How We Did It
The MHEDA Journal wrote a great article last July about the award-winning successes of distributors in 2009, a year that was dismal for much of the material handling industry. While employees were being let go and sales were a struggle, the year wasn’t all bad. Tweaks to strategies and a concentration on customer service made all the difference.
Each of the distributors listed in the article were named to at least one manufacturer’s list of 2009?s Top Dealers. What were their secrets to come out successful in a down a year? Here is how MH Equipment did it.
“I may be unusual in that I look back at 2009 with more affection than any other year I’ve owned MH Equipment Company besides my first year. Two of our six divisions earned Dealer of Distinction awards, which is partially a testament to how well we’ve performed in those regions. Our market share has always been strong in Illinois and Iowa. What made this year a little different for us was the company’s overall financial performance. Our revenue was down 29 percent in 2009, but we still found a way to be reasonably profitable. I’m pretty proud of that.
“We really focus on fleet management. We tell the customer that we will take care of their entire fleet for X number of years for a fixed number of dollars. By having a lot of those contracts in place, it helps us communicate with and remain partners with the customers. They have an agreement in place already so we know they’re not going to leave us. They may want to adjust the terms, and that’s okay, but the fleet management accounts keep the long-term relationships intact.
“We teamed up with Hyster’s national accounts team to take advantage of some great opportunities in our territory to have some large transactions. Agriculture, which makes up a huge portion of the economy in the states where we earned awards, lagged the general economy a bit, so we had some success focusing on that segment of the marketplace. There are three large companies in particular with whom we’ve developed relationships and all of them made purchases last year. That’s a culmination of years of being partners and working together. Those kind of relationships aren’t created overnight.
“The thing that makes MH Equipment successful is the leadership team. We reorganized our structure last year to streamline our operations. We put one of the owners, Darrell Randall, in charge of our marketing, and another owner, Fred Metzger, in charge of all unit sales for the company. Having top-level executives in those roles helped us be more strategic and efficient with our limited resources.”
John Wieland, CEO
MH Equipment Company (Mossville, IL)