Last year, Associated Equipment Distributors celebrated its centenary. Celebrating with them was one of the founding members: Brandeis Machinery & Supply Co. “We are one of the founding members of the organization and the only surviving original AED member today,” claims Michael Brennan, CEO.
Over the past 100 years, it’s been a good partnership, Brennan says, helping the Kentucky-based distributor improve its business, develop best practices and make vital connections. In turn, as the organization’s 2019 outgoing chairman, Brennan – and Brandeis – have made significant contributions.
AED was founded in 1919 in Blawnox, Pennsylvania, for the promotion and distribution of construction equipment. As the organization has grown, it has expanded its reach by adding committees, publications, programs, reports and networking opportunities. It has also become a platform for its members in the construction industry to build relationships with Washington politicians who support important issues such as workforce, infrastructure, and importation/exportation legislation. As a public policy advocate, AED serves as the members’ voice in Washington.
It was to this initiative that Brennan aligned his term as chairman. Brennan’s goal was to increase AED’s PAC contributions, which in turn increases AED’s influence with crucial legislation. He achieved this goal, gaining a 60% increase, which he says is an all-time record. “The PAC helps elect leaders who support issues important to our industry,” he explains. “We have shared common causes and advocate on key points that are positive for our industry, such as favorable taxes.” Among the issues, the PAC focused on during his term was more spending on infrastructure.
To increase the effectiveness of the PAC, Brennan created a new vice president of political action position. “This position ensures that AED is focused on key initiatives that affect its members and putting the PAC dollars towards those.”
The AED Foundation was created in1991 to promote workforce development and education through research. Part of this mission was to establish AED accreditation, which to date, has been achieved by 60 schools throughout the United States. The Foundation believes in helping its members train and retain skilled workers and encourages continuous learning by providing ongoing industry education and training opportunities. There are a variety of programs, including technician career development, executive leadership, and women in construction.
A great example is Brandeis’ use of AED tools. The company uses AED’s assessment with every technician they hire and has also taken advantage of the assessment in their apprenticeship program to evaluate recruits. In an era of technician shortage, these programs are tremendously valuable.
One of the many advantages of AED membership is the networking opportunities it provides. Kara Hamilton, marketing manager at Brandeis, has attended AED’s women’s roundtables. “Being a member allows us to connect with other companies and promote our business. It gives us exposure within and opportunities to meet like-minded distributors and individuals.”
“We make connections across the country, covering all brands,” Brennan adds. Networking development also benefits his employees. “We use AED programs to help support our people to become more effective leaders and expand their skill sets. We encourage them to join the young executive group.” Brennan was once a member of that group; he became a member in 1996, a year after joining Brandeis, and then became a full board member in 2005.
AED’s first meeting was called the Summit, now an annual tradition that features events and opportunities to enhance networking, facilitate business-to-business interaction and cooperation, and cultivate sources of capital and finance. Brennan reports that the recent Orlando Summit realized record post-recession attendance, a sign of AED’s success.
In addition to networking, education, workforce development and public policy, AED assists members with research, analysis and information on the markets in which its members participate, in addition to economic and business trends and performance benchmarks.
Now an international trade association, AED has more than 500 distributor member companies involved in distribution, rental and support of equipment in all aspects of construction, mining, forestry, power generation, agriculture and industrial applications.
Together, they account for more than $60 billion in annual sales revenue of construction equipment and associated supplies and services in North America.
One of the oldest distributors in North America, Brandeis Machinery & Supply (a division of Bramco) has sold, serviced and rented mining and construction equipment, products and services since 1908.
Headquartered in Louisville, Kentucky, together with its sister company, Power Equipment Co. in Tennessee, Brandeis is also one of the largest construction and mining equipment distribution networks in the United States, offering new and used heavy equipment – including rebuilds, rental equipment, parts and service.
The full-service equipment dealer, with eight locations in Kentucky and Indiana, carries equipment from Komatsu, Wirtgen Group, Takeuchi, Epiroc, and Sennebogen.
Brennan says that Brandeis, a fourth-generation company, is proud to be a longtime supporter of and actively involved with AED. Over the years, he says, the company has gotten a lot out of its relationship with AED: “We have utilized many of AED’s programs. Lots of managers!” he jokes, quickly adding that they have also acquired trained technicians because of AED.
Over the last ten years, he’s seen a transformation in AED and an increase in its “value offerings,” as he calls them.
“There are numerous business benefits: Washington influence, education and training, employee development, and networking contacts.”
Along the way to the organization’s second hundred years, Brennan encourages other distributors to become members and “support the growth and success of the industry.”