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 Warehousing Education and Research Council (WERC) History

In the late 1970s warehousing emerged as a professional discipline. This was due partly to the massive investment in warehouse facilities, but principally because the warehouse had become—and continues to be—a key element in marketing and distribution strategy. With that evolution came the growth of a unique class of managers and technical specialists. Warehousing has become a major economic resource in the U.S., just as its people have become more professional in managing the orderly distribution of the nation’s resources: the goods of commerce. 

WERC has a rich and storied history, and its major milestones are outlined in the timeline below. (A detailed history of WERC’s first decade can be found here.

Timeline of Milestones: 

1977: WERC begins as a grassroots effort in 1977, when a number of individuals from the distribution field came together in search of education, research and networking opportunities in the field of warehousing. 

WERC is born on August 24, 1977. Membership dues were $50 and WERC had 221 Charter Members its first year. 

WERC is officially incorporated on September 19, 1977 in Illinois: Paul Soloman, Burr Hupp, Bob Delaney, Lyn Coombs, and Ken Ackerman serve as the first Executive Committee. Burr Hupp becomes the first Executive Director and Bruce Abels the first President. Ken Ackerman is the first annual conference chair. (Click here for a list of Lifetime Members.) 

1978: The first Annual Conference is held at Ohio University in March 1978 with 160 participants. 

1979: New Executive Director Duane de Kock is retained and WERC’s headquarters is moved to Des Moines, Iowa. 

1980: Bob Angel is the Conference Chair and theme of the Conference is "The Warehouse: The Vital Link," held April 29-May 1 in Houston, Texas. Tom Speh chairs the first Research Committee for WERC. 

Burr Hupp reprises his role as Executive Director and headquarters is moved to his home in Sarasota, Florida. 

WERC membership is computerized for the first time. 

1981: WERC holds its first seminars in Atlanta and Dallas, titled: "WPM: Warehousing Productivity Management." 

1982: The first three WERCouncils form: The New York Area WERCouncil (today the New York/New Jersey/Connecticut WERCouncil led by James Mazurek; The Delaware Valley WERCouncil (today the Eastern Pennsylvania/Delaware WERCouncil led by John E. Dropp; and the Chicagoland WERCouncil led by Stephen G. Cook and Ed Lonvick. 

The Board institutes its first long-range strategic plan for the Association. 

1983: Atlanta, Boston (today the New England WERCouncil), Northern California and Southern California WERCouncils form. 

1984: WERC catalogs computer software offerings for warehouse planning and operations. This is the first vision of what is today called the Vendor Locator. 

1985: Thomas Sharpe becomes WERC’s first "official" full-time employee when he became Executive Director on March 4, 1985. Headquarters moves back to Illinois. 

1987: WERC celebrates 10 years. Click here to take a look back at the first 10 years. 

1989: Leslie Hansen Harps becomes the first female President of WERC. 

1990: WERC releases The Pallet Storage System Selection Process. 

1997: WERC celebrates 20 years. 

WERC amends its Purpose Statement, noting it is "to provide education and research concerning the warehousing process, to work to refine the art and science of managing warehouses, and to foster professionalism in warehouse management." 

Hot topics at the Annual Conference include: Employee Satisfaction, Employee Turnover, Outsourcing, and Cost and Quality. 

2000: Steve Bova becomes the next Executive Director of WERC in July 2000. His goal for WERC in the new decade is to broaden WERC’s educational and research offerings, as well as to bring the association into the electronic age.

WERC conducts its first biennial Salary and Wages Survey. 

2001: WERC reaches its highest membership numbers at 2,000 active members. 

2002: Founding member Ken Ackerman receives WERC’s Lifetime Membership Award. 

2003: Bob Shaunnessey is named the next Executive Director of WERC. 

2004: DC Measures begins. WERC’s annual benchmarking study, done in partnership with DC Velocity and Supply Chain Visions captures data on the 50 key operational metrics of primary concern for distribution center professionals. 

Founding member and WERC’s first President Bruce Abels receives WERC’s Lifetime Membership Award. 

2005: WERC’s adopts its first Statement of Value and Code of Ethics. Keywords include: Integrity, Honesty, Respect And Dignity, Fairness, Responsibility, Transparency and Openness, Accountability and Excellence. 

2006: WERC joins the American Logistics Aid Network (ALAN) as an industry partner. 

The Tennessee WERCouncil forms. Chris Slover is the first chair. 

2007: Hot topics at the Annual Conference include: Change Management, Labor Management Systems, Job Descriptions, and Designing and Implementing DC Improvements. 

2008: WERC introduces online learning courses to its mix of education tools and partners with Jobs in Logistics to provide an online job board. 

Tom Speh receives WERC’s Lifetime Membership Award. During his tenure he oversaw more than 14 WERC-published research studies, management guides and models. 

Hot topics at the Annual Conference include: Applying Lean to Labor, Picking Dilemmas, Bridging the Generational Chasm, and Achieving Warehouse Success. 

2009: Michael Mikitka assumes role as Executive Director of WERC. 

WERCWatch (today the WERC Weekly) newsletter debuts. 

Hot topics at the Annual Conference include: Multi-Generational Workforce, Problematic Processes and Situations and Ideal Solutions, Software Selection, and Slotting. 

2010: WERC introduces its Warehouse Assessment and Certification Program to help fulfill the Council’s stated mission "to advance the art and science of warehousing management." 

The first recipients of WERC Warehouse Certification are Gopher Sport, Starbucks Coffee Company and Invacare Corporation. 

WERC changes its logo to the one used today, adding the tagline "The Association for Logistics Professionals." 

WERC launches a new and improved website and online Vendor Locator tool. 

Hot topics at the Annual Conference include: Debating WMS Options, Labor Management Metrics, Outsourcing, Operating a Smaller Warehouse, Warehousing 101, Preventing Theft in the Warehouse, and Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). 

WERC amends and restates its Bylaws. 

WERC publishes Warehousing & Fulfillment: Process Benchmark and Best Practices Guide. 

2011: Hot topics at the Annual Conference include: Security Issues, Reverse Logistics, Multichannel Retailing, and Green Issues.

2012: Hot topics at the Annual Conference include: Security Issues, Retail Fulfillment, Dealing with Slow Movers, and the Employee Opinion Survey. 

2013: WERC’s updates its Core Values to reflect W = Welcoming, E = Excellence, R = Respect and C = Commitment. 

Hot topics at the Annual Conference include: Chemical Warehousing, Legal Perspectives, Disability Issues, Contingency Planning, Omni-Channel Strategies, and Social Media. 

2014: Hot topics at the Annual Conference include: Security Issues, Slotting, Diverse Workforce, Supply Chain Optimization, Workplace Violence and Security, and Lean for Less. 

2015: Hot topics at the Annual Conference include: Outsourcing, Transportation, 3PL Relationships, Sustainability, and Omni-Channel Supply Chain. 

2016: WERC updates and publishes the Warehousing & Fulfillment Process Benchmarking and Best Practices Guide. 

Hot topics at the Annual Conference include: Hiring Military Veterans, Lean Warehousing, Supply Chain Security, Labor Management, Ergonomics, Metrics, and 3PL Relationships. 

2017: WERC celebrates 40 years. 

Hot topics at the Annual Conference include: Metrics, Employee Opinion Survey, Workplace Safety, Key Behavior Indicators, 3PL Relationships, Multichannel Distribution, and Supply Chain Innovation.