Irving M. (“Irv”) Footlik, P.E., the PHCP distribution industry’s most renowned facilities and material handling consultant, passed away June 5 at age 88 after a brief illness.

Footlik was a close friend of SUPPLY HOUSE TIMES founder Charlie Horton and a staunch supporter of the magazine from its earliest days. Beginning with Volume 1, #1 in 1958, Footlik wrote a regular column focused on warehouse design and operations that was sustained for around two decades.

The company he founded, Footlik & Associates, based in Evanston, IL, continues under the leadership of his son, Robert Footlik, who also has contributed articles to this magazine over the years. Irv Footlik remained active in the business until the end, although his workload slowed down due to health problems since the late 1990s.

Bob estimates that his father had a hand in designing more than 500 facilities during his career, with clients in virtually every market around the United States and Canada.

“It speaks of his integrity that he frequently would work for competing clients in the same market,” said Robert. “My father valued ethics and integrity above everything else. His clients knew they could trust him not to reveal confidential business information. In fact, one of my father’s flaws, if it can be called that, is that he often put his clients’ interests above his own.”

Professional Achievements

Irv Footlik graduated as a mechanical engineer from the Illinois Institute of Technology. He taught at IIT, at Northwestern University, and as a guest lecturer at universities throughout the country, as well as teaching an international audience of top material handling people at the Industrial Management Center for 35 years.

Footlik was especially known for his contributions to the material handling industry. He was a founder of the Association of Professional Material Handling Consultants and the International Material Management Association. He also was a member of the Illinois Society of Professional Engineers, Professional Engineers in Private Practice, American Society of Mechanical Engineers, Industrial Management Association, and The Institute of Industrial Engineering. Irv Footlik also was a founder of the Warehouse Education & Research Council.

His contributions to the PHCP industry included a popular series of training programs lasting from the 1970s until the mid-1990s called “Warehouse Productivity Clinics.” Footlik noted that the seminars he conducted at industry events were attended mostly by top management. These Clinics were aimed instead at the warehouse personnel “who fulfill the promises that sales makes.”

In addition to his PHCP clientele, which included many of the industry's top distribution and manufacturing firms, Irv Footlik was a consultant to more than 25 industries. He was a contributing material handling editor for eight trade journals, and authored a textbook on material handling. He also authored several chapters of the Material Handling Handbook.

Footlik worked on hospitals, factories, retail stores and other types of buildings. He played a major role in designing Chicago's Water Tower Place.

Awards & Honors

Outside of our industry, Irv Footlik is best known for his palletless warehouse designs and the development of the first fully automated warehouse in the world at the Kitchens of Sara Lee. His diversified experience in the material handling industry led to receipt of the International Materials Management Society Certificate of Merit. He was honored by Charlie Horton as one of the first to be named to the SUPPLY HOUSE TIMES' Plumbing, Heating, Air Conditioning Industry Hall of Fame. Irv Footlik also was honored by the Illinois Institute of Technology with its Award for Professional Achievement in 1990.

He was active in many civic and philanthropic functions and honored numerous times for his contributions and guidance.

Irv Footlik is listed inWho's Who in Finance and Industry, Who's Who in the World, Who's Who in Steel and Metals, and Who's Who in Engineering.

He is survived by his wife and business partner, Sylvia Footlik, along with Robert, daughter Janice, three grandchildren and a great-grandchild.