Third Party Logistics (3PL) has changed the Lehigh Valley's landscape by adding warehouse buildings to the horizon, trucks and traffic to the roadways and Interstates that run across this region.
3PL is also shaping the Valley's workforce. While these types of logistics operations are the number one growth segment for the area over the last ten years, they actual only employ about 5% of the non-farm workforce; which stands around 350,000.
Most are former trucking companies that tend to have a small management team, a recently added workforce of low pay pick-and-packer personnel for the warehouse duties, and often use independent truckers to transport the merchandise. Critics of 3PL's often use this as an argument against these organization.
Unlike fulfillment center, which need plenty of staff to carry and move the inventory for a large retailer or group of retailer, and are a part of that organization's infrastructure, 3PL's do not have the funding and resources as those corporations.
They build their business around housing any manufacturer's products for only days at the most, then moving it on to the next destination. To save their customers money and make a profit themselves, they need to demonstrate speed and efficiency, while being more cost effective. In other words, do more with less.
3PL organizations use robotics and computer systems to help manage the inventory, while employing mobile and independent truckers to transport the product to it next destination quickly at a reduced cost.
In total, 3PL companies adds jobs to the Lehigh Valley workforce, but they tend to be lower paying and not the type that require an advanced education or additional technical skill training.