3PL Survey: What keeps you up at night?

By Bob Trebilcock, Executive Editor
October 21, 2011 - MMH Editorial

Fuel prices are going through the roof. Customers that once valued long-term relationships are now low-cost shoppers. And an economic recovery long stuck in neutral might be shifting into reverse.

So what keeps the CEOs at some of the world’s largest 3PLs up at night? What do they think are their most significant problems?

That was one of the questions posed to 3PL CEOs in North America, Europe and Asia as part of the 18th 3PL Provider CEO Perspective, a survey conducted by Robert Lieb, a professor of supply chain management at Northeastern University, Kristin Lieb, assistant professor of marketing at Emerson College and Joseph Gallick, senior VP of sales for Penske Logistics.

The answer was the shortage of talent and it was consistent across all three regions. In fact, in North America, economic uncertainty was a distant fourth, behind pricing pressures and fuel price volatility.

In Europe, talent shortage was higher on the list than lowered volumes and profitability, 3PL stability, pricing pressures and the requirement to provide consistent excellence.

And, in Asia finding and retaining talent was a considered a bigger problem than rising labor costs, a rapidly changing marketplace, infrastructure challenges, compliance with government regulations, competition from other 3PLs and customers focusing on their unit handling costs.

Interestingly, hiring and retaining talent, especially competent engineers, was at the top of the list of issues facing the materials handling industry at both of the product section meetings I attended during the spring meeting of the Material Handling Industry of America (http://www.mhia.org) last month.

What that says to me is that CEOs in our industry, more so than politicians, are focusing on the big picture. Rising costs, competition and compliance are important issues in the short-term, but experienced and educated talent has more to do with the long term success.

There’s a lesson in there somewhere. 

About the Author

Bob Trebilcock
Executive Editor

Bob Trebilcock, executive editor, has covered materials handling, technology and supply chain topics for Modern Materials Handling since 1984. More recently, Trebilcock became editorial director of Supply Chain Management Review. A graduate of Bowling Green State University, Trebilcock lives in Keene, NH. He can be reached at 603-357-0484.

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About the Author

Bob Trebilcock, editorial director, has covered materials handling, technology, logistics and supply chain topics for nearly 30 years. In addition to Supply Chain Management Review, he is also Executive Editor of Modern Materials Handling. A graduate of Bowling Green State University, Trebilcock lives in Keene, NH. He can be reached at 603-357-0484 or email [email protected].


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