Each year, MHEDA appoints its Board of Directors and Manufacturers Board of Advisors (MBOA). The Board and MBOA are the voice of the MHEDA membership and help guide the MHEDA staff in its strategic direction and educational planning. This year, we asked MHEDA’s Board and MBOA members “What is the biggest actionable take away you’ve gotten from a MHEDA Program (i.e. Convention, Business Trends, Education, DiSC Report, etc.)? Can you point to specific ROI and dollar value?”
MHEDA Chairman of the Board
President, Container Systems Inc.
You’re kidding, right? Asking me what is the biggest actionable take away from a MHEDA program is akin to asking which of my three kids I love most. I mean, we all have a favorite, right? Each of them do things that drive you crazy. They all have highlights and lowlights that only a parent can appreciate. But to ask which one is your favorite? First off, I’m hoping that none of them are bored enough or have the spare time to read my industry’s trade magazine. Otherwise I’ve just spilled the beans on the best kept secret in the world (that favorites exist). Seriously, how would all the other Convention speakers feel if I said Mike Abrashoff was my favorite? They’d be crushed. Can’t do it.
President, Springer Equipment
The single biggest actionable take away we have received from a MHEDA Program is a tough question to answer as there have been many valuable takeaways over the years. Since starting a business from scratch is a major undertaking, both personally and financially, I would point to a General Session Annette and I attended at Convention in 2014. Alan Beaulieu presented ITR’s Economic Presentation: “Get Aggressive and Start Thinking Big”. ITR’s presentation outlined the advantage firms would have who were proactive to the economic expansion anticipated for 2015 and beyond. As we were several months from a decision to open a new dealership in Nashville, TN, ITR’s message was a huge take away for us!
The presentation Alan Beaulieu made of verifiable reality was what we needed to make the decision to launch the TN dealership. To specify an ROI and dollar value would be tough after five years in business, however it is safe to say the long-term ROI and dollar value well exceeds the costs of 25 years of MHEDA membership many, many times over!
President & CEO
Alliance Material Handling
The biggest actionable take-away Alliance has received from a MHEDA program relates to MHEDA’s LMS program. We started using LMS about three years ago. Initially we had every Leader in our company take the Supervisor and Leadership courses. This triggered us to really focus on our upcoming A players. We developed a series of LMS programs for our A players to take over a period of time that would help them gain the skills needed to be our next generation Leaders. We next focused on onboarding new employees and worked with MHEDA utilizing their onboarding program along with our core fundamentals and culture videos. A more recent LMS benefit for onboarding has been the Forklift 101 program. We incorporated this series in our onboarding for every new hire regardless of department. Everyone that takes this course, whether new to the industry or very experienced, comes away with something they did not know or remember about our industry. I cannot put an ROI or specific dollar amount to this investment yet but I can tell you our retention of employees in the first 1-3 years of employment has dramatically improved by taking the time up front to further educate our employees from the very first day they start. We owe this in large part to MHEDA’s LMS Program.
MHEDA Vice President
President, All Lift Service Co.
The biggest actionable take away I’ve gotten from a MHEDA Program is tough to rank. There are so many valuable take always from cost savings ideas, networking that results in actual new sales to best practices that can instantly improve the bottom line. It’s also hard to measure the value of feeling mentally refreshed after a MHEDA event that addresses some of the issues that you may have been dealing with at your company.
Instead of choose the best I’ll share my FIRST ROI story from my very first MHEDA Convention in Scottsdale AZ. The deal my father made me was that I could attend my first MHEDA Convention but I had to come back with something of value that covered the cost of Convention.
One morning at breakfast after a great Opening Party evening I piled my plate full of bacon and sat at a random table (which for those that don’t know is the right MHEDA Networking move). I proceeded to introduce myself to learn that I sat at a table full of industrial tire professionals from a known brand of industrial tires. As I ate my bacon I learned about a recycled tire/rim program that this vendor offered. They explained how I can participate in their program and I instantly realized that this was the idea. This would save the dealership much more in tire disposal in the first year than the entire cost of Convention by far. On top of that I knew that it would continue to provide savings year after year after year. To this day we still use this same tire recycling program.
The moral of the story is that you never know where the value will appear at a MHEDA event. The biggest mistake I see people make is that they don’t always put themselves in a position to learn, network and grow. To maximize your value means to show up early for the breakfast, sit at a table full of strangers and want to learn what they do and how it may be connected to your business. It’s easy staying in your room and going to bed early. The hardest part is showing up and making the effort. What value will you uncover at MHEDA events in 2020 and beyond? Good luck and have fun!
MHEDA Immediate Past Chairman
CFO, Liftech Equipment Companies
East Syracuse, NY
One of the biggest takeaways I acted on was the result of attending a Convention session on Cyber Security. I happened to introduce John Sileo, so I sat in the front row very attentive. As John described the circumstances and risks related to cyber security, I remember leaving the session with a very sick feeling in my stomach. The first day back at work I sat with the dealer principal. Coincidentally, he had just returned from a meeting where the same topic was presented so we jointly agreed that we needed to act. Within a month we had hired a firm who identified what we needed to do differently and implemented a solid employee training program. MHEDA’s recognition of the importance of this risk certainly was the impetus to act.
President, Advanced Equipment Company
If you want a valuable take-away, attend a MHEDA Convention. It is hard to single out the biggest take-away from a Convention. The networking opportunities, general sessions, and round table discussions have all added to my personal growth and brought value that I can take back to our company. However, the one that continues to bring the most value are the Keynote speakers. They are thought provoking, motivational, and they challenge your company or you personally. Ryan Avery from the 2019 Convention is one of my all-time favorites. Ryan’s strategies to Go from a Leader to THE Leader are simple yet powerful. I often share his strategies with my sales team and I routinely work on them personally. Communication whether selling or within the office happens every day, so being a better communicator can give us momentum to take our ideas and goals and make them a reality.
- Education – Using the MHEDA education system has enabled me to find the training I need for employees and myself producing a quicker turn around on ROI in new hires.
- Convention – By attending Convention I have received motivation, personnel and best practices ideas from speakers, peers and workshops. I have received valuable economic information that has helped me steer through the changes in our economy.
- MHEDA alerts me to relevant business trends and the best practices that my peers are using to navigate these trends. Knowing what to do and when to do it (or just being able to discuss ideas and trends with others in our industry) are invaluable and produce a better run operation which produces a great ROI. Every dollar spent on MHEDA products is a dollar that makes WW Cannon, llc a better run organization.
President, Fairchild Equipment South
Green Bay, WI
It’s really difficult to point out any one thing. CFT, Conventions, asset management, used/rental seminars, etc. However, I would point to the CFT and how it has enabled us to interact with local technical colleges to attract young talent for service technicians has been invaluable. Figure each tech will generally generate 10-12k per month at 65% gross profit and it’s pretty easy to understand why!
Vice President/General Manager, Tri-Lift, NC
To list just one big actionable take away from MHEDA is tough when MHEDA delivers so much value to the dealers and the dealer community. To mention a few critical items, however, and do it briefly might be possible. I would have to list the Convention with the breakout sessions and speakers, the LMS and MHEDA Net. From the Convention, we have learned about technological advances in many areas. One of the new products we learned about was the Tablets and the Service programs available. We hope to launch this technology in 2020 and that goal has definitely been expedited through contacts and information made available from MHEDA. This will definitely benefit our bottom line by improving our WIP and cash flow by being able to invoice customers quicker thus being paid sooner. We have used the economic forecast, trends and projections when going through our planning and strategies meetings to set the budget and goals for the next year. This gives us a heads up on working with our manufacturers so we don’t over promise and under deliver. The MHEDA education classes that we have enrolled our employees in are top notch and the many workshops that are offered, emerging leaders, rental and used, etc. have definitely brought value and accelerated our new employees in their jobs and careers. Lastly, but far from least is the Network Groups and the value those groups bring. We’ve had discussions on a wide-range of topics and have found that we are all looking to improve our businesses and having different ideas for improvement. We have found that sharing best practice’s help to better all of our dealerships. If you actively participate in the Network Groups, you not only come away with new ideas but you also establish great friendships and professional business associates that are always available to assist in any way needed.
President, Valley Industrial Trucks, Inc.
There are so many benefits to MHEDA; it is really difficult to say which is the best actionable take away from a MHEDA Program. We have gained so many new ideas and best practices which all have added great value to my business. One thing I will say is that most MHEDA members experience the exact same challenges in their businesses and talking to other members usually results in some beneficial conversations.
I have been in the material handling business for over 27 years and I didn’t think that there were too many applications that I couldn’t solve. Well, I was wrong. During this year’s fall MHEDA board meeting, I was challenged by a long-term customer to find a fork-mounted RFID solution for his new warehouse. This was something that we had never heard of not to mention how to manage. Sound complicated? It is. Fortunately, there was a solution. I was explaining my situation to another board member in casual conversation, and he directed me to a company that specializes in this exact technology. I made contact with the suppliers and together we came up with exactly what the customer wanted to accomplish. Without this referral, I would not have solved this problem and most likely lost a very large order.
Again, this is just one small example of the benefits of MHEDA. Networking, idea sharing, best practices and most importantly, friendships have made my MHEDA experience second to none. I would highly recommend that you get involved in everything that MHEDA has to offer. Just like anything in life, you have to try and work hard. When you do, you will receive success.
Hoj Engineering and Sales
Salt Lake City, UT
Operating a 50+ year old company, as a second generation business owner presents significant pressure for change since legacy programs and employee roles over time lose touch with what our new customers need from us. MHEDA Conventions do a great job to highlight today’s trends so you can identify the gaps in your company direction. After identifying the areas of your business or offerings that need adjustment the MHEDA-NET group offers an incredible resource to talk with other company leaders who have recently moved through similar improvement processes. The insight offered through your peer network is invaluable. Making strategic direction changes would be difficult to get right, without the insight offered through MHEDA. The MHEDA experience has helped our company to make shifts in our business, that has increased our relevance to the market, and grow our business.
Vice President of Operations
Toyota Forklifts of Atlanta
Each fall, the Executive Team and Corporate Managers at Toyota Forklifts of Atlanta meet for a Strategic Planning Session for the upcoming year. The structure of that meeting is built on a foundation of “The Four Disciplines of Execution”, a book by Sean Covey, Chris McChesney and Jim Huling. This book explains that for our team to be successful in attaining our goals, we must identify the four “Wildly Important Goals” or WIGS.
Once we identify the four Wildly Important Goals that we will work towards, we open the conversation by discussing the upcoming year’s Business Trends as provided by MHEDA. Discussing these Business Trends and identifying those that can have an impact in our market is an important component for our Strategic Planning. Industry changes, third party influencers, economic conditions and the ability to successfully recruit and retain top talent are all things to consider in making realistic goals for the upcoming year.
We couple the strategies developed to counter the impact of those business Trends from MHEDA with the knowledge we gain about our past performance, provided by MHEDA’s DiSC Report. Being aware of your performance currently in every aspect of our business is imperative. Utilizing the DiSC Report, we understand where we are performing at top 20% of dealers vs. where we are performing below the top 20% of dealers in every department within our company. This data and metrics report helps us focus on countermeasures to improve in those areas where they are needed. Having knowledge that this data is collected by an outside consulting firm who provides 100% confidentiality is also reassuring.
When we compare the results from our past performance against those who are in the top 20%, we identify the GAP generated by the difference. Planning closure of that GAP in performance becomes a measurable of ROI generated from the data shared with us from the DiSC Report. We find it to be a very effective management tool for our Strategic Planning, especially when paired with the data for the future years Business Trends from MHEDA.
COO, RMH Systems
MHEDA provides RMH Systems with much of the industry analysis that we use to develop our strategic plan. We use the business trends, economic forecasting, DiSC report, and webinars to assist us in setting the right course for RMH Systems. I have found that it is critical to our success to make sure we have as much information as possible as to where the industry is headed and what customer trends we can prepare for in the future. RMH Systems created a new Robotics division in 2018 due to the increasing demand from our customers for automation solutions. This has been a MHEDA business trend for the past five years and was one of the reasons we pursued the addition of the division. By using the economic analysis that MHEDA provides throughout the year, it has allowed us to adjust course and reset expectations. We have four employees that participate in MHEDA Net and all four bring back valuable information to help RMH Systems. MHEDA Net allows us to network and learn from similar non-competing companies. We share best practices and help each other when faced with business issues. Lastly, many of my employees attend Convention and the regional networking events to network with other members. It is amazing when you can learn from your peers at these events. Without a doubt, MHEDA’s membership resources have enabled RMH Systems to be a better company.
Vice President of Operations
Storage Solutions, Inc.
For over 40 years, Storage Solutions, Inc.’s vision has been to be a trusted industry leader in providing creative turnkey solutions for our partners. As our industry continues to evolve, so do the offerings that we must have in order to meet our clients supply chain needs. With the help of our MHEDA membership, we have been able to identify several business trends to align our strategic direction with that vision. In recent years, we have focused on the business trend of automation. The Material Handling Business Trends identified that customers are seeking automated solutions for business issues they are experiencing with labor shortages, minimum wage increases, production inefficiencies, and a desire to reduce their overall fleet. We saw this as an opportunity to revisit our strategic plan to meet our clients where they were being challenged. To accomplish this, we created a ‘Simple, Smart, Strategic’ purpose and aligned ourselves with partners to offer our clients solutions in slotting optimization and Autonomous Mobile Robots. These new offerings have already benefited several client partners with ROI’s routinely coming in fewer than 2 years. Our success in helping our partners resolve critical business issues has been gratifying as we adapt our service offerings to overcome supply chain challenges. Through the help of MHEDA and their yearly ‘Materials Handling Business Trends’ we continue to move forward in accomplishing our vision.
VP of Sales, Riekes Equipment Company
North Kansas City, MO
My biggest actionable take away from MHEDA has got to be the annual Convention. Not only is it a great event to network with both vendors and distributors but it is also an event where I have met a lot of individuals who I now consider friends. It is also one of the most informative events that I participate in. The key note speakers are very inspirational and provide a lot of insight into what is happening in our world. We are also privileged to listen to one of the foremost economic advisors in Brian Beaulieu who gives us a vision of the future and what we can expect. Mr. Beaulieu has a 98% accuracy rate which is very reliable. The final event that I thoroughly enjoy is the round table discussions. There are several questions that are asked and everyone at your table gives their opinions and ideas as to what they are experiencing and what has worked for them. In closing, if you get an opportunity to go to MHEDA annual Convention trust me when I say IT IS WORTH EVERY PENNY.
MHEDA Advisory Board
VP of Marketing & Sales, Fallsway Equipment Company
I struggled to come up with a single “home run” actionable takeaway that stood out above and beyond all others from our association with MHEDA. I sincerely believe the value obtained from our involvement in MHEDA programs comes from the many “singles and doubles” that are consistently obtained through many different programs. We consistently have employees come home from live conferences energized with new ideas that they want to implement in our operations. Every year we kick off our Business Planning for the year by reviewing the Material Handling Business Trends developed by the MHEDA board with input from the entire industry. Webinars are viewed by many different department personnel for relevance to their particular discipline in our dealership and they implement best practices obtained from these educational vehicles. New business relationships are developed regularly through networking at Convention, live conferences and participation in regional networking programs. Perhaps the biggest actionable takeaway is to consistently participate in, and take action on, all of the many great resources MHEDA brings to the table.
Senior Account Executive
Oak Lawn, IL
From the regional networking summit at Concept Services the idea of a better customer experience and how that affects future sales really stuck with me. It’s a simple enough item to improve upon by looking at your current processes and results then improving the weak areas with new processes that result in a better customer experience. This directly relates to my team of project coordinators, engineers and sales people as we are all customer facing and strive to have the best possible relationship with our customers. It may be difficult to attach a real world ROI to dollars spent in this area but the long term benefit is undeniable.
Director of Business Development, Hytrol Conveyor
Based on my interactions with members of MHEDA, there are takeaways from all the programs offered. It really depends on the need.
Personally, my biggest takeaways come from two areas; the Convention and the business trends that are published each year.
The Convention is a great opportunity to take a few days and work on the business. The keynote speakers are always motivational, and informative. The workshops provide useful practices that you can go home and apply to your business immediately. The networking opportunities are always powerful. I’ve never seen a group of people so willing to discuss best practices in an open forum. I’ve heard many members comment that their success has been based on their involvement with MHEDA, either through the programs they offer or the ideas they’ve picked up by their ability to talk to so many people that have similar issues and challenges.
Another big takeaway is the business trends that are put out each year. It’s invaluable to have input provided by companies that are involved in literally all aspects of the material handling industry. These groups have their fingers on the pulse of what’s going on in the industry and the opportunities, issues, and challenges that are on the horizon. These business trends give companies the opportunity to be responsive instead of being reactive.
VP Dealer Business Development
Hyster-Yale Group, Inc.
As an OEM supporting an independent dealer network, without question I still extract the greatest value from the DiSC data every year. While we gather financial information at a functional level from our dealers, the DiSC enables us to look across the industry to better understand if HYG is providing a comparable financial return for our dealer partners. It helps identify areas where we need to be more intentional both strategically and tactically across all functional areas of the business in order to enhance the value of our enterprise. If used and interpreted correctly, an essential resource tool for both our network and HYG. For dealers that have both equipment and engineered systems operations, it is a valuable reference tool in managing the balance sheet.
VP Sales Americas
After meeting with the team we all agreed that the largest value we receive stems from the annual Convention, which gives us the opportunity for our management team to spend direct time with distributors versus at some other larger venue like MODEX and ProMat where we have many other customers like OEM’s and End Users participating. Recently, we have been more active with our team members participating in educational sessions. For example the Rental & Used Equipment Management Conference last October was very beneficial for our Used Equipment manager to learn about new marketing techniques. We anticipate ROI from this event once we deploy some of the ideas that came from the conference. Most recently, the Women in Industry Conference was very positively received and allowed us the ability to send a few female team members to a MHEDA event and in some cases, for the very first time.