When the going gets tough, the tough get going. Instead of hunkering down in the face of negative news, forward-thinking companies are actively looking for new ways to enhance performance and profitability so they can position themselves for the turnaround.

They know the importance of reaching out to build and strengthen business relationships and network with others facing the same challenges. The smartest professional knows that with great adversity comes great opportunity.

Now more than ever, it’s critical to maintain a position of strength, determination and resilience, and the upcoming MHEDA convention can help you do that. Highlights include 15 general sessions and workshops, an exhibitors’ showcase featuring more than 90 suppliers, networking roundtable sessions and an opportunity to meet with others in a relaxed environment. Nearly 400 MHEDA members are planning to attend to work on their businesses instead of in them.

Are you wondering how the stimulus package will affect your business? Economist Alan Beaulieu from the Institute for Trend Research will provide the latest information on opportunities for MHEDA members as well as his forecast for the future and a scorecard for last year’s reports.

Looking for some guidance on profitability? Financial expert Al Bates will present two sessions. “Improve Your Bottom Line” will walk attendees through financial details, including sales, gross margins, expenses, inventory and accounts receivables. Bates will provide specific targets and road maps to reach those targets. The second session, “What to Do Now to Ensure Tomorrow,” will emphasize the actions dealers should take in both up and down markets. Bates will highlight what to do and what not to do to ensure the business is positioned for the upturn. Both sessions will include results from MHEDA’s 2008 Distributor Performance Benchmarking Report, which references the industrial truck and storage/handling markets. There will also be margin comparisons among industries.

“The Profit System of B2B Credit Management,” one of 11 workshops, details a system developed and copyrighted by Abe WalkingBear Sanchez. Attendees will learn how to improve cash flow, control Liz Richardsbad debt, drive down the cost of doing business and foster better cooperation between sales and credit.

Additional workshops at the convention will cover negotiations, solution selling, online social networking, pricing optimization and more.

The 54th Annual Convention and Exhibitors’ Showcase takes place May 2-6 in Palm Desert, Calif. For more information, contact MHEDA at 847-680-3500 or visit its Web site at www.mheda.org.

Liz Richards is executive vice president of MHEDA. Contact her at lrichards@mheda.org.