Status Report to the AED Membership - 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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Contact Kim Phelan at (800) 388-0650 ext. 340.


Status Report to the AED Membership

By Bennett Closner

Article Date: 09-01-2009
Copyright(C) 2009 Associated Equipment Distributors. All Rights Reserved.


An overview of top priorities covered during the Summer Board Meeting

In mid-August, about 20 AED officers, directors and staff management met for the Summer Board Meeting. It is our annual venue in which our long-term planning and major decision making occurs. It was truly an honor to spend several days with the current group of AED leadership, whose shared knowledge and insights will benefit all the members. Here is an overview of the agenda:

Business Climate –
AED is well informed on the current economic climate facing our dealers. All AED directors monitor conditions in their area, interview local dealers, and report this information to us on a regular basis so we may plan accordingly.

AED Membership –
Our membership count has seen a slight reduction, as expected. The losses are mostly concentrated in small dealerships, many of which will likely rejoin in a year or two. Participation in AED events and seminars has remained strong, which reflects keen activity and commitment by our core membership.

AED Budget –
We have tightened our belt, as you would expect, and will continue to look for ways to continue serving our members in the most cost-efficient way possible. We have reduced staff, reassigned tasks, cut back on spending and travel, and eliminated programs of marginal interest to our members.

Washington
Office –
If there was ever a time that our Washington office was “up to bat,” this must be it. Our surveys show that members want AED focused on federal legislation, and we must achieve some successes – now. To this end, AED redeployed some personnel assets by increasing the Washington staff in March 2009 (while making some offsetting reductions in Oak Brook). We added Daniel Fisher as director of Governmental Affairs. This young man spends 100 percent of his time on Capitol Hill and gives AED regular face-to-face interaction with Congressional and Committee staff. Our Vice President of Governmental Affairs Christian Klein and the Washington staff are working hard on getting some traction for our industry on a number of issues:  

Stimulating the demand for construction equipment is the top priority. Our AED members (and our manufacturers) are under great stress. We must get the message out in Washington, and get some real federal dollars flowing into our industry. AED will coordinate with like-minded industry associations to amplify our voice with Congress. We should also organize a “grass roots” advocacy program to spur personal communication with members of Congress.

Over the longer term, the AED Washington team will focus on:
 
  • Reauthorization of the Surface Transportation Bill and the related funding authorization
  • Improving dealer and end user access to credit
  • Protecting our interest in the current health care debate
  • Protecting the rights of employees and employers through defeat of the Employee Free Choice Act, aka “Card Check”

AED Foundation – We continue to focus on workforce development. Severe shortages of skilled technicians will recur in two or three years. The solution to this shortage takes a very significant amount of time and resources. We must continue our efforts, even though the need has abated temporarily.

Evolving Industry Demo-graphics –
Our 30-year review of manufacturer and dealer membership records showed a consistent trend toward consolidation. In short, we have fewer members – however, our members are growing much larger with more complex and geographically dispersed operations. AED must evolve in sync with this membership trend. Stay tuned for more to come on this.

We have been working hard this summer on your behalf, but we have a lot more to accomplish.

As always, Toby Mack and I welcome your comments and input. Write to us both at: jtm@aednet.org and bennett@closner.com.
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