Memory Lane Looks Like the Road We're On NowBy Matt Di Iorio
Article Date: 04-01-2008
Copyright(C) 2008 Associated Equipment Distributors. All Rights Reserved.
And working together to solve challenges still makes as much sense as it did in 1941.
In 1919, arc welding was invented, the Dow Jones Average was 107, Germany signed the peace treaty ending World War I, and a gallon of gas cost 15 cents. Something else of significance occurred that year. As legend would have it, a small group of dealers waiting at a railroad station in Blaw Knox, Pa., decided that they could accomplish more by working together on issues of mutual importance. Less than a year later, James S. Beckwith and Robert E. Brandeis met with 11 other construction equipment dealers in Chicago to establish the National Distributors Association of Construction Equipment, later renamed AED. Brandeis Machinery & Supply Co. was recently featured in CED magazine celebrating their centennial anniversary.In researching the aforementioned history, Dave Gordon and I fumbled through issues of Construction Equipment Distribution magazines dating back to 1941. We were blown away by how little our industry challenges have changed over the years, a phenomenon that Fred Berry, chairman of the Berry Companies, told me during his term as Foundation president. As I paged through the 1941 CED archives, I was humbled by the intellect, vision and passion that past leaders brought to the industry. Here are a few of the issues they were addressing in 1941:
I was reminded of Fred Berry again when I came across his name in the 1969 Golden Anniversary edition of CED magazine. He was featured as vice president, along with P.E. MacAllister, chairman of MacAllister Machinery Co. and Jim W. Waitzman, president of Tractor & Equipment Co. as the outgoing president. During Jim Waitzman's speech at the 1969 convention he said, "We need training at all levels to equip us and our subordinates as managers, able to meet the increasingly complex demands being placed on us." It occurred to me while reading Jim's remarks that complexity and change were taken as seriously then as they are now, and highly trained, competent managers still represent the only sustainable solution. He concluded by saying, "We can take confidence in the future from the fact that we are coordinated, as an industry, in a sound national organization with almost unlimited potential to help us achieve our goals, if we continue to guide it and use it wisely." The collective need to identify and effectively cope with change has long been a cornerstone of AED value. The seven major concerns cited in the May, 1941 AED monthly bulletin were: profit, sales volume, increasing cost of doing business, industry education, labor relations, taxes and unfair trade practices, all of which are still current today. Times have changed, but industry stakeholders can still accomplish more by working together.
"Effect on Highway Program in Preventing Recession in Construction Industry" Chas. Upham, director of American Road Builders
Construction Outlook, 1941: "...a slight recession seemed inevitable, after six consecutive years of construction increases from the depression low of 1933." A.E. Paxton, ENR
"In our skilled labor classes we have not carried on a sufficient apprentice program in the past few years to maintain even a normal supply of skilled labor, much less build up a reserve for an emergency such as we are now facing." A.E. Paxton, ENR
"Rentals: Prevailing conditions surrounding
the renting of equipment. The hazards of the Option to Purchase clause." Harry Shaw, director of AED
"Manufacturers and Distributors Relationships" C.W. Pendock, president, LeRoi Company, Milwaukee
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