A survey conducted by theNAW Institute for Distribution Excellence on behalf of Industrial Careers Pathway finds 91% of distribution companies are ready to hire new employees within the next five years. The survey also reveals that within these distribution companies, three to four of every 10 employees are expected to retire within five years.

Survey respondents - from companies ranging from less than $20 million in sales to more than $1 billion - face big labor and intelligence gaps in an industry where product application and process knowledge and relationships with customers drive profitability.

“The importance of a strong distribution network cannot be underestimated,” saidTerry Knight, executive of strategic sales and business development with SKF USA. “Manufacturers are dependent upon this network to reach all aspects of the marketplace, provide feedback and be an important link in the supply chain. The NAW Institute survey reinforces that our industries need to reach new potential employees right now.”

Jobs that need to be filled include outside/field sales, inside/counter sales, customer service and technical or product specialist jobs. Only 10% of survey respondents require education above an associate’s degree for inside sales positions and 25% require an associate’s degree or higher for outside sales jobs. The survey reveals 59% of respondents feel new employees don’t have a good understanding of the industrial distribution industry, while nearly 53% say new hires don’t understand their role in the success of the company.