Q&A: Greg Baer

Link to article in digital version of MHI Solutions.

The people who work at MHI—and its WERC division—are the gears that keep the association rolling. They ensure MHI continues to be a valuable association and resource for people involved in the industry, and do so with wit, competence and a smile on their face. The goal of this column in MHI Solutions magazine is to give readers a glimpse into what goes on behind the scenes at MHI and “meet” the people who make it a successful hub for everyone involved in the material handling industry.

For this issue, Greg Baer gives us a peek into what he does, how he does it, what drives him and what makes him happy after a long, productive day at work.

greg baer

Greg Baer, Director of Sales, MHI

What was your first impression of this industry, and has it changed since then?

I began my career at MHI in September 2005. After graduating college in 1997, I cut my teeth selling industrial coatings and adhesives so the material handling industry was a whole new world to me. My first few months at MHI were spent learning as much as possible about the industry and our members. I remember watching VHS (yes, VHS) tapes about the equipment and solutions our members produced and trying to digest articles from the various trade publications relevant to our industry. My first true emersion into the industry was our NA 2006 trade show in Cleveland, OH. I had been selling the booth space for several months but until then it had just been on a CAD drawing, so to see it all come together was amazing. There was so much cool technology on display and to be at the hall from show set-up to tear down was such a great opportunity to meet our members and learn about the solutions each one provided. To say I was hooked would be an understatement.

Two of my mentors at MHI, Hal Vandiver and Tom Carbott, used to tell me that our industry is “a mile wide and an inch deep” and it really makes sense when you attend our trade shows and see the breadth of technologies on display and how our members touch every aspect of the supply chain. Fast forward 16 years and this industry continues to amaze me. The innovations in vision, autonomy, mobility and robotics are changing and evolving at incredible speeds. So my impression of the industry hasn’t really changed over the years. I was amazed when I entered it in 2005 and I continue to be amazed at the passion and innovation this industry delivers on a daily basis.

What’s a typical day like for you?

When I am not on the road visiting members/exhibitors or attending trade shows around the world to find new exhibitors for our ProMat and MODEX trade shows, I spend my days searching high and low to find new prospects. While actively selling space, we also play the role of customer service agent and consultant. There is a lot that goes into planning and pulling off a successful major trade show and my colleagues and I take pride in making ourselves available to exhibitors as a resource during the pre-show process. I also manage the annual MHI Innovation Awards program and the MHI ShowPro Live Exhibitor Training workshop.

What gives you the greatest sense of accomplishment (professionally) at the end of the day?

This is an easy one. I love when an exhibitor tells me that his/her company was successful at ProMat and/or MODEX. Contrary to popular belief, trade shows are not a four-day product. It is a four- to six-month sales and marketing program that requires extensive planning. Nothing brings me greater joy, professionally, than to see an individual’s efforts pay off after months of hard work and prep leading up to a trade show. It might sound strange, but I feel like I am exhibiting with our exhibitors during a show. I know the hard work that our exhibitors put in behind the scenes to make an exhibit work. I know the pride they have in their products and branding. I take the successes and failures personally so when an exhibitor achieves his/her goal at our show it brings me a great sense of pride and accomplishment.

What aspect of the industry is most intriguing to you?

The most intriguing part of this industry to me is how it touches the lives of nearly every human on this planet and they don’t even know it. Our industry, made up of MHI members and companies that exhibit at MODEX and ProMat, are providing solutions that keep the world’s supply chains running efficiently. Whether it’s COVID-19 vaccinations or a summer reading book that your child needs to read before school begins, our industry makes it happen. I recently purchased a new mattress and chose to pick it up myself from the distribution center. My son came with me and I found myself pointing out the loading dock equipment, racks, fork trucks, and carts being used in the warehouse—all manufactured by MHI member companies. I just find that to be so cool (and so did my son!).

On Sunday mornings, you can usually find me…

In the fall months, you can find me tailgating in my parking space outside of Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, NC. I have been parking in the same lot for over 12 years and we have a great group that gathers to pregame. We listen to horrible ’80’s and ’90’s music that we pretend to hate but all love. It’s something I begin looking forward to as soon as the season ends.

What are you happiest doing, when you’re not working?

Nothing beats heading out onto Lake Wylie onboard the pontoon boat with my family. My wife and I have two sons, ages 11 and 16, and they are growing up too fast. The boat is a great way to spend quality time with them and beat the South Carolina heat during the summer months.

What is your favorite sports team?

I am a diehard Carolina Panthers fan. When I moved back to Charlotte in 2005 to take the job with MHI, I purchased season tickets a couple years later. I will miss only my second home game this season because I will be heading to Paris for a trade show. My wife and I travel to at least one Panthers road game a season. When the team is not playing at home, we host a big gathering in our Panthers fan cave (aka my garage) during the games where we serve food and enjoy time with neighbors and fellow fans. We even had a couple fly over and join us for a watch party that we met in England. The Panthers have become a family affair. Over the years my oldest son was invited to be honorary Panthers team captain for a Monday night game, my mom was able to be part of the onfield flag ceremony before a game, and we have had several opportunities to meet the owners and key personnel. I just hope I can see them win a Super Bowl some day!

What event/excursion (in your life) would you consider adventurous or especially meaningful?

In 2019 my wife and I traveled to London to watch the Panthers play the Buccaneers at the new Tottenham Hotspurs Stadium. We traveled to the UK with about 900 of our friends. When there, we met Panthers fans from Russia, Australia, Scotland, England and from all over the United States. It was like a Panthers home game. London was simply amazing. We were able to take in a large majority of the key sites and historical landmarks the city has to offer. My wife and I were able to spend a day in Paris and visit The Louvre and the Eiffel Tower and we even managed to enjoy a bottle of wine at a small outdoor café. The biggest regret is that the trip was only one week and not two weeks; we saw so much but missed out on even more.