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July 1, 2016
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MHEDA Members Populate Dealer Recognition Lists

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In the 3rd Quarter 2014 issue of The MHEDA Journal, Elite Supply Chain Solutions President Scott Hennie wrote, "As you look at the distributors who have been recognized by their manufacturer partners, take note at how many of these companies are MHEDA members. Along those lines, add up the number of years of successful business being celebrated by MHEDA member companies. I don't believe this is because of luck or hopeful thinking, but the result of creative visions, strong planning, aggressive goals and flexible execution of business plans."

At the time, Hennie was serving as MHEDA's Board President. In that same article, he set an aggressive goal for MHEDA and its member companies.

"Let's set a MHEDA goal for 2015 – 100 percent of the manufacturer-honored distributors are MHEDA members! We can get there with creative visions, a proven planning process and utilizing the resources provided by MHEDA."

As you can see on the preceding pages, MHEDA did not meet that 100 percent goal, though MHEDA members again made up a strong majority of the list. But that challenge that Hennie laid out still resonates within the MHEDA Office and the Board of Directors. At this year's February Board Meeting, the Membership Committee discussed the goals and directives it had set out for this year and going forward. The very first goal, which was a directive from MHEDA's Executive Committee, was to build a promotional campaign around the dealer award percentages.

This year's Membership Committee Chair is Mike Wall, President of Container Systems, Inc. I had the opportunity to speak with Mike about why he thinks MHEDA members are routinely ranked as the top distributors by manufacturers and suppliers in the industry and what we can do as an association to eventually fulfill the aggressive goal that Scott Hennie set for us two years ago.

It's not a coincidence that MHEDA members are routinely rated among the best companies in the industry by most any metric. And further still, there's a reason that those companies who are active within the association are so successful.

"MHEDA members, to begin with, have taken the time to be part of something outside of their company," Wall says. "They're part of something bigger. They want to be in the know and know what's going in. What are the trends in the industry? So being a part of and engaged in MHEDA is a good way to keep current on that information. MHEDA members have their ear to the ground and know what is happening in the industry and what the emerging technologies and trends are."

While joining MHEDA is a great first step, it really is an association where you get out of it what you put in. Those members that take the time to attend Convention, sign up for webinars, join MHEDA-NET groups, read The MHEDA Journal and MHEDA Connection and participate in MHEDA's benchmarking surveys are much more likely to feel fulfilled by their MHEDA membership.

"If you're getting that information from your peers in the industry and from your suppliers when you gather with them, then you've got a real competitive edge when you go out and you're talking to customers," Wall says. "You're more knowledgable. And when you're more knowledgable and more valuable to your customers and you're getting more orders, it's not a surprise that you'll find yourself on top of these supplier lists. So when you see a top 10 and lo and behold, 9 of them are MHEDA members, it's not a random event."

Prior to joining the MHEDA Board of Directors, Wall really looked at CSI's MHEDA membership as an information tool.

"I can say that, before I was interested in joining the board, I thought MHEDA membership was valuable. My father actually joined MHEDA while he was running the company but I wouldn't have maintained our membership if I didn't think it was valuable," says Wall. "To get the journal, to get the newsletters and emails about webinars and educational events, that was where my interest was. I wanted to keep abreast of what's happening in the industry so I'll join this organization to make sure I'm not getting passed by."

He continues, "But the more involved you get, I think the equation changes a little bit. You start to say, 'Wow, there is a lot of value here. A lot of stuff that I wouldn't get anywhere else.' Early on, it was more, 'I'm glad we're getting this information.' But it wasn't something I was interested in getting more involved in. But then you go to a Convention or two and you start to realize there is a ton more here for me than I even knew about. I only knew the tip of the iceberg."

Rising Tide
Not every MHEDA supplier has a Dealer Recognition list. However, of those that do, you can certainly bet that every one of that manufacturer's dealers are aware of exactly who is on it.

"If one of my suppliers is running a top 10 list, you bet that I'm looking at that list," Wall says. "I want to see which of my competitors locally are on that list. Or, just to find out, in general, who are the big players? So I'm definitely looking at it. And through the lens of a MHEDA members, if I look at a list and I realize that 9 out of the 10 distributors are board members and I'm not on that list, I'd look at it and say, 'What are these guys doing that I'm not? Why are we not on that list? Are we falling behind? Are these guys using more technology or hiring engineers?' I'd be trying to figure out what it is that they're doing that I'm not so that I can be on that list next year."

One challenge in reaching that 100 percent plateau is that, for many suppliers, certain members of their top dealers may not be in the material handling industry at all. For instance, while CSI sells mezzanines for traditional warehousing uses, there are plenty of other uses for mezzanines outside of the material handling and logistics industries. However, it is not outside the realm of possibility that of the traditional material handling distributors on these lists, that eventually 100 percent of them will be MHEDA members.

"The fact that there are so many heavy-hitters in the industry are very engaged with MHEDA, I think some of the smaller companies look at that and say, 'I don't want to get passed up. I want to be a part of that,'" Wall says. 

Another way that the Board of Directors is attempting to bolster membership as well as increase MHEDA representation on these lists is by working with MHEDA suppliers to encourage distributors who are not currently MHEDA members to join the association.

"We've had conversations with many of our supplier members and are making a concerted push to work in concert with them to reach out to their distributors who might benefit from MHEDA membership," says Wall.

Two years ago, when Scott Hennie challenged the association to reach 100 percent population of the Dealer Recognition Awards, he sparked a goal that we're still striving to achieve today. We haven't gotten there yet but as membership continues to grow and thrive, there's little doubt that eventually we will get there. So, if you're a MHEDA member who was recognized as a top dealer by one of your suppliers, we congratulate you! Now we challenge you to continue to be recognized year after year. And if you're a member who was not recognized, the gauntlet has been thrown. Let's make Scott's goal a reality. 


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