Chicago Hosts the 2020 Associated Equipment Distributors Summit

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’ (AED) 2020 Summit.

AED President and CEO Brian P. McGuire interviews former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie

Held at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in downtown Chicago, the AED Summit took place January 14th through the 16th, 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 manufactures, venders, 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. All three days ended with a special event such as 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.

AED President and CEO Brian P. McGuire welcomes everyone to the 2020 AED Summit

A View of the Future

The first General Session on Tuesday featured a panel discussion offering a Customer View of the Industry Future. Steve Sandherr, Associated General Contractors of America, served as moderator and the panel was comprised of Dirk Elsperman of the Tarlton Corporation, Bob Lanham from Williams Brothers Construction Company, and Brian Herold of Power Construction Co., LLC. Each panel member offered a contractor’s perspective of renting vs. owning, using local dealers or the big rental houses, the use of telematics, and more. 

Brian P. McGuire, Steve Sandherr, Bob Lanham, Dirk Elsperman, and Brian Herold

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 can they and their equipment can make a contractor more effective and competitive. Also, how can a dealer help a sub-contractor – 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.

Former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie

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 fascinating, and his message of surrounding yourself with people you can count on and the need to keep pushing on until you have reached your goal was taken to heart. Thursday morning’s speaker was Dr. Arthur C. Brooks. Dr. Brooks spoke of the importance of being happy in one’s life, not just successful, and offered tips to achieve this happiness.

The CONDEX exhibit area provided equipment dealers an opportunity to discover new products and services to enhance their dealerships.

Topics for Everyone

The many General Sessions offered throughout the Summit touched on a wide range of topics including:

  • 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 
  • Differentiating Your Company from the Competition
Diane Benck, of West Side Tractor Sales, received the P.E. MacAllister Democracy Award

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.

Dr. Arthur C. Brooks with Brian P. McGuire

In addition to all of these many events, throughout the Summit, awards were handed out in recognition of the service and achievements of several AED members. These included:

Kris Paronto and AED’s Sandy Reynolds
  • The Foundation Partner Award – Liebherr Construction Equipment Company
  • The Foundation Champion Award – LBX Company
  • Lester J. Heath, III Award – Steve Johnson of the AED Foundation
  • 2019 Technicians of the Year Awards –
    • Canada: Clayton Kennon, SMS Equipment
    • Great Lakes: Randy Ciolkosz, Miller-Bradford & Risberg, Inc.
    • Midwest: David R. DeGood, Bobcat Enterprises, Inc.
    • Northeast: Steve French, Rock & Recycling Equipment, LLC
    • Rocky Mountain: Loren O’Connor, Sunstate Equipment Co., LLC
    • South Central: Dalton Koelzer, Vermeer Texas-Louisiana
    • Southeast: Jeremy Scott Ford, Ascendum Machinery
    • West: Jake Dugger, Coastline Equipment
  • Paul D. (Bud) Hermann Emerging Leaders Award – Jonathan Campbell, Wheeler Machinery
  • Morton R. Hunter, Sr. Distinguished Industry/Association Contribution Award – Jim Behrenwald, AIS
  • The Chairman’s Award – Michael Vazquez, MECO Miami
  • P.E. MacAllister Democracy Award – Diane Benck, West Side Tractor Sales
Members of the Berry Companies enjoyed the AED Foundation Fundraising Gala

To conclude the incredibly successful event, 2020 AED Chairman Ron Barlet gave his inaugural speech and followed by former Governor of New Jersey, Chris Christie, who offered his opinions on various industry topics. 

Michael Brennan, Jim Behrenwald, Ron Barlet, and Michael Vazquez
2019 AED Chairman Michael Brennan, 2020 AED Chairman Ron Barlet, and AED President and CEO Brian P. McGuire
The Summit Reception sponsored by Ritchie Bros. was a huge success.

This article originally appeared in the March issue of Construction Equipment Distribution.

This feature appeared in the March 2020 issues of the ACP Magazines:

California Builder & Engineer, Construction, Construction Digest, Construction News, Constructioneer, Dixie Contractor, Michigan Contractor & Builder, Midwest Contractor, New England Construction, Pacific Builder & Engineer, Rocky Mountain Construction, Texas Contractor, Western Builder