May 2023 marked my 37th year in the material handling industry. What a wonderful ride it has been, in what I deem the "fast lane." McGee Storage and Handling has been blessed to achieve near 5X growth in the last decade. Could we have scaled further and raised the bar higher? Absolutely! Funny how we see more clearly with experience. I've always been competitive, and, reflecting on the early days, I'll admit my pride kept me from seeking wise counsel. We humans are not meant to "go it alone," nor are the people who find themselves in material handling.
If you are blessed to have a mentor to guide your way, accept them graciously. Early in my career, I was mentored by another business owner and incredible salesman. He was gifted at befriending everyone and was passionate about helping others solve problems. In hindsight, the pride he had in himself and his company prevented him from seeking outside counsel — why is that? I recall attending Promat — the material handling and logistics industry's premier global event — every two years, anxious to learn and network. Unfortunately, we were asked to keep it to just one day. We would arrive at the bell, blitz the floor for eight hours, and catch a flight back. The idea was to absorb as much as possible, then get back to our customers. Customers first! Hard to argue with that philosophy, yet a bit shortsighted when you consider the wealth of information and power of networking to be leveraged in a single event.
In this rapidly evolving industry, no individual can keep up alone. To best serve our customers, we must be intentional in broadening our expertise and peer groups. When MODEX – the biggest manufacturing and supply chain event — first came to Atlanta in 2012, my focus shifted dramatically. I found myself surrounded by experts and started asking questions. MODEX has become a vital part of my continuing education. Don't miss a day of it! The short courses are very informative, with subject matter experts sharing technological advancements and successful case studies. I regularly invite customers down to walk the floor with me, stopping at booths that I know will interest them. It's also my time to reconnect with friends and partners in the industry and learn in depth what they are up to.
It took us (McGee) nearly eight years to learn about MHEDA – the Material Handling Equipment Distributors Association. It was 2015, during a conversation with Mark Milovich, President of Lift Atlanta, that MHEDA was introduced to me. At that time, Mark was acting President of MHEDA. Mark was dumbfounded that I hadn't heard of it, and couldn't believe McGee was not yet a member. After very quick research, we were.
The first MHEDA convention we attended was 2016 in Washington DC. That theme was "Passion with a Purpose." The breakout sessions and guest speakers were all phenomenal. The face time you get with manufacturers and industry partners is worth every penny. The value of the industry relationships we have cultivated over 37 years is simply invaluable. Being part of a MHEDA-NET group today allows me to enjoy open and instructive conversations with my peers. We communicate best practices, discuss industry trends, and leverage all the resources MHEDA has to offer.
The Material Handling, Logistics and Equipment Dealer networks are far reaching. Seeking out and embracing wise council has allowed McGee to expand its focus, tap into engineered and GC solutions, provide expertise on far more sophisticated projects, and foster long-term strategic relationships with our customers.
In this season of thankfulness, we share our gratitude. McGee has been richly blessed from all of you who have influenced me personally and helped refine McGee along the way. Above all, we thank the customers who trust us year after year to serve them.
Stay curious, ask questions, and don't be afraid to step out of your box. We are all better for it.
With a gracious heart – thank you and Happy Thanksgiving!