2016 Salary Report
The results are in for Industrial Distribution’s annual Salary Report, one of our most popular and conten- tious 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 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.
As expected, this year’s executive group has the highest
pay rates, tenure and experience within their career paths.
This year, better than 97 percent are males, up from 90
percent in 2015. As always the oldest group of the three,
54 percent of our executives are 60+ years in age, up 10
percentage points from our 2015 survey. Only 15 percent
of executive respondents are under 50 years old. This
group is also our most highly educated, with 67 percent
having at least a college degree.
This year’s executives’ business profile demographics
look like this:
• 72 percent oversee companies with less than $25 million in revenue, up from 56 percent in 2015. Twenty-six
percent are at companies of $25 million to $100 million
and only one respondent’s company lands in the $100
million to $500 million range
• 31 percent are located in the Midwest, 26 percent are
in the West, 20 percent are in the Northeast, 18 percent
are in the South and 5 percent are outside the U.S.
This year’s executives boast an average salary of $179K,
which is nearly identical to 2015 (Figure 1) This group
also receives another $100K in additional compensation,
including bonuses, 401K contributions, educational reimbursement and additional cash.
Given those numbers, it’s no surprise that our executives
group feels the most satisfied year-over-year with their
overall compensation package. The amount who say they
feel fairly compensated has steadily rose in recent years
from 84 percent in 2014, 87 percent in 2015 and then to
90 percent in this year’s survey (Figure 2). That rise comes
despite a three-point gain in those who said they’d had a
salary or benefits cut in the past year to 13 percent, still a
far cry from 25 percent in 2014.
Some of our executive respondents have an egalitarian
view for compensation in their company. One respondent
said, “I own the company and try and level all income with
all members of my organization,” while another stated,
“It is a family business and I am keeping with our father’s
wishes of taking care of all siblings.” Some respondents
enjoy the flexibility that their small distributorship has
when it comes to compensation options. One commented,
“Small business — good compensation; my own choice as
to whether to be more aggressive.” For those that own
their industrial distribution company, compensation is tied
tightly to its performance. One of our executives said, “I
own my business and, as a subchapter S corporation, all
profit flows through to my tax return. I am compensated
for what is produced.” Others commented that their compensation was in line with company profits or comparative
to what they’ve seen in the market.
Only 41 percent of our executive group said they
received a raise in the past year, far less than last year’s
What is your current salary,
in U.S. dollars per year?
Do you feel fairly compensated?