For the past few years there has been talk among small dealers at AED’s Summit that there needed to be an event that focused on issues pertinent to smaller-sized dealerships. Responding to member requests, AED introduced the inaugural Small Dealer Conference in Nashville last November. 
The inaugural event was a success, offering leadership tools and educational sessions tailored to the needs of the 35 AED members that attended. One of the crowning achievements of the event was the creation of the Small Dealers Committee. 

The committee exists as a network for small dealers to connect and share with their peers, to provide AED with direction on how to better serve their demographic with educational and networking opportunities, and to help direct the program for AED’s annual Small Dealer Conference and other educational and networking programs. 

“Essentially, the committee plays an advisory role within AED to help direct content and programming for the Small Dealer Conference,” said Northeast Regional Manager Michael Murray. Murray is the AED staff person responsible for the facilitation of the committee. 

Membership is open to any small dealer who is currently an AED member in good standing and who is interested in the mission and purpose of the committee and AED. Small dealers are defined as dealerships with annual revenue at or below $50 million, employing no more than 50 individuals, and having three or fewer locations.

During this year’s Summit, the Small Dealers Committee’s first official meeting was held. The group established bylaws and elected a chairperson, Jeff Lashley of Lashley Tractor Sales, and a vice chairperson, David Moore of Construction Equipment Sales & Rental. Moore stated, “I’m excited to be the vice chair for the Small Dealers Committee. I have always felt that AED does a great job supporting and including all dealers, large and small, in the organization.” The group also discussed topics for the upcoming 2018 Small Dealer Conference in New Orleans. 

 “We are excited to get the Small Dealers Committee up and running and look forward to working with committee members to ensure that small dealers have a voice in all of AED’s value propositions and that AED addresses the unique needs of small dealers in all services and products we offer,” said Michael Murray, responding to an inquiry about the direction of the committee. 

Murray pointed out that there are two primary functions of the committee. The first is to provide networking opportunities for similarly situated dealers. Such opportunities hardly consist of competitors sharing financials, but instead create a forum for members to discuss the market drivers and challenges that the industry faces. 

Second, the committee was designed to tailor conference content toward small dealers. AED knows that a big part of running a small dealership is wearing many hats. Small dealership owners and employees know the multifaceted demands of daily operation. To better serve AED members facing such demands, the committee has created small dealer content such as “The Art of the Deal: Buying, Selling and Valuing Your Equipment in Today’s Market” and “The Devil’s in the Details: How the New Tax Law Is Affecting Small Dealers and Their Customers.”While the Small Dealer Conference is beginning to pick up steam, the committee is situating itself to get more involved with AED’s policy goals. Providing a unified voice to the hundreds of AED small dealerships, the committee first seeks to determine the objectives of these dealers. According to Murray, the committee will carry out these goals by maintaining a presence at AED’s Summit as well as bringing several small dealership owners to the Washington Fly-In event. 

The Small Dealers Committee is looking forward to ushering in a fruitful relationship between AED and its smaller dealers. “Our goal with the Small Dealer Conference is to help bring information to small dealers so we can be relevant in the current marketplace,” said the committee’s vice chairperson. “Smaller dealers often don’t have the resources that larger dealers utilize and face many of these challenges alone. We are engaging the experienced AED staff and its resources to help smaller dealers with useful topics and a great networking opportunity.” CED will keep its readers informed of any developments from this big committee for small dealerships.

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