Before You Pull the Plug - 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.

Before You Pull the Plug

By Kim Phelan

Article Date: 01-01-2010
Copyright(C) 2010 Associated Equipment Distributors. All Rights Reserved.

This is no time for silence – distributor companies in distress need to send up a flare to AED and grab hold of the business-saving ideas and connections we can supply.

On a recent Friday afternoon, eager to pack up and head for home, I scooped up one too many papers off the office printer – the one that wasn’t mine was not the way I would have chosen to begin my weekend. At the top was the company name of an AED member, and three simple sentences read: "[XYZ] Tractor Corp. has closed its doors after 62 years! We are now out of business. Thank you to all our customers."

It’s symbolic of notices we’re seeing all too frequently: AED distributors large and small closing their doors, some that have been long-time staples in their communities, success stories for their manufacturers, and stalwarts of this association. And while there’s not really a good way to hear bad news, part of the pain is the suddenness of these announcements; the finality has come without prior warning.

And what good would prior warning do?

Maybe I ought to rephrase the question: What bad comes of not notifying AED if a member company is struggling?

Well, let me compare a company’s financial ills to human disease: It’s kind of like finding out you have one but deciding you’re better off fighting your symptoms on your own instead of allowing physicians to treat you.

Before you pull the plug on whatever life support your company may be operating under, well before things get to the point where you’re typing that final Going Out of Business message to your customers and suppliers, reach out to AED.

Can we cure the ailing dealership? Not directly, but there’s a very good likelihood we know the right interventionists who can. It rather baffles me to contemplate someone paying membership dues for years and only taking advantage of AED’s resources when times have been good. Now that this so-called new normal has got everyone by the throat, why are owners keeping quiet while they’re bleeding money?


911 for Dealers

If you’re an AED distributor whose business could be in peril, I’d like to remind you to pick up the Bat Phone and let us know what’s going on. Toby Mack is AED’s president and CEO; Bob Henderson is AED’s executive vice president and COO; Garry Bartecki is AED’s vice president of finance – between these three guys I doubt there’s a problem for which they could not find a solution. And let’s not forget Dave Gordon, AED’s vice president of sales and marketing, who seems to know everyone! I mean, we’re talking about the A Team of network headquarters here.

You may be working with people who don’t understand the construction equipment industry – but it’s our business to cultivate professional relationships with people who know this industry well; people who have a grip on tax and accounting laws and methods that can be used to help you. Financial pros and legal pros who help restructure companies for a living.

And oh, by the way, if you’re reading this issue before Jan. 19, then there’s still time for you to get in a car or a plane and show up for the ultimate dealer rescue clinic: At the AED Summit 2010, Jan. 20-22 in San Antonio, you’ll find more than 1,000 people who know more than a thing or two about this business, and it’ll be a mistake to miss the opportunity to connect with all these distributors, suppliers, manufacturers, consultants, bankers, advisors, and other experts who could help you solve your biggest business challenges. Come to the Hub at CONDEX, work the booths and suites, attend all the business presentations, and I guarantee you will not come away empty-handed.

In this issue you’ll find an article about the crummy credit landscape, the sources for which were none too bullish about the availability of "easy" credit in 2010, or about much else for that matter. The main message that the three bankers I interviewed wanted most to convey was, it’s time for distributors to get real. Real about their fleets, real about their costs, real about financial planning, real about this economy, and real about the sort of recovery they can realistically expect.

Now if you take a look at the dealers quoted in our Business Outlook Report, there’s no mistaking the raw realism being expressed in the distribution community. Keep it real when you work on aligning your business to 2010 demand, and let us help you plug in to the sources and services for arriving safe on the other side of this dicey year ahead.

Thanks for reading.

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