Summit A Success!

AED members definitely showed up and showed out at the Summit in Las Vegas, January 15-19.  Summit is the starting line for a successful year, and as I sit at my desk reliving all of the great memories and experiences, I’d like to share my favorite moments from the event:

Attendees were able to step away from the hustle and bustle of The Strip on Tuesday in true Las Vegas style for the 2nd annual AED Foundation Fundraising Gala. This year’s event was hosted at the estate of Mr. Las Vegas himself, Wayne Newton, who made an appearance at the VIP reception.  Drinks were flowing and paddles were flying as the 11th annual live auction, presented by The AED Foundation and Ritchie Bros. began.


In fact, the Gala earned a record breaking $100,000 in donations. These donations will support The AED Foundation’s sponsored Career and Technical Education programs, as well as cutting-edge research on workforce issues. AED and The AED Foundation would like to send a special thank you to those who made this event so special. A great time was certainly had by all.

The Gala surely set the bar high for the remainder of the show. Wednesday’s general session opened with two top-notch featured speakers. First, Congresswoman Cheri Bustos virtually joined the conversation via Skype where she made the case on why the business community should take a second look at moderate democrats. Michael Dominguez, senior vice president and chief sales officer for MGM Resorts, followed with an inspiring conversation on taking your organization to the next level with impactful leadership strategies.

During the day on Wednesday, attendees were able to browse through a sold-out CONDEX floor, were over 45 first-time exhibitors were present. At night, we opened the doors to CONDEX for the Summit Celebration. This served as a great networking reception, where all registered attendees were able to mingle and explore the latest and greatest products being offered to distributors — and let’s just say The Rat Pack was back!

The fun did not stop there. Thursday’s opening session began with a monumental moment as Diane Benck, owner and vice president of general operations of West Side Tractor Sales and RCE Equipment Solutions, was sworn in as the first female chair of the association. She replaces outgoing Chairman Wes Stowers, president of Stowers Machinery in Knoxville, Tennessee. She later delivered a motivating speech before Summit’s keynote presentation. Be sure to check out Diane’s trailblazing story on page 24.

Laura Ingraham closed the morning general session where she left the crowd wanting more as she engaged in a powerful discussion about how the current administration has helped jump start the economy.

And since you never know who may make a special appearance at Summit, the event ended with an evening with The Honorable Leon Panetta. Mr. Panetta served as the director of the CIA during from 2009-2011, ran the operation that brought Osama bin Laden to justice, he was an influential political strategist for two U.S. Presidents, former Secretary of State and a congressman for 16 years.

When you attend any AED event, one thing is for certain, you will walk away with an enjoyable and entertaining experience that will leave you wanting more. Keep a look out for the March issue of CED that will feature more detailed information on this year’s Summit. We look forward to seeing you in Orlando, February 4-7 at The Orlando World Center Marriott, to kickstart AED’s centennial celebration. Register today at!

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