Vision...Bright & Sunny

I spent this past weekend exploring the future. Sounds kind of fun, doesn’t it? It was a blast. My oldest son, Zachary, my wife, Gemma, and I took off for our first of multiple college visits to better plan Zachary’s future life path. We toured three great universities, all with dramatically different cultures and strengths. But through the differences there was a common thread that struck me at all of the schools – the young men and women we encountered, without exception, were…exceptional.

Our initial attempt at college visits blew up in the face of winter weather cancelling flights the prior week. Our re-scheduled trip forced relatively impromptu visits versus what we had planned the week before. We didn’t have organized group tours lined up to introduce us to the campus’ we visited. While we called ahead to the colleges, we were not able to schedule formal tours at any of them.

At the first stop, a student volunteered over the phone to meet us for a personal tour – and at an earlier hour for a Saturday morning than I remember from my college experience. At the second school, a student working at a general information desk proactively engaged us -- I am guessing because we looked lost -- and proceeded to spend an hour talking us through the intricacies of her school experience and the keys to success from her vantage point (which thankfully coincided with my wife’s and my views!). The third college experience was unbelievable. We walked off the street and were in the lobby of the student union on a Sunday afternoon -- and I suppose we once again appeared to be lost. A young lady asked if she could help us and we explained our visit’s purpose. She wasn’t an employee, just a random senior student. She insisted on putting us in her car and giving us a personal 1.5-hour tour, replete with valuable personal insight and recommendations. Her honesty about the intense rigor – but the immense opportunities – of the program were so much more than we could have gleaned from university communication.

From my relatively “experienced” (middle-aged!) vantage point, I came away from the trip invigorated and excited for the future, even with just four hours of sleep the final night. Every student we encountered was exceptionally bright. Fine. But here are more important descriptors I would attach to them: focused, informed, polite, service-oriented, community proud, self-aware. Each person was grateful for his or her experience, but encouraged Zachary to follow a path that works for him and leads to his success. Every one of them gave their personal information to Zachary and encouraged him to reach out to them if he had any questions. It was amazingly refreshing for me to view the possibilities for the future through the eyes of those just starting out.

Our annual MHEDA Convention is just on the horizon in early May and it’s all about the future with the theme of “What’s Your Vision?” Our industry is undergoing rapid changes due to technology, automation and e-commerce. Our Convention Chairman, Michael Vaughan, and his partner, Frieda, have planned a spectacular experience for us along with our great MHEDA staff.

What do you get when a Futurist, Economist, Demographer, Digital Strategist, and a Socially Conscious Entrepreneur converge on the same stage in Miami? A recipe for focusing our collective Vision on the bright future of material handling. Then we provide numerous practical workshops and networking exercises to deep dive into the most important topics relevant to running your businesses. You’ll have the opportunity to engage with our industry’s best suppliers offering the latest in material handling related products in our Exhibitor Showcase.

Attending our Convention will be a great group of near-graduation seniors much like I encountered on my recent college visits. They were invited from five great schools – East Carolina University, Purdue University, University of Nebraska at Kearny, Texas A&M University and Clemson University. These guests at our Convention represent our future leadership in the material handling industry. I know from our collective input to the 2018 forecast issue of the MHEDA Journal that we’re all looking for great talent to help our companies grow.

And I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that we NEVER fail to have fun at the MHEDA Convention, with great opening and closing parties and optional activities planned in the great (warm and sunny!) environment of Miami Beach.

Spring will be here soon. I sit here in late January as I write this feeling great about the future due to the caliber of youth I see heading our way from our recent college search trip. I am energized by the changes we all have the pleasure of experiencing in material handling today, and I am excited about our planned agenda for the May MHEDA Convention.

So “What’s Your Vision?” Come and share yours and/or learn about others. Talk to people face-to-face about challenges and opportunities in our industry. There are exciting times on the horizon. If you haven’t made your plans to join us, do it today – there’s still time!

Material Handling Equipment Distributors