October 6, 2022

Trade-Logistics Cluster Acceleration Team seeks workforce solutions

Supply chain leaders who make up the EDB’s Trade-Logistics Cluster Acceleration Team continue their work to advance the sector in Pierce County. Finding ways to attract and retain workers is top of mind.

Sharing ideas that work

The exchange of ideas and solutions is key in helping the industry’s workforce grow and improving  the talent pipeline, said Trade-Logistics Cluster Acceleration Team co-chair Mark Miller, CEO of MacMillan-Piper. His company’s common-sense hiring practices and investment in employees has helped the largest container freight station in the Pacific Northwest build a diverse and stable staff, from entry-level employees to top-tier leadership.

“There’s no great secret to what we do,” Miller said. “It starts with treating people right and giving them the opportunities and support they need.”

Here are some of the company’s strategies to attract and keep workers.

    • Get to know your candidate. The interview process goes far beyond a checklist of qualifications. We want to learn about each person and know if they are interested in making a long-range commitment to the company.”
    • Set expectations early. “Potential and new employees clearly understand job expectations and company culture. And before they ever accept a position, they know that we want them to succeed.”
    • Offer ongoing support. “It’s vital to offer the on-the-job training employees need to be successful. We also stress the importance of work-life balance.”
    • Emphasize growth from within. “From the outset, we support employees in their efforts to advance in their careers. Whenever a position opens, we always first ask, ‘Is this an opportunity for someone on our team to grow and expand?’”
    • Focus on inclusion. “Every employee at MacMillan-Piper is welcomed, respected and supported, and everyone is part of the team. We check in regularly with employees, ask for their thoughts and encourage their buy-in.”
    • Be open to diversity.Our goal is to build the best team possible, and that means hiring the best people. Our diversity is what makes us successful and brings us together as a company.”

The result of MacMillan-Piper’s recruitment and retention strategies is a loyal, diverse and long-term workforce. Some employees have been with the company for more than three decades.


 According to the US Department of Labor Statistics, 45 percent of employees in transportation and warehousing are 45 years of age or older. This trend, coupled with the lack of younger people entering the industry, is a critical issue for the future of the trade-logistics sector.

“The sector is a goldmine here in Pierce County,” Miller said. “We need to get the word out that these jobs provide good family wages and stable careers.”

The Trade-Logistics Cluster Acceleration Team is focused on building relationships within the K-12 community and underserved communities to develop programs that connect students and individuals with community employers.

More voices needed

“Our goal is to showcase Pierce County’s robust logistics cluster and its ample career opportunities to reach people who previously have been left out,” said Tamsin Bell, EDB Vice President for Business Development and Trade-Logistics Acceleration Cluster Team administrator. “We celebrate organizations like MacMillan-Piper and others that are ‘walking the walk’ and winning for it.”

Bell encourages other industry leaders to join the Trade-Logistics Cluster Acceleration Team to help propel the growth of this vibrant sector in Tacoma-Pierce County.

For more information or to join the team, contact Bell at [email protected].


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