On Jan. 18, Diane Benck, owner and vice president of general operations of West Side Tractor Sales and RCE Equipment Solutions, was signed in as the Associated Equipment Distributors (AED) 2018 Chairwoman.
On Jan. 18, Diane Benck, owner and vice president of general operations of West Side Tractor Sales and RCE Equipment Solutions, was signed in as the Associated Equipment Distributors (AED) 2018 Chairwoman. This honor is particularly monumental as Benck is the first female Chairwoman in the 100 year history of the AED. She is also the first John Deere dealer in this role.
The inauguration ceremony was held during AED's 2018 Summit and Condex last week in Las Vegas. This annual meeting attracts more than 2,000 participants from the equipment industry. AED is an international trade association representing companies involved in the distribution, rental and support of equipment used in construction, mining, forestry, power generation, agriculture and industrial applications. With over 500 distributor members, including dealers from CAT, Vermeer, John Deere and more, AED focuses on public policy advocacy, industry education and training, and analysis on markets, economics and business trends that impact our industry.
"I think it's kind of comical that I'm the first female chair because I didn't ever intend to break down walls or shatter glass ceilings. In time, I realized I had an overwhelming drive to be part of the family business which just happened to involve construction equipment, and just happened to be almost entirely male. I worked my entire career to be noticed and respected for what I did and achieved, not for my gender. My father, as well as the rest of my family, learned to see the power of diversity and acknowledge the skills of each individual that was not based on age or gender,” said Benck.
“Sometimes we get unexpected gifts in life. On my journey to be perceived as competent as any of the men in the room, has been the reward of setting an example for the women that have and will follow behind me,” Benck said. “There have been many times in my career where another dealer principal, customer or supplier will approach me and I can see the wheels churning in his eyes. The conversation always starts with 4 simple words….those words are “I have a daughter.” Now what comes next can vary…'would you talk to her', 'I didn't really think about her being in our business until I met you' but the weight of the meaning behind 'I have a daughter' truly knocks me off my feet, and I realize that I have to take seriously my place in breaking down barriers."
Benck's role with AED takes her to Washington D.C. regularly to lobby politicians on particular topics that impact our industry, like workforce development and skilled technician shortages and tax issues, but her #1 topic is to make sure investments are being made in infrastructure: long term highway bills, railroad investments, water infrastructure and pipelines - which very much effects the success of West Side Tractor's customers, fellow dealers and manufacturers.
“We are thrilled to have Diane as chairwoman of the association,” AED's President and CEO Brian P. McGuire said. “Diane has a long history of involvement with AED, serving in many positions on the Board. Her invaluable insight and leadership will provide sound guidance in all aspects of our mission to serve as the voice of AED."
West Side has been involved with AED since 1974. AED offers great resources on leadership training for the next generation of managers. Several West Side and RCE employees have attended these conferences and seminars.
“This industry has done well by our family, and I think it's important to give back to an industry that has given so much to our businesses,” said Benck. “Not everyone is always willing to step up and give their time towards important issues like making sure we have the right workforce for the future, as well as a regulatory environment that is favorable to our growth as an industry.”
Started in 1962, West Side Tractor Sales is a third-generation family business in the heavy equipment industry. Fifty-five years later, the company now sells and supports John Deere construction equipment in over 80 counties with 10 full-service locations spanning across Illinois, Indiana and Michigan. Visit www.westsidetractorsales.com for more information.