Hearty congratulations are due to the Associated Equipment Distributors international trade organization for assembling 1,690 representatives of the industry’s finest dealers, manufacturers and service providers at their 2020 Summit & CONDEX event. Of AED’s 700 construction equipment distributor members, 590 had a presence at Summit. The Construction Dealer Expo, or CONDEX, had a similarly high attendance rate with 136 exhibitor booths and 69 hospitality suites.
“I’d like to thank all the dealers, manufacturers and service provider partners who attended our 2020 Summit & CONDEX,” stated AED President and CEO Brian P. McGuire. “It was an outstanding event and we continue to strive to deliver high-quality events and services for our great members.” If you participated in this monumental event, then you know just how impactful it was. If not, here is what you missed:
- Keynote speaker and former Army Ranger Kris Paronto spoke on his experience in Benghazi, Libya, on September 11, 2012, where he helped to save more than 20 lives while fighting off terrorists for over 13 hours. Kris told the group of enthralled listeners, “No matter what the odds are, you push through.”
- There were First-Time Summit Attendee and New AED Member receptions.
- Ron Barlet, president of Bejac Corp. in Placentia, California, was elected to chair the 2020 AED board of directors.
- At the third annual Women in Equipment Distribution Reception, attendees gathered to discuss issues relating to their careers and their place in the industry.
The AED Foundation honored eight technicians with the 2019 Technicians of the Year Award:
- Canada: Clayton Kennon from SMS Equipment
- Great Lakes: Randy Ciolkosz from Miller-Bradford & Risberg Inc.
- Midwest: David DeGood from Bobcat Enterprises Inc.
- Northeast: Steve French from Rock & Recycling Equipment LLC
- Rocky Mountain: Loren O’Connor from Sunstate Equipment Co.
- South Central: Dalton Koelzer from Vermeer Texas-Louisiana
- Southeast: Jeremy Ford from Ascendum Machinery
- West: Jake Dugger from Coastline Equipment
Attendees Chime In
Gauging the effectiveness of an event like Summit can be a challenge. Some measure success by how many leads they walk away with. Others, by how many connections they added to their network, or what business strategies they acquired. To get a better idea of how this year’s Summit & CONDEX was received, CED went straight to the source, asking participants themselves. The overall consensus of those we spoke with was that the 2020 Summit was one of the best that AED has ever held.
What was the highlight of your 2020 Summit experience?
“Tough question. The Gala is always a great time for a great cause. Manufacturer meetings are always informative. Networking is always exceptional. All of it was a highlight.” Steve Stafki, vice president of service for General Equipment & Supplies Inc.
“I have been going to these things for quite a while, so it is great to see friends and other dealers from around the country that I have been able to build relationships with over the past ten years. So the highlight for me is the networking. It always helps me stay in touch. Also, the speakers were outstanding, and I always come back with takeaways from the different speakers. The breakout sessions were excellent this year. CONDEX as well – we always get one or two, or sometimes even more immediate follow-ups. I have several that I am working on now through the people we met at CONDEX.” Wes Stowers, president of Stowers Machinery
“My favorite part of the Summit was listening to Chris Christie on Thursday night. He is an amazing speaker. His sense of humor and wonderful stories kept me glued to the screens. Time flew when he was speaking, and I could have listened longer.” Kim Myers, chief accounting officer and vice president of parts sales at The Ironpeddlers
“It was great to get the chance to be surrounded by people that work in the same industry as I do. The AED Summit is such a positive networking platform and gives young professionals like me the opportunity to develop relationships with experienced people who know the industry inside and out.” Dominic Bonacci, account manager at Stearns Bank
How long have you been attending Summit? How did 2020 compare to past years?
“This was my second AED Summit and it was excellent again. When you get the opportunity to speak with key decision-makers all in one place, that’s hard to beat. There was such a great mix of attendees that have such interesting insights into the industry. It was so great to learn from them and find opportunities for further growth.” Dominic Bonacci
“I’ve been attending Summit pretty consistently since 2005, and this year was a great event. It seems like the AED staff has stepped up their game. I would give them a lot of credit for increasing the quality of the programs. The education sessions. The quality of the CONDEX displays. The speakers. There is something there for everybody, whether you are a huge dealer or a small dealer or a supplier or manufacturer. The challenge is finding time to do everything. There are lots of things that you don’t get to do because you can only unpack so much in a day. Which is a good problem to have.” Wes Stowers
“I attended my first Summit in 1983. This year easily ranked in the top 5.” Bob Lesher, National Account Manager, Off-Highway at Webasto Thermo & Comfort North America
“[I’ve been attending Summit for] about 15 years. 2020 was great because of the continued focus by AED on some huge issues facing the industry and how Summit is a fantastic tool to keep dealers informed and involved.” Steve Stafki
“We have gone many years without attending Summit & CONDEX, but after our participation this year, we have realized that this event is a must!” Jorge Cuartero, Managing Director at Anmopyc (Spanish Manufacturers Association of Construction and Mining Equipment)
CED then asked Cuartero, “What does collaboration look like between Anmopyc and AED? How does Summit fit into this collaboration?”
“Anmopyc and AED’s collaboration has only strengthened in the past year,” Cuartero replied, “and our first step was attending the Summit/CONDEX event. We are currently speaking about how to continue, and we have already identified some points of collaboration. We realize how strong AED is in the U.S. and we are surprised that there is not an organization like AED in Europe that is representing the interests of the industry. We also would like to organize a visit of AED members to Spain in order to visit our factories.”
Would you recommend the event to others in the industry?
“I would recommend the Summit because it is the best opportunity to meet others in our industry in a fun and comfortable way. I always enjoy seeing friends; I do not get to see often and making new contacts there. It is nice to have a large group, but not too large to be able to make those more intimate connections.” Kim Myers
“Summit is one of those things that the more you put into it, the more you get out. With the information available and the networking opportunities there, you can for sure bring value back to your own daily work.” Craig Drury, vice president of operations at Vermeer Canada
“Definitely. Summit helps the attendee grow and allows the attendee to make an impact on the industry at a national level when combined with all the other dealers.” Steve Stafki
Do you have any tips for next year’s attendees on how to make the most out of Summit?
“Planning your schedule in advance is very important. I recommend downloading the app and reviewing the schedule in advance to choose the meetings, receptions and education sessions that interest you. There is so much to do and the pace is very fast, so it is difficult to do all the things you want to do while you’re there.” Kim Myers
“As for CONDEX, look at who all of the suppliers are and make appointments for those that you want to speak with. Having contacts with all of the service providers can be very valuable and is a great place just to meet them face to face – and meet some of their customers. We have had a lot of great recommendations from some of the suppliers’ customers that are at CONDEX.” – Wes Stowers
Did you attend the Women in Construction Equipment meeting? What does it mean to you, along with the industry, to have a gathering like this?
“I did attend the Women’s Reception. Although I have always worked with more men than women, it is nice to see more women entering the industry. I find that women need to be knowledgeable and not easily offended to gain the respect of men in this business, but if you know what you’re talking about, men treat you as an equal. So, for me, working with mostly men is not a problem, but I believe it matters to a lot of women. I think things like the Women’s Reception are a wonderful way to help women meet other women in the industry.” Kim Myers
What impact has Summit had on your business’s operations or your own professional growth over the years?
“We take a ‘divide and conquer’ mentality when attending Summit and have a meeting the following week when we get back to compare notes. Generally, I am bringing back a couple of actionable items that I can implement in our business.” David Kedney, vice president of sales and marketing at Luby Equipment Services
“We take ideas from the event and try to implement them here at Hydromec. Plus, we meet a lot of people that benefit our organization in the long run. Sharing best practices also helps us implement meaningful changes throughout our organization.” Alexis Piette, directeur des ventes at Hydromec
“The education sessions are key. We have had several folks that we have been able to contact after the event to provide training here at our site, or we send people to their training programs. I think there is a good exchange of information. All of our people that go are always glad they did. They get a lot out of it.” Wes Stowers
“The Summit has definitely brought Stearns Bank and myself new prospects and opportunities that we might not have known about if we hadn’t been in Chicago. Exhibiting is such a great way to start conversations with potential dealers and manufacturers that are in attendance. I know we would do it again next year in a heartbeat because of the insights we gained as an exhibitor.” Dominic Bonacci
CED asked Bonacci, “What advantages does Summit bring to a financing entity like Stearns Bank?”
“There’s no better time to speak with decision-makers than when they have set time in their schedules to speak with us,” replied Bonacci. “They give us their full attention, and that is so invaluable. It’s also a great way to gauge the pulse of the construction industry and what different trends are happening. When you get to learn about the triumphs and tribulations each dealer is facing, you can sympathize with that and can start a more authentic conversation that way. The AED Summit fosters that process very well.”