COMPANY: Brach Eichler
YEARS ON JOB: 3
I have been providing legal services to businesses in the material handling industry for over 12 years, including the past three at Brach Eichler. To successfully represent these companies, it is imperative that I become an expert in this industry and understand my client’s business. Understanding the industry, and how it is changing, also allows me to provide sound advice on contracts, identify problematic terms, and avoid lawsuits and disputes. It is also important that I become an expert in my client’s business and know industry standards to persuasively advocate my client’s position to a judge and other attorneys. I can succeed only if they know I understand the industry, the business, and the issue at hand. So, it was important to me and my clients that I become an expert in this space, particularly since the industry is changing.
Communication is a key component to establishing a relationship with a client, managing their expectations, and making strategic decisions with them or on their behalf. Consequently, I am on the phone constantly as I am still a believer that, although email is an easier and the main way people communicate today, picking up the phone allows me to get to the heart of the matter faster and more efficiently. A phone call also prevents miscommunication or misunderstandings. Becoming a trusted advisor requires regular and consistent communication between my clients and me.
Consolidation in the material handling industry, like so many other sectors, continues to reshape this industry. Larger companies are always looking for merger opportunities with smaller niche kinds of businesses. In today’s environment, companies would rather buy someone else’s idea or merge with an established company, than try to build from the ground up. I often consult with the client to discuss the potential problems and concerns with the merger and to help them navigate through the process. I counsel my clients on what to expect and what difficulties may present themselves during, and in the wake of, the transaction. With the acquisition of a smaller niche business, the smaller company may lose its autonomy and key personnel. In addition, new processes, procedures, rules, and regulations are implemented and not always welcomed by the smaller company, nor is the company accustomed to all of the new protocol. Thus, due diligence is critical to understanding what a company, on both sides, is getting into, what each loses and what each gains, to allow for an informed decision.
Today, companies store everything electronically. The days of having file cabinets containing drawings, letters, estimates, invoices and the like are gone. Documents are stored electronically in a computer system allowing an employee to sit at his or her desk and, with the click of a mouse, copy virtually all of the employer’s information that took years and tens of thousands of dollars to develop. Storing information electronically not only presents IT and software challenges, it also greatly impacts an employer’s ability to protect the company’s trade secrets and confidential information. I provide advice to clients on how best to protect proprietary information, and how to prevent theft or loss of that confidential or proprietary information. This is critical to maintaining a competitive edge.
The opportunities in the material handling industry are endless at all levels. The industry is growing by leaps and bounds and as e-commerce in this space becomes more sophisticated and more prevalent, it has become a very sought-after industry and the industry to be in, at many levels. Getting your foot in the door is key, even if you have to start at an entry-level position. Tenacity, hard work, curiosity, and the desire to succeed will allow for fast growth and success.