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Material Handling Equipment Distributors Association LogoThis feature is the second in a series profiling associations connected to the heavy equipment industry. These important associations are the collective voice of the people who manufacture, buy, sell, rent, and finance equipment, ensuring they have the resources they need and that their voice is heard.

Association Snapshot

Name: Material Handling Equipment Distributors Association (MHEDA)

Year Founded: 1954

HQ: Vernon Hill, IL in Chicago area


  • Independent distributors of material handling equipment that sell, service or rent new or used material handling equipment.
  • Factory owned branches or manufacturer representatives who sell material handling equipment only to distributors, not end users.
  • Companies that manufacture or sell material handling equipment, or offer specialized services to support the industry

MHEDA members distribute and manufacture a variety of products, ranging from industrial trucks to pallet racks and conveyors.

Membership Size: More than 625 companies globally

Association Mission

As with any industry, keeping up to date on current trends and news, and making new connections that ultimately grow their business, are vitally important to equipment distributors. But immediate daily challenges and commitments often supersede, and it’s easy to overlook business development opportunities. This is where MHEDA steps in and makes connections for its members. The association aims to educate, facilitate networking opportunities, provide industry information and data, advocate for members, and recruit new members who will benefit from these services. MHEDA members don’t have to reinvent the wheel when it comes to research, education and development because they are united with an association that has already laid the groundwork.

Cat Forklift

It all comes down to MHEDA’s published mission statement, which is “To further improve the proficiency of independent material handling distributors in order that they continue to be the most effective and efficient conduit to the marketplace and to be a resource to all industry stakeholders.”

MHEDA Goals in 2014

2014 is a big year for MHEDA, as the association celebrates its 60th anniversary. A number of educational programs, networking opportunities and benchmarking information are underway for this year.

Each year, MHEDA conducts a Strategic Planning Process, and then the Executive Committee defines “Critical Impact Factors” facing the industry. Critical Impact Factors are used to plan the year ahead and deliver programming for member success. (See 2015 Critical Impact Factors.)

Structure and Member Benefits

Eight material handling equipment distributors originally founded MHEDA. The association is now led by volunteer directors who represent all segments of the industry. They participate in two board meetings annually and serve on committees to meet the organization’s goals and initiatives.

Benefits to members include:

  • Material handling industry-specific financial reports and compensation surveys
  • Extensive networking opportunities with industry peers
  • Educational publications and on-demand programs
  • Industry specific educational seminars conducted throughout the year
  • Discounts on business operations for members only

Factory Conveyor Belt

Embracing the Internet

MHEDA stands out as a trailblazer in its embrace of the Internet and use of technology. When Tuffwerx asked Executive Vice President Liz Richards how the rise of the Internet has impacted the material handling industry, she responded,

“The internet has impacted the industry in various ways. Customers use the Internet to become educated before they make contact with a service provider, so in some cases, a buying decision may have already been made when a sales person receives a call. This can result in some complexities, so it’s important to become an “authority” (especially online) so the customer views the provider as a value added educator when they are doing their research. If a member is involved in selling a product that’s become commoditized, it is imperative for the sales person to have a deep understanding of a customer’s business in order to uncover value added sales opportunities.”

MHEDA is utilizing Internet capabilities to its advantage in the face of the recession and decreased company budgets, to better serve its members. Richards elaborated on how the association has been an active participant with the rise of the Internet:

“Responding to rising travel costs and companies working lean, MHEDA built an online presence boasting hundreds of educational offerings with more programs added frequently. We offer a robust calendar of educational programs via webinars, online/on-demand programs, as well as recorded video conferences.”

Material Handling Equipment Distributors Association Facebook Page

A final way MHEDA has shown its embrace of the Internet is through its social networking programs. Said Richards,

“MHEDA made a conscious effort to embrace social media in 2009 when the concept took hold within the business world. During that year’s Strategic Planning Process, a Critical Impact Factor (CIF) was defined, addressing the subject of social media and online technology:

Because of emerging online technologies and social networking sites, members and the association need to become educated and understand the implications and opportunities. 

“Once a CIF has been defined, the association plans programming to address the trend. In this case, workshops and seminars were designed to provide members with the information they needed to evaluate this medium. Likewise, MHEDA established a strong online presence which has resulted in improved search engine rankings on MHEDA’s website as well as a heightened level of awareness about the industry and the association. Many members have also developed their own online presence and the overall MHEDA community and new networking opportunities are growing exponentially as a result.”

Along with software companies like TuffWerx that bring critical skills and expertise to the heavy equipment industry, MHEDA is demonstrating leadership among material handling distributors by embracing the Internet and its uses.

Future of MHEDA

MHEDA has two major networking events planned for Fall 2014. The association is hosting a Rental and Used Equipment Management Conference on October 2, 2014 at the Crowne Plaza Chicago O’Hare, as well as a Regional Networking Event on October 29, 2014 at a member’s facility in Kalamazoo, Michigan.

The association also has a number of educational webinars planned for the fall, including “Business Planning Insights,” “Keeping the Workforce Engaged,” “Economic and Financial Market Outlooks” and “Safety.”

Moving into 2014, MHEDA is hosting a number of educational conferences and regional networking summits. The 2015 calendar of events will be available in late December/early January.

Marriott San Antonio Hill CountryThe 2015 Convention is scheduled to take place April 18- 22, 2015 at the JW Marriott San Antonio Hill Country Resort & Spa in San Antonio, Texas. There are a number of exciting speakers and programs MHEDA is planning for the 2015 Convention. Complete details will be available Fall 2014.

Learn more at


Images via, Mike Mozart via Flickr CC, Al_HikesAZ via Flickr CC.