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2019 Material Handling Business Trends

The following 2019 Critical Impact Factors were defined by MHEDA’s Executive Committee. They are defined as “critical” in that they are significant challenges or opportunities that have recently emerged or become pervasive and should be considered as members develop their internal business plans. This year’s Material Handling Business Trends planning process deviated slightly from past years, which can be read about on page 34.

1. Members must have a comprehensive and flexible strategy to respond quickly to cost fluctuations. This is being driven by the uncertainty of tariffs, global trade negotiations and possible inflation.

2. Labor shortages continue to challenge members. This includes skilled labor, sales, technical support and management. Members must ensure their organization is an employer of choice in order to attract and retain top talent. Having a multi-faceted recruitment strategy along with a structured on-boarding program is critical.

3. In anticipation of employee retirements, members should ensure their succession planning addresses knowledge transfer.

4. Buying preferences continue to change. This is being driven by factory direct sales, third party providers, competitive dealer selling processes, online sales, advances in technology and customer demands for single source purchasing. Distributors must be forward thinking as to how their organization will evolve and provide service/value to the end user.

5. Automated solutions are increasingly in demand and members need to identify and add the resources and relationships necessary (products/people/technologies) to address these sales and service opportunities.

6. While there has been an unprecedented run of positive economic growth and business optimism is at a peak, members must be prepared and plan for a softening of the economy and pay attention to economic forecasts as to its timing.

7. Members must commit to and implement a comprehensive and continuous digital marketing campaign to grow and brand their business and to keep pace with industry leaders. The right digital talent needs to be hired or outsourced for the organization.

8. Consolidation continues to change the composition of the industry. Members must consider this impact in their strategic planning process.

9. It’s important for members to appreciate how giving back to their local communities can positively impact their organizations.

10. The continued demand for data collection from material handling equipment provides a revenue stream opportunity. This includes warehouse control, management systems and telematics.

NOTE: There continues to be ongoing important business issues that members need to recognize and consider including insurance, permitting, proposed regulatory policies, cyber security, etc.