Diane Benck – known for her strong advocacy for the equipment industry and for enhancing technician training – has been named chairwoman of Associated Equipment Distributors (AED).
Benck, of Illinois, is the first woman to lead the international organization, and she received rousing applause during her appointment at the recent AED Summit in Las Vegas.
She replaces outdoing Chairman Wes Stowers, president of Stowers Machinery in Knoxville, Tennessee.
Benck and her two brothers own West Side Tractor Sales in Naperville, Illinois. The dealership has 10 locations serving more than 80 counties in Illinois, Indiana and Michigan.
About 1,600 people attended the Summit January 15-19, and hundreds of them looked on during the historic moment when Benck was named the first chairwoman of the association.
“I am honored my colleagues in the industry have put their faith in me, and I am up to the task,” Benck told them.
AED represents companies involved in distribution, rental and support of equipment for construction, mining, agriculture and several other industries.
Benck says she plans to focus on training opportunities for equipment technicians as well as to continue promoting AED’s priorities on Capitol Hill.
Advocacy and continuing to enhance AED’s government affairs program has been a “prime objective” for her with AED and will continue to be during her tenure as chairwoman, Benck says.
“AED has really done a great job of enhancing our programs and offering new educational opportunities, and I want to continue that trajectory,” she says. “I want to continue to offer top-notch education for the next generation entering the industry.”
She’ll also continue connecting with legislative leaders in Washington, D.C., about matters important to AED, from tax reform to infrastructure funding.
Benck, 55, works as a general manager for her family’s second-generation company, which is a John Deere dealer. She’s also general manager for a second specialized company that she and her brothers own, which provides maintenance-of-way equipment that helps railroads maintain their infrastructure.
“We are very pleased to have Diane taking the reins at AED,” says Brian P. McGuire, AED’s president and CEO.
“Her experience and leadership will help our association maintain its position in the equipment distribution industry. 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,” says McGuire.
“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.”
Benck and her family, including parents, Rich and Mary Benck of Illinois, have long been highly regarded by fellow dealers and distributors in the equipment industry. Her parents began the business in 1962 on Chicago’s “west side.”
Benck’s other contributions include serving several terms on the John Deere dealer board, including two terms as president.
She holds a master’s degree and previously worked in other jobs, including as a family therapist, before realizing that being part of the family business was her most rewarding work.
Other events at the AED Summit included six professional dealer educational tracks covering 35 different sessions. Track topics included leadership, rental, sales, management, product support and technology.
There were 138 exhibitors in CONDEX and 60 suite holders.