By Richard Donnelly, 2012 MHEDA President, EVP of Gregory Poole Equipment Co.
In my first article, I wrote about how the economy is predicted for slow growth for the next 3-5 years. The real GDP in 2012 is forecasted to be around 2.3 percent. Job losses have stopped, but companies are reluctant to hire and unemployment continues to be above 8.5 percent. Housing prices are still stressed and less than 800,000 housing starts are predicted in 2013 even with the interest rates in the 3.5 to 4 percent range. The construction industry continues to have one of the highest unemployment rates, and Federal and State funds have been reduced for major transportation projects. With these economic forecasts, it makes you wonder why manufacturers of material handling equipment are optimistic about 2012.
One of the major reasons is that manufacturing growth is outpacing the GDP and is predicted to continue in the near future. Specifically, if you look at the lift truck industry retail orders for lift trucks grew 39 percent in 2010 and more than 20 percent in 2011, with a forecast for an 11-15 percent increase in 2012.
The strategic questions you need to ask yourself in 2012 is “How do I position my company for the next 3-5 years, based on slow economic growth vs. the optimistic manufacturing forecast, and what resources are available to me and my team to make long term strategic decisions?”
MHEDA is one of the places to gain industry specific information and particularly, the 2012 MHEDA Annual Convention. Since joining MHEDA in 1994, I have attended almost every convention. I firmly believe that through the years Gregory Poole and I personally, have received an excellent return on the financial and time investment. I attend the convention for two primary reasons: to network with industry leaders who are very successful and, gain information on the latest products and services that will assist me in making decisions on ways to improve the performance of the company.
At the 2008 convention, Brian Beaulieu, economist with the Institute for Trend Research, forecasted that the manufacturing and material handling industry was going to have a major downturn beginning in the last half of 2008 and through 2009. Based on his forecast and other info we gathered, our team put together a trough plan that assisted us to successfully manage through the recent recession. I look forward to hearing what Alan Beaulieu, Brian’s brother, has to say at this year’s convention.
Last year we were establishing a new and different sales position, and after attending the Sales Compensation presentation at the convention, we used some of the recommendations to develop the compensation plan.
The 2012 convention theme is “Re-Imagine Your Business.” What a great theme based on where we are in the economy. A question you might ask is “Are you managing your business or is your business managing you?” Too many times we get caught up in managing the day-to-day operations and don’t take the time to consider how we want to brand and position the company. If you want to hear innovative thinking that is specific to our industry, then you need to consider attending the convention this year.
The General Sessions will include topics ranging from Financial Trends affecting the industry to branding your company and — with continuous improvement and execution—you can position your company ahead of your competitors.
There will be nine Speed Track Workshops and, new in 2012, seven 30-Minute Ignite Sessions. What I like most about these sessions is their relevance to the current market conditions. Many of them are presented by MHEDA members who have developed best practices in the area they are presenting.
The Exhibitors’ Showcase gives me the opportunity to meet with existing and potential new suppliers to review new technology, products and services that assist in managing and growing our business.
I hope you can see that the 2012 Convention will be a resource for you to “Re-Imagine Your Business.” Consider bringing another manager with you, or if you cannot attend, send them in your place!
Hope to see you at the 2012 Convention!
2012 MHEDA President
EVP of Gregory Poole Equipment Co.