AED members gather in Chicago for annual summit

By Mona Fahmi

The Association of Equipment Distributors (AED) kicked off 2020 with their annual summit and Condex. 

The annual meeting was held January 14 to 17 at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Chicago with 1,690 dealers, manufacturers and service providers networking under one roof for three days.

“I’d like to thank all the dealers, manufacturers and service provider partners who attended our 2020 Summit & Condex,” said 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.” 

Established in 1919, Associated Equipment Distributors (AED) is an international trade association based in Schaumburg, Illinois. AED represents companies involved in the distribution, rental and support of equipment used in construction, mining, forestry, power generation, agriculture and industrial applications. 

The numerous sessions offered throughout the summit covered all areas to help improve and strengthen businesses.  The sessions covered management, leadership, sales, rental, product support and technology. 

To complement the sessions, there were inspirational guest speakers including Kris Paronto, former CIA private security contractor, now a notable author who shared his story and ended his appearance with a book signing. 

Also, to end the summit, AED hosted Dinner and a Conversation with Chris Christie, the 55th governor of New Jersey, who shared his knowledge with his audience over dinner and drinks.

The highlight of the event was The AED Foundation Fundraising Gala.  An evening offering food, drinks, entertainment and a live auction hosted by Ritchie Bros. More than $250,000 was raised that evening to help address professional education and workforce development in the industry. 

During the gala, AED also presented their annual awards, with the winners including:

  • Ron Barlet, president of Bejac Corporation in Placentia, California, was elected to chair the 2020 AED board of directors.
  • Jim Behrenwald of AIS Construction received the Morton R. Hunter Sr. Distinguished Industry/Association Contribution Award.
  • Michael Vazquez of MECO Miami received the Chairman’s Award.
  • Diane Benck of West Side Tractor Sales received the P.E. MacAllister Democracy Award.
  • Liebherr Construction Equipment Company received the Foundation Partner Award.
  • LBX Company received the Foundation Champion Award. 
  • Steve Johnson of The AED Foundation received the Lester J. Heath III Award.
  • Jonathan Campbell of Wheeler Machinery received the Paul D. (Bud) Hermann Emerging Leaders Award.

The AED Foundation also honoured eight technicians for the 2019 Technician of the Year Awards, including: 

  • Canada: Clayton Kennon from SMS Equipment.
  • Great Lakes: Randy Ciolkosz from Miller-Bradford & Risberg, Inc.
  • Midwest: David R. DeGood from Bobcat Enterprises, Inc.
  • Northeast: Steve French from Rock & Recycling Equipment.
  • Rocky Mountain: Loren O’Connor from Sunstate Equipment Co.  
  • South Central: Dalton Koelzer from Vermeer Texas-Louisiana.
  • Southeast: Jeremy Scott from Ford Ascendum Machinery.
  • West: Jake Dugger from Coastline Equipment.

The final main element of AED summit is the Condex and hospitality suites.  On the Condex floor, manufacturers, distributors, dealers and service industry providers get a chance to walk around the show and visit the exhibitors. 

This year there were 136 exhibitors with 31 first time exhibitors.  The 69 suites are designed to allow manufacturers to meet with current dealers/distributors and prospective dealers/distributors to discuss business opportunities, which build new relationships and cement current ones. 

Another special touch to this constructive AED summit is the customized receptions throughout the three-day event.

AED put together the following extra opportunities to meet and greet other associates in the same realm. 

Here’s what went on in Chicago: After Hours Welcome reception, Summit Breakfast where AED welcomed everyone, presented awards and discussed future goals, Women in Equipment Distribution reception, Summit reception, Fun/Run Walk 5k, Manufacturer’s Advisory Group breakfast, Small Dealer Committee meeting and the Canadian Breakfast. 

What sets the AED summit apart from other industry events in the Construction industry, is that it is designed for quality over quantity, making networking the Number 1 priority, by creating numerous opportunities in an organized, professional manner. 

AED creates a vibe where you can make lucrative business opportunities in a more relaxed setting and still have fun while doing so.   

Every year AED runs the summit in January or early February rotating from Chicago to Orlando to Las Vegas, allowing members to start off the year with big opportunities.

“We look forward to seeing you throughout the year and at the 2021 Summit & Condex January 12-15 in Las Vegas at The Mirage,” McGuire said.