Supply Chain Now Radio Episode 191

Recorded at the 2020 Georgia Manufacturing Summit
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“There aren’t enough people to replace the largest generation in the history of mankind. And I think where people saw automation as a threat in the past, I think they are willing and able to accept it as something that’s inevitable and necessary because we just don’t have the people to do the jobs to fulfill the volume at the pace that we want..”

-Daniel McKinnon, Executive Vice President of Exhibitions and Events at MHI


Conferences and exhibitions are big business, but there is a lot of science that goes into the balance of entertainment, education and networking.

In this conversation, Host Greg White spoke with Daniel McKinnon, Executive Vice President of Exhibitions and Events at MHI, an international trade association that has represented the industry since 1945. Daniel has been running and producing trade shows for nearly three decades. They connected at the Georgia Manufacturing Summit to look ahead to what the industry can expect from Modex 2020, taking place from March 9-12, 2020.

Modex 2020 expects 950 exhibitors who will cover the full ecosystem of supply chain and material handling companies. This year’s event will covers 33% more square footage than last year, between 400-450,000 square feet.

Although Daniel is a self-professed “trade show geek” rather than a supply chain geek, he works closely enough with the industry to highlight some of today’s major themes:

-Significant increases in the productivity of manufacturing, distribution and warehousing facilities

-The common economic indicators seen in the supply chain and trade show industries

-What eCommerce is teaching everyone about modern supply chains

Prefer to watch the podcast in action rather than just listen?  Watch Greg as he interviews Daniel McKinnon for SCNR Episode 191 at the Georgia Manufacturing Summit in Atlanta.

Daniel McKinnon serves as Executive Vice President of Exhibitions and Events at MHI, a international trade association that has represented the industry since 1945. MHI members include material handling, logistics and supply chain equipment and systems manufacturers, integrators, consultants, publishers, and third-party logistics providers. Much of the work of the industry is done within its product- and solution-specific groups. The association also sponsors trade events, such as ProMat and MODEX, to showcase the products and services of its member companies and to education industry professionals on the productivity solutions provided through material handling and logistics. Learn more about MODEX 2020 here: – – and learn more about MHI here:

Greg White serves as Principle & Host at Supply Chain Now Radio. Greg is a founder, CEO, board director and advisor in B2B technology with multiple successful exits. He recently joined Trefoil Advisory as a Partner to further their vision of stronger companies by delivering practical solutions to the highest-stakes challenges. Prior to Trefoil, Greg served as CEO at Curo, a field service management solution most notably used by Amazon to direct their fulfillment center deployment workforce. Greg is most known for founding Blue Ridge Solutions and served as President & CEO for the Gartner Magic Quadrant Leader of cloud-native supply chain applications that balance inventory with customer demand. Greg has also held leadership roles with Servigistics, and E3 Corporation, where he pioneered their cloud supply chain offering in 1998. In addition to his work at Supply Chain Now Radio and Trefoil, rapidly-growing companies leverage Greg as an independent board director and advisor for his experience building disruptive B2B technology and supply chain companies widely recognized as industry leaders. He’s an insightful visionary who helps companies rapidly align vision, team, market, messaging, product, and intellectual property to accelerate value creation. Greg guides founders, investors and leadership teams to create breakthroughs that gain market exposure and momentum, and increase company esteem and valuation. Learn more about Trefoil Advisory:

Live from the Georgia Manufacturing Alliance, Greg interviews Daniel McKinnon of MHI.

[00:00:04] Hi, this Greg White with Supply Chain Now Radio, we’re here at the Georgia Manufacturing Summit put on by the Georgia manufacturing alliance here at the Cobb Galleria Center, just talking to a few folks that are here at the show with us. And right this moment, we have Daniel McKinnon withhim, Ajai. So they’re the host of pro-Mitt and motets, a couple of gigantic shows in the Supply chain industry. So we just thought we’d sit down with Daniel and learn what we can about him and his organization and what they’re doing, what they’re seeing happen in the world. So welcome. Thank you very much. It’s good to have you here. So I thought maybe we would just kind of have a brief talk about who you are, your company and kind of what you’re seeing going on in the industry. So tell us a little bit about, you know, how you came up through the industry, your professional journey. Any influences or anything like that?

[00:00:57] Sure. So I started running and producing and selling and marketing trade shows 28 years ago, was fresh from a position with Senator Sam Nunn and learned about the trade show industry through a friend’s parents and started to develop a real love and real desire to bring people together to engage different industries by providing platforms where people can come together buy, sell, educate, network. The trade show business is really kind of a mystery to too many people. They they attend then they hate them, they love them.

[00:01:39] But it is really a unique and very prosperous platform, marketing platform, marketing vehicle that has developed really aggressively over the past 20 years. We do say that it is the second oldest profession in the world, however. OK. That’s probably inappropriate, but it’s OK. We can edit. Yes, it has been around forever. And I started off at twenty two selling booths and marketing. And then since I had a an international background, I started working with international organizations. I worked for most of Frankford, who’s the third largest trade show organizer in the world for 15 years. And our North American headquarters is actually right across the street from from here. And I had different roles and worked with various organizations.

[00:02:33] And as of January 1st of 2019, the executive vise president for exhibitions for M.H. I, which is the association, the trade association representing the material handling Supply chain Logistics Industries. Right.

[00:02:51] That’s great. So it sounds like you’ve had a full career of history in this industry. That’s fascinating. So. And you got into it.

[00:03:04] Got into it through friends of the family.

[00:03:07] Yes, that’s that’s that’s correct. They needed somebody to basically to sell books, to sell space. And, you know, working for a working in legislative services for a U.S. senator, there’s there’s really not much money or glamor, right? Not a lot of upside. That’s what’s more work than glamor. And, you know, this this opportunity provided me and the ability to travel to to do different things, to different people, to learn a lot about a lot of different industries. I had great mentors, men and women that influenced me greatly. And I recognized how really, really smart they were and how they had the ability to not only work very hard and create these amazing events for people to exchange ideas and do business. But also and what is really important to me. Have fun. You know, life’s too short. Yeah, life is too short not to enjoy what you do. And I thoroughly enjoy what I do.

[00:04:08] These are really great. And, you know, the Georgia manufacturing summit is a little bit different, but still an opportunity for professionals to gather together network. See what’s new and happening in the industry. So it’s a great opportunity for folks to get together, share ideas, meet old friends and meet new associates, learn about what’s happening in the industry and and hopefully gain some knowledge that they can take back to the job on a day to day basis. So MHR is a big part of, you know, of of this, obviously. And Moto X and Pro Matt are a couple of the shows that you do so. Moto X happens in Atlanta on even years. And pro-Mitt pro Matt in Chicago on odd years. So can you tell us a little bit about eye on those shows? Absolutely.

[00:04:54] I also want to reinforce what you just said about whether it is a meeting of 100 people or a trade show with one million. People write these type of events are a spectacular and surely the best opportunity for people to exchange ideas, to educate, to network. And I don’t just say that because I’m a trade show nerd. There is data behind this. There are facts that prove that this is the best opportunity to do business. So speaking of this type of business, MHR, the association that represents the Supply chain industry, and it is really the authoritative resource for this community of of material handling and supply chain Logistics manufacturing and in users. One of the platforms that we do is Madox and it’s March 9th to the 12th. It’s in Atlanta, Georgia World Congress Center. It’s in the B and C. Halls. It’s represents a gross amount of square feet of about nine hundred thousand square feet. We occupy through our theaters and our sold exhibit space about a four hundred thousand four hundred fifty thousand net square feet of space. And it really covers the full B and C halls. One very interesting and unique thing about Moto X this year is that the Georgia Congress Center has gone through a renovation and A now connected B and C halls. So there’s no going out and in and out and in. It’s one big hall.

[00:06:22] You had an in sort of a landbridge that’s Ryder to get from one hall to view of that. Right now it’s all one hall.

[00:06:28] It’s all one hall. It was very awkward or inconvenient, I should say. Not awkward was inconvenient to go out, up, over, back down. Now you just you stay in the hall the whole time. We’ve got plenty of, you know, food and beverage. We’ve got plenty of entertainment. We’ve got, you know, nine hundred and fifty exhibitors showing, you know, the highest technology, as well as all products that one can use in a a warehouse, a distribution center. Right. Third party logistics providers. You know, we’ve we’ve got the full ecosystem with those 950 exhibitors.

[00:07:04] I got to experience that a little bit with the George Logistics summit in 2018. And it was just amazing what what was being displayed there. I mean, basically, people had created miniature warehouses in the facility so you could watch their conveyance equipment and that sort of thing. It was really impressive. Also, I’m a bit of a baseball fan and we were positioned right by you. I don’t know if you remember this, but Old Dominion had their trailer in there where you were supposed to count the baseballs. And we were right. Our booth for my company at the time was right there.

[00:07:41] So I felt like we had a little bit of an advantage because we could actually try to figure it out. We didn’t win. You know, disappointed that we didn’t win with all of that extra extra opportunity wins those.

[00:07:50] No, I don’t know if anyone ever so tuned to unique things about this year, actually. Other unique things other than the one hall format, which is really great for us and for our exhibitors and the attendees were about 33 percent larger. Yeah. So by square footage, we’re 33 percent larger. So it’s even more spectacular and we anticipate, you know, a significant increase in the number of attendees as well. And also the we’ve really been able to fill out the backyard area. We’ll have a baseball throwing simulator. We have gotten much more sort of experience, all activations, which, you know, helps give the attendees a moment of repose after walking for miles and miles and miles.

[00:08:37] So that is that is a nice area for it. And that’s. You know, as you talk about networking, it is an important part of it. And it’s a great opportunity to do that in that backyard area. So it’s great that you guys provide that.

[00:08:49] So you’re interacting with a lot of companies, obviously, as you bring them into the show and that sort of thing. I know you’re not a supply chain guy, right? As you said, you’re not you’re a trade show geek. I’m a supply chain geek. But I wonder if there’s anything that you’re seeing as you talk to your exhibitors or attendees that, you know, you you could identify as a theme or a trend or anything that you see happening in the industry today.

[00:09:19] Absolutely. So although I am with a trade show group within the association, the association itself is the authoritative resource for this industry. And I have the opportunity to sit through a lot of seminar sessions, you know, really, really interesting and compelling content. And one of the things that I’ve been hearing most recently is just the amazing increase in productivity within the not only the manufacturing facility, but also within the distribution center in the warehouse. Additionally, we have talked a lot about the economy and how recent events have really helped elevate. Yeah. The trends are all pointing upwards. However, there is some cautionary notes on the horizon, but that being said, you know, our our trade shows are really pegged to the economy. Growth is growth and mitigation is mitigation. But one thing that our our economists, you know, we have an economists on on staff. And one thing that he has made clear is that the supply chain slows down about a year to 18 months after manufacturing and an inbound distribution slows down. So, you know, we anticipate some continued growth within our trade shows and also within our industries. Yeah. And and and I’m looking forward to, you know, another year or two of good times. Yeah. That being said, you know, we all have to be careful. No macro economic conditions affect all of us. Everybody in the Cobb Galleria Center today. Yeah, but but but not just, you know, John, just us. The the whole thing about Supply chain is it touches everybody. You know, I hate it. It’s all industries. It’s across everything. It’s a it’s a bias.

[00:11:11] Get here. Everything, right? Everything we’re wearing. Everything we’re touching, talking. Right. Right. The camera that’s that’s viewing us right now. It all came through the supply chain.

[00:11:20] That’s exactly right. We say it’s really an inch deep and a mile wide. Yeah. Because it you know, it’s from from pharmaceuticals to aftermarket automotive to retail and apparel and textiles and. Yep. You know, you name it, it’s it’s it’s supply chain.

[00:11:33] I think it’s interesting that I think people are becoming really aware of that. I think, you know, particularly with e-commerce and that virtually everybody participates in e-commerce today, absent a lot of what is shown, the material handling products that at Mode X, a lot of that impacts every single consumer.

[00:11:52] And now, you know, we’ve been made more aware of the ability to get everything virtually instantly or at least now next day. That’s right. Often that everyone is becoming aware of supply chain and that requirement to be efficient and to be effective in the supply chain is greater than ever.

[00:12:12] And the recognition of that is greater than ever as well.

[00:12:17] Because how often is it that that a consumer knows why you don’t have something? Hey, you’re not doing this well enough. You know, in the past, a consumer wouldn’t have known that. And now it’s right in right in their wheelhouse in terms of knowledge.

[00:12:34] So, absolutely. I mean, societal societies behavior has really impacted us and really facilitated the extraordinary growth of not only our trade shows, but of our members businesses. You know, I look at, you know, my my wife and, you know, I want diapers tomorrow. You know, I want them in two hours. Right. You know? Well, OK. You know, there’s there’s a dozen companies. They’re like, okay. We’ll get him to you two hours. Yeah. And they compete with each other for the the ability to get them to, you know, quickly, efficiently with with with with quality and service. So, you know, these are things that are more recent developments, but they’re here to stay. And that’s why one of the other things that we’ve seen with our members and with our affiliate organizations a lot with with retailers, especially in large distribution centers, is automation. And productivity and robotics. You know, I know the warehouse of 10 years ago.

[00:13:42] You know, your your your dad’s your granddad’s warehouse, your grandmother’s warehouse. It looks like this does not look like the warehouse today. Yeah. Today it looks like, you know, Star Wars. Yeah. You know, it’s it’s it’s robots, literally.

[00:13:57] It’s a lot of things flying around in it. Absolutely. Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. I think that’s really interesting change. I think it’s I think it’s a reflection in some ways of the generational change that we’re going through as baby boomers leave the workforce. There aren’t enough people to replace the largest generation in the history of mankind. And I think where people saw automation as a threat in the past, I think they are willing and able and it’s necessary to accept it as something that’s inevitable and necessary because we just don’t have the people to do the jobs to fulfill the volume at the pace that we want. Volvo, the volume fulfilled these days.

[00:14:38] Absolutely. And, you know, that’s interesting because it’s not a threat anymore. It’s a real facilitator. And I will say that our association in a time has identified what is a threat, and that is workforce development. Like there are more jobs than there are qualified people. And a lot of it has to do with the higher technology involved in the. Requirements for jobs and employment these days? No, we need smart, educated, trained, experienced people to operate this this new, you know, warehouse to tend to run the distribution centers. And that’s why these these are the schools the universities today have the vocational schools are really trying to to push this curriculum because, look, there’s jobs available. You know, there are jobs available in this industry. And we need more qualified people to fill the workforce challenges that our industry is facing.

[00:15:41] And it’s not necessarily a college education, as you said. It’s going to often be Technical.

[00:15:46] Very Technical, for sure. Vocational is that’s that’s what’s needed. You know, we’ve got enough lawyers and doctors. Yes, that’s right. We do. We know what needs to be able to run the conveyor belts, the the robots, the manufacturing facilities. Right. We need we need people that can work. You know how to work. Yeah, that’s a really good point. Now that lawyers and doctors don’t work.

[00:16:09] We’ll never know. That’s true. That is true. Well, I appreciate you spending some time with us today. So I’m really looking forward to Mode X. Of course, we’re we’re going to be onsite broadcasting from the show as well and sharing some space with you. First of all, I’d like to thank you and MHR for hosting the Atlanta Supply chain Awards. So we’re going to be sharing a little bit of your six nine hundred thousand square feet of space. Nine billion? Yes, nine billion. Trillion, zero. We promise we won’t take up too much space. But it’s great partnering with you. And I really appreciate what you guys are doing and you’re bringing a lot of valuable information. The networking time, you know, the displays of of product and service providers and all of that sort of thing that’s really necessary in this day and age. And I think, as you mentioned earlier, it’s sometimes underrated, the value of the educational sessions that occur and the panel sessions and idea sharing that occur at these types of events is tremendously valuable as well. So thanks for what you’re doing. And you know, I appreciate your time.

[00:17:21] Thank you very much. And you just took to closure. Quickly, I just want to reinforce that March 9th, the 12th Mode X takes place at George Will Congress Center. MHR is a nonprofit trade association. We believe in an inclusive community and we also firmly and without doubt believe that the rising tide lifts all ships and we want to to bring everybody together. We have one hundred and fifty of those educational seminars on the show floor. We have Nikki Haley and as a keynote, really looking forward to that.

[00:17:50] The Mannings also add something new. Peyton, Peyton Manning. Are they going to Archie Manning? Are they going to build the Super Bowl trophy out of Cheerios box? They are. OK. Good with automation. Yeah, good. There keynoting on. On Wednesday we have just a great lineup of exhibitors of education, especially events, women and in workforce sessions. So we’re excited. Appreciate your time. Yeah, I look forward to seeing you in March.

[00:18:19] Great. Thank you. All right. Daniel McKinnon with M.H. II here at the Georgia Manufacturing Summit.

[00:18:27] It looks like we hit a break here. We’ve got a pretty good audience here checking us out. Appreciate your time and thank you for all you’ve done. And we’ll see you on the next episode of Supply Chain Now Radio. Thanks. Well done. Outstanding, man.

Upcoming Events & Resources Mentioned in this Episode

Connect with Daniel on LinkedIn:
Connect with Greg on LinkedIn:
SCNR to Broadcast Live at eft Logistics CIO Forum in Austin, TX:
SCNR to Broadcast Live at CSCMP Atlanta Roundtable Event:
Reverse Logistics Association Conference & Expo:
SCNR to Broadcast Live at MODEX 2020:
2020 Atlanta Supply Chain Awards:
SCNR on YouTube:
Greg White Guest Blog on Alloy:

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