Four equipment dealer associations have voted to merge their operations, effective July 1, 2022. The combined association, named the North American Equipment Dealers Association (NAEDA), will represent 3,000 dealers in 24 U.S. states and nine provinces in Canada.
"A major reason for proceeding with this merger is our members will benefit from a larger, financially strong association that will provide more services to address the needs of today's equipment dealers," said Tom Rosztoczy, chair of the equipment association's Long-Range Planning Group.
NAEDA will represent dealers nationally with manufacturer relations and in federal government affairs in Ottawa and Washington, D.C. NAEDA will continue to represent dealers in their U.S. state capitals and Canadian provinces. The organization represents dealers in the agricultural, construction, industrial, forestry, outdoor power, lawn and garden and/or turf equipment industries. This merger does not include all North American dealer associations.
Kim Rominger, president and CEO of the current Equipment Dealers Association -- one of the four associations involved in the merger -- will become president and CEO of NAEDA. He has been involved in the equipment industry since 1983.
This is an industry with many challenges, Rominger told DTN/Progressive Farmer. Federal and state regulation, legislative targeting competition (or a perceived lack of) in the equipment industry and cyber security. On the last, Rominger said some dealer data systems have been attacked and paying ransoms was the only way to regain control of them.
See DTN's Cyber Security and Ag series by DTN Progressive Farmer Senior Editor Victoria G. Myers here: https://www.dtnpf.com/…
"One [issue] that's huge right now, and it's in the news all the time is right to repair," said Rominger. "I would say it's misnamed because approximately 60% or a little more of the parts dealer sell every day go across the counter and out the door. So right to repair is kind of a misnomer because customers are repairing their own equipment."
Issues surrounding code modifications, getting access to proprietary computer code in the machines "get a little touchy," Rominger said. "I don't want to paint with a broad brush, but [equipment owners] often want to modify and bypass some of the environmental features that are mandated by federal law, to have increased performance of the unit and or bypass some of the safety features that are a nuisance for them."
Rominger explained that equipment dealers oppose these types of modifications. "Our position is that the safety features should not be overridden whatsoever. I mean, that's just protection of people and customers. And if manufacturers are mandated to have this equipment on the machine, and we're going to allow customers to bypass [them], why not just take the federal mandates off? It'll reduce machine costs and increase the performance, right?" he said with a note of sarcasm. "In a nutshell, we're not opposed to customer fixes on equipment. We're opposed to the modification of the equipment, increasing performance or bypassing safety features."
Labor is an issue of high importance -- and frustration -- to equipment dealers. Rominger said there are many good career opportunities for technicians in the equipment industry. A starting tech can earn $65,000 to $75,000 a year. The best technicians pull down six-figure salaries.
"I don't know of a single dealer that couldn't add two, three or 10 technicians today if they could get their hands on them,' Rominger said. "We're not producing enough technicians and it's increasingly tough because many of our dealers are in rural areas."
Dealers are becoming more aggressive and imaginative, Rominger said. They recruit heavily, and they understand that not every recruited technician will end up being a technician. "So, they keep the pipeline full, and they offer incentives like providing tools, providing tuition [and] internships."
Rominger said the equipment industry has a good story to tell potential technicians. "We're entering a new era -- not too far off are autonomous vehicles. If you want to be in technology, and you want to run five machines from one station and be able to remote diagnose problems and preemptively get repair people and facility and technicians on the road out to that machine before it breaks. This is the industry for you. Because that's what's happening in a very dramatic fashion."
NAEDA includes the joint membership of the Midwest-SouthEastern Equipment Dealers Association, the United Equipment Dealers Association, the Western Equipment Dealers Association and the Equipment Dealers Association. The new Association will have $12 million in assets and a projected annual gross revenue of over $7 million dollars. It will be headquartered in Kansas City.
Dan Miller can be reached at email@example.com
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