Then and Now - From the Chairman
Construction Equipment Distribution magazine is published by the Associated Equipment Distributors, a nonprofit trade association founded in 1919, whose membership is primarily comprised of the leading equipment dealerships and rental companies in the U.S. and Canada. AED membership also includes equipment manufacturers and industry-service firms. CED magazine has been published continuously since 1920. Associated Equipment Distributors
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SECTION: From the Chairman

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Then and Now

By Walter Berry

Article Date: 03-01-2005
Copyright(C) 2008 Associated Equipment Distributors. All Rights Reserved.

The more things change, the more they stay the same.

During my installation speech in January, I spent a little time looking back in history. We have all heard the saying, "the more things change the more they stay the same". Looking back to 1971 when my father Fred was President of AED, I am amazed to see that some of the issues at that time are still important to us today.

Fred's opening comments at the convention were, "Let me start by making an economic forecast: I predict that 1971 can be a good year." I think that statement works for today. The consensus is that if 2005 is not at or near a record year for your company, you need to walk into the bathroom, look in the mirror, and have a face-to-face talk with someone. Our industry goes through cycles, and we are on the good side of one right now.

Fred went on to say:

  • "Indications of a recovery are beginning."
  • "Construction indicators are encouraging, particularly residential housing."
  • "The highway bill [which has just been signed] is a good one."
  • "Easing of interest rates will be a strong factor."
  • "The recent relaxation of depreciation rules will help."
Sound familiar? Oh, he also mentioned that, "Even rental rates are going up!"

Now you might think that I made this stuff up, but I didn't. Of course, not all these indicators are moving in the same direction today, but every one of them is impacting our business as we speak.

During Fred's presidency, there were a few topics that do not significantly impact us today. They include the "explosion in construction labor costs" and the decision by OSHA to require a roll-over protection device (ROPS) on every piece of mobile construction or industrial equipment regardless of its age.

Sky-rocketing wages coupled with huge increases in raw material prices resulted in President Nixon imposing wage and price freezes later that year. And after an impressive amount of pressure from this trade association and others, OSHA finally decided that engineering and installing a ROPS on a 1937 crawler tractor maybe wasn't all that realistic, and backed off some of their requirements.

I am not normally a big history buff, but I found the similarities between 1971 and 2005 to be fascinating, and it doesn't stop there. AED's top four objectives in 1971 were:

  • Professional Management;
  • Membership Qualifications for the Association;
  • Distributor-Manufacturer Interdependence; and 
  • Achieving a Worthwhile Rental Business.
Either we do a poor job of addressing and solving issues as a trade association or these issues are timeless. I certainly think the latter is the case.

Each one of these continuing objectives takes persistent attention. They are not things you fix once and then forget. Our association will continue to give these objectives attention because they are still important. I know that Berry Companies believes these objectives are important,and I suspect you believe they are as well.

If you would like to provide any feed back on these issues, or others for that matter, please send me an e-mail with your thoughts ( I'd like to hear from you.

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