Materials handling: The tide turns

Materials handling ain't glamorous, but a recent Amazon deal shows just how far we've come
By Bob Trebilcock, Executive Editor
August 06, 2013 - MMH Editorial

As I’ve often written, I grew up in the materials handling industry. My Dad owned a company that manufactured and marketed wooden pallets, stretch film systems and other transport packaging products. In the summers, when other kids’ dads took them to baseball games and Disney in Orlando, my Dad took me on sales trips, visiting manufacturing plants in cities like Erie, Buffalo, Wheeling and Ft. Wayne. I saw America through the back lot of manufacturing plants in Midwestern factory towns.

The biggest test was meeting the father of a girl before a date. Inevitably, he’d ask what my Dad did and I’d say he sells pallets. That led to two questions.

What’s a pallet?

Once I answered that question, the next was: And you can make a living at that?

So, maybe I’ve had a little chip on my shoulder when I explain that I write about materials handling for a living. But two recent deals from Amazon give me, and should give everyone in our industry, a reason to smile.

The first is yesterday’s announcement that Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon, paid $250 million for the Washington Post. Now, the Post is one of the best-known names in newspaper journalism. As a paper, it has employed some of the real stars in the industry and been at the center of some of the most important stories of our times.

Meanwhile, I’m reminded that about 18 months ago, Amazon paid $800 million for Kiva Systems, a mobile robotic materials handling and order fulfillment system that had perhaps $100 million in sales at the time of the sale, as estimated by news organizations.

Who would have thought that a company providing order fulfillment solutions to warehouses with limited revenues would sell for more than 3 times that of one of the best-known names in journalism?

It demonstrates how important materials handling and logistics is to business today. 



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.


Subscribe to Logistics Management magazine

Subscribe today. It's FREE!
Get timely insider information that you can use to better manage your
entire logistics operation.
Start your FREE subscription today!

Recent Entries

Straying from its typical seasonal trajectory, United States-bound waterborne shipments dipped from March to April, according to data recently issued by Panjiva, an online search engine with detailed information on global suppliers and manufacturers.

One theme tied together all of the presentations, regardless of the topic: The importance of data.

U.S. carloads were down 10 percent annually at 269,092, and intermodal volume saw a 4.9 percent annual gain to 280,107 containers and trailers.

The Chamber of Marine Commerce today joins governments, policymakers, industry and the general public in celebrating the nation’s merchant marine industry, but also urges reforms to ensure greater industrial competitiveness, jobs and prosperity.

Many companies are turning to Global Trade Management (GTM) as a viable solution to address the complexities associated with international trade. But how do you successfully build a business case for GTM software?

Article Topics

Blogs · Packaging · Pallets · Kiva Systems · Amazon · All topics

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].

Comments

Post a comment
Commenting is not available in this channel entry.


© Copyright 2015 Peerless Media LLC, a division of EH Publishing, Inc • 111 Speen Street, Ste 200, Framingham, MA 01701 USA