Because this particular issue is so unique, I take a little different approach to my regular column and try to summarize some of the achievements and accomplishments of NAEDA and the affiliated associations during this past year. Almost like a Reader’s Digest version of an annual report. So here goes …
It has been another active year for issues and activities related to our association’s top priority – manufacturer relations. In addition to regular meetings to discuss dealer issues and concerns, contract reviews have become a staple of what we do for dealer members. This past year was no exception. Nine different contracts were reviewed, including legal analysis, to determine if they met our criteria for being commercially fair and balanced. In several instances, significant changes were made as a result of discussions between NAEDA and the company in question. The Industry Relations Fund is often used to support the analysis and distribution of information to dealers. This past year over $63,000 was expended from the fund.
The NAEDA – Industry Relations Taskforce (IRTF) also had a busy year with nine different manufacturer meetings and additional meetings with manufacturer related associations such as AEM, FEMA and OPEI. As always, the focus of these meetings is to be the advocate for strategic dealer issues and industry concerns while at the same time attempting to understand the goals and business objectives of manufacturers. The reality is that in this symbiotic relationship, the goal is to profitably serve the needs of various customer segments in an environment of mutual trust and respect.
As typically happens, other issues surfaced during the year involving manufacturer policies that could be detrimental to dealers unless they were dealt with by NAEDA and affiliated organizations. One example might be a poorly designed program placing legally questionable and artificial limits on shop labor rates that dealers can charge for warranty/service. In every instance where NAEDA and affiliated organizations were involved early on in the process, a rule of reason or simply eliminating a poor policy choice was the result.
Also this past year, our second ranking priority, government relations, dealt with several issues that caused dealers some real heartburn or sleepless nights. Here are just a few examples in this important area:
• 3% Withholding Repeal – NAEDA supported the repeal of the 3% withholding tax on certain payments made to dealers by federal, state and local units of government. Without this repeal, a dealer’s revenues would have been reduced, causing cash flow problems, increased bookkeeping costs and raised expenses to those same units of local government. The repeal bill (H. 674) was signed into law by the president on November 21, 2011.
• Free Trade Agreements – NAEDA supported passage of the free trade agreements with Columbia, Panama and South Korea. Our support was based on the jobs that will be created and the fact that it leveled the playing field for agricultural trade. All three bills (H. 3078, H. 3079 & H. 3080) were signed into law by the president on October 21, 2011.
• Patent Reform – NAEDA supported passage of this bill (H. 1249) as an additional and critical piece of legislation for economic development, jobs, growth and competitiveness. The president signed this into law on September 16, 2011.
• Debit Card Fees Changed – NAEDA supported changes in how debit card swipe fees were charged. The changes were made in regulations by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau authorized in the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act.
• IRS 1099 Filing Requirements – With passage of H.R. 4, this onerous requirement for dealers to file IRS Form 1099 for each business transaction that exceeded $600 and to withhold up to 28% of a payment to a vendor was repealed. This law was signed by the president on April 14, 2011.
• Agriculture Equipment Definition – NAEDA opposed the guidance document proposed by The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) that would have defined agricultural equipment. Their proposed definition would have impacted equipment movements across state lines. FMCSA withdrew the guidance document and instead noted it would rely on the states to define agricultural equipment.
• IRS 1099-K Reconciliations – The Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008 requires the IRS to collect a 1099-K from third-party payment entities, such as credit card companies. The 1099-K was to show all credit transactions within a merchant’s business for the year. IRS on February 9, 2012 announced that there will be no reconciliation required on the 2012 form, nor “do we intend to require reconciliation in future years.”
• NLRB Court Decisions – Two federal courts have ruled against the National Labor Relations Board’s regulation requiring employers to post “employee rights posters on unionization.” NAEDA supported these lawsuits and appreciates the actions taken by the court to control unreasonable regulations.
• NAEDA 2012 Fly-In – The 9th Annual NAEDA Fly-In was held on March 21 and 22 where dealers, NAEDA staff and association executives lobbied Congress on behalf of all dealers regarding issues important to our industry.
The past year was also one for surveys! We always appreciate the participation by NAEDA affiliates and dealers to make these surveys possible. There were three major surveys conducted this past year: NAEDA Compensation and Benefits, Dealer-Manufacturer Relations and the OPE Internet Policy survey. Findings for each of these surveys are distributed to dealers and in the case of Dealer – Manufacturer Relations, to manufacturers as well. Based on the positive feedback we received, it appears that these surveys are an important part of providing key data and knowledge to dealers and to the industry.
NAEDA Equipment Dealers Foundation (EDF) was also part of the overall success story this past year. In addition to providing $37,750 to twenty-one employees impacted by natural disasters, the foundation created a new matching scholarship program to enhance school programs already established at the affiliate level. The new scholarships are designed to enhance the amount available to top prospects who want to obtain training and education and show an interest in returning to our industry after graduation.
Also, a new brochure will be published by NAEDA, with the assistance and permission of the Ohio Farm Bureau, to help dealers and their staff better understand how to use social media and the internet to enhance business opportunities and profitability. This publication will be available in the very near future and we hope every dealer member will find it useful.
As I said up front, this is merely a thumbnail sketch, a Reader’s Digest version of the actions and successes on behalf of dealer members across North America. NAEDA and all the affiliates have been busy assisting dealers with key member service programs and education on everything from trucking regulations to time management. In addition, the affiliate associations are typically the front line when dealers have issues about their performance or market share and even possible termination of their contract.
All in all, when you put all the various programs, advocacy, information and services together, membership in the association is a phenomenal bargain. Typically, for a few hundred dollars per year for both affiliate and NAEDA dues, it amounts to pennies per day, or less than the cost for a cup of coffee! It is our mission to help dealers succeed and to provide the best business environment possible. We are your advocates, your voice and your biggest cheerleaders! We have your back! We are proud to serve our dealer members and the equipment industry. I trust you can appreciate all that we do on your behalf. Your membership and support are certainly valued. Membership does matter – and that’s the way I see it!
PAUL KINDINGER is president/CEO of the North American Equipment Dealers Association. The association provides educational, legal, legislative, and financial services to approximately 5,000 retail agricultural, construction, large property/rural lifestyle, and outdoor power equipment dealers in the United States and Canada.