60 seconds with Allan Howie, MHIA

Modern spends 60 seconds with retiring director of continuing education and professional development for MHIA, Allan Howie.

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Allan Howie, Material Handling Industry of America (MHIA)
Title: Director of Continuing Education and Professional Development
Location: Charlotte, N.C.
Experience: 14 years at MHIA
Focus: Developing materials and support for high schools, technical and community colleges, military, governmental agencies and corrections education in the area of warehousing and distribution, and the role it plays in logistics and the supply chain.

Modern: You’re retiring from MHIA, but how important is education today for our industry? 
Howie: It’s very important. As you know, our country is in need of people with gainful employment, and there are many opportunities in warehousing and distribution. At the same time, the cost of training a new employee is very high. Our industry needs trained and capable employees, be it through our efforts, the education systems or ideally a combination effort between our industry and those systems working together. We want people to think in terms of careers and long-term employment with these companies. Anything we can do to advance that idea is a win-win for everyone.

Modern: You work with students. Are they looking at our industry differently than in the past?
Howie:
Absolutely. The technology used in warehouses and distribution centers has removed the stigma that this is just manual labor. We had a group of 10 students from five high schools assisting us at the Modex show in Atlanta. When they toured the show, they were excited by the level of technology they saw. They were especially interested in the programmable equipment, like robotics and inventory management technology using tablets and other tools that they’re familiar with. Now, we make sure they realize that generally they’re going to get an entry-level position where they will have to prove themselves to progress up the ladder of employment.

Modern: Are they bringing other skills to the job?
Howie: Yes. The programs we’re working with are also teaching the soft skills, like showing up on time, working in teams, and bringing the right attitude to work. The students who worked with us at Modex had those skills. They were knowledgeable and presented themselves well. They were highly employable.

Modern: Modex was your last trade event with MHIA. What impressed you the most?
Howie:
As an educator, I was most impressed by Walgreens’ presentation on their diversity program. The teachers who came to Modex learned that regardless of the physical or learning limitations a student may have, there’s a place in this industry for them with the appropriate training and education. That opens the door for a lot of students in a lot of schools. 

Education champion Allan Howie to retire from MHIA
Ray Niemeyer has been appointed MHIA’s Educational Services Director and will assume Allan’s former role in the TCEP and Fundamentals of Warehousing programs.


About the Author

Bob Trebilcock
Bob Trebilcock, editorial director, has covered materials handling, technology, logistics and supply chain topics for nearly 30 years. In addition to Supply Chain Management Review, he is also Executive Editor of Modern Materials Handling. A graduate of Bowling Green State University, Trebilcock lives in Keene, NH. He can be reached at 603-357-0484.

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