Kim Rominger

The North American Equipment Dealers Association (NAEDA) was founded on September 20, 1900, and has since been in continuous operation. Today, NAEDA is one of North America’s oldest retail trade associations. It has achieved this position because of the loyal, dedicated leadership given to it by past and current officers and directors.

Our vision is very clear: “The North American Equipment Dealers Assn. will continue to be the trusted resource members and industry partners look to for support and reliable information, and will lead by delivering innovative products and services, contributing to a strong and vibrant industry for members.”

However, achieving this vision was not accomplished overnight. NAEDA (then known as the National Federation) was founded by regional equipment dealer associations, the first which was established in 1889 in Salina, Kan. At the time, the implement industry exploded into what was then called the “Harvester War.” This was a period of intense competition in the new grain binder market, and manufacturers were eager to sign up dealers to sell their products. In a short period of time the number of dealers increased substantially throughout the grain belt, and with this came a multitude of problems for dealers; specifically, overlapping territory issues, warranty reimbursement and service responsibilities.

These concerns were not limited to central Kansas. Because of these and growing concerns about dealers’ relationships with suppliers, 11 new regional equipment dealer associations were established over the next 10 years. These associations typically followed state lines; however, regional, in-state associations (such as Inland Empire, Central Illinois, and Northern Iowa) were also common.

It made sense for these regional associations to come together to form a national association that could address manufacturer relations issues as they crossed state lines. At the same time, dealers wanted NAEDA to be their national voice in Washington, D.C. These two core principles remain the same for NAEDA today: 123 years later.

From 1900 to 1950, we saw a rapid expansion of regional and state equipment dealer associations in the U.S. Dealer associations started to take hold in Canada as well, with the first being the short-lived Manitoba association in 1907. Dealer associations expanded their scope beyond advocacy (government affairs and manufacturer relations) into service offerings such as health insurance, accounting services and equipment trade-in value information.

When we look back at our history, 66 regional equipment dealer associations existed in North America at its peak. All were members of the National Federation and collected and remitted dues to the National and elected a dealer to serve as a Director on the National board.

I have been asked when dealer associations started to consolidate. Our records show that toward the late 1950s, regional equipment dealer associations began to consolidate with their neighboring associations. This was done for a variety of reasons, such as trade territory changes, manager retirements and association solvency being the most common reasons. But over the past 55 years, we have seen the most equipment dealer association consolidation.

When Farm Equipment issued its first magazine in 1969, the number of regional associations was 34 in the U.S. and 5 in Canada. When I originally joined the Indiana Implement Retailers Assn. in 1983, there were 33 regional equipment dealer associations in North America.

So, let’s compare that to today where only 6 regional dealer associations (Montana, Pioneer, Northeast, Iowa-Nebraska, Deep Southern and Quebec) are left in North America. These 6 are in addition to NAEDA, which operates as an international, national and regional association in scope and responsibility. In 55 years, we have consolidated 39 equipment dealer associations into seven.

However, some may argue that equipment dealer association consolidation hasn’t happened as fast as our dealers have consolidated. That is why the 2022 merger of NAEDA with 4 regional equipment dealer associations was so significant. It was the first time that there was consolidation between our national association and regional dealer associations. When you look back at the legacy of the associations involved with this merger, it accounts for 43 previous equipment dealer associations that existed over time.

So, it would be safe to say that equipment dealer consolidation has been ongoing for over 60 years. The question one may ask is, where does it go from here? There will likely be more dealer association consolidation down the road, but it will take place when it is at the right time for all parties involved.

In 2018 NAEDA started a strategic review, and a Long-Range Planning Group (LRPG) was established. Dealers from each regional association were invited to participate in the discussion. The minutes from that meeting clearly state that dealers strongly believed federal government affairs and manufacturer relations were the strength of the organization, and that NAEDA was uniquely positioned to provide a single unified voice on manufacturer relations and federal and state government affairs issues. They noted that the ideal situation would be a streamlined association with most services provided at the national level and filtered through regional representation. This was the impetus for NAEDA’s 2022 merger.

It was also clear from the LRPG that dealers simply want services performed and they do not care who gets the credit. I think that that is a great statement and puts things in perspective.

So, with that in mind, NAEDA will continue to have regional representation and work with regional associations, as we are all stronger if we work together. I am sure that was the original sentiment in 1900 when dealers and their regional associations created NAEDA.

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