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The Innovations Issue

By Steve Guglielmo

4Q14We have spent this entire year celebrating MHEDA’s 60th Anniversary. In each issue, we have reflected on the evolution of MHEDA and the material handling industry as a whole. We have examined where we have come from, where we are going and how we’re going to get there. Though MHEDA’s founding fathers might survey the association and industry today and find it completely unrecognizable from the industry they knew when MHEDA was formed in October 1954, they would undoubtedly recognize the innovative spirit of our members.

Innovation has been a constant in our association since it was founded. This issue, the “Innovation Issue,” is a testament to that spirit. No problem is too large or too small for our members to handle. The Sales Success Stories, starting on page 40, are proof of that MHEDA members combine the best products with the knowledge, expertise and willingness to think outside the box that all great visionaries have. A common theme in these Success Stories was that the customer thought their problem was hopeless only to have our members swoop in, diagnose the problem and propose a solution that not only addressed that specific challenge but also increased overall operational efficiencies. This year’s Convention theme of “Superhero Leadership” seemed especially apropos when discussing these solutions. But for MHEDA members, it was business as usual.

However, as is clearly demonstrated in the articles, “60 World-Changing Innovations” and “Mobile Web – Trend or Reality,” innovations aren’t contained to our industry. The world is changing and so is the way we do business. The Internet has fundamentally changed the business environment for all industries. What MHEDA President Scott Hennie said in his President’s Column on page 11 rings truer today than ever before. “We are doing great work for valued customers and part of the success can be attributed to the education, networking and industry promotion done through MHEDA. But if our customers can’t make that connection, MHEDA is nothing more than a logo on our letterhead and business cards.”

A large focus across our 2014 issues has been establishing a web presence on the Internet and across Social Media. Our members have proven time and again to be the best in the industry at providing innovative solutions for their customers. But having the best products and solutions isn’t enough anymore. The next frontier will be getting that word out to a larger base about the solutions you are capable of providing. It can be hard to stand out amidst the din of the Internet. However, it is certainly not impossible. MHEDA member CE-DFW, profiled on page 20, is a wonderful example for how to stand out in the digital age.

By now, we are all familiar with the #ALSIcebucketchallenge. This is an outstanding example of a company standing out online. Celebrities, presidents, athletes and even dozens of MHEDA members took part in these viral videos, which served two purposes. The first was to raise awareness about the terrible disease that is ALS. The second was to raise money for ALS charities. As of this writing, the ALS Association has raised more than $15.6 million as a result of the challenge, nine times what it normally raises in the same time frame, according to Forbes. This was a simple but extremely innovative and effective use of the Internet as a medium for promotion. All MHEDA members should take note. And also donate to the ALS Association.