I recently attended the Southeast Regional Networking Summit put on by the Material Handling Equipment Distributors Association or MHEDA for short.  It was hosted by CMH Services Inc at their Columbia, South Carolina location.  I want to thank them for hosting.  They have a great facility, and it was truly a very informative and interesting day.

As many know, I just recently joined The Daniel Group, and this was my first solo event.  Obviously, I was excited, nervous, and not sure what to expect because I had never been to a lift truck dealership let alone talked to someone in that field.

I don’t want to give too much detail about the MHEDA Summit because I think you should go and experience their events for yourselves.  The insights provided by the speakers Walker McKay and Mark Vitner were fascinating and invaluable.  The other attendees were open and willing to share with each other in a business that is highly competitive.  I think everyone benefitted from it.

I was impressed with everyone I met and interested to learn about each representatives unique situation.  The amount of diversity astounded me especially when questions arose as to how they made it through the economic downturn.  Each company’s culture and style were fully on display with how they reacted to those tough times and it had an impact on how I perceive material handling.

Questions arose about the use of more modern technology in the field and shop.  The consensus seemed to be that it is useful but how to most effectively use these new technologies was what everyone wanted to talk about.  This question, I believe, is asked everywhere, in almost every business and it is not easily answered.  Technology is changing so rapidly you’re not sure if your investment in these technologies will be worthwhile or if that technology will be truly effective.

The one thing that was overlooked was customer service.  There were discussions about sales and acquiring new customers, but customer service was only briefly mentioned.  What about the customers they already have?  I found this surprising.  Did you know that it costs five times more to acquire a new customer than to keep the customer you already have?  Your chance of selling a new product or service to a new customer is 1 in 16 whereas for a current customer it is a 1 in 2 chance of a sale? That 73% of customers have chosen to spend more with a company because of good service experiences.  I think this a bit of an oversight especially in a business as competitive as material handling where every customer is key to business success.

I enjoyed my day and felt like I came away with a lot of fascinating information as well as lessons only a green employee can learn on their own.  It was a great first solo experience.

Many thanks to MHEDA, CMH Service Inc., and everyone who attended; hopefully, I will see many of you again.

Max Daniel

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