August 2013

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Editor's Note Methinks We Must Wary Be Every business has at least one scabbard in its backside – plus dangers on all the other sides. Enter Forum, stage left. By kIM pHELAN "Tis best to weigh the enemy more mighty than he seems." That's Shakespeare, Henry V, Act II. And yes, we are aware we are lifting this quotation out of context – all you literary purists out there. But since I'm the one wearing the Elizabethan collar, here, we'll play by my rules for the moment. (Hey, I've been hopping around with a fractured foot this week, so humor me a little!) As a licensed practitioner of the English language – and Shakespeare professor wanna-be, – I'll take the liberty of adding a modern-day Phelan Translation for the Bard's sober line: Don't underestimate the business threats around you today. I'm sure I don't have to tell you how plentiful they are. Some of those threats are dressed up in fancy costume, too, but they're not fooling us. I'm thinking particularly of government regulation. Take environmental and labor regulations – on the surface, they are deemed positive public safeguards against the potential abuses of big industry. But it's easy to cite examples today of regulatory excesses that attack business large and small, and in fact punish entrepreneurs. Same thing with all manner of liability issues lying around every corner. In the equipment business, liability linked to your machinery, parts, and service performed, as well as the safety and well-being of your employees, is a daily reality. And it's not like the federal rules are stationary. The landscape changes with mindboggling speed. For example, I was surprised to learn that OSHA has been directed by the Department of Labor to significantly upsize its full of lightbulb moments; a lot of your focus and manpower on whistleblower distributor peers already know this, investigations – and to intentionally and I want you to come experience it. find more cases with merit. (How exactly This year we're keeping the bountido you do that with any absence of bias?) ful Q&A opportunities with each ses The situation is fraught with hazsion, as well as the audience response ards for dealers – one complaint filed devices we use throughout the day to by an employee against your comgive you a voice on a myriad of issues. pany today could place you in a field We're also mixing in a group exercise of legal landmines. Thursday morning led by distribution expert Mike Marks to tap the collective Much Ado About Everything wisdom of executives in the room. Alas, this discussion is moving in a Please take a look at the program rather depressing direction. But in order details at aednet.org/forum, and if to capitalize on the opportunities that you've got a specific question or issue are growing in your market, educatyou want us to address, give me a call ing yourself about business threats is or click me a message. As this year's ema necessary evil. Which is why we're cee, I'd like to hear what's on your mind. going to spend an afternoon examin Regulation, liability, and all kinds of ing these risks and threats during the business strife, both open and disExecutive Forum this fall. guised, have to be reckoned with. So You see, when we begin planning does the dealer profit plight – I'm talkthe topics for this dealer stakeholders ing return percentages here; you know event, we start by talking to execs to it should be better than it is, even if find out what information they value, you are considered "High Profit" in and what kinds of things keep them this industry. up at night. Two big areas emerged, Final thought: Maybe Shakespeare and that's what we're concentrating was a stretch for you, but perhaps on: (1.) Why is equipment dealer Winston Churchill will resonate better – profitability dead "frickin'" last "One ought never to turn one's back (or just about) on the totem pole on a threatened danger and try to run of distribution verticals? (2.) Tell away from it. If you do that, you will me what the government is up to double the danger. But if you meet it so I know how to prepare. promptly and without flinching, you I understand that it's rough to pick will reduce the danger by half. Never up and leave the business to go to a run away from anything. Never!" conference. But if you could turn the Make sure you know what to face. dial up on the returns you put on the And thanks for reading. bottom line, would it be worth it? And if you could take home important insight to help you avoid litigation, plus Kim Phelan (kphelan@aednet.org) is the executive editor of Construction economic forecasting data to guide your thinking for 2014 – that might be Equipment Distribution and director of programs for AED. worth the investment, too. Forum is August 2013 | Construction Equipment Distribution | www.cedmag.com | 7 7_editors note_KP(eb).indd 7 7/25/13 12:19 PM

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