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MHEDA members enjoying the benefits of networking at annual convention
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2011 MHEDA President Chuck Frank was presented with the traditional Past President's green jacket.
MHEDA Journal
2011 MHEDA President Chuck Frank was presented with the traditional Past President's green jacket.

The Material Handling Equipment Distributors Association, (MHEDA) 57th Annual Convention was jam-packed on Monday, May 6th with educational speakers and opportunities to network. While the day was very business-oriented, it did begin on a light note as comedian Jeff Havens introduced 2012 MHEDA President Richard Donnelly, executive vice president of Gregory Poole Equipment Company (Raleigh, NC), in hilarious fashion. Richard opened the session by saying, "We have all been through a difficult past few years and have learned some tough lessons. No one wants to be put back in the same positions we were in early 2009, and while business has greatly improved, we are all a little hesitant as to how to proceed. That is why the theme of this Convention is 'Re-Imagine Your Business,' because it's something we all need to be focusing on." Richard was then joined on stage by 2011 MHEDA President Chuck Frank, who was presented with the traditional Past President's green jacket.

New this year was the recognition of the Howard Bernstein Industrial Distribution Scholarship. Howard began the scholarship last year by seeding it with a $150,000 donation to be awarded to students who are studying industrial distribution and other curriculums related to material handling. Howard took the stage to discuss the program. "We have to attract these young, bright minds into the industry that has been so great to me," he said. "We need to get young people involved with material handling because it’s such an important industry. We’re not selling hula hoops here. These are labor-saving devices. It’s equipment that people need."

The first speaker of the day was Walter Bond, a former NBA athlete and broadcaster, who, upon joining the corporate world adopted the nickname "Mr. Accountability." Walter explained his personal credo, "No One Can Stop You, But You," and how there can't be any "pity parties" in business. "It's easy to blame somebody else or blame the economy if you aren't making money," he said. "But making money is easy. You have to sell hopes and dreams, not products to be successful. If you aren't making money then you should reevaluate the way you are selling."

After listening to Bond speak, attendees got the chance to network with industry peers at the annual Exhibitiors' Showcase, where more than 80 manufacturers displayed their products and services. It was a great place for manufacturers and distributors to be able to discuss the business and exchange contact information.

After a break for lunch, attendees had the opportunity to hear world-renowned economist, Alan Beaulieu discuss the current economic climate. Alan is the president of the Institute for Trend Research in Concord, NH, and uses business cycle trend analysis to forecast the economy. He gave attendees tips for forecasting their business and positioning themselves to take advantage of a recovering economy.

Monday’s business came to a close with Networking Roundtable discussions about topics such as leading financial indicators, how to deal with a customer who wants to buy direct from a manufacturer and lessons learned over the past three years. The roundtables provided a forum for networking with industry peers about challenges and opportunities in the industry and a chance to see how others are handling the same issues. Finally, attendees returned to the Exhibitors' Showcase for happy hour and continued networking.