MEET LIZ

Liz, why should someone become a MHEDA member? What are the benefits?
Liz Richards

Frankly, if you are a material handling distributor, there’s no reason not to become a MHEDA member. This is the only place where there is a community of peers with similar challenges and opportunities. Distributors have a chance to network outside of their own product lines. What MHEDA offers is a chance to really learn from one another, benchmark and be able to pick up the phone and call somebody across the United States and share ideas, and get a whole different viewpoint than you might get if you stay within your own world.

I know the support of other distributors is a huge benefit to my company. I don’t think we’d be as successful as we are if we weren’t members.

The key thing, Andrew, is that if you become a MHEDA member, the most important thing is to be an active member. Actively participate, whether by reading member publications or by participating in teleconferences, Convention or seminars. Once members participate, they immediately grasp the value of programs, services and benefits that are available to them through MHEDA. They become a member for life because they can’t live without these benefits.

How does membership vary between the Industrial Truck, Engineered Systems, General Lines and Storage & Handling types of product lines?
MHEDA was founded 50 years ago by a group of lift truck distributors, and it has really grown to represent all segments of the industry. It’s a pretty even mix, and we work on providing programs and services for each one.

What is MHEDA’s top priority right now?
Our strategic planning process drives all of our programming to a grassroots level. Four standing committees—Education, Membership, Networking and Industry Awareness—set goals for the year, and those goals become MHEDA’s top priorities. I can’t say that there is any one top priority. There are several. The Education Committee focuses on MHEDA University and providing members with the training that helps them meet their challenges. The Networking Committee established MHEDA-NET, which enables members to network with one another across the U.S. and Canada in a non-competitive environment as they benchmark and learn best practices from each other. One of our most important objectives is to create an awareness of our industry as a strategic component of the supply chain. The Membership Committee’s goal is to ensure that members remain active. They have created the PAL program, which is a “Personal Association Liaison.” New members are assigned a PAL, a long-time MHEDA member who mentors them and helps them take full advantage of MHEDA’s programs.

That’s a very impressive list of priorities, especially the PAL program. Has that been around for a long time?
Since 2004. We are always looking for new PALs in order to support new members. The October issue of The MHEDA Journal will include an article on PAL and program participants.

How is MHEDA changing to accommodate the next generation of leaders in this industry?
This is one of our biggest issues right now. The book Bowling Alone discusses how years ago professionals were very active in Kiwanis, the Lions Club, bowling leagues and other formal groups. The next generation of leaders do not necessarily congregate in those kinds of forums as much as they have in past years. As a trade association, we need to ensure that we are relating to the next generation, that we are inviting you into the association and making it desirable for you to get involved.

How are you doing that?
We are leveraging technology: creating blogs, inviting participation and creating publications like this one (MHEDA Edge), which really speaks to the minds of the next generation of leaders. We are providing them with the tools and programs they can use to succeed. Each of MHEDA’s four committees will be planning programs and services which will target the next generation of leaders. We may have to do things quite differently than we have in the past.

I was really impressed after reading the first issue. The articles hit home on issues that I deal with on a daily basis. You are making it easier for my generation to be successful.
The next generation of leaders does not always have the time to attend a week-long seminar or program, nor do you have time to read everything. So the concept of MHEDA Edge, and probably some of the other things that we’ll do, will be snippets and fast reading allowing you to quickly glean the information that you need and then move on.

If I wanted to be a future MHEDA board member, what are the skills that I should be acquiring now?
Time management and a mastery of technology are both important skills. Thinking strategically, instead of tactically, allows us to envision our future. We used to look three years ahead. Today we look one year ahead. The world is changing rapidly and we need to be able to react to it. We must be aware of new trends as they impact individual distributors and our industry. It’s also important to network. Networking is vital. There are many different points of view and there’s so much that we can learn from each other as we communicate and benchmark with peers.

Good advice! Thank you.
Take advantage of what MHEDA has to offer. Take some time to look at the MHEDA Web site and see what is available. Call our office, call me. I love talking with members and finding out what their issues are. If I can’t help with a particular, very specific question, I can e-mail our board. They will send me all kinds of advice and information that the next gen leader can use. Participate in teleconferences, MHEDA seminars and MHEDA-NET. There are lots of opportunities.

Any last words?
The “Edger” community is our future. We need to do everything possible to prepare them for leadership.
Material Handling Equipment Distributors Association

Andrew Long Meet the Author
Andrew Long is national accounts manager at Scott Lift Truck Corporation in Elk Grove Village, Illinois, and a member of the MHEDA Edge Advisory Committee.

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