depending on how quickly it is required. This is not a one time issue, we have seen it numerous times from shipments <50Kg of raw material and with capital equipment. The "unforeseen" or hidden charges significantly change the cost benefit analysis we did prior to starting production in China!

I have given up a larger salary for great benefits and solid 401k.

Outsourcing will become more important as more and more manufacturing is done offshore.

I truly like manufacturing but see it as a dying profession in the U.S. I would not recommend my sons to go into it. That's sad.

My employer is in a very rural setting where good jobs are difficult to find. After being a stock holder owned company for 35 years, within the past six months we have been bought out by another company. Most employees are uncertain as to what to expect regarding benefits and job security.

The growing cost of health insurance decrease your value of my base salary every year. I am paying more for health insurance every year and am receiving fewer benefits.

I long for the good old days when the company paid for your Health insurance 100% and it was an excellent policy. Now we pay 25% and get a mediocre policy. What a shame!

Salaries need to be addressed on an ongoing basis, not just when a company sells more product.

As a result of another internal re-organization, my compensation was frozen since in my new position I have been assigned to a lower salary grade. My prior compensation exceeds the upper range for this new grade.

I have never worked for the money. By aggressively applying myself to attain my objectives and ultimately being successful at it, the money has come automatically. I love my work. I enjoy working with my colleagues; they are like family. I have mentored college interns as well as many of my associates and also motivated many others in the business arena. When I was 65, I thought of retiring but, after cogitating the matter for a couple of years, I decided that there was nothing better that I would like to do than to continue working. Why retire to vacation and/or vegetate when I am so acclimated to the stress and the personal sense of accomplishment that I thrive upon. I am only 81 and I expect to work until I am at least 100.

Everyone in our company participates in profit sharing. One base wages are probably in the lower 30% for our industry (we are betting that the company, therefore us, will do well ), but after profit sharing we are in the top 70%. The profit sharing is an extremely powerful motivator for all levels of employees.

I was initially hired as part-time. This will be changing this year and an appropriate full-time salary will be arranged.

Salaries at my company have not kept up with the industry. I could go anywhere right now and make more money. At my age, I do not necessarily want to start over.

I think for this area my salary is a little small, but the benefits mean a lot in this day and age. This is a small company that I have helped make what it is today. That means something to me. I see how much money I save the company day by day. I have been headhunted but what I do here, I can see that means a lot to me.

Manufacturing in Connecticut will go the way of the dodo unless something is done about the costs of doing business here and the lack of affordable housing for manufacturing labor. There is already a brain drain as even college graduates are unable to find affordable housing.

Being past the ability to move easily between jobs, salary and benefits are important to prepare for retirement, when the work undertaken will be at my choice. In general, I am concerned about our children being able to survive in a world where our U.S. cost structure makes competition globally very difficult. The education model is seriously broken, and the sooner there is competition brought to education to improve the quality and reduce the cost, the better we will all be. Unions should be eliminated in areas where there is no choice in obtaining service--education and government specifically.

I do not feel that purchasing/supply chain in general gets the deserved credit for cost savings and productivity enhancements.

We are importers and light manufacturing, our biggest challenge is by far staffing. Next would be getting the factories to make changes for the American market. As far as salary goes I make more money than I ever hoped for.

This country is in for big trouble when we export most of the manufacturing jobs. If we think China is our friend, we are dead wrong. Hopefully the Democrats will improve the healthcare situation.

Salary is fair for a new plant manager. I expect a raise shortly. Biggest satisfaction is the ability to affect positive change for in a previously poorly performing plant. Troubleshooting skills of manufacturing workers appears to have eroded or simple lack of desire. Finding trained and qualified pipe fitters, electricians and machinists is difficult, pool is getting a lot smaller. They are like priests and nuns in the Catholic Church, aging out and fewer choosing that career path.

Printing is in extreme turmoil. As a smaller printing company owner, it seems our strategy as late has been to be amongst the last few standing after others close or are acquired, at which point we feel we will have something very unique to offer. Our biggest challenge as a small manufacturer is to somehow stay in the technological forefront with limited resources as compared with large consolidators.

Unless quality, customer service and dependability are improved more jobs will be outsourced.

My company is top-heavy in managers and is too short-term focused.

Companies should just stop with the rhetoric of "people being our most important resource" because I feel most companies don't believe it except that it is the right thing to say.

I am concerned that so many manufacturing based companies are reducing the benefits offered to its employees as a way to help control costs. At the same time huge bonus packages are announced weekly for very top management. These bonus packages are almost always based on short term gains seen on the stock market.

I wish there was a way to better advance in my career.

My company is a supplier to automotive (Tier 1 and 2) and way behind in the times. I am challenged with helping them understand we need to compress our supply chain throughput time and yet, battling the long-timers that are opposed to change, and I am trying as a fairly new worker to challenge, yet not be a threat to co-workers and direct reports.

Would prefer to have a greater bonus potential.

Manufacturing has less demand for good people and that shows in base pay and benefits.

The company I work for manufactures smart cards. We have recently merged with one of our competitors. It has been decided to combine the plants and more specifically to close my plant. Although I have been offered a position/relocation to the other plant, I have turned it down. I foresee that the "other" plant will also be downsized by ~80% or more within four or five years. I believe it would be downsized sooner if "upper management" had the balls to pull the trigger, but no one wants to deal with the problems associated with doing it. GSM/Mobile service providers represent about 80% of the volume produced in the U.S. plants (two, soon to be one) and all of the profit, when there is any. There are discussions, and rightfully so, to move this work to Mexico because the labor is cheap and there is no specialized process that requires those volumes to be produced in the U.S. Only the logistics of shipping time. Other markets include transportation, banking, ID, etc. Most if not all of these orders are sold at a loss. This is to keep market share. We always joke in the plant that we should wrap a $100 bill around each sleeve of cards when we ship it to the customer. The reality is that this is not a joke. I believe government work is the only work that could continue to be made in the U.S. Not being happy about losing my job is one thing, but if I was running this company, I would do the same thing, only faster. Or be looking in another markets as smart cards have become a commodity.

Salary is less than market value for size of operation. Staff for my department is less than adequate. Greatest frustration is the effort that my department has made in cost takeout and increase to bottom line. We have added substantial dollars to the bottom line through savings, pro-active programs, etc. Yet as the economy slows and our business drops, head count is reduced, regardless of the fact that you paid for your positions through the savings and increased revenue to the bottom line. Also no gain sharing is offered, again even though you have 'paid' for it through the cost takeout and increase revenue in your department.

With the responsibilities I carry and the work load, along with the lack of adequate compensation and support, it gets harder and harder to come to work with the correct attitude.

Salary is fair for my current position. Lack of recognition, career advancement opportunities, and work quality of peers makes it a difficult place to work. Those who are not afraid to accept challenges are given many while others stay in their comfort zone. Political correctness influences top management to treat both the same.

I received most of my career training on the job. While I have taken several courses and seminars over the years I have been blessed with conscientious mentors who understood that you can do more with a person who has a real desire to learn than you can with a sheepskin. Maybe I am biased because of this but I have found the same to be the case. Machinists, tool and die makers, fitter/welders, all of these and similar skills are in limited supply today. We have lost the 'train your own and promote from within' credo that served to get us where we are today. I believe that we are loosing many products to offshore manufacturers more because we do not have the trained workforce to meet production requirements than simply to cheap labor or subsidized industries. Our limited labor pool of skilled technical workers in all areas creates, in some cases, artificially high wages for those who do have the skills. That does not mean those workers are not worth those wages, it is simply a product of supply and demand. Unless industry makes a concerted effort to reverse this trend we are going to end up with such a limited supply of real "on the line" knowledge that we won't even have enough trainers left to remain viable producers of those products which cannot be produced through automated manufacturing processes. Perhaps more apprenticeship programs such as those the electricians and plumbers trades have would help to improve the pool of available workers in those areas where there are limited workers.

Undergraduate degree in Finance/Accounting and coming up through the ranks into operations has served my career extremely well. Today's manufacturing executive must be global strategist and be able to think ahead of the curve. Practical and successful experience in creating world class lean environments is a must today to survive.

I have been extremely fortunate to have been involved with a strong manufacturing based company that has significantly improved its competitive position by going private and focusing on reinvestment and its people.

New bosses, new computer system, no or low raises, higher health care costs. What is there to like about our country's current manufacturing processes where new outsiders come in and tell you you're not doing a good enough job now when you were fine before their arrival?

Consolidation of many functions into the home office threatens the existence of several smaller, efficient sites. It becomes difficult to attract and keep talented staff when job opportunities are limited in smaller location.

Need more money.

The exporting of manufacturing jobs overseas has compromised the salary negotiation process in small manufacturing companies.

Thirty years ago I never dreamed manufacturing would go the way of farming, i.e., a rapidly diminishing portion of the work force meets all of our needs.

Start-up company. Part of my compensation is a very generous stock option benefit.

Many companies today don't pay the purchasing people enough, thinking if they put things on a spreadsheet, call five suppliers and buy from the least expensive, they are the right person for the job. Today relationships are very important, like it used to be.

At my age, long term security is not a major concern. However, were I younger, it would be.

The absence of any performance review since being hired 2.5 years ago is disappointing. Executive management distributed an upward focus questionnaire which was returned by the employees, yet they have not provided any downward feedback for the employees.

We are an employee owned (ESOP) company which is very helpful for aligning employee owners with company strategic and operational objectives.

No one should go into manufacturing because of the money. My friends in other fields make more money than I do. I enjoy manufacturing, but it is a dying field in the U.S. unless things change.

Looking for opportunities in private equity.

I have a very great job. I work with the very best people, and have great benefits, and take pride in my job.

I am late in my career and am concerned more with the impact I have on the company than titles and status symbols. I have been fortunate to be on the business end of manufacturing and involved very much in designing manufacturing strategy requiring substantial involvement in almost everything the Company does. Intellectually it has been fun. But as a function, it is frustrating to see that we are always the one who are supposed to make up the numbers while marketing and finance do not seem to be under the same pressures. If a competitor sells for less, the assumption seems to be that he is lower cost based. The possibility that he has lower operating expenses or willing to accept a lower margin is never conceded. I wonder if this is true in other companies too.

Manufacturing today in the U.S. is hobbled by four major factors: 1) The expectation from Wall Street and boards of directors for executives to provide increased earnings every year, which in turn force the focus on short term planning and commitment. This prevents corporations from driving the concept of total customer value that will create longevity in the market. 2) Labor needs to come to grips with the global competition and find way to improve worker's salaries through improved performance, gain sharing, and increased flexibility. This will allow those who perform to move ahead while those who don't to stay flat. The true value of today's worker is not what they make but what value they provide to the organization. 3) Government needs to take serious action to develop a basic national health care system. This will result in reduced cost of health care to businesses and workers alike. In addition local and state governments should look at reducing their size and operation cost to decrease tax burden on business. 4) The educational system needs to be revamped to increase the number of employable graduates to match the needs of a global market. This could be accomplished by collaboration of schools and businesses to develop educational program focusing on skilled trades, science & technology and organizational development.

I fear the long-term effect on our children and grandchildren. As a 60 year old I will be all right myself. I see this as a major shift as our standard of living will take a nosedive.

It is sad to see the spiral down turn in manufacturing. And the complaints about labor costs when you have a dental hygienist or UPS driver making $25-$30 an hour and outstanding benefits (CEOs too). And you can't offer that to a skilled machinist or toolmaker after years of skills, knowledge and investment into tools and probably education. This industry has lost total respect.

I started as a lean manufacturing engineer in my current company that just started implementing lean. In less than two years they promoted me to manager and created a specific department called the Lean Promotions Office that I now oversee. As a lean manufacturing engineer just two years ago I was making $43,000. As a manager and with another job opportunity that was presented my company offered me $58,000 to stay. I have accepted and continue act as manager over the Lean Promotions Office.

Manufacturing in the U.S. is on the down turn but the salaries paid in this job field are good. The manufacturing of folding cartons in the U.S. is a very competitive with the professional challenges of changing the work force to lean manufacturing.

The management style at my company is top down which breeds people doing just what pleases management rather than doing what is right. Dissenting opinions are not encouraged which limits the company to how smart the leaders are, not how smart the collective work force is.

One of the biggest challenges is the fact that our program office did not or could not set aside budget for professional training and conference attendance. We have pushed ourselves into a time constraint corner that requires incredibly short turn around for answers and solutions.

The exciting thing about manufacturing is being able to add value to a product that in turn provides value to society. In an era where we see money managers and CEO salaries that are out of sync with the value they provide I believe manufacturing is one area that as a society we have undervalued. Hopefully we'll see this turn around and manufacturing will be looked at as a profession that add value and is rewarded appropriately for the value it provides.

We have significant variable compensation which is based upon the company performance results.

The lack of a recognized vocational training/career path for many of the manufacturing job functions. Emphasis is placed on obtaining a college degree with little or no direction toward a career path or goal.

As a small company it is more difficult and time consuming to attract and qualify top talent.

Being in the defense industry, I think my salary and benefits are above the industry average. I do worry that in the future as defense budgets shrink, so will the job market, and those used to those higher wages will have trouble finding similar work, at the same salary structure.

Current captive manufacturing at my company is caused a great deal of financial variances due to poor demand planning, poor product development and poor marketing.

There has to more of a focus on manufacturing quality products that meet the need of the customer. Companies have to be in a better position to compete with foreign companies.

Manufacturing in North America is very possible, look at Toyota and Honda and the plants they are now operating and the sub-supplier relationship they are building. They are going at this as a two way street not a one way and while I realize that the Big Three have all had their issues I think they need to begin looking both internally at what needs to be done to become more competitive but also externally working with sub-supplier to remove non-value add activities.

We need to have a more long term view from senior management in decision-making.

Salary is OK but manufacturing salaries do not compare to other businesses, such as financial, legal, etc. Benefits have eroded massively, and are now very poor. No pension, high health care costs, no sick days, no overtime pay,

I think that the most important aspect of any job is a proper balance of work and quality of life. If work is challenging and motivating, everything else is easy.

We need more qualified workers and people that are willing to give a little more to the company.

I feel I am very well paid considering the cost of living factors in our region. However, I don't see our company and our region growing and advancing enough to be competitive 5-10 years down the road. I work for a small privately held company in which the owners will be getting out within 5 years. I do not believe the company will survive very long after that as either an independent privately held company or part of a large corporation.

Private companies have lower pay.

It appears the older your (age) with a long term status as an employee, you become less recognized as a important contributor. Most companies want to push you aside for much younger people at lower salaries. Most companies do not place a high regard for long term knowledge of the industry. They look for the 'book smart' individuals who can impress upper management with extreme PowerPoint presentations.

Tier One automotive manufacturing may disappear from the U.S.

Any change requires too much time.

I have seen dramatic changes in the past few years with too much emphasis on bottom line costs and short term profits. Because of this there is a strong emphasis on younger aggressive talent given key positions though they lack experience; as a result, important decisions are made that make those individuals look good at the expense of the operations. Some of the salaries and incentive options rewards are ridiculous when much of the success is the result of many people working in the trenches. I am personally embarrassed at the treatment given to loyal employees as they are walked out the door, not just at my company but many others, just to meet some short term number while executives continue to reap huge incomes. The mantra today is purely reduce costs and cut resources; when companies don't make the bottom line, its' a justification for moving overseas. Many in executive management and those professional politicians don't have a clue what it is like to be on the other end of their self-promoting decisions.

American Industrial Leadership is too narrowly focused on short-term profit rather than long-term growth and stability. We seem to forget that the CEO is still "just an employee" of the company! When companies become so metric driven, which ultimately affects how much income is derived in any given year, ethics may suffer and lives and communities are ruined. When a company is a good citizen in the local or national community, everyone wins.

The United States' federal government continues to tolerate the unbalanced playing field of manufacturing, while the number of U.S.-based manufacturing organizations are continuing to be reduced due economic realities of poor management. All global companies have a duty to find the source for the lowest cost producer of product while maintaining their market share of end-user customers. It is quite apparent that foreign producers have the marketing advantage that is generated by their governments creating a favorable manufacturing environment to produce the lower cost product. In the United States, the federal government's role is apparently to add operating cost to a manufacturing company. Each U.S.-based manufacturing organization must make their own efforts to reduce the level of waste in their process to remain competitive in a global market. Some of the U.S.-based manufacturing organization have improved and became or remained competitive in the global market, through their better management techniques. Part of the competitive advantage that has been created is the recognition of the level of skill sets of the non-management personnel are using. The continuing retraining efforts of manufacturing companies is the direct result of state and local governments failing to achieve even a minimal level of education for their "customers" we call "high school graduates." The bottom line for success in manufacturing is being the best at being quicker, better and cheaper concepts and execution than your competition, no manner where in the world they are located.

I think that the our lawmakers both local and national do not understand the situation in this country. I think they are blind to the ramifications of manufacturing moving off shore and in most cases seem to think that getting votes are more important than ensuring the longevity of our culture. Politics, always a filthy business, has become a challenge to "win the argument" instead of evaluating problems with a thought to creating lasting solutions. If business was conducted the way our lawmakers conduct their business, quality would be an unknown.

Cement companies buying ready mix/block plants. Mid-management jobs being reduced.

New position after considering retirement for 8 months. It is working well for the company and me.

I would perceive my compensation as fair, comfortable, and realistic. The greed evidenced by others will ruin our nation.

Salary has been an issue. 3% in three years. Lack of a legitimate manufacturing process, it is erratic and disorganized. Lack of a CMMS system for maintenance. Impossible to track scheduled vs. unscheduled, MTTR, AWM, etc.

In a position of management, it is often easier to be proactive in a smaller organization. The ability to initiate change and follow through is much easier. This is the reason pay is lower in small organizations. Less stress and less friction.

We manufacture high energy clutches and brakes for a wide range of industry. All markets are up as of 2005 and holding. Our local job market is tight and lack of skilled labor is a major concern. We are trying to tackle that by improving training internally and outside. I am able to perform my job as GM remotely, spending 2-3 weeks per month at the plant. It is working pretty well and is a bonus for me as I have a short period of time left as a full-time employee. I will continue to work for the company on a part-time or consulting contract starting 2008.

Mine is a unique job that developed with a change in Executives. The role is more like an internal consultant.

I have recently moved into this position which has the responsibility for manufacturing. Most of my career has been in sales, marketing and engineering. I enjoy the manufacturing challenges. I just wanted to clarify that my career path has not been in manufacturing.

There are numerous opportunities available for the small manufacturing business.

Manufacturing jobs are disappearing at an alarming rate, with seemingly little concern by our federal government. Manufacturing needs some immediate assistance to reduce the numbers of plant closures and job losses.

Have been able to earn a decent salary in manufacturing given my limited higher education but am really concerned with the future of manufacturing in this country. Have really enjoyed working in the engineering area of a highly technical manufacturing industry (powdered metal parts production).

I am well paid for what I do. What I worry about is that the relentless pace of globalization and the inevitable cost-pressure it brings is not ultimately in our best interests. Cheap products from developing economies like China help consumers and raise living standards for the workers, but at what long term cost to the environment and health?

Manufacturing in the U.S. is not growing and is losing in global competition. Our economy must have a strong manufacturing sector to maintain a good standard of living. The middle class was expanded due to the success of manufacturing in this country. Government needs to support through tax incentives the capital investment necessary to rebuild our manufacturing base. Companies need innovation and be willing to take risks for growth. Employees need to be involved, trained and accept the responsibility for producing a competitive quality product.

Being a jack of all trades has made it difficult to advance in a specific area.

My base salary is 5% less than it was 6 years ago. My total compensation is 25% less than it was six years ago. I have not had a base salary raise in over 6 years. I make decent money, but have been going downhill financially ever since my Fortune 500 company sold my mill to a financial buyer. I would strongly recommend against any young person going into the paper industry or majoring in pulp and paper as I did.

I am the owner of a small 8-year-old machining job shop that is still struggling with cash flow issues associated with the debt (10 year notes) assumed at start-up.

I am becoming another statistic of poor executive decisions that see the same product purchased from China as USA with no regard to quality, economics of community, employee loyalties, etc. we sometimes have to wonder why people are not as loyal to companies. Executives are making decisions to move product offshore that only differ by pennies.

Good benefits program for executives.

The chances of the facility where I work existing in five years are very slim. Corporation is not putting capital into facility and has made it clear emphasis is on developing in BRIC countries. I would strongly discourage any young person from pursuing a career with my company or in manufacturing. Personal challenge is to become specialized enough to move up in a company but remain flexible enough to move to another company in different industry.

We base bonuses on improvements of your goals and showing results for your operations.

Wear too many hats, not compensated for all the extra cost savings generated.

My job has a good balance of base salary, advancement opportunities, continuing training and education. Professional challenge: Not getting sucked into reacting to problems instead of identifying and eliminating issues before they become problems


More pay for the amount of work that I do.

I think the 2nd biggest challenge is getting decisions on the direction for individual departments and projects made at the executive level.

My base salary is important but not paramount to me. My long term goal is to build a successful business that will ultimately be my retirement.

My company is shutting down my plant in June and shifting operations to China. This is a fantastic facility and, as I said before all decisions seem to be made today based on wages and benefits.

I feel as though I should have a larger base salary and the bonus should be based upon individual plant performance versus division performance. We need to continually utilize lean manufacturing throughout our operations.

Work 50 to 60 hrs weekly but it is my choice. I have been treated well by those whom I work for.

Manufacturing has a vital role in the United States. I believe we are putting our independence and economic security at more of a risk as we see manufacturing leave the U.S.

There is very limited upward mobility, even considering the experience that I have.

Have been able to deal with many different kinds of challenges over the years.

We have not fully completed our transition from a functional to a process based organization.

Auto industry slowdown is really affecting our operations.

Doing what is right is not always easy, but it is always right. Always do what is right. Always have concern and respect for those that work for you. Fear failure to do those things above your fear of being fired. Being fired is not as bad as doing wrong. Let integrity be your greatest asset.

Taxes, health care and government regulations cost continue to drive manufacturing overseas.

I may be a bad example for this survey seeing I am past retirement age but feel the hardest part today is getting young qualified industrious people. I feel this is a problem due to low cost countries under bidding on most types of manufacturing.

Salary is below expectations, job situation is somewhat secure, manufacturing industry is where I will finish my career, and professional challenges are staying on top of the fast moving changes in both the manufacturing industry and the technology companies that support them.

The whole idea that good vendors are consumable exploitable resources is eroding the manufacturing base, which drives people and entrepreneurs away from manufacturing careers and investment.

It is being preferred to hire outside for any advanced Job opportunities. This is due to the company wanting higher education and different backgrounds. This actually creates other problems with someone needing training and having skill sets to perform the necessary job function.

Long term success will not be attained solely by cutting costs. It really depends on our ability to foster an environment where we can attract & retain an engaged and creative team of people to all areas of our organizations.

I would like to have a higher base salary.

Salary was not on par with the rest of the area or for that matter even the company. Bonus was based on personality not work product.

Our market has diminished due to competition from China and India selling same items as my company, but at a much lower price -- lower than my cost to purchase raw materials.

Even within our organization, there is a tendency to reward those individuals who are proximate, though some times the more distant and self contained operations that have less emotional interaction with their bosses have better managed systems. On paper, I have equals in the company, time and education. Performance is too often measured in age, and proximation, as I am the lowest paid person in the position I hold with in the organization, yet most often used to per-sue change in all organization. the balance is not right, not the compensation.

The company is O.K., although my supervisor is a paranoid, micro-manager (30 years with the company, worked his way up through the ranks), who is "protected" by his peers and manager.

I still feel women as a whole; still have to earn the respect of their male counterparts more so than the males do. It is the mushroom syndrome in the information pipeline. Treated as "on a need to know basis" which can influence a females ability to succeed. Manufacturing is a challenge and teaches you endurance and patience.

If I were a male I'd be paid more.

From 1996-2006 I worked in Connecticut. When I left Connecticut for a job in upstate New York I noticed a 10% salary differential (lower). This however was off set by the much lower cost of housing.

The hardest challenge is having to re-prove myself whenever a new top manager is hired. They have no "memory" of the plant and lose sight that our employees are our strength.

Earnings adjusted for time have decreased over last three years.

Corporate overhead keeps increasing in terms of dollars and people with very little benefit that I can perceive. My job seems to be changing from being a manager to being an administrator. This concerns me greatly.

Being in charge of a $25M facility/equipment, with $20M inventory, security, safety and 60+ employees, my general feeling is the salary is vastly understated. I am extremely happy managing the Parts Distribution Center and the challenges you encounter with people. 75% of time is devoted to people issues and concerns.

Large corporate America is putting less importance on their people year after year.

Unfortunately, most of our top management is "clueless" about anything beneficial about the Environment and how we do business. Environmental is a "necessary evil" and not part of our corporate culture. Too concerned about meeting schedule and making money.

This is the best job and best company that I have ever worked for. They value good employees and communicate everything with their employees. We always know how the company and our employees are doing!

Love my job and company, do not feel that my partner understands the importance of having/managing a people friendly organization. Need to make allowances for employees with baby-sitting problems (et al) by allowing flex time, etc.

Desire higher levels of variable pay and stock options.

I have been in manufacturing for 30+ years and have observed the destruction of our manufacturing base due to focusing on quarterly results vs. long term viability. I teach at the undergraduate and graduate level at a local university specializing in leadership and operations. This provides the opportunity to educate our future managers in how to be visionary leaders that energizes their team. Until we develop, true leadership with a long term emphasis that values their employee's contributions/ loyalty, our manufacturing base will continue to erode. The U.S. has reached a point in the life cycle of a country of maturity. This requires a greater expenditure of resources to project/maintain influence which denigrates the ability to invest in productive enterprise.

My income has been reduced significantly over the last couple of years because I am semi-retired. We are in the publishing business and our magazines are all about manufacturing. Just-in-time, lean, agile have to be part of every companies' way of doing business or we will no longer be in business.

I don't have bonus but I have stock and dividends and I'm on the board of directors. This is mostly a family owned operation and has been in business for 50 years.

We need to encourage young people to become scientists and engineers and let people know that there are still many good careers to be had in manufacturing.

These past two years have been like no other in the past 32 years I have worked here because of dramatically increasing metals pricing and spotty supply.

Our company was sold last year for the fourth time in 21 years. This makes for lack of stability for our business.

Being a very small part of a giant corporation and having to deal with same situations (problems and requirements) as those of a company 50 times larger. One size does not fit all.

Managing resources and cycle time. With high-tech manufacturing requiring extremely high performance products, yield is very variable. Equipment and process issues main concern for cycle time.

My salary is a fair salary for the location of our facility. The manufacturing environment isn't for everyone, but those who are in it, usually find they love it like it is second nature for them. Challenges are meeting customer needs on time with longer lead times for material and also to maintain our profit margins since customer contracts don't take into account the increase in rising cost of materials.

I feel that my salary right now is too low compared to others with my experience and background in this area.

I have stayed in the manufacturing sector for one main reason: the daily accounting challenges.

Manufacturing is a excellent place to be. Everyday there are challenges whether it is with employees, vendors or coworkers, but you usually can't beat a group of caring people who take pride in what they manufacture.

If market conditions do not improve, the overall manufacturing sector is going to lose its talent as they will go where the opportunities are.

Many companies using job rating and evaluation systems (i.e., Hay, etc.) that focus too heavily on $ responsibility and do not value complexity of job and P&L responsibility.

Manufacturing, sourcing or supply chain management career path is sometimes undervalued by those who still think of it as being only associated with what goes on within the four walls of a mfg facility. Those who succeed by pursuing the more expanded supply chain and logistics opportunities are engaged in key transformation strategies and activities that drive major financial and business performance across the enterprise.

Fewer opportunities at senior manufacturing levels has led to lower wages and job instability

Celebrating the 40th anniversary this month of this company that I founded. It has been a wonderful adventure. I will be retiring at the end of this year and passing the business along to my son. God bless this great country of ours and the opportunity it offers for everyone to be all that they can be.

As with all American manufacturing facilities the threat of outsourcing to China is always looming in the shadows. But some of IndustryWeek's recent articles on increased cost of outsourcing gives hope.

The fast paced and aggressive manufacturing environment is rapidly changing. Making solid strategic plans and predictions is exceedingly difficult. The cost of human and capital resources in the US force us to spend most of our time scenario planning for U.S. vs. foreign supply. This analysis is difficult when we have a U.S. work force depending on future work.

Shortages of qualified employment candidates or even apprentices, as schools are not promoting careers in manufacturing or skilled trades.

Salaries are lower in manufacturing as compared to other fields like IT, software, finance etc which drives manufacturing out of their field by pursuing MBA or other degrees.

Salaries are very important including retirement security. When one considers your base salary over the years reflected a consideration towards your retirement account. The difficulty now is seeing a mature industry struggle and expecting long term employees to risk retirement benefits. Industry in America is slow to change, much like the auto industry is finding out today. World class production assembly facilities are much more suited to compete then the traditional big box manufacturing facilities of the 1960s, '70s and '80s. Industry had over a decade to transition, re-educate workforces and to position themselves to compete in a global market. Most chose to reap the heydays of the '80s and now find themselves behind the curve and paying through the nose.

Vacation tops out at two weeks plus three personal days. The salespeople work around that with comp-time -- not so for those working out of the office.

Unless the U.S. can deal with the China threat we will be relegated to second-rate nation at best

Combined GM/CFO responsibilities for multiple site manufacturer.

We need more "Good to Great" (Jim Collins' book) CEOs and plant managers.

Concerns are about the alarming rate at which manufacturing seems to be shrinking in the U.S.

Although by base salary and bonus is low, I am being provided with the opportunity to gain long-term wealth via an equity stake in the company.

Quite simply increase my wages so that I can continue to survive. Gasoline prices ridiculous, BG&E prices are going through the roof. It's too much to list here. Families can barely survive. I can't even take a vacation out of town be cause I can't save money toward it. I'm already into next week's paycheck. And sadly I don't see it changing.

My salary has been stymied by shrinking margins due to increasing costs. Our manufacturing business must outsource products and services to survive in the long run I believe.

Most of us old timers, when asked don't recommend manufacturing as a career path.

About the Author

Dave Blanchard | Senior Director of Content

Focus: Supply Chain

Call: (941) 208-4370

Follow on Twitter @SupplyChainDave

During his career Dave Blanchard has led the editorial management of many of Endeavor Business Media's best-known brands, including IndustryWeekEHS Today, Material Handling & LogisticsLogistics Today, Supply Chain Technology News, and Business Finance. He also serves as senior content director of the annual Safety Leadership Conference. With over 30 years of B2B media experience, Dave literally wrote the book on supply chain management, Supply Chain Management Best Practices (John Wiley & Sons, 2010), which has been translated into several languages and is currently in its second edition. He is a frequent speaker and moderator at major trade shows and conferences, and has won numerous awards for writing and editing. He is a voting member of the jury of the Logistics Hall of Fame, and is a graduate of Northern Illinois University.

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