By Richard Donnelly, 2012 MHEDA President, EVP of Gregory Poole Equipment Co.
I will always remember one of our greatest success stories. Our company had been assigned a new territory that had three distributors in the previous six years. We were quoting four large container handlers to the State Ports that were operating competitive units. This was the first time we had quoted the large container handler and we worked closely with our manufacturer to provide a comprehensive package to the customer. I was traveling on a road through Camp Lejeune, NC, when I received a call from Hal Ingram, general manager, Industrial Division. He said we had won the order. It so happened that he was traveling on the same road in the opposite direction. When we met we pulled off the road, high fived and celebrated. We might have had a beer, but I can’t remember for sure.
So why are some of the distributors and suppliers like the ones featured in the journal celebrating while others are still trying to recover from the downturn in 2008 09? Is it because of their location in North America, business strategy, company branding, financial wealth, employee retention and recruitment or products and services offered? I would say that it could be a combination of each of these areas.
As Liz Richards notes in her column, during the summer of each year the MHEDA Executive Committee meets to develop and identify the critical impact factors distributors and suppliers are currently facing or that will have an impact on them next year. The EC has identified 13 critical impact factors for 2013 (see page 70). All are critical to the success of the distributors and suppliers. I believe three of them are particularly critical to sales success.
1) Economic uncertainty still exists, with predictions of a flat economy or slow growth ahead. It’s important to identify viable market opportunities and target growth segments.
2) Investments must be made to recruit, develop and retain top sales people who understand and embrace the concept that sales strategies need to be solutions focused and economically justifiable to the customer.
3) The distributor’s brand identity is becoming more solutions focused. The manufacturer must build a cost effective product that solves the customer’s problem and rely on the distributor to deliver the solution.
It is apparent that if distributors are going to target growth segments and invest in top sales people, they must partner with a manufacturer who will provide cost effective products and assist them in delivering the best solution to the customer. By working together, both the distributor and supplier can celebrate sales success in 2013.
Speaking of success, 2012 has been a very successful year for MHEDA Membership will increase for the second year in a row. Convention attendance was the highest since 2000. Based on the convention survey, attendees said the information received in the presentations and seminars was very beneficial in helping them prosper in the flat economy. MHEDA’s new MVP Program recognized distributors who are committed to business excellence. MHEDA-NET groups continued to be very active. Two Regional Networking Summits were well attended. Webinars and two live conferences, Emerging Leaders and Rental & Used Equipment Management Conferences received high marks by all who participated.
Hats off to the professional MHEDA staff and board, who constantly strive to make MHEDA the best resource available to members. The valuable information they provide results in improved sales and profitability for our members.
It has been an honor and a pleasure to be the 2012 MHEDA president. Congratulations to Jerry Weidmann, president, Wisconsin Lift Truck, who will assume MHEDA’s presidency in 2013. I am confident the association will continue to improve and move forward under his leadership. Let’s celebrate!