The city of Chicago is known for many things: Ditka and Da Bears, the Cubs, Second City and the best deep-dish pizza in the country, among other things. But for one week in January, for any company involved in the distribution, rental and support of equipment used in construction, mining, forestry, power generation, agriculture and industrial applications, it was known as the home of the Associated Equipment Distributors’ 2020 Summit.
Held at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in downtown Chicago, the AED Summit took place January 14 through 16, and educated, informed and entertained all that attended. AED President and CEO Brian P. McGuire, along with 2019 AED Chairman Michael Brennan, 2020 Chairman Ron Barlet and the entire staff of AED, were on hand to welcome everyone. General sessions set the stage in the mornings, offering AED updates and riveting speakers. Concurrent breakout sessions throughout the days presented the opportunity for professional dealer education. Hospitality suites in the hotel made available manufacturers, vendors, and suppliers of equipment and services to dealers and allowed for quality one-on-one time and discussions away from the crowds at the Summit. The CONDEX exhibit area provided equipment dealers a prime opportunity to discover new products and services to enhance their dealerships. Each of the three days ended with a special event: The AED Foundation’s Fundraising Gala and live auction, a Summit Reception sponsored by Ritchie Bros., and a closing dinner and dessert reception featuring A Conversation with Chris Christie.
The first general session on Tuesday featured a panel discussion offering A Customer View of the Industry’s Future. Steve Sandherr, Associated General Contractors of America, served as moderator and the panel was comprised of Dirk Elsperman of the Tarlton Corp., Bob Lanham from Williams Brothers Construction Co. and Brian Herold of Power Construction Co. LLC. Each panel member offered a contractor’s perspective on renting versus owning, using local dealers or the big rental houses, the use of telematics, and more. Of particular interest to the dealers in the audience was the question of how a dealer/equipment salesman can be more effective and useful to a contractor. All of the panelists felt that bashing the equipment a contractor is currently using and the dealer they are currently buying or renting from is the wrong approach. Dealers should know what equipment makes up a contractor’s fleet and how they and their equipment can make a contractor more effective and competitive. Also, how can a dealer help a subcontractor – who is such an important part of a contractor’s business – be of better service to the general contractor and the job they are working on together.
Wednesday morning’s speaker was Kris Paronto, a former U.S. Army Ranger, known for his heroic actions while part of the CIA annex security team during the 2012 terrorist attack on the U.S. Ambassador to Libya, Chris Stephens, and the CIA compound in Benghazi. Paronto’s in-depth story of what happened that night was spellbinding, and his message of surrounding yourself with people you can count on and pushing on until you have reached your goal was taken to heart. Thursday morning’s speaker was Dr. Arthur C. Brooks. Brooks spoke of the importance of being happy in one’s life, not just successful, and he offered tips to achieve this happiness.
The many educational sessions offered throughout the Summit touched on a wide range of topics. Playing the Long Game in the Fourth Quarter of Your Career, Unlocking Additional Revenue: How to Capitalize on Equipment Rentals, Breaking Up Is Hard To Do: Firing a Customer, Key Metrics to Monitor for Maximum Revenue Impact, The Five Pivotal Conversations That Advance and Close Sales, Forecasting for 2020: An Economic Outlook, Analyzing Your Service Department for Peak Profitability Performance, and Differentiating Your Company from the Competition were just some of the topics that were covered.
The mission of The AED Foundation’s Fundraising Gala was to tackle the technician shortage and ensure a more predictable and stable future for technician availability. The event was a huge success and raised over $250,000 for the Foundation.