The (New) View from Washington - President's Message
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: President's Message

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The (New) View from Washington

By Toby Mack

Article Date: 01-01-2011
Copyright(C) 2011 Associated Equipment Distributors. All Rights Reserved.

Having overcome our 2010 obstacles, AED is now rising to the call for a greater immersion and influence in the nation's capital.

What a year!

It was a triple-whammy. Our construction equipment industry was still bouncing agonizingly along the bottom of the deepest trough in business activity within memory. An unprecedented cascade of legislative and regulatory challenges kept coming from an often business-hostile Washington. And then, a devastating flood in late July effectively destroyed our Oak Brook headquarters building, which AED has owned and occupied since 1964. All this threatened to knock us off-stride in keeping our programs and priorities moving forward, while trying to regain our footing in new offices.

But here we are in the New Year, and I'm proud to say that a couple of old Marine Corps adages apply to AED 2010 and 2011: "What doesn't kill you makes you stronger," and "Pain is the feeling of weakness leaving your body."

Here's what we've done to make your Association stronger and more focused on the things you consistently tell us you expect from AED. First, a Herculean recovery effort by AED's staff, led by Dave Gordon, got our flood-ravaged headquarters operation relocated and running in a temporary location within 10 days of having been three feet under water. With some heroic rescue work as the waters quickly rose, there was no loss of data or records. We pulled off a successful Executive Forum six weeks later and got off to a good start planning what will be a great AED Summit coming up in a few days. CED magazine, AEDNews and other information resources and educational programs were uninterrupted.

But most significantly, we took the upheaval in our physical set-up as an opportunity to take a fresh look at our headquarters location strategy. Able to downsize Oak Brook occupancy costs, we seized the opportunity to shift more resources to the place that is the source of much of the industry's pain today: Washington, D.C.

I think all of you know that for several years, AED's Government Affairs operations have been very capably executed by Christian Klein and his team. To this we are adding much more frequent on-the-scene leadership of AED's President – me – answering the need to go "all in" with our focus and resources to fight for the increasingly threatened interests of the construction equipment industry.

Why is this important? For one reason, because virtually every one of our critically important coalition partners (except AEM) are also headquartered in Washington: the U.S. Chamber, AGC, ARTBA, NSSGA, NAHB, NUCA, NAW, and many more. Much vital work gets done within coalitions, which are ad hoc combinations of like-minded associations with similar interests and objectives, working together to achieve the common goal. Close and frequent CEO-to-CEO liaisons enhance coalition work on such vital issues as highway and water infrastructure investment, taxes, health care, housing, and many other issues that drive the construction market or affect members' business costs.

Effective advocacy, now more than ever, requires that the association's top executive have good relationships and interact personally with key Members of Congress. This is especially critical now with about 100 new Members of Congress coming to Washington, and with new Committee and Subcommittee chairmen in the House, including key panels such as Ways & Means, Transportation and Infrastructure, and Small Business.

So, long story short, AED has expanded our position in Washington, D.C. Your association now has a Washington Headquarters at 601 Pennsylvania Avenue – halfway between the Capitol and the White House. Christian and his team will remain in offices several miles south in Alexandria, Va., allowing them to move easily between there and downtown D.C., as we work to advance AED members' interests in Washington.

I'm looking forward to being more fully personally engaged in the battle, now on the front lines. Again borrowing a phrase from the Marines, "you can't lead from the rear," Christian and I look forward to working handin- glove on what our members consistently tell us is AED's most important priority: Getting Government to focus on economic growth and investment in America's infrastructure, and away from more regulation, higher taxes and the shifting of more and more social burdens onto the productive sector of our economy.

Toby mack is president and CEO of Associated Equipment Distributors. He can be reached at
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