Just Call Me Max for Short - Editor's Note
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: Editor's Note

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Contact Kim Phelan at (800) 388-0650 ext. 340.

Just Call Me Max for Short

By Kim Phelan

Article Date: 12-01-2009
Copyright(C) 2009 Associated Equipment Distributors. All Rights Reserved.

If you organize properly, you can pack all your industry meeting, planning, learning, and even socializing into one productive and powerful trip.

I've been wondering about a change that has occurred with regards to how this industry's suppliers of equipment, products and services all utilize the annual AED convention (now the AED Summit) to interact with their dealer partners. I'm told that well more than a decade ago, all business representatives of the equipment industry fully maximized this major distributor event, holding dealer meetings in conjunction with the AED meeting and capitalizing on every opportunity to connect both in private conferences and social networking events.

Now, I'm the kind of person who hates making multiple trips. I'll load myself down like a pack-mule to save making extra trips from the car to the kitchen after grocery shopping. My parents should have called me Maxine, because if something is worth the doing, I want to maximize the efficiency of its execution. If there are multiple tasks that can be compressed or coordinated into fewer without compromising the effectiveness, I'm for it.

That's why the AED convention makes sense. As a supplier, I would appoint well-trained representatives to very methodically invite and schedule one-on-one meetings with all my dealer partners over three days –
and if that weren't enough time, I'd add a day on the front or back end of the convention: After all, one more night's stay is far more efficient than a bunch of extra flights throughout the year. We'd form several golf foursomes for the kick-off golf outing Wednesday, listen and take notes at all the seminars, and meet face to face with dozens if not scores of our dealer clients.

If I were a dealer, I would appoint a well-organized management team to serve as my delegates at AED, deployed across the convention like agents on a mission – because they are. Mike and Jim, you're covering Managers Conference seminars; Tom and Kathy, you're on new product discovery in CONDEX – I want a summary of every enterprise software on that show floor; Bob, you're with me on hospitality suite meetings with our six main suppliers, plus I want you to find out everything about what the credit/capital opportunities look like. And I'll see you all at the evening parties – go easy on the drinking, and I expect you guys to mingle and talk to other dealers. Alright people, now let's work this thing.

Unfortunately, there's been a break down over time in how companies use the AED event, probably slowly, and probably for reasons that made sense at the time. But today, I hear senior-level distributor executives plainly saying they would gladly stay extra days in the AED convention town if it meant they could knock out their main OEM-dealer meetings, as well as all the additional contacts they want to see, versus separate, and sometimes multiple other dealer meetings a few months later.

Manufacturers maintain that they would come to AED in greater droves if only more dealers would come. Ugh – now how did that vicious circle every get spinning? And the North American chairman of one of the world's largest HE manufacturers recently stated that combining his company's large dealer meeting with AED became too difficult to schedule because all his dealers want individual meetings with the OEM personnel, too.

None of these things really strikes me as insurmountable. My hope is that dealers and all suppliers of products and services will rethink the logic of the AED Summit, review the significant changes and new features on the 2010 convention agenda, and pick up the phone and start planning for their one-on-one discussions. There will be plenty of business programming and increased social networking that every single attendee should maximize, too. There's work to be done here, but it is going to be so worth it.

Thanks for reading, and thanks in advance for coming to San Antonio next month.

In my October editorial I printed excerpts from market analyst Mark Koznarek's written perspectives from one-on-one meetings with four heavy equipment manufacturers on Sept. 10. One of his statements that I published indicated that CNH management prefers 100 percent control in its overseas business versus joint ventures. In response to a request from the CNH communications department, I'd like to restate the preamble of that column, namely that this statement was the interpretation of Mark Koznarek, and not an actual quotation from CNH executives.
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