For most service centers, sales and purchasing are just one half of the operation. A significant amount of time, effort, and yes, money, goes into the men and women cutting, slitting, leveling and otherwise manipulating the metal they sell.
MetalJobs Network, partnering with Metal Center News, surveyed hundreds of people throughout the metals supply chain to discover how compensation levels stack up across the industry.
One thing is for certain. The cost of talent on the floor is going up. From 2022, compensation increased across the board, though the gains were nowhere near uniform.
The biggest increases came from the operations’ most prominent personnel – general managers, directors, vice presidents and executive vice presidents/COOs.
In 2022, general managers averaged $258,800 in compensation. By 2023, the average compensation increased to $275,400, a 6.4 percent increase. Directors’ salaries increased 6 percent from $219,600 to $232,700. The base salary for GMs was $192,600 and for directors it was $168,500.
EVP/COO compensation expanded 5.4 percent from $480,900 to $507,200, while for vice presidents, compensation grew at a slower rate, up just 2 percent to $413,900. The base salary for vice presidents was $244,600, while it was $343,300 for EVP/COOs.
Moving down the chain of command, plant managers saw a modest increase in pay in 2023, up just $2,400 to $152,500. In contrast, pay for production managers jumped $14,400 to $139,300 and production supervisors saw an increase of $10,900 to $101,400.
Quality managers saw their salaries grow 3.3 percent to $123,500, while quality engineers enjoyed a more robust growth of 7 percent to $87,300. The base salary for quality managers was $116,100 and it was $80,900 for quality engineers.
In the maintenance department, managers’ salaries increased $4,900 to $137,100, while maintenance techs saw a small increase of $1,500 to $85,600.
For an EHS manager, the average salary moved from $119,600 to $123,400, while EHS specialists saw an increase of just $400 to $99,100.
Naturally, salaries were in line with tenure. Engineering single contributors with zero to 10 years of experience made approximately $100,000 this year, while those with 20 years or more of experience pulled down more than $145,000 annually.
Among engineering managers, the average salary for an employee with zero to 10 years of experience was almost flat in 2023 from the prior year at $129,000. For those with 20 or more years of
experience, the average salary was $168,500, up nearly $3,000 from the year before. Beyond the Bottom Line
MetalJobs Network didn’t just seek out compensation levels for those employees manning the warehouse and shop floors, but dug in to understand just who is working there and what they’re looking for from their employer.
Forty percent of the employees surveyed work for service centers, toll processors or traders. Another 26 percent are employed at a mill or raw material producer. Eighteen percent are fabricators and the remaining 16 percent work for an OEM.
Not surprisingly, the two areas of the country where the metals supply chain operates most heavily are represented in the survey. Forty percent of the respondents come from companies based in the Midwest and another 22 percent are located in the Southeast. The rest of the respondents are relatively equally split between the Mid-Atlantic, Southwest, Northeast, West regions of the United States. Another 6 percent were located in Canada and Mexico.
The educational levels of the respondents run the gamut, though the majority had some kind of post-secondary degree. A bachelor’s degree was held by 43 percent of respondents, while another 30 percent earned a Master’s. Three percent earned a doctorate, about the same as the number who hold an associate degree.
Eight percent of the floor employees topped out at a high school diploma or GED. Only 12 percent of employees were products of tech schools or earned a professional certificate, a number most employers hope will grow in the years to come.
Another worrying number involved the tenure in metals. Almost half (44 percent) of the respondents have more than 20 years of experience. While experience is undoubtedly one of the most valuable traits in an employee, the heavy tilt toward 20-plus year employees indicates there are a number of employees who are closing in on retirement, an issue in an already-challenged personnel world.
Overall tenures move straight downward from there. One-fifth of employees have been in the industry for 11 to 20 years, another 17 percent have six to 10 years of experience. Twelve percent have been on the job for one to five years, while just six percent are in their first year in the industrial metals economy.
In contrast, most employees are relatively new to their current employer. Just short of 40 percent of workers have been with their companies for one to five years, while almost 20 percent are in their first year. Eighteen percent have been employed at the same place for six to 10 years, 14 percent for 11 to 20 years and only one in 10 employees has been with the same company for 20 or more years. What do they want?
For the metals supply chain, most of the floor employees are content with their pay level. Forty-six percent of respondents indicated they were satisfied with their compensation, while another nine percent were very satisfied. Only 22 percent were characterized as either dissatisfied or very dissatisfied.
Even so, that isn’t going to keep them from considering whether the grass is indeed greener elsewhere. While 36 percent are not looking for new opportunities, 37 admitted to passively looking and another 27 percent said they were actively pursuing new work.
Higher compensation is the main driving factor behind those looking elsewhere, cited by almost three quarters (73 percent) of respondents. Other significant factors include better culture (55 percent), better leadership (39 percent) and more interesting work, (32 percent).
Almost half (47 percent) of those on the hunt are open to relocating for a new position, while 26 percent said “no.” Another 27 percent answered “maybe.”
While income is likely the single-most important factor for every employee, it’s obviously not the only aspect of working life they prioritize. The most prominent alternate attribute, cited by 64 percent of survey takers, was a position that maintained a good work/life balance.
Other draws include medical, dental and other health benefits, plus a company’s reputation culture and core values. Both were recognized by just under half of the respondents. The leadership team and company’s financial stability were cited by a little over 35 percent.
Among the standard benefits offered by the companies of the respondents, those health needs are being met by the vast majority of employers. Medical, dental and vision insurance are all offered by more than 90 percent of companies, as is a 401K match. Disability coverage (78 percent) and a company-paid cellphone (59 percent) are the other two benefits offered by more than half of the employers.
At the bottom half, a parking pass, company gas card, auto allowance and company vehicle are provided by less than 12 percent of all employers.
Considering how well the most important aspects of work life match with the benefits provided, it’s no surprise that most employees are largely content with what their employers offer. Fifty-nine percent are satisfied or very satisfied with their benefits packages, while only 16 percent express any level of dissatisfaction.
Paid-time off is a standard feature, with 42 percent of employees getting three weeks’ time and another 31 percent earning four weeks of PTO. The level of PTO corresponds with tenure, though there’s not much movement after five years.
For employees with 20 or more years of experience, the average amount of time off is a little under four weeks. But, for employees of six to 10 years’ time with a company, they’re already averaging 3.15 weeks of PTO.
Even first-year employees typically get two-plus weeks of PTO.
Warehouse and other floor employees are typically local, more so than sales executives. More than 60 percent have a commute of less than half an hour, though only seven percent of that is remote work, a much lower figure than in sales. Only 15 percent have a commute of longer than 45 minutes.
Overall, MetalJobs Network’s results show a general level of satisfaction from employees with their employers. The study indicates 57 percent of respondents were either satisfied or very satisfied with the people signing their paychecks, while only one-fifth of respondents described themselves as dissatisfied.
Again this year, Metal Center News partnered with niche executive search firm MetalJobs Network on a compensation survey, this time of warehouse and other shop floor employees in the metals supply chain.