Payday’s Swell for Lube Sales Execs


Sales and marketing managers who work for U.S. lubricant manufacturing companies earn an average of nearly $105,000 a year, up 13 percent from 2002 and about 37 percent higher than the $76,866 average reported by their counterparts working for lube distributors, according to the latest Lubricants Industry Salary Survey conducted by Lubes’n’Greases magazine.

The average sales/marketing manager responding to the 2004 survey is 49 years old and has amassed 20 years of relevant work experience. He or she supervises an average of 6.7 other people, and has 11.4 years of tenure with the current employer, the magazine reports in its November issue. Only 4.4 percent of the 249 sales and marketing executives who replied to the survey are women.

Three out of five respondents work for lubricant manufacturers, while the others work at lube distributors. The high-water mark for earnings among all respondents was $250,000, reported by an executive with a lube manufacturer; the highest at a lube distributor was $170,000. The lowest pay overall — $20,000 — was reported at a lube distributor.

In the prior survey, conducted in 2002, the average pay for sales and marketing execs at lube manufacturers reached $92,751, and at lube distributors it was $64,075. The highest pay seen that year was $300,000 and the lowest was $12,000, both reported by sales/marketing managers working for lube manufacturers.

Lubes’n’Greases’ Lubricants Industry Salary Survey also looks at how compensation varies by type and size of company, geographic region, length of time in the job, and number of people supervised. It illustrates, for example, how pay increases steadily with the size of the staff supervised — not surprising, since the larger turf signals an increasing burden. Managers with lube distributors reported earning about $71,000 a year for supervising fewer than five people, and $78,000 for supervising six to 12 people. Those overseeing a staff larger than 12 saw that average leap to $97,400.

An even steeper progression was sketched by those working for lube manufacturers, where the supervisor of fewer than five earned an average $90,000; of six to 12 earned just under $135,000; and the average for supervising more than 12 people reached $146,800.

Yet it’s not uncommon for the top sales executive at a small lube company to be a one-person shop. “My vice president of sales has no salespeople reporting to him,” Garry Rooney, president of North American Lubricants Co. in San Juan Capistrano, Calif., told Lubes’n’Greases. “The title reflects the fact that it’s a multifaceted job, with responsibility for calling on accounts, managing the distributor network, monitoring the performance of our blending partners, managing inventory, marketing and advertising efforts.”

“Job titles are all over the place in sales management,” agreed Dave Trepton a headhunter with The Nexus Group in Oconomowoc, Wis. Formerly with Ashland Chemical, he now specializes in executive searches for the chemical, base oil and lubricants industry. “Your title might be sales manager, district manager, senior account manager, vice president of sales,” he said, “but in any case, sales skills are a core competitive issue — that’s where a company creates new business, promotes development, and gains entry to new markets.”

When it comes to added benefits that sweeten the take-home packet for sales executives — commissions, bonuses, raises — the gap again opens wide between lube manufacturers and distributors. Almost 68 percent of respondents from lube manufacturers said they got a raise in the past year; only 43 percent of those at distributors did. Sixty-nine percent at lube manufacturers expect a bonus; 61 percent at lube distributors. And 19 percent of sales/marketing respondents at lube manufacturers expect to earn a commission, while 40 percent of those with lube distributors do.

Intriguingly, the sales and marketing managers who answered the survey were divided almost exactly between those who’d held their management position for fewer than five years and those who had been in place for five years or more (the median was four years). The difference in pay was not pronounced, however: The average pay for those in their job less than five years was $95,416, only 3 percent higher than those with greater longevity. This may be a surprise to those who believe that changing places tends to bring a healthy bump in compensation, as was seen in past surveys.

Is this a good time to move? The fourth quarter is definitely the most active, answered Joe Almburg, a former executive recruiter in Delevan, Wis. It’s when many companies are trying to make decisions about the coming year, he said, and measuring their staffing and talent needs.

Almburg, who specialized in recruiting for the lubricants and chemical industries for 17 years, sees things “getting better, but not back yet to where they were in the mid-1990s.”

“Remember,” added Trepton, “just five to seven years ago labor was such a short market that you couldn’t fill jobs, people were unable to hire the great people they needed to make their business grow. You could find people, but not the really top talent that drives business to grow. We’re heading back in that direction, but we’re not there yet.”

This is the fourth time Lubes’n’Greases has directly surveyed key lubricant industry personnel about their compensation. Other executives surveyed include lubricant plant managers and laboratory/R&D/technical managers.

The complete 2004 Lubricants Industry Salary Report will be available in late November for U.S. $75 per copy. For an order form, email and put salary report in the subject field.

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