An Attendee’s Guide to Getting the Most Out of Your Experience in Orlando

It is that time of year again: time to get ready for the only conference and trade show dedicated to the construction equipment distribution industry, AED’s 2019 Summit and Construction Dealer Expo (CONDEX). This conference is a one-stop shop for discovering business solutions for your company, dealer-specific education sessions and networking opportunities with your peers. This year’s Summit is of particular significance, as Associated Equipment Distributors (AED) will be celebrating our centennial anniversary.

For the past 100 years, AED has provided a convenient venue for accomplishing important interactions with the entire construction equipment industry supply chain. Generations of industry leaders and decision-makers have attended Summit to gauge the market and strategize about improving dealer performance, service and sales. In February, over 550 companies are expected to attend and participate in the conference, making the event both a human capital investment and a potential savings opportunity for your company.

The 2019 Summit will be held in sunny Orlando, Florida, at the Orlando World Center Marriott. Take note: while the conference usually takes place on a Tuesday to Friday, this year it will take place on Monday, February 4, through Thursday, February 7, 2019.

Now, four days may not seem like a lot of time to pack in the wealth of diverse activities that AED has planned. Education sessions including six different educational tracks, the CONDEX evening drinks reception, AED’s Centennial Celebration, and The AED Foundation Fundraising Gala are only a few of the events you won’t want to miss. Hosting a hospitality suite at Summit or having a dealer meeting can also help you forge the relationships necessary to thrive in this business. Oh, and did we mention former Speaker of the House, John Boehner, will be the keynote speaker? Quite the lineup.

If AED’s ambitious Summit schedule has you in a tizzy, fret not! CED Magazine has the inside scoop on how to make the most of your time in Orlando. On the following pages, you will find a synopsis of the various events and offerings at this year’s conference and CONDEX. To accompany this, CED enlisted the help of some seasoned Summit attendees to shed light on maximizing business opportunities at the conference. Without further ado, here is what you can expect from the 2019 conference, along with tips and tricks from dealership and OEM executives to help you master the 2019 Summit.

CONDEX – the CONstruction Dealer EXpo

CONDEX provides attendees with two days – nine dedicated exhibit hours, plus bonus reception hours on Tuesday – to interact face-to-face with dealer ownership and management who are prepared to discuss and execute buying decisions that can improve profitability in 2019.
This year’s CONDEX promises to deliver an even bigger return for attendees than the 2018 event. New improvements are planned, and the trade show is nearly sold out with exhibitors offering new products and services for your dealership. Remaining exhibitor booth rates range from $1,900 to $3,250, depending on size and AED membership. Check out next month’s edition of CED Magazine for the full 2019 CONDEX Dealer Preview.

Here is what some of the Summit pros have to say about CONDEX:

“We have been attending Summit for as long as I can remember. My grandpa was very involved with AED when he was with the dealership, and the involvement has continued through the following generations. There are several exhibitors in CONDEX whose products we use; sometimes we have met them through CONDEX… The exhibitors that we do use have been very beneficial to our business and have helped us capitalize on opportunities both in how we run our business as well as what we can offer to our customers.” – Jonathan Campbell, executive vice president of Wheeler Machinery

“CONDEX has also been an educational opportunity and, really, one of the easiest ways to experience new products firsthand without adding additional time and travel away from the office. With as many changes as our industry has experienced in IT and tech-related products, CONDEX is a great place to interact with many vendors and do a bit of comparative shopping.” – Giles Poulson, president of Faris Machinery

“The CONDEX floor affords you the opportunity to shop many vendors and manufacturers. I like that I can compare business software, mobile applications and technology that allows us to become more efficient and quicker to respond to our customers’ needs.” – Gayle Humphries, chief financial officer at Low Country Machinery

“We have had meetings with exhibiters at CONDEX that have led to follow-up discussions about representing their products. Last year we met with JT Bates and since then have implemented their rental insurance program into our dealership.” – Jolene Logue, president of PacWest Machinery
Summit Mobile App

The Summit mobile app is the go-to authority for all things Summit-related. The app contains a list of CONDEX exhibitors, suite hosts and attendees, the schedule-at-a-glance, and the list of professional dealer education sessions. Access all of this information and more with the handiest device you already own. The Summit mobile app is a key part of mastering Summit. To download the app, search for “2019 AED Summit” in Apple’s App Store or Google Play.

“#DOTHEHUSTLE: Taking Your Sales to the Next Level with New Techniques” 
-Troy Harrison and Jesyca Hope
Taking sales performance to the next level is within the reach of anyone; all it takes is a little HUSTLE. In this session, attendees will learn a proven formula for top-performing sales. With this recipe, salespeople or business owners can re-energize their territories or companies and get off a plateau and back into a growth pattern!

“Cybersecurity: Six Easy Ways to Protect Yourself, Your Company, and Your Customers” 
–Scott McGillivray
It seems as if hardly a day passes without a news story about hackers stealing data from a major company. While these high-profile cases get most of the attention, smaller companies and individuals are at far greater risk of losing control of their most valuable and sensitive data.
This session will break down the complexity and difficulty of information security and provide useful and actionable steps everybody can take to make their digital lives more secure and protect their company’s valuable data.

Session highlights include:
• What is my risk of losing control of my digital assets?
• Social engineering – why people are easier to hack than computers
• What to do (and what you absolutely should not do) when you suspect you have been hacked
• Simple steps to eliminate 99 percent of potential data loss
• Q&A – bring your biggest concerns

“Tellin’ It Like It *BLEEPIN* Is: Giving Critical Feedback” 
–Gregory Tall
Someone on your team just made a huge mistake on the job or is simply not performing up to par. You know you need to tell them, but you don’t want to hurt their feelings or damage your relationship with them. Or maybe you’re just too blunt and are worried that you will offend them. So instead, you hope the problem miraculously goes away, or you convince yourself that you’re really going to speak up the next time something happens. This session will teach you how to be a good messenger when you need to be the bearer of bad news. Learn how to:
• Deliver critical feedback conversations with confidence and clarity
• Distinguish facts from opinions and assumptions when giving feedback
• Provide feedback that is specific, objective and actionable
• Engage in difficult conversations while maintaining rapport and good relationships

AED Summit features more than 35 dealer-specific educational courses covering every department of your dealership. If your department managers and senior staff are not in attendance, then you are truly not getting the most out of Summit. Divide and conquer the sessions being offered; your team will be better for it! Be sure to check out all of our dealer education sessions online at

“These sessions offer economic “These sessions offer economic updates and forecasts and keep me abreast of our current and future political environment. They lend multitudes of knowledge on how to become a more motivational manager and provide insight on your own management styles while demonstrating how to run more profitable rental, parts, and service departments.” 
Gayle Humphries, chief financial officer of Low Country Machinery

“Through the educational sessions, we have gotten beneficial financing strategies to work in the new tax environment as well as good economic forecasts and political updates that apply directly to our industry, which is hard to find anywhere else.” 
Jonathan Campbell, executive vice president at Wheeler Machinery Co.

“The education sessions are a big reason I attend Summit. I’ve brought portions of several sessions back to the dealership to help improve our teams and develop our people. We even hired one of the presenters for our annual sales meeting.” 
Bill Price, Sales Manager at West Side Tractor Sales

Keynote Speaker 
John Boehner
“I’m interested in hearing from John Boehner. The keynote speakers the last few years – George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Leon Panetta – have been excellent and I expect that this will be similar.” 
Jonathan Campbell, executive vice president of Wheeler Machinery Co.

A former small businessman himself, perhaps John Boehner is better known for the time he served as Speaker of the United States House of Representatives, from January 2011 to October 2015. During this period, he led the drive for a smaller, less costly and more accountable federal government. Boehner represented the Eighth Congressional District of Ohio in the U.S. House from 1991 to 2015. He now serves as senior strategic advisor for Squire Patton Boggs, one of the world’s foremost law and public policy firms.

One of the most influential and respected figures in the technology, economic and business worlds, Rich Karlgaard advises audiences on how to harness an organization’s disruptive spirits to maximize business opportunities in the global marketplace. Rich is the thought leader that Fortune 500 companies, small businesses and national associations turn to for a reliable roadmap of what’s to come.

The OEM panel for the 2019 event will present Summit attendees with the opportunity to hear from leading OEM executives and share their perspectives on issues facing the industry in 2019. Sitting on the 2019 OEM Panel will be Jason T. Daly, global director, marketing & support, John Deere Construction & Forestry Co.; Richard Goldsbury, president, Doosan Bobcat; Philip Kelliher, vice president, Caterpillar Inc.; Moderator, J. Michael Marks, Indian River Consulting Group; Peter Mayr, president, Liebherr Construction Equipment; and Stephen Roy, president, Volvo Construction Equipment.

This panel will provide a discussion-based session where audience member dealers are encouraged to interact with OEM panelists and vice versa. The panels are intended to make attendees think creatively about their own challenges and give them more insight into what their clients, providers and customers are dealing with.

The AED Foundation’s Third Annual Gala and Live Auction is the ideal time to bring your family, friends and partners together for an evening of fun. Open to the generous supporters of The AED Foundation, the Gala will be held on Monday, February 4, at the Orlando World Center Marriott.

Every year, The AED Foundation creates pathways to opportunity for the construction equipment distribution industry with one goal in mind: to grow and develop support for our members. Last year, The AED Foundation was able to improve the availability of future industry employees by accrediting diesel-equipment technology college programs, advocating for greater federal investment and working to increase awareness and interest among school-age students.

Sales from the Gala will help support The AED Foundation in enhancing the success of AED member companies and will provide educational opportunities as well as improving the quality of available employees.

The 2019 event will include dinner, open bar, live auction and entertainment. During the Gala, the Foundation will also be honoring an exceptional member for their commitment of support with the Lester Heath Award.

Remember, Summit masters, The AED Foundation is a 501 (c)(3) educational foundation, which means tickets to the Gala are tax deductible.

I polled my family members (who are also my colleagues!) for their responses, as last year was my first event, and the resounding response was that Summit is the best opportunity for us to meet with all the manufacturers we represent, our financing partners, our competition and our friends in one place. 
Gibson Machinery has been a proud member of AED in this and its previous incarnations since 1941 – this is our 77th year of membership. Lee Gibson, my father, has been the dealer principal since 1975 and has attended every Summit except for two since that time. My mother, Larysa Gibson, has attended approximately 25 Summits in her capacity as our VP of finance and administration, and my sister, Meredith Gibson Cavell, has attended each Summit since 2012 in her role as sales manager.
The 2018 Summit in Las Vegas was my first Summit – I joined Gibson Machinery in late 2016 and missed the 2017 event in Chicago. It sounds cliché, but every event was a highlight: meeting Wayne Newton at The AED Foundation Fundraising Gala, participating in the Small Dealer and Emerging Leaders Committee meetings, meeting Leon Panetta and hearing both his and Diane Benck’s remarks… everything was truly top notch. 

AED provides tremendous educational opportunities for its members and the attendees of its conferences. I’ve participated in two Finance/HR Symposiums and am currently in the airport on my way to the first session of the 2018-2019 Leadership Development Institute. 

Gibson Machinery looks forward to Summit each year as our most valuable opportunity to learn about new industry trends, attend quality meetings with the manufacturers we proudly represent, reconnect with old friends, and make new business connections. AED consistently does a great job of making sure that our investment in attending Summit is amply rewarded with the high-quality educational offerings and top-notch speakers. We’re all looking forward to Orlando 2019!
- Lauren A. Gibson, CPA
Gibson Machinery, LLC
Chief Financial Officer

Q&A with Summit Master and President of Faris Machinery, Giles Poulson

How long has Faris Machinery been attending Summit? What value have past Summits added to your company’s AED membership?

Faris Machinery has been attending the AED annual meeting, now the Summit, for over 60 years. Ownership of our distributorship has always found value in the educational breakout sessions and developed long-lasting personal relationships with both manufacturers and fellow dealers at these annual events. Many of these relationships are generational and have been passed down during our 60-year history.

What lessons has Faris Machinery taken away from attending Summit education sessions, and how has it incorporated them into its day-to-day operations?

The topic of human resources has always been an area that is addressed at the AED annual meeting. Gaining a deeper understanding of the needs and work habits of younger generations and having a forum for discussion with other dealers and behavioral experts has helped me cope with the human resource challenge ever-present in our day-to-day work environment. Faris Machinery started doing personality assessments for new hires in 1996 because of our attending AED that year and meeting with a human resources expert offering this “new” management tool.

How would you recommend that other dealers or OEMs get the most out of this year’s Summit?

Getting the most out of 2019 AED Summit will take commitment to attend as many of the planned activities as possible. You never know who you will meet or what direction a conversation will take that turns out to be the gem you would have missed for not showing up. I always feel the Summit provides a level of strategic business direction that helps reinforce some gut-level intuition I bring to these meetings. These are elements of the Summit that business owners and distribution executives cannot get in any other venue outside of the AED Summit.

Related Articles