“The U.S. is poised to recover the manufacturing base that has left this country if we had a government truly interested in job and wealth growth. Our debt is ruining our future.”—purchasing director with an apparel manufacturer with 26+ years of experience, living in the South Central region and earning $125,000

“I am in my 21st year of managing, and I have seen major changes in the industry, especially in the automation portion of the business. I have received a lot of skilled training that has proved very valuable to me, but I have not received the proper salary to complement my knowledge base.”—distribution/warehouse manager with a consumer goods manufacturer with 26+ years of experience, living in the Middle Atlantic region and earning $65,000

“Salary is the driving force behind getting and keeping good employees.”—corporate executive in the automotive industry with 21-25 years of experience, living in the South Central region and earning $75,000

“Logisticians are problem solvers and should always be compensated as such.”—transportation manager with an energy/utilities company with 21-25 years of experience, living in the South Central region and earning $60,000

As the supply chain goes, so goes the country, to coin a phrase, and in this era of stagnant-at-best economic growth, there’s the very real sense that it’s mainly thanks to the skills of the men and women piloting the supply chain that the United States is as resilient as it is. Indeed, during the depths of the recent Great Recession, when most companies were retrenching into survival mode, a number of prescient companies proactively sought out and hired top supply chain talent. Having a foundation of excellence built on the best talent is, according to Ted Stank with the University of Tennessee, “the number one requirement for transforming a supply chain.”

Top supply chain talent, Stank explains, have four critical competencies: global orientation, leadership skills, technical savvy and superior business skills. To those four characteristics, we would add a fifth: resiliency. As you’ll see in the following pages, as well as in our exclusive gallery of salary tables as well as our collection of open-ended comments about the supply chain's biggest challenges, the people who manage the supply chains throughout U.S. industry have a deep knowledge base of operational processes and capabilities, gathered over years—and in many cases, decades—of hands-on experience. We collected salary, business and demographic data from the subscriber databases of both Material Handling & Logistics and sister publication IndustryWeek, which between them focus on corporate and senior managers at U.S. manufacturing, retail, wholesale, distribution and third-party logistics companies. The 2014 Supply Chain Salary Survey represents, then, a focused study on the careers of the people who matter most when it comes to keeping the nation’s supply chain running.