Just a couple of months ago, in December 2021, I was honored to be named to the MHI Board of Governors. Established in 1945, MHI is an international trade association that has represented the material handling, logistics, and supply chain industry for more than 75 years. The organization offers education, standards development, networking, and solution sourcing for its members, their customers, and the industry through programming and events — including the MODEX and ProMat tradeshows.
Leading MHI is its appointed Board of Governors. This group consists of the Officers and Board Governors of MHI plus the Chief Executive Officer and General Counsel of the corporation. The Board of Governors serves as the Board of Directors for MHI.
In American Crane’s 50 years of operation, participation in MHI has always been important to our company. As a forward-thinking, innovative company, taking leadership within the material handling field as a whole has been part of our organization’s vision from the beginning.
I was particularly honored to discover that I am only the second woman to ever have been appointed to MHI’s Board of Governors. It’s no secret that the material handling field — like many industries — has long been dominated by men. As a woman who grew up in this industry, I feel that increasing diversity among all levels is critically important to its continued success. For that reason, I was delighted to join MHI’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Committee when it was first formed a year ago.
Creating inclusive and diverse workplaces brings different perspectives together on the same team. That variety of viewpoints and experiences allows companies — and industries — to solve problems more effectively. It’s a perspective we embrace fully at American Crane. It’s been a delight to share our company’s vision with other MHI members as they work to create an environment that fosters the appreciation of all employees’ creative diversity through trust, respect, and openness.
Further, American Crane has proudly served as a long-standing Executive Member of Crane Manufacturer’s Association of America (CMAA). An independent trade association that is affiliated with MHI, CMAA’s vision is to be the most trusted knowledge resource for overhead cranes. It works to achieve that objective through its mission: to deliver technical specifications and resources that promote safety in the design, operation, and maintenance of overhead cranes. CMAA’s engineering specifications are widely recognized as the preferred design standard for overhead traveling cranes, integrated crane systems, and crane components.
My father, Oddvar Norheim — American Crane’s past President and CEO — believed strongly in MHI, and in CMAA’s mission in particular. Not only did he serve a term as CMAA’s President, but he also assisted in the development of those recommended standards and specifications by dedicating several of American Crane’s own engineers to help in their development. Today, that tradition continues as I, too, have been heavily involved in CMAA since I joined American Crane two decades ago. Currently, I serve as CMAA’s President.
My involvement in these industry groups was among the reasons MHI CEO John Paxton cited when announcing my new Board of Governors role. He writes:
Karen provides clear, direct, and results-focused leadership of the Crane Manufacturers Association of America (CMAA). She brings her leadership experience as the President and CEO of American Crane and applies that to raise the Overhead Crane industry for all members. Based on her success leading CMAA, Karen was recently elected to the MHI Board of Governors’ where she provides those same leadership skills into the MHI strategic planning process.
In addition, she is a member of the MHI Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) committee. I really enjoy working with Karen. She is a collaborative leader who is direct, to the point, and has a passion for delivering results. Her company mantra is “GRIT Matters,” and she brings that GRIT to the MHI Board. We really appreciate her time as a volunteer supporting several MHI initiatives.
I look forward to continuing to give back to the industry while helping to chart its course for the future as a member of the MHI Board of Governors.