It's Been A Very Good Year - 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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It's Been A Very Good Year

Written By: Dale Leppo

Article Date: 01-01-2007
Copyright(C) 2008 Associated Equipment Distributors. All Rights Reserved.

Thanks for allowing me the experience of being your 2006 Chairman.

It's been an interesting and rewarding year for Cindy and me. I know it's a cliché, but we really have gotten more out of the 2006 AED Chairmanship than we put into it. Here's my take on 2006.

I've met some very interesting and prominent people in our industry in 2006. Most of them have proven to be pleasant, engaging and humble. I don't think you can fake that during a long conversation or a multi-day meeting. My impression is that most "big shots" don't view themselves as such. In his book "Good to Great," Jim Collins makes the point that the most successful CEO's they studied exhibited humility.

I've learned something about the impact of globalization on our industry. At the AEM Annual Meeting, I met a Russian equipment distributor. He was brought in as a panelist, but he listened to (and participated in) several other conversations. He indicated that the event was very valuable to him and that part of the value was learning that many of the issues he faces in Russia are faced by others around the world.

There have also been lessons learned and re-learned this year. The first is that there is strength in numbers. That's why AED as a group can have more of an impact than any individual member when it comes to critical topics like manufacturer-distributor relations.

Public policy is another area in which a group like AED can usually do a better job than individual members. It's an area where AED has done an excellent job, in my opinion. Sometimes it's the legislation that never happened (rental preferences, LIFO rule changes) that are the greatest success stories.

The AED Board had to examine why AED exists and who we represent. We came to the conclusion that the members AED represents today are the same type of members we want to represent in the future. We found some areas where AED's member services could be expanded or improved, but we agreed we are "on the right track."

There have been some personal highlights for me in 2006:

  • AED's staff does a great job of making the volunteer Officers and Board look good. We are very fortunate to have such a fine group to work with. It's not easy having a new Chairman and Board to work with every year, but they adjust and then get the job done. I've yet to figure out how they arranged my hole-in-one at the Summer Board Meeting (14th hole, 179 yards, 4 iron, windy), but I'm sure some day the secret will come out. Thank you to the AED staff.
  • This year's Officers and Board members have been very willing to engage themselves in AED. That is what we're supposed to do, but it doesn't always happen. The committee chairs and committee members this year made my life easy by handling whatever came their way. Thanks to everyone who said "yes" when asked to serve the needs of our industry.
  • I was glad to have my family be able to join Cindy and me for the Inauguration in San Diego. AED really does encourage family participation, and I think that is a key strength.
  • I've been able to meet new people and strengthen relationships with people I've known for a while. We officially call it "networking," but I prefer to think of it as making and maintaining friendships in our industry. It's important for me to have friends around the country that I can call to ask tough questions and expect straight and well thought out answers.
  • Cindy and I have had the opportunity to travel some this year. We did miss out on the trip to the ECED (Europe's equivalent to AED) to be in town for the birth of our first grandchild, but that was a good trade-off in our minds.
  • The Future Leaders Conference in August was one of my favorite events in 2006. It was a great mix of fresh faces and some of the more experienced members of AED. There was a lot of enthusiasm, and I look forward to this becoming a tradition within AED.
By the time most of you read this, Les Bebchick will be your 2007 AED Chairman. He has a passion for AED's membership. I am sure Les and the other volunteer leaders for 2007 will do a great job for the association, and they deserve a round of applause.

At the beginning of 2006, several people gave me the advice that I should be careful to appreciate what would happen this year. They said it would be easy to get hung up on the details and miss the experience.

A very wise AED Past President told me, "You have two choices. You can go with the flow and let the staff do their jobs ... or you can be a royal pain in the neck. It's your choice." I hope I did the former more often than the latter.

It's been a very good year. Thanks for allowing me the experience of being your 2006 Chairman. Best wishes to all of you for a successful 2007.

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