Blast From the Past: The Journey to AED’s 100-YEAR Anniversary Celebration

Established in 1919, Associated Equipment Distributors (AED)will dive into the past to relive and bring to light major milestones in the Association’s history, that will lead to AED’s centennial celebration in January 2019.

Both the world and the Association have evolved in the past 100 years, but, according to AED’s Executive Vice President and COO Robert K. Henderson, some things never change – like the Association’s commitment to its members.

“There have unquestionably been technological advances since the Association’s founding, when things were horse-drawn or run with belts,” Henderson said. “Now our industry has the most modern and technologically advanced equipment in the world.


There are certain factors that seem to be present no matter what time period you’re in, such as economic decline, recessions or industry consolidation. Since its founding, AED has always worked hard to keep up with what’s going on in the industry and to match the Association’s programs and services to the needs of its members. That’s never changed, regardless of the time period.” 


AED has had a significant impact on the construction and mining equipment industry through the years, working closely with both equipment manufacturers and distributors to facilitate a distribution channel that benefits members on both ends of the spectrum.

“Manufacturers don’t distribute, and distributors don’t manufacture, so this distribution channel in North America is a partnership that AED has locked in and helped facilitate,” said Henderson. “AED brings manufacturers and distributors together to efficiently and productively push products to market.

We have a saying around here: Successful distributors make for more profitable manufacturers. We definitely believe that. It’s a team effort and always has been.”

Arguably, one of AED’s greatest achievements is The AED Foundation, which was established in 1991 to address the professional education and workforce development needs of the heavy equipment industry. The Foundation divides its focus between workforce development, technical college accreditation and industry research, with a goal of helping members overcome challenges such as a $2.4 billion opportunity due to the skilled technician shortage, and an era of globalization in which rentals and online sales are surpassing traditional brick-and-mortar operations as the preferred mode of doing business.

The AED Foundation is in its 26th year, and Henderson, who serves as The AED Foundation’s president, has been there since the beginning.

“One of the main things that The Foundation does is recruit young professionals for careers in construction equipment distribution,” he said. “We don’t think everyone needs to go to a four-year educational institution – nor is it usually profitable for them to do so – so we encourage young people to complete two-year programs at technical colleges that The Foundation has accredited. We set the standard, so that when folks graduate from one of our accredited programs, potential employers know that these graduates have what it takes to do the job.”

To that end, The AED Foundation launched its Technician Certification Program in late 2017. The first of its kind for the construction equipment industry, the program includes a comprehensive 160-question technical assessment that covers core standards for diesel engines; electric and electronics; hydraulics and hydrostatics; power trains; air conditioning and heating; and safety and administration.

Through its government affairs office, AED is also encouraging its membership to lobby their members of Congress on important issues like tax reform and infrastructure improvements.

“We’ve made a huge effort to increase our presence on Capitol Hill,” Henderson said. “If our members aren’t out there talking to their representatives and getting their agenda out there, then the members of Congress do not know what they can do to help our industry.”

With nearly 100 accomplishment-packed years behind it, AED is gearing up for another 100 years of success.

“Even though the basics never change, there are always new ideas and new things to bring forward,” said Henderson. “One thing’s for certain: AED won’t be standing still. There’s a new capital campaign on the way, several new schools gaining accreditation, and we’re updating and renewing many of our offerings. There’s a lot to look forward to and we’re very excited about what the future holds.”

To learn more about AED’s mission, programs and services, email or visit


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