Material handling equipment users and vendors alike can expect to see an expanded slate of logistics community events following yesterday’s news that logistics trade group the Material Handling Industry (MHI) had acquired the Warehousing Education and Research Council (WERC), the groups’ leaders said.
In a phone interview, MHI CEO George Prest described the move as a “watershed moment” for both organizations, saying WERC would continue to perform what its mission has always been, but will now have greater financial strength as it operates as an independent division of MHI.
The expanded association will serve MHI’s 840 member companies and WERC’s 750 professional members, providing all of them with the market intelligence reports, publications, and events that have historically been part of the MHI membership package.
“The whole idea behind associations is to do collectively what you couldn’t do as individuals or as individual companies, and this is in that vein,” Prest said. “WERC will operate as it always has, but as one of the 17—now 18—industry groups under our umbrella.”
One impact of the deal will be to bolster the number of logistics equipment users and customers in MHI, which has historically counted mostly vendors and suppliers among its ranks. “About eight years ago, we said we wanted to become more outwardly focused, to be more inclusive in the industry, inviting the user community and all other constituents,” Prest said.
As examples of that initiative, MHI launched its “solutions community” —establishing a venue where suppliers could collaborate with users—and founded the College Industry Council on Material Handling Education, known by the somewhat humorous acronym CICMHE.
Another impact of MHI’s acquisition of WERC will be to help members of both groups to keep up with the broad changes and organizational challenges that have been sweeping through the logistics industry in recent years. “There’s been exponential change in our sector; so much was happening in the industry prior to Covid and those things are still happening,” Prest said. “One of the main ones is workforce issues; there are jobs available but not necessarily people with the right skill set to fill them. This [acquisition] gives us the opportunity to make an impact on that. With the two groups combined, that gives us stronger leverage, which can only be good for the industry.”
WERC to Become a Division of MHI https://t.co/aQgb0PsV0d— MHI (@poweredbymhi) August 3, 2020