Staff members at Construction Publications Inc. (CPI) recently had a discussion about how many AED Summits they have each attended throughout the years. They never came up with an exact total but determined that it was a high number. They also agreed that attending is well worth the investment.
“We were a supporting publication this year, and we were very happy to have that designation,” said President Chuck Parks, who has attended nearly 40 Summits. “I have attended for many years and always look forward to it. My father and grandfather both attended when they each served as president of Construction Publications. Each time is just as fun and worthwhile as the first, because there is always something new. What I enjoy most is the interaction with friends, old and new. AED remains a highlight, no matter the venue, because it’s all about the people and how we can work together to make the construction and equipment industries better.”
Construction Publications is a unique, niche-oriented company. Its specialty is working with heavy equipment distributors to produce content to help them educate their customers and promote their products and services. In the past, the main focus was print materials; however, during the last decade, CPI has embraced video and digital content for use on distributors’ websites and social media platforms.
“The content focus is on more than products and other articles related to the distributors and the manufacturers they represent,” said Editor Greg Heckart. “Our goals at Construction Publications include providing informative articles about the construction and mining industries that readers and viewers can use to better understand how topics, such as regulations, affect their business. Hopefully, these materials provide insights into ways to increase production, efficiency and profitability. The educational presentations at AED Summit provide excellent topics for us to do that.”
Greg said that one of the things he and his co-workers like best about the education sessions is the timeliness of the topics. Another is that although the seminars are geared toward equipment dealers, many of them are relevant to the end users. They are excellent resources for the content CPI produces, which means AED can expand its reach as media outlets, like CPI, share the information provided.
“An example would be ‘Going Mobile: Leveraging Mobile Technology Within Your Operation,’” he pointed out. “This 90-minute session provided insight into why companies should consider adopting technology as well as proper steps to determine best practices of research, implementation and monitoring. It’s definitely a current topic for us to consider bringing to our readers and viewers.
“I also appreciate how approachable the presenters are,” he continued. “After the mobile technology session, I spoke briefly with Damon Haber about following up for additional information. These industry-expert presenters are valuable resources and contacts for future articles.”
Writer/Photographer Josh Sandin had a similar experience when he attended the “Profitability of Hiring Diversity” presentation.
“I was excited to attend this session because the shortage of skilled workers is a huge issue right now in the industry, and one that we have consistently covered from many angles,” Josh explained. “Adrianna Troilo gave a very impressive presentation with excellent information that I hadn’t heard before. Plus, she provided answers to some tough questions from the audience. Afterward, she spoke with me for about 10 minutes, and we exchanged information so we could set up a future story. That level of access is often difficult to get, but I’ve found that it’s common at AED.”
Another seminar, “Activating Digital Marketing Tactics to Drive Your Business Forward,” identified various types and formats through which distributors can share digital content. The presenters offered practical tips for optimizing websites and email, as well as best practices for establishing professional profiles among staff.
“During the past year, CPI has taken steps to bring itself and its customers further into the digital realm, including social media,” said Production Manager Tina Lampe. “Educational sessions like this help CPI gain new insights that can be employed in our own practices and also validate the information we’ve provided to our customers to help them better understand how digital marketing could affect and be beneficial to their businesses.”
MEETING OLD FRIENDS, MAKING NEW ONES
Like AED, Construction Publications has a long, rich history. Last year marked its 70th anniversary. CPI has worked continuously with some of its existing customers for 50 years or longer, nearly all of whom are members of AED and attend the Summit.
The annual show is great way for CPI staff to reconnect with old friends. Sometimes appointments are preset, or, in other instances, conversations happen as the result of bumping into each other on the CONDEX show floor or in the hallways between meetings.
Founded in 1948 by Charles E. Parks Sr., CPI recently brought a fourth generation of the family-owned business on board. Charles’ great-grandson and Chuck’s son, Charles Parks IV, or Charlie, is now writer/photographer for CPI. This year was his second time attending AED Summit/CONDEX.
“CONDEX provides a great opportunity to meet a wide variety of vendors that offer innovative and unique solutions,” said Charlie. “Face-to-face interactions at the booths and hospitality suites build, develop and strengthen relationships. The classroom sessions offer insight on a diverse range of topics, from leadership to idle time, that could easily be implemented into any business strategy for the construction industry.”
Chuck added that AED Summit is unique for CPI because staff members can travel to one location and meet with a majority of his firm’s customers during a two-day period.
“It allows us to show them our latest ideas and plan content for the year,” Chuck said. “At the same time, it affords us the chance to get to know potential new clients. During Summit, our staff talked with more than 120 manufacturer representatives about how we can help them capture the ‘voice of the customer.’ That’s a significant number of people in a short amount of time. Opportunities such as this are rare, and that makes AED Summit a great event for us to attend.”
AED Summit and CONDEX are obviously valuable for companies that are engaged in equipment sales and rentals. It helps them become more well-rounded dealers and distributors so that they can better serve the end users of their machinery.
So, what is the value for supporting publications such as CPI?
For starters, AED Summit is a great way for CPI to plug itself into a significant sector of the industry. While it has long-standing relationships with many of the attendees, the majority of the conversations it has during the course of the years are with end users and manufacturers.
“The sessions and speakers really help us to develop a better understanding of the total picture,” said Josh. “They focus on a lot of current topics but address them from the distributors’ points of view. To get that insight and add it to the weekly dialogue that we have with operators and construction business owners is valuable. The time we spend at Summit/CONDEX provides an additional perspective that adds to a more complete picture of the equipment industry.”
That frame of reference is factored into CPI’s marketing efforts as well as the informative articles it produces for end users. “The conversations we have and the educational seminars we attend at AED Summit/CONDEX are very insightful,” said Greg. “Knowledge gained about the construction industry can be turned into valuable content that businesses can use in their decision-making processes as they consider ways to recruit future employees, implement the latest technology, employ new practices and more. It’s a terrific resource of information that we can use throughout the year.”