Change is inevitable in any industry. In ours, however, staying ahead of the curve takes communication, collaboration, and close attention to customer demand. As many of us know, the Associated Equipment Distributors (AED) trade association is in the business of providing its distributor, manufacturer and service company members with the tools needed to succeed. By being a unified voice for its 460 distributor member companies, AED makes the needs of the industry known in U.S. and Canadian political arenas.
It is not difficult to understand why companies involved in the distribution, rental and support of equipment used in construction, mining, forestry, power generation, agriculture and industrial applications choose AED. The international trade organization vigilantly offers benchmarking reports, accreditation and recognition programs, top industry publications, and leadership seminars. AED seminars provide opportunities to learn new strategies and discover possible partners or vendors.
One could claim that we at CED Magazine are biased in our assessment of the trade association’s advantages. That’s probably fair. So, for all you skeptics out there, here is what a few industry leaders are saying about the benefits and perks of AED membership.
The AED Foundation is the one-stop shop for your educational needs. Topics offered at seminars like the AED Summit event and Leadership Conference are position- and dealer-specific, including education in HR, parts and service, sales, and finance, presented by experts in their field. Christopher Palmer, president at Wood’s CRW Corp., says AED events provide “an opportunity to step back from the day-to-day and look at your business from 10,000 feet, which is a challenge for many family-run businesses.”
Palmer comments, “I also feel that the annual Summit provides an exceptional opportunity to get together with your manufacturers and allied vendors to recap the past year and discuss plans for the current year. The meeting in January is very cost- and time-effective.” Another top dealer executive remarks, “Conference attendance can be a rewarding experience that promotes teamwork, competence and organizational pride.”
While much is accomplished at AED’s seminars, the events provide excellent networking opportunities for dealerships. Matt Di Iorio, president of Ditch Witch Mid-States, says, “There are leaders in every organization that yearn for the opportunity to serve a cause greater than self. Look around your office; they’re easy to spot. Whether that person is in your service department or in the corner office, grab hold of the opportunities that AED makes available and sign him or her up for the next event and Summit. The response and results will astound you!” AED has a variety of educational opportunities available this fall, such as the Small Dealership Conference, Branch Management Seminar, Sales Manager Seminar and the New Supervisory Skills Seminar. Tickets are available at bit.ly/aedevents
The AED Foundation
Established in 1991 and directed by AED members, The AED Foundation addresses professional education and workforce development through its accreditation and recognition of diesel equipment technology college programs. There are now 45 AED Foundation Accredited college and Recognized high school diesel-technology programs at 35 schools in the U.S. and Canada that are part of The AED Foundation’s School Partnership Program.
Attacking the skilled labor crisis with education is a primary function of The AED Foundation. This approach is bearing fruit and the industry is taking notice. Matt Di Iorio says, “The AED Foundation enables us to provide our employees with dealer-specific education and recognition (management certification) directly from the trade association representing factory authorized construction equipment dealers. Leadership development and industry recognition are available without regard to where the courses are taken, or whether the participant has a college degree.”
One of AED’s greatest contributions to the industry is their offering of insightful publications. Staying abreast of industry news is easy through AED’s multimedia platform. Check out AED News on their website or become all-knowing by continuing to read CED Magazine, which recently went digital when it launched CEDMag.com. Every CED publication can be found at CEDMag.com and focuses specifically on delivering relevant industry news and information to construction equipment distributors.
Many executives rely on AED’s annual Compensation Survey and Cost of Doing Business Report to help them intelligently navigate challenges facing the industry. These reports utilize anonymous data offered by AED member firms and non-member participants to establish performance and compensation “yardsticks” for the equipment distribution industry. “Using benchmarking and comparative analytics with other firms of our size and in our industry gives us a good ‘how are we doing’ look at our processes,” says Gary Bridwell, president of Ditch Witch of Oklahoma.
AED is continually looking for ways to add value to membership, and these reports are one way of doing so. The Cost of Doing Business Report provides AED members with the most up-to-date comparative financial data in the industry, and the new reporting system provides more tools to members than ever before.
Public Policy Advocacy
AED is the voice of their distributor, manufacturer, and service company members in Washington and Ottawa. The goals of the group can be intricate and vast, but AED primarily advocates for the following: rebuilding the nation’s infrastructure; restoring certainty and predictability to the tax code; protecting equipment distributors from harmful and unnecessary regulation; investing in the next generation of skilled technical workers; expanding domestic energy production; increasing water infrastructure investment; and promoting international trade and commerce.
AED’s Government Affairs Program manages AED’s Political Action Committee (AED PAC) and advocates for equipment distributors in Washington and before federal regulatory agencies. One recent victory by this program had Matt Di Iorio saying, “AED’s Government Affairs Program is one of the primary reasons we’re a member of the Association.”
What elicited Di Iorio’s praise was something that occurred during last year’s tax reform debate: AED’s Washington office successfully lobbied to remove construction equipment dealers from a clause that would have prohibited them from taking advantage of the Tax Cuts & Jobs Act’s 100 percent bonus depreciation provision. This legislative initiative was headed up by none other than Daniel Fisher, AED’s vice president of government affairs. Matt Di Iorio applauded AED’s legislative victory, saying, “The cost savings from changing the legislation to ensure we were able to utilize bonus depreciation, particularly for our rental inventory, was exponentially greater than our annual membership dues.”
Overall, AED helps its members watch for blind spots in their companies that might be overlooked. Gary Bridwell says, “I would encourage any organization that is in the construction industry to consider AED as the go-to association for advocacy, education and peer interaction. I would encourage them to be active with the association and meet as many people as possible at functions and meetings, because you never know when your next opportunity will strike to learn something new and valuable that you can take back to your dealership. The leadership group at AED has worked very hard at refining and honing the professional education opportunities.”