The Associated Equipment Distributors (AED) have elected their first female chairperson.
At the AED Summit, held in Las Vegas from Jan. 16 to 18, the association elected Diane Benck to serve as its 2018 chairwoman.
Benck, vice president of general operations at West Side Tractor Sales in Naperville, Illinois, becomes the first woman to lead AED. She replaces outgoing chairman Wes Stowers, president of Stowers Machinery in Knoxville, Tennessee.
“I am honored my colleagues in the industry have put their faith in me, and I am up to the task,” Benck said.
As chair, she plans to focus on enhancing educational opportunities for the next generation of equipment technicians along with working to promote AED’s positions with legislative leaders in Washington.
“AED has really done a great job of enhancing our programs and offering new educational opportunities, and I want to continue that trajectory,” said Benck. “I think staying on top of advocacy and continuing to enhance our government affairs program has always been a prime objective for me with AED and definitely will be during my chairmanship as well.”
Brian P. McGuire, AED president & CEO, said Benck’s experience and leadership skills will help the association maintain its position as leader in the equipment distribution industry.
“We are very pleased to have Diane taking the reins at AED,” McGuire said. “Based on the comments out of Washington, D.C. recently in regard to an infrastructure bill, it will be a busy year for our association. We are glad to have Diane at the helm as we expand our reach in government affairs, ramp up our training offerings and continue to grow The AED Foundation.”
Along with her two brothers, Benck owns West Side Tractor Sales Co., a John Deere dealership that covers parts of Illinois, Indiana and Michigan. They also own a company that manufactures maintenance of way equipment for the railroad industries. In addition, Benck has served several terms on the John Deere dealer board, twice in the role of president.
During the annual summit, AED welcomed more than 1,600 attendees as well as 128 exhibitors to CONDEX and 60 suite holders. Of the exhibitors, 47 were at the event for the first time.
As well, the summit included six professional dealer educational tracks, with more than 35 different sessions, including leadership, rental, sales, management, product support and technology.
The Honourable Leon Panetta served as keynote speaker at the summit. Panetta was the director of the CIA from 2009 to 2011 and ran the operation that brought Osama bin Laden to justice. He was an influential political strategist for two United States presidents, a former Secretary of State and a congressman for 16 years.
Record setting AED fundraiser
The AED Foundation’s annual Fundraising Gala generated a record breaking $100,000. The gala, featured a meet and greet with Las Vegas legend Wayne Newton.
Funds raised will support The AED Foundation sponsored career and technical education programs and cutting-edge research on workforce issues.
“I’d like to thank all of our sponsors, board members, host committee and other donors who made this event possible,” said AED Foundation chairman Whit Perryman. “The AED Foundation has a critical mission to ensure the future success of the heavy equipment industry and your contributions are deeply appreciated.”
The Foundation focuses on three primary areas, including, accreditation, career promotion and research.
The gala also afforded the foundation the opportunity to recognize key leaders within the organization.
The Lester J. Heath III Award was given to AED board member John Crum, senior vice president of Wells Fargo Equipment Finance. The award is given in honour of Lester Heath, the first president of the AED Foundation, to an individual demonstrating outstanding contributions to the foundation through involvement and support of foundation activities including training, accreditation and workforce development
The Foundation Champion Award was given to John Deere Construction and Forestry Division and accepted by AED board member Jason Daly, director of consumer product support at John Deere. The award recognizes distinguished service or merit of a manufacturer or service provider that has provided significant contributions to the workforce goals of the AED Foundation was given to
The Foundation Partner Award was given to Volvo Construction Equipment North America and accepted by Ryan Sherwood, vice president of retail development at Volvo. The award recognizes distinguished service or merit of a manufacturer or service provider that has provided significant contributions to the professional education goals of the AED Foundation.