Why They Keep Coming Back - Best Practices
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: Best Practices

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Why They Keep Coming Back

Written By: Mary Sedor

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

More than 400 equipment dealers haven't missed an AED Annual Meeting in 7 years.

At AED's 2007 Annual Meeting, you'll find a very special group of AED members.

They're the dealers - more than 400 companies strong - that recognize the importance of attending the convention and haven't missed an Annual Meeting in at least the past 7 years. Many have attended every year for 10, 15 and even 20 years.

The construction equipment industry holds several trade shows each year. What sets AED's Annual Meeting & CONDEX apart is that it is specifically designed for equipment distribution executives. And it's the only show that is.

At AED, dealers find what they're looking for - the manufacturers they represent or would like to represent, service firms that work specifically with equipment distributors, and other dealers that share similar issues and concerns.

So why do those dealers keep coming back?

"Once guys go to their first AED show, I believe they stay on that wagon," says G. Bennet Closner, president and CEO of Closner Equipment in San Antonio, Texas. "The secret to success is getting them to experience it. Very few guys I know go and then quit going." Closner has attended AED's show each year for more than 20 years.

"For me the most important aspect of the AED show is the efficiency of it," he says. "To be able to see other dealers, manufacturers and finance companies all in once place - there's just no more efficient mechanism."

Networking Value

From the hospitality suites to the CONDEX floor, AED's show is the place for dealers and manufacturers to meet. Closner prearranges meetings with his manufacturers and stops by the hospitality suites of finance and insurance companies.

"Most dealers have a prearranged time to meet with their manufacturers," says Closner.

Randy Schwandt, president, drilling solutions for Cate Equipment Co., says the value for him is "networking, being able to visit with different manufacturers and distributors." Schwandt has been a part of the equipment distribution industry for more than 30 years.

Tom Bagnell, vice president of sales for Hoss Equipment in Texas also sets up meetings at the convention.

"I visit with our manufacturers on a scheduled basis and if I have an interest in a new manufacturer, I'll set up a meeting with them," he says. "Maybe they aren't happy with their representation or they're looking for a new dealer - you never know what will come out of the meetings in the hospitality suites."

In addition, the annual meeting provides opportunities to get new ideas and solutions from other dealers.

"It's very easy to ask another dealer, ‘hey, are you guys doing this' or ‘what do you do when you have this problem'," says Bagnell. It's a combination of the education and of being in a group of people that have the same interests and needs. At AED, we can let our hair down and ask for other dealers' opinions."

Educational Opportunities

Seminars on topics near and dear to dealers' hearts are another key reason many dealers return year after year. This year dealer executives can attend seminars on topics that include the 2007-2008 equipment industry economic outlook, the benefits of like-kind exchange, using the Internet to market their businesses, and health care.

Keynote speakers include Ken Schmidt, former director of communications for Harley-Davidson; Ben Stein, author, actor, lawyer, teacher and economist; and John Powers, motivational speaker and author of "Do Black Patent Leather Shoes Really Reflect UP?"

In addition, AED University's Managers Conference, held in conjunction with AED's Annual Meeting & CONDEX, provides executives and managers with industry-specific educational opportunities in sales, rental, parts and service.

Closner says the industry-specific information presented at AED is at the top of the list of reasons why he keeps returning year after year. His wife also attends and they both particularly enjoy the Chairman's Inaugural Dinner.

"There really is no other place to go to get advice on how to stay in business and be successful," says Closner.


The CONDEX trade show floor is filled with equipment, products and services specifically for dealers.

"CONDEX has things that aren't at MineExpo or ConExpo," says Bagnell.

New AED Members

Should new AED members attend? Absolutely.

"A multi-line dealer with revenues under $25 million can't afford to miss AED," says Closner. "For those guys, it's critical."

"I don't think you can do it justice with a glossy brochure or even a personal conversation," says Bagnell. "People join associations for a reason, and I think they should realize there are a tremendous amount of people who attend AED's annual meeting from different sectors of the industry. By attending AED you have the ability to contact them all in one place."

"Whether you're a small utility dealer or a large heavy dealer, we all have the same issues," says Bagnell. "The AED show affords us the ability to sit down with other dealers and discuss the issues we're facing. We can network and get an understanding of how we can help each other out."

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