The MHEDA Journal - Third Quarter, 2014 - (Page 17)

ASK YOUR EXPERT ADVICE BOARD Q "In what ways do established material handling businesses get complacent in times of economic growth which come back to haunt them during economic downturns? How should we best use this time of growth to set ourselves apart in the future?" Susan Allen, CFO, Lift Power, Inc., Jacksonville, Florida Scott Hennie, President, Elite Supply Chain Solutions, Strongsville, OH A I believe that looking back to how we battled the "Great Recession" answers the question of how we got, and may get, complacent when times are good. In order to survive the recession, the one control we had in our business was cost. For most distributors/ dealers, the biggest cost burden to the business is personnel. Cuts were made to trim personnel costs and, in many instances, those cuts were in headcount. I believe many of us learned that we were "carrying" people that we may not have needed or who were not contributing positively to the bottom line. In many cases we "trimmed the fat." As business gets stronger and the bottom line gets healthier, I think we need to be smart about who, when and why we hire additional help. We need to make sure that the people we have on our team are contributing positively to the bottom line. As far as setting ourselves apart in the future, that is a question to be answered internally in each of our organizations. Go back to "Good to Great" and the Hedgehog principle; what is your organization passionate about, what can your organization be the best at, and what drives your economic engine? I believe if you stay focused on these three criteria and develop a strategic plan to support your vision and mission, success will be the result of your actions. Mark Milovich, President, Lift Atlanta Inc., Decatur, GA A I think your inquiry is a very good one. During the last downturn, we all learned a great deal about our companies: where we were strong, where we were weak, and what inefficiencies existed that we did not really know were there. I think one of the biggest areas where dealerships get complacent is in their people. During the boom days we tend to hire people that we may really not need, or hang on to people that may be only providing average results, all because of a perception that they are needed. What this last downturn has proven is more can be done with less, and people can wear a couple of different hats and get the job done quickly and profitably. As business continues to grow, and additional people do become necessary, companies will add more staff, but this time around, I think more due diligence will be done to confirm that additional staff is indeed needed rather than just perceived to be needed. I also think dealerships get complacent with old ways of doing things and not utilizing the latest technologies to streamline their operations. During the good times we tend to think everything is getting completed quickly, efficiently and on-time. It is when business slows that we get time to review our procedures. How many of us found procedures during the last downturn and thought to ourselves, "Why on Earth are we doing this that way?" Many of us streamlined operations over the last few years and are now enjoying the benefits of these changes. Overstaffed and inefficient operations caused many of us a lot of sleepless nights. Since this downturn was unlike any other any of us had experienced, I think we all learned something, and we will cautiously grow our businesses in the good times. I think that is the best way to set yourself apart in the future; growth for growth's sake is not always profitable. Managed growth will reap benefits. I do not think we can go forward with a "get the order and worry about the details later" mentality. If we do not concern ourselves with the details, that is when we get complacent. I wish you much success! The MHEDA Journal | Third Quar ter 2 014 17

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of The MHEDA Journal - Third Quarter, 2014

President’s Perspective
From the Desk of Liz Richards
Editor’s Note
Ask Your Board
A Seat at the Table
Women in Business Trends
Happy Anniversary!
MHEDA at 60
A Powerful Marketing Advantage
MHEDA University Calendar
Best of the Best
An Untapped Resource
16 Tools to Build Your Service Labor Business
Personal/professional Relationships With Customers
Calling All Emerging Leaders
Omni-Channel Retailing
Design of the Mheda Disc Report
Convention 2014 Recap
New Members
Spotlight on Association News
MHEDA Milestones
Index of Advertisers by Product Category

The MHEDA Journal - Third Quarter, 2014