ID's 2016 Salary Report: Mid-Level Management

In this second installment, see the factors affecting compensation and overall satisfaction levels of mid-level management employees from our recent readership survey of industrial distributors.

The results are in for Industrial Distribution’s annual Salary Report, one of our most popular and contentious features each year. Here, you’ll find the factors affecting compensation and overall satisfaction levels of our readership, which is comprised of distributorship employees ranging from those at very small companies to those firms on our annual Big 50 List.

Distributed via email, the 2016 Industrial Distribution Salary Report funnels survey respondents into three separate question pools based on where they identified their specific job functions. The following results are based on three separate sets of data from Executives (Owner, Chairman, CEO, CFO, CIO, COO, President or VP); Mid-Level (non-sales) Management (Product, Operations, Branch and/or Purchasing); and Sales Representative/Manager. This year’s split of nearly 300 respondents came at 21.4 percent executives, 29.2 percent mid-level management and 49.4 percent sales rep or sales management.

In this second installment we examine the results from our mid-level management respondents.


The mid-level management group once again was the most diverse of our three, with 22 percent represented by women — down one percentage point from a year ago. The amount of women was 17 percent in 2014. As far as age range:

  • 28 percent are under 40 years old
  • 21 percent are between 40 and 49
  • The largest amount — 34 percent — are between 50 and 59 years old
  • 17 percent are at least 60 years old

Unlike our executives group, the largest portion of our mid-level managers come from large companies, with 35 percent at industrial distributors with at least $500 million in revenue. Only 18 percent are at companies less with less than $25 million, 26 percent are at those between $25 million to $100 million, while another 21 percent represent companies between $100 million to $500 million. Ninety-one percent of this group has at least some college education under their belt.

The average salary of this this group is far skewed by two respondents’ who each made between $7 million and $9 million per year. Once those outliers are removed, the average becomes $88K, a bit below 2015’s figure of $92K. The average additional compensation for this group had a healthy growth from $22K in 2015 to $34K this time around. However, that average was impacted by one outlier that received $800K in compensation. Removing that, the average is brought down to just under $20K. A quartet of respondents indicated they didn’t receive any compensation in the past year. Overall, the total compensation package for this group — combining base salary and bonuses, 401K contributions, educational reimbursements and other additional cash — has risen from $109K in 2014, $115K in 2015 and to $122K this year.

Despite the rise in total compensation package, this group had by far the largest one-year decline in job satisfaction. Only 52 percent of mid-level management respondents said they feel fairly compensated, down from 65 percent in 2015. That coincides with only 53 percent saying they feel they are faced with adequate job growth opportunities at their company (Figure 3), down three percentage points from a year ago. Thirty-five percent say they don’t have adequate job growth opportunities, while 12 percent aren’t sure.

Those who are dissatisfied weren’t shy about sharing their feelings on it. Some gave lengthy details on how they haven’t been rewarded for going above and beyond their duty. Here’s a sampling of comments:

  • “Even though I exceed management expectations, they have not given me a raise in nine years.”
  • “Job responsibilities have increased greatly and peers are making more for lesser roles.”
  • “While significant, my current compensation is based more on years of service rather than my current contribution — which is greater than it’s ever been. It’s the price I pay to not relocate.”

On the flip side, one respondent simply said, “If someone is happy with what they make, they are probably over-paid.”

The amount of respondents in this group who say the demands of their job rose in the past year have had a notable rise in recent years, climbing from 76 percent in 2014, to 79 percent in 2015, to 86 percent this year (Figure 4). This year only 11 percent said their job demands remained the same.

Going deeper:

  • The majority of this group — 53 percent — oversee five or fewer employees (down from 59 percent last year)
  • 14 percent oversee six to 10 employees
  • 12 percent oversee 10 to 20 employees
  • 21 percent oversee more than 20 employees

A likely reason for the decline in overall job satisfaction of this group is a notable rise in those who fell victim to salary or benefit cuts in the past year. Thirty percent of respondents said they took a cut, up from 20 percent last year and 16 percent in 2014. That reflects a 16-point rise in the amount — 30 percent — who said they didn’t receive a raise in the past year. 25 percent said they received a standard performance-based raise and another 18 percent received an inflation-based raise.

In terms of tenure, this year’s group has been with their company an average of 14 years, one more than in 2015 and 2014. Meanwhile, they’ve held their current position for an average of seven years, one more than in 2015.

View the Executive results of our Salary Report here.

Stay tuned later this week for our Salary Report segment on sales/sales management

View our 2015 Salary Report here

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