By Paul Malek, AEM Membership Director

Are there more registered boats or pickup trucks in Houston? That’s what my cab driver asked me in 2001 on the ride to my hotel.

I got the answer right … boats! In 2001, Houston was hit with rain – a lot of rain. Some may remember that on June 6, 2001, Tropical Storm Allison parked itself over Houston for five days and dumped record amounts of rainfall across the area.

Because there was water all around, I told the cab driver there were more boats. Actually, it was a trick question, since besides my cab (an old Crown Victoria with bad seats and bad brakes) all the other vehicles on the road that day were pickups.

Fast forward to April 5, 2016.

We’re back in Houston to conduct a regional membership meeting hosted by AEM member Tadano. Actually, this is the second time in two years that we’ve held a meeting here. In 2014, Mahindra was the host and we had a great turnout.

Why Houston? Simple. It is one of the top AEM member density areas in the U.S. In fact, the state of Texas boasts 37 full, 9 mid-level and 22 associate AEM members.

Why these meetings? Also simple. We know members frequently join AEM for a single reason. Sometimes, it’s to take advantage of discounted trade show space. Or it may be to participate in a statistics reporting program.

In any case, they may not be taking full advantage of their membership benefits. AEM’s objective is to help all of our members maximize their membership investment, just as they strive to maximize any of their other investments.

AEM recognized this situation a few years ago and drew up plans for an initiative to inform members about additional AEM products and services that could 1) help them build their businesses and 2) find out firsthand about their needs.

In 2013, as part of our overall member engagement plan, we launched this initiative through a series of regional member events specifically aimed at increasing member participation in AEM services.

Over the past three and a half years, these events have drawn hundreds of participants from dozens of member companies and proven highly successful in achieving the objectives we set out for them.

Listening to the voice of members, we have continued to improve these events, making them more content-driven for even greater member engagement and offering improved networking opportunities to increase member value.

In addition, we have worked hard to make sure events continue to be conveniently located and take up less than a day of members’ time.

The event at Tadano was a great example, drawing 18 people from five member companies. In addition, nine meetings with other area AEM member companies were held in conjunction with this one.

Our next stop this spring is tiny Clarion, Iowa (population 2,971) on April 21. Later this year, we will be in Minneapolis, Cleveland, Chicago, Toronto, Santa Barbara, Waco and yes, Milwaukee at AEM’s newly remodeled headquarters.

As the AEM membership director, I am proud of this program and how it has helped many members re-engage in Association activities. Here are a couple comments from a recent meeting that are fairly typical of what we hear:

“Looking forward to participating in more of AEM’s programs regarding the product safety related regulations, issues for mining and construction equipment.”

-- Eugene Cheng PE, Global Business Development Manager, Atlas Copco Surface Drilling Equipment (Full Member since 1989)

“As an associate member it was very helpful for us to go through this session to better understand how we can participate in AEM and bring value to the association’s members.”

-- Jim Manser, Sales Manager, National Tube Supply (Associate Member since 2010)

So on the road again to the cornfields of Iowa! Please join us!