Last month, members of AED’s executive team, myself included, embarked on a 10-day, nine-city, 2,600-mile road trip via motor coach to visit dealers across the Midwest, Great Plains, Rocky Mountains and the West. While this year has undoubtedly brought more challenges than any of us anticipated, AED has been determined to push forward. Your association chose to adapt its schedule and visit several great dealers in person, all while adhering to safety guidelines.
In addition to getting firsthand updates from our members on the state of their businesses, Driving for Dealers was about bringing well-deserved attention to the need for a long-term infrastructure bill. It is well-known that infrastructure has long been neglected in North America, and the threat of industry instability remains unless a well-funded, multiyear infrastructure package is secured. AED’s executive team felt it was our responsibility to bring awareness to the topic with in-person visits, which resulted in significant media coverage.
I am happy to state that virtually all the members we visited report that business is currently good. But it bears repeating that business may very well evaporate without significant infrastructure investment in 2021. There is certainly room for such investment. According to the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), the overall United States infrastructure grade is D+, and no state that we visited was above a C. As we drove through the states on our itinerary, we highlighted infrastructure grades provided by the ASCE.
Overall grades are as follows: Illinois C-, Missouri C-, Kansas C, Colorado C-, Wyoming (no grade), Utah C+, Nevada C, and California C.
We met with more than 30 members one-on-one via AED local dealer groups in St. Louis, Denver and Salt Lake City. All meetings were conducted in small group settings using appropriate social distancing practices, face masks, utilizing outdoor facilities, and plenty of hand sanitizer for all. The trip also included a stop in Las Vegas, where, in addition to visiting a dealer celebrating its 25th anniversary with AED, we met with key staff at the Mirage Hotel & Casino to go over plans to safely manage AED’s 2021 Summit and CONDEX scheduled for March 29-31. The trip culminated in a visit to Bejac, in Placentia, California, to meet with AED Chairman Ron Barlet. Ron reports that things are going well and that he looks forward to seeing you all next year in Las Vegas.
I want to thank all the members we met with on the Driving for Dealers Tour for the hospitality they provided to us and their continued commitment to the association and the equipment industry.
For more information on the Driving for Dealers Tour, I encourage you to see the highlights of our journey on AED’s social media, and at the hashtag #drivingfordealers, where our daily messaging, interviews with members, and media coverage are posted.