Equipment dealers from across North America got a brief respite from this year’s cold, harsh winter – as well as an event specifically for construction equipment distributors - at the 2018 AED Summit in Las Vegas on Jan. 15–19.
The Summit drew more than 1,600 attendees to The Mirage on Las Vegas’ infamous Strip, where they were able to witness Diane Benck take the helm as AED’s chairperson for 2018 – the first woman ever to hold the position.
The Summit also was a chance to network with peers and gather information from the many exhibitors, educational sessions and guest speakers.
“It’s always informative,” explained Jeff Simonson, vice president of Oregon Tractor & Equipment Co. “We go for several reasons. One, we like CONDEX to see what new vendors are there. This year was bigger than past events, which brought a nice touch. It’s also good to network with other dealers you haven’t seen for a while, compare war stories and get advice for different ways to do business.”
Among the many networking opportunities this year were The AED Foundation’s Fundraising Gala and auction held at Wayne Newton’s estate on Tuesday night (the event raised a record $100,000), the Summit Celebration in CONDEX on Wednesday evening, and dinner with Leon Panetta, who served as the director of the CIA from 2009-2011 and 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.
In addition to Panetta, this year’s featured speakers included political commentator and radio talk show host Laura Ingraham and Michael Dominguez, chief sales officer for MGM Resorts International.
Dominguez, in particular, drew rave reviews from many in the audience.
“I really liked Dominguez’s presentation,” said Ryan Strand, division head of Bobcat of the Rockies in Denver. “His conversation about the culture and change and handling it was, for me, spot on.”
Attendees also had more than 30 dealer-specific educational seminars to choose from, with a wide range of topics including economic forecasting, protecting dealerships from cyber attacks, the latest in equipment financing trends, strategic planning, talent management, and how to effectively use technology to service equipment.
With the new administration in Washington, D.C., having just completed its first year, AED provided an update on legislative news affecting construction equipment dealers and manufacturers. In addition, during one of the morning sessions, AED’s inaugural class of graduates from its Leadership Development Institute (LDI) was recognized, which was just one of the reasons Rebecca Patrick, vice president of Intermountain Bobcat in Utah, paid a visit to Sin City.
“Steve Jackman, who is a wonderful up-and-coming vice president, is in the graduating class,” she said. “I wanted to be there to support him.”