The Ins and Outs of Leadership Conference

From August 27 to 29, AED will once again hold their Leadership Conference, this time at the Hyatt Regency Sonoma Wine Country in Santa Rosa, California. As one of the only conference geared toward rising talent and managers in construction equipment distribution industry, the Leadership Conference has been a jumping-off point for many industry leaders.

No one can argue about the impact the baby boomer generation has had on industrialized heavy equipment and its distribution and technology. But the generation that has so deeply sculpted our industry and our careers will not always be around to pick up the slack.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, labor participation rates of baby boomers will fall from 80 percent to below 40 percent by 2022. This is the same baby boomer generation that makes up more than 25 percent of our industry’s workforce and has dutifully taken on leadership roles when called upon. Now the question is, to whom will this great generation hand off the baton?

For answers to this question, come out to Sonoma wine country this August.

Amid the gorgeous scenery in the grape-infested hills of Northern California, attendees will be developing the skills needed to assume the mantle of those that have pioneered in our industry.
Cultivating tomorrow’s leaders requires education and networking opportunities such as those provided by the Leadership Conference. Forward-looking professionals know the importance of developing their dealerships.

The AED knows that the top priority for member dealers is their customers. The Leadership Conference is an active representation of AED’s partnership with their dealer members to improve client satisfaction. After all, business relationships between employees and customers thrive when you have an effective and diverse leadership team in all areas of the operation – from the branch level to the corner office.
Staying ahead of the day-to-day activities can be hard enough in our industry. When it comes to mid- and long-term strategies in the dealership, there tend to be gaps. Ask yourself, how prepared is my business as far as leadership roles are concerned? If you can identify any lapses in leadership, let AED help bridge the gap. Send your high-potential individuals to Santa Rosa this summer.

Kevin Barlet, chairman of AED’s Emerging Leaders Council and branch operations manager at the Bejac Corporation, had the following to say about the conference:

"Attending will enable professionals to grow by delivering actionable content on leadership principles, the most relevant industry information, technology updates, and a platform to grow their professional networks and to learn from their peers. The Leadership Conference is one of the most highly anticipated industry events of the year across North America. There are many reasons attendees return year after year, including preparing for a promotion, inspiration for improving and motivating teams, and the overall quality of the program."

Kicking off the leadership event will be an informal, optional wine tour. The tour offers a great opportunity to foster old and new business relationships while taking in the fruits of a region globally known for their vineyards. Here is one attendee’s recollection of the 2017 wine tour:

“We couldn’t help but see the connection between these wineries and many dealerships, as we heard stories about the wineries being family-owned-and-operated businesses… attending this event gave me the opportunity to meet AED members I had not met before. I look forward to continuing those relationships and to meeting more of you as I attend other AED conferences.”

But the wine tour is just the beginning. Here are some of the other sessions planned for the conference:
Brian P. McGuire, the president and CEO of AED, will be moderating a panel called The Voice of the Customer. This session will feature a panel of dealer customers discussing what they look for in a dealer, how they weigh purchasing versus renting equipment, the most important things a dealer brings to the table when working with a contractor, and more.

Hermann Schneider from X10 Consulting will present How to Recession-Proof Your Business. Some business strategists and forecasters are predicting the next recession to hit in the next 6-18 months, and they all talk about “how to survive.” You don’t want to survive; you want to figure out how to leverage the situation and grow your business—even when times are tough and your competitors are crashing all around you because they didn’t plan ahead. This session will help you build a better company and plan for breakout growth during the next recession.

Digital Marketing Tactics to Activate Your Business will be presented by Gina Rigsby and Kat Crossley from DLL. The session will include tips, tools, best practices and real examples that validate why a company’s digital presence and marketing strategy is important and how it can be leveraged to drive business objectives and performance, including sales enablement, demand generation, lead generation and more. Session highlights also include how to leverage three key digital channels: website, social media, and email; why content should be the foundation of your digital marketing strategy; and real-world examples of how simple digital marketing strategies can drive business results and further position your business as an industry leader.

Ron Barlet of the Bejac Corporation will present Navigating the Move to the Corner Office. Hear from a veteran industry executive about all the things he wished he’d known before taking over the dealership, including prioritizing the many duties of the president/CEO, managing time, working with business advisors, and influencing change.

Capping off the conference will be another wine tour—after all, it is wine country. Ending the conference in this relaxed and comfortable setting will give attendees a chance to decompress and gather their thoughts on what will surely be an inspirational and productive event.

With bookend wine tours in sunny California, do you need any more persuading? Take it from Jon Shilling of General Equipment & Supplies, who says, “This is well worth the time, travel, and expense involved to send a young leader in your company, for the educational content as well as the social aspect of getting to meet other industry peers and converse with them on their pains in the market today, as well as successes.”


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