Reprinted from THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS, July 27, 2008

Sophistication leads to new positions, opportunities at warehouses

There’s a lot more to warehouses these days than boxes, plastic wrap and conveyor belts.
Those aspects still exist, but warehousing jobs have become increasingly sophisticated as companies strive to move products from Point A to Point B faster, cheaper and better.
With current economic conditions, efficient end-to-end supply chain solutions are a more valuable commodity than a tank full of gas.

Third-party logistics providers, such as Illinois-based DSC Logistics, contract with companies that want to outsource that part of their operations. Patrick Swartz, a vice president of regional operations whose territory includes Texas, said, “We do the warehousing, network design and modeling, and supply chain management so they can concentrate on things like marketing and customer service.”

Warehousing jobs are plentiful, requiring a wide range of skills from operating a forklift to filling an order and then shipping the goods. Right now, Mr. Swartz said the bulk of available jobs are handlers, with “jobs aplenty” for experienced forklift operators.

‘In a nice spot’
Times are also good, he said, for customer service representatives, inventory control specialists, facility managers and line supervisors.

“Economic-wise, we’re in a nice spot,” Mr. Swartz said. “The need will always be there to get products from the manufacturers to the store shelves, so we wouldn’t expect the market to give up on these types of jobs anytime soon.

“In fact, we expect it to grow.”

Norm Saenz Jr., an associate principal and Dallas office manager for Keogh Consulting, said warehouse jobs include: operations, traffic and office managers; warehouse supervisors, forklift and maintenance operators, order fillers/pickers, shipping/receiving clerks, general warehouse workers, security guards, and information technology/systems technicians.

Keogh Consulting, a warehouse distribution and supply chain consulting firm in Lewisville, specializes in staff planning and technology. Mr. Saenz also leads the local Warehousing Education and Research Council group.

“Companies are trying to reduce head count. This usually starts with reducing overhead and is accomplished by increasing worker productivity,” Mr. Saenz said.
“Generally, the order filler/picker accounts for the majority of the labor force and cost within a warehouse.”

Operations managers can earn up to $72,000 a year, while top pay for traffic managers stands at $62,000. Average annual wages for office managers range from $47,000 to $52,000. Forklift operators and shipping/receiving clerks can expect between $12.50 and $13.50 per hour, while hourly wages for order fillers/pickers and general warehouse workers typically fall between $11 and $12. These salaries were provided by Keogh Consulting, based on recent warehousing council reports.

DSC Logistics has about 40 sites across the country, including Grand Prairie, Coppell, Roanoke and Houston, and two in Arlington. Its Roanoke facility is part of the Alliance Business Park, a successful logistics story in itself.

(The Dallas Logistics Hub, an inland port being developed on 6,000 acres in southern Dallas County, aims to be another one.)

Staffing agencies within Alliance Texas include: Cornerstone Staffing, Manpower, Oxford Global Resources, Remedy Intelligent Staffing and Staffmark.

Opportunity center
The Alliance Opportunity Center serves as a satellite workforce center for more than 170 companies within Alliance Texas, matching prospective employees with job openings and making referrals to placement firms. This year’s annual Alliance Texas Hiring Fair drew 60 companies and 1,400 job seekers. The 2009 hiring fair will be April 22.

“Most of the opportunity center’s jobs recruit in the distribution environment,” said Janet Benton, workforce center manager.

The center’s approach is flexible, she said. “Some companies [will only] see the person and screen applicants. Most companies see résumés and take applications. We do either/or.”

The Alliance Opportunity Center is open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, but it extends hours when needed. It is one of seven Tarrant County workforce centers. The Texas Workforce Commission is one of its partners, as are Hillwood Properties, the developer of Alliance Texas; Tarrant County College; Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce; and Workforce Solutions of Tarrant County.

The Alliance Opportunity Center has won several awards. “We are one of the best-kept secrets in Tarrant County, but we want to be one of the best known,” Ms. Benton said.

© Copyright The Dallas Morning News. July 2008. By Debbie DeLoach Anderson / Special Contributor to The Dallas Morning News. All rights reserved.

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