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

Shippers are trying to make sense of quickly shifting ocean carrier alliances and partnerships—with the viability of some players even brought into question.

The questions for the most recent Semiannual Economic Forecast, which was released last week, included: 1-has the strength of the U.S. dollar had a negative, negligible or positive impact on their organization’s profits?; 2-has the net impact of the depressed prices of oil and related commodities been negative, negligible, or positive for their organization’s profits; and 3-how would they characterize the combined impact of their organization’s profits on the strength of the U.S. dollar and the depressed prices of oil and related commodities.

The Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS) reported this week that that U.S. trade with its North America Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) partners Canada and Mexico dropped 5.8 percent on an annual basis in March to $90.5 billion.

Shippers sourcing their goods out the Port of Oakland’s largest marine terminal will soon need to make an appointment drayage providers before their cargo is released.

U.S. Carloads fell 10.6 percent at 244,290, and intermodal containers and trailers were off 6.5 percent at 262,693.

Article Topics

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

About the Author

Bob Trebilcock, executive editor, has covered materials handling, technology and supply chain topics for Modern Materials Handling since 1984. A graduate of Bowling Green State University, Trebilcock lives in Keene, NH. He can be reached at 603-357-0484 and [email protected]

Comments

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


© Copyright 2016 Peerless Media LLC, a division of EH Publishing, Inc • 111 Speen Street, Ste 200, Framingham, MA 01701 USA