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>> COVER STORY 2015 AED CHAIRMAN KIM PHELAN E ven though Don Shilling has a long and active history with AED, he's keenly focused on the future of both the industry and the association. One of his top priorities as 2015 Chairman is to continue build- ing the number of AED-accredited technical school relationships through the U.S. and harnessing the power of e AED Foundation to attract young people to careers in equipment distribution. "Dealers have a tendency to focus on sales. In my opinion, with equipment getting more sophisticated, we have to have the service capability or we will never get the second sale, and price will not dictate whether or not you get deals," said Shilling, who is president of Fargo, N.D.-based General Equip- ment & Supplies. "We need to have a small army of fresh faces coming through those [school] programs or our future will not handle growth – and will stagnate." It's more than words – he hired a full-time recruiter at his dealership; and both he and members of his staff serve on advisory boards at three schools near their business, too. "Not every dealer can afford a recruiter, but every dealer can and should afford the time to connect with the schools that give us those fresh faces," he added. Keeping the workforce development pot well stirred has been his passion for a while. He'd been an employee- education advocate at his company for many years, but Shilling's focus on developing new industry talent started heating up in 2002 when he joined e Foundation Board, following service on the AED Board back in the mid-'90s. He says he had always assumed the primary work of e Founda- tion was solely centered around training, but aer a few meetings he began to see how important workforce is, as well. He ended up leading e Foundation as its Chairman from 2005 to 2007. As Shilling takes the helm as AED 2015 Chairman, he is the first to have chaired e Foundation prior to chairing the association. Other Work to Be Done As Chairman, Shilling recognizes the need to keep public policy advocacy on the front burner, too, and he's ready to step out of his "comfort zone...working on workforce develop- ment," and do whatever it takes to keep the pressure on Congress to act on AED's top legislative priorities, including long-term highway funding, water infrastructure, simplifying the tax code, and reducing excessive and unnecessary regulations. "To be effective in workforce and political advocacy, we need a strong AED," he said. "We are committed to growing our membership – we intend to do that by retaining current members and demonstrating the value of AED." at includes drawing in the next generation of leaders. He added, "My company is managed by people under 40. AED needs participation of young people under 40, as well. We need to be that resource young people look to, as well as the experienced managers. Fresh ideas and the energy of the young people." He never strays far from his focus on the future – which, off course, belongs to the young. Workforce Warrior 2015 AED Chairman Don Shilling is future-focused and passionate about plugging the next generation into the industry, the association, and his own business. 30 | www.cedmag.com | Construction Equipment Distribution | February 2015 We need to have a small army of fresh faces coming through those [school] programs or our future will not handle growth – and will stagnate." Don and Kay Shilling celebrated their 40th wedding anni- versary on Aug. 3, 2014 and took their first cruise, which departed Fort Lauderdale and sailed through the Caribbean to St. Thomas, St. Martin and Puerto Rico.