The board of directors for the Far West Equipment Dealers Assn. (FWEDA) has ratified a membership vote to merge with Associated Equipment Distributors (AED). AED is made up of construction, agriculture, mining, forestry, power generation and municipal equipment dealers. The merger is expected to be finalized by the end of August, FWEDA said. Joani Woelfel, president and CEO of FWEDA, said that FWEDA will be dissolved as it merges with AED.

Merger talks with AED began last year after FWEDA rejected a merger with another industry association, Woelfel said. “Far West board members took several things into consideration when choosing AED,” Woelfel added. “AED provides optimal benefits and resources for our members and the brightest outlook for the future.”

Benefits to FWEDA members from the merger include access to AED benchmarking reports, employee education, seminars, technical assessments and legal call counsel. Woelfel added that the AED will be better able to serve FWEDA members of varying sizes.

“The consolidation of dealerships has changed the equipment industry landscape over the last few years,” she said, adding that many smaller dealerships have consolidated into larger ones. “We have a lot of single-store dealerships, but our larger dealerships have 15 or 20 locations. What associations provide to dealers is very different based on your size. And that's been one of the biggest challenges for the regional associations I see — that the needs of larger dealers are very different than the needs of smaller dealers.”

Brian McGuire, president and CEO of AED, said another benefit will be AED efforts in advocating for dealer issues, such as right to repair. “There hasn't been a state battle in the right to repair issue that AED has not been at the forefront of making sure that the dealer voice is heard by the legislators,” he said. “State capital after state capital, our regional managers and our government affairs team have mobilized our members to make sure the message gets out on the right to repair legislation and the devastating effects some of these bills would have on the dealer network.”

While FWEDA leadership roles in AED will be addressed during the transition, Woelfel and McGuire acknowledged that the FWEDA board members will be invited to join an advocacy committee that will address concerns specific to dealers currently represented by FWEDA.

“That allows for two things,” McGuire said. “Those particular dealers that have been active on the state legislative front beyond right to repair to continue to give input on the issues from the states that they want to see the association focus on and lobby on their behalf. And also make sure that as we go through this transition that AED’s doing the right things that those members need us to do and maintain a direct voice to myself.”