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Identifying Talent

Succession planning and identifying talent are imperative for survival , now that the impending surge of Baby Boomer retirements is almost upon us.

By Sandy Smith

Brian Reh, a mechanical engineer by trade, never planned to end up at MHI member Gorbel, the overhead material handling and fall protection product manufacturer founded by his father in 1977. These days, he owns the place.

But this isn’t another story of a son taking over the family business and figuring out his way around. Instead, Brian and his father, Dave, set out on a multi-year succession plan, with Dave handing over more and more of the responsibility, providing advice and mentoring along the way. The transition was so successful that Brian has implemented succession planning throughout Gorbel.

Identifying talent—and readying for the surge of Baby Boomer retirements—is imperative for survival.

“The impending wave of retiring Baby Boomers affects the workplace and supply chain far greater than most anticipate, which is and will continue to leave significant gaps in the workforce,” said Andy Recard, president at MHI member TZA.

Recard points to U.S. Labor Department statistics that show 60 million Baby Boomers leaving the workforce by 2025—with only 40 million entering. “The supply chain industry is expanding faster than workers are becoming qualified, and qualifications for those careers are becoming more dynamic,” he said. “And let’s not forget that there’s this perception that supply chain jobs lack excitement. Couple that with companies who may not be properly feeding their future talent pipeline. This all results in a growing global talent shortage crisis.”

And that shortage meets increasing demand for workers in the supply chain. “That’s prevalent throughout all the modals,” said Timothy McNamara, managing partner, Odgers Berndtson, LLC. “Rail is probably doing a better job than the rest, but they have large workforces that are graying with America. They have huge issues to address.”

One key to that shortage is to appeal to millennials—those born between 1981 and 1997. In 2015, this group became the largest in the workforce—and will account for 75 percent of workers in a decade. While this generation has gotten a bad rap—especially for their willingness to move around—they demand a clear career path. Manpower Group advises employers to demonstrate the ways that longevity with the company leads to advancement and to have regular conversations about career path.

No matter the age range, though, carefully crafted succession planning just makes good sense.

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The Q2 2018 issue of MHI Solutions focuses on the supply chain workforce, including finding, retaining and unleashing the talent that is out there. To tackle the growing challenge of securing the right talent to effectively implement new technologies, firms must collaborate with industry associations, universities and career and technical education programs to develop the next generation supply chain workforce. This workforce will look very different as supply chains increasingly require purple people—those with business acumen (blue) and technical (red) skills—to leverage digital technologies and take full advantage of the business opportunities they offer.

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