Now is a Great Time to Think About Stewardship - 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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Now is a Great Time to Think About Stewardship

By Dennis Vander Molen

Article Date: 10-01-2010
Copyright(C) 2010 Associated Equipment Distributors. All Rights Reserved.

We can all profit from the humbling lessons this economy has taught us.

It has been well over a year ago that I came up with a plan for these columns. I wasn’t too sure how these topics would play into any kind of complementary addition to the news or importance of the day. Up to this point, I must say that we are on track with each month. I am really not sure why stewardship fell where it did, but on the heels of our recent Executive Forum, October is the perfect fit.
What does stewardship or being a good steward mean? To me, stewardship has meant that I take good care of all the responsibilities that have been granted to me, and then I return or invest a portion of that. A good steward is one who represents truthful investment and works likes he is a good owner.
It is safe to say that we are in one of the longest economic challenges of our lifetime. We have seen lots of changes in our own businesses and many others in our communities. Chances are, when we get to the other side of this cycle, we will not look the same as we once did. When business is good, it is really easy to say we are great managers of our businesses assets. But when business sees the cycle in the basement, how do we view our business management skills? When this topic of stewardship went into the plan, I must admit that my confidence in managing was coming from a very different perspective.
Many businesses have adapted several of the lean concepts to improve efficiencies in their business model. In other words, how do we know there is value in every asset and every move we make? Do our customers really see this value in the same way we do, and are they willing to pay for that? Can we see ways that shorten the time products come into our inventory and then on to the customer? Are we identifying all the places of waste in our processes? How much of what we do are customers really interested in paying for? If they don’t want to pay for it, why are we doing it?
When we have economic downturns like this, it puts us into a reality check in our own value as managers. When business is good, it is easy to say we know what we are doing. When we see business down two to three years in row, then we are not so confident in ourselves. Good sales can cover a lot of shortcomings in the management of our businesses. These are very humbling times for each one of us. Where do we reach out to gain insight and unbiased challenge into our business? It stretches us when we surround ourselves with those from various life experiences to challenge us in our thinking. It can push us out of our comfort zone. Humility is a good thing in business, as it is in life, and puts all things into perspective. Knowing we are subject to a greater cause enables humility to increase our value as a steward.
If you missed the Executive Forum last month in Chicago, you missed a great chance to expand your ability to be a good steward. But it wasn’t your only opportunity. The AED 2011 Summit will be here before we know it. We’re looking forward to a great convention at the Marriott World Center in Orlando, Fla., Jan. 26-28. Program planning is already well underway, and all the networking venues are being thoughtfully put together for your benefit. I encourage you to make room in your schedule now and begin looking at your travel arrangements early – Summit is the not-to-miss dealer event. Look forward to seeing you there.

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