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MHEDA: The Past 10 Years

It’s hard to believe it has been ten years since we celebrated the new millennium. So much has happened during the past decade. With this first issue of The MHEDA Journal for 2010, we will focus on a variety of Top Ten lists to illustrate what’s ahead. In the meantime, I can’t help but review a few highlights from the past and look forward to a future together, rife with opportunity.

MHEDA hosted the 2000 Convention in San Diego and welcomed the largest crowd since the 1980s. Everyone was flush with business opportunities and money. Little did we know that the dot-com bubble would soon burst and the market would take a nose dive. I’ll never forget a comment made by 2000 President Tim Hilton at the start of that year’s Convention. A musical group called The Procrastinators kicked off our meeting with a percussion performance using empty water cooler bottles. After their act concluded and was met with resounding applause, Hilton stated (very tongue-in-cheek), “Yesterday these guys were my stockbrokers.” The bubble did indeed burst and we entered into a recession that would peak after the tragedy of 9/11.

Fortunately, MHEDA modified its investment policy while the stock market was still booming and, though it was counter to what other organizations were doing at the time, assets were moved to achieve a more sensible and conservative balance among fixed income and equities, saving the association from financial losses when stocks plummeted. Those financial reserves have grown over the years and during economic downturns have enabled MHEDA to continue offering the programs and services you expect without compromising the financial strength of the association.

With the advent of the last recession, travel became a more scrutinized expense, and MHEDA began exploring in earnest the prospect of distance learning. MHEDA was one of the first trade associations to offer distance learning programs with 23 different programs offered by the year 2004. In 2009, the MHEDA University calendar included over 70 different programs, educating nearly 1,200 individuals.

Networking has always been identified as one of the greatest value propositions of MHEDA membership. To enhance that benefit, the association established MHEDA-NET in 2002. What started as a simple idea eight years ago has become a cornerstone of the association, with 200 members now engaged in MHEDA-NET groups.

During the past ten years, MHEDA’s relationships with the Material Handling Industry of America (MHIA) and the College-Industry Council for Material Handling Education (CICMHE) have flourished, resulting in strong ties with the academic community. Thousands of dollars have been donated by MHEDA Members to the Material Handling Education Foundation to help fund scholarships for students interested in this industry.

Forty students and faculty members have attended MHEDA Conventions since 2006, all funded through surplus funds. Three of those students now work for member companies. The Gateway Web site was created as a place for members to search student resumes and for students to learn more about the career opportunities that await them. Hundreds of students use this site for that purpose.

We are very grateful to our partners at Data Key Communications for the tremendous work they have done with MHEDA publications. After rebranding The MHEDA Journal in 1998, The MHEDA Connection was launched in 2001, followed by MHEDA Edge in 2005. And in May 2009 came the unveiling of wikiMHEDA. These publications serve as the association’s communication vehicles as well as valuable learning and informational tools for industry professionals.

We have hundreds of members to thank for their support of MHEDA, presenting at seminars, Conventions and webinars, serving on the Board of Directors and the Manufacturers Board of Advisors and acting in an advisory capacity for MHEDA publications and other services. (Click here for a special thank you to advertisers).

Here’s to our next decade, MHEDA!

Material Handling Equipment Distributors Association
Liz Richards Liz Richards
Executive Vice President

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