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Are You Comfortable?

In September, I had an opportunity to attend an Executive Conference hosted by our friends at Associated Equipment Distributors (AED), distributors representing the heavy equipment industry. During the conference, I attended a panel discussion of distributors and manufacturers who shared their insight about the current state of the industry. One of the questions posed to the panelists was, “What have we learned from this downturn and what steps will be taken for a brighter future?” A response from one of the distributors was that the industry had become “too comfortable and complacent” when business was booming. We all know what resulted from this in our industry—cost-cutting measures were drastic, and as we slowly rebuild our respective organizational structures, every dollar is being scrutinized to ensure value is directly proportionate to the costs being incurred.

Being “comfortable” was a luxury that is now a distant memory and perhaps will never happen again. The difficulties we faced in 2009 still linger as the economy slowly recovers.

Critical Impact Factors
As part of MHEDA’s annual strategic planning process, your Executive Committee went through an exhaustive environmental analysis this summer to identify the Critical Impact Factors (CIFs) being faced by members and subsequently identified opportunities for programming to help you through these uncertain times. These CIFs will drive MHEDA programming for 2011 as each committee (Membership, Education, Networking and Member Advocacy) develops goals and action steps to address the CIFs and provide you with the necessary tools to grow and thrive next year and beyond. Those who are paying close attention to these factors will emerge stronger than ever before.

In my view, four of the factors are particularly pertinent and worth highlighting here:

• Economic recovery continues to be slow. Members need to uncover new business opportunities, be more flexible, react quickly and efficiently, provide ongoing employee training, streamline their process-es, and embrace metrics such as benchmarking tools and key performance indicators.

• There will be continued scrutiny of all dollars spent, emphasizing the importance of the value proposition and the requirement for a return on investment for both members and the association.

• The supply chain process is changing, with longer lead times, increased customer demands and limited resources including personnel.

• Consolidation of customers, suppliers and distributors is creating realigned distributor networks.

View the full list of MHEDA’s Critical Impact Factors for 2011, exclusively in The MHEDA Journal Online.

MHEDA is responding to these trends through education, informational resources, benchmarking tools and Convention programming. A focus on the customer will be the theme for next year. At the 2011 Annual Convention (April 30 – May 3 in Phoenix, Arizona), a customer panel discussion will take place along with a distributor-manufacturer panel similar to the AED program. Attendees will have the chance to hear firsthand what end-users are seeking from their channel partners and how other industry professionals are responding to the challenges and opportunities we all face in today’s dynamic marketplace.

While the ride may continue to be bumpy, be assured you can rely on MHEDA to provide you with some comfort along the way.

We welcome your feedback. Please review the complete list of CIFs and let us know your thoughts. Thank you for your continued support and engagement in MHEDA!

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

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