Retailers, manufacturers, importers/exporters, wholesalers and the military all use warehouses to store and distribute goods and merchandise. No matter the type of business or items stored, a variety of skills and talents are needed to run a warehouse. Warehouses employ general laborers, skilled laborers, managers and individuals with clerical, administrative and customer service expertise to ensure a quality operation.
Skilled laborers are needed within every area of warehouse operations. In distribution, forklift operators, material handlers and tractor trailer drivers are needed to move and transport merchandise from location to location. To ensure proper storage and maintenance, skilled tradesmen with backgrounds in various types of machine repair are often needed. Depending upon the type of warehouse, various other skilled trades like refrigeration, auto mechanics and pneumatic operations may also be necessary.
General laborers (often referred to as warehouse associates) perform an array of duties within the warehouse. These duties might include loading and unloading stock, maintaining a clean and orderly area, packing and labeling product and some minor assembly. You must be physically fit to hold this type of position, as warehouse associates are required to do lots of walking, standing and heavy lifting.
Operations managers are responsible for overseeing every aspect of warehousing. Consequently, to be promoted to this area you will need to have a diverse background or education in general business and management. Some skills needed to function in this job include the ability to plan and oversee transportation systems, lead and motivate a team, prepare and maintain a financial budget and handle customer concerns. More importantly, operations managers must adhere to occupational safety and health administration (OSHA) guidelines.
Lastly, an administrative team is needed to handle the day-to-day clerical and support functions of the warehouse. This area encompasses a wide variety of positions in general areas like customer service, data entry, contracts and accounting. There are also a number of staff positions that are more specific to the warehouse industry such as dispatching, logistics, inventory and safety administration.