About two years ago, Anne Salemo and the North American Equipment Dealers Association (NAEDA) launched the Women in Industry (WII) endeavor, the mission of which is to encourage and attract women to the equipment dealer industry by offering a network that nurtures professional success while furthering the mission of NAEDA. Basically, it is a group of women who are working hard at helping more women be successful in the equipment dealer industry. The participation is free for women whose dealerships are members of NAEDA.
The ground rules for the NAEDA WII initiative are fairly straightforward. There is no undermining authority at the dealership. There are no political agendas. There is no male bashing. There is no selling of goods and services. There is no discussion about pricing of equipment and services. Traditional anti-trust practices apply.
The WII group is currently comprised of seven women in the highest level in dealership organizations. The members, most from all family-owned dealerships, represent nearly every cross section of the industry: outdoor power equipment to construction equipment to nearly every ag equipment brand; one location to 25 locations, store manager to executives to dealer principals.
“I was involved in the Women in Industry founder’s group of MHEDA for over eight years,” said Anne Salemo. “Now their WII initiative has annual conferences and dozens of groups. The ability to bond with other women who are passionate about success in the male-dominated equipment dealer industry is not only fulfilling but fun. I was motivated to start a similar group with NAEDA after I retired in late 2019. It has been a pleasure working with all these strong women.”
“I believe that effective leadership requires a willingness to learn and personal accountability and this group offers that opportunity,” said one of the women-owned dealerships in the NAEDA WII group. “Our group is a diverse set of women, whose discussions have broadened our ideas and strategies,” said Dianna Morrow, CFO of Stotz Equipment.
Monthly, the group meets through video conferencing for an hour to discuss current issues impacting their dealerships. Everyone catches up by presenting their biggest recent accomplishment and biggest current challenge. About 30 minutes of the meeting is discussion of a pre-selected, agreed upon topic – recent topics have included: what resources you use to keep up with the industry, how to design your personal and organizational values, how to prioritize your time and determine when to delegate, job descriptions and performance reviews, what makes women successful in this industry, hiring and onboarding, tips to breaking into the “good ole boy network”, struggles with hiring technicians/millennials, and ideas for growing your professional success.
“The NAEDA WII group has been an excellent opportunity to connect with other women leaders in the industry, and Anne has done an excellent job setting a positive, professional, and transparent tone for the group,” said one member of the group. “I look forward to joining the calls each month, and I find that they are well organized, timely, and Anne ensures that we stay on topic,” said another member. “Our meetings are engaging and I learn something new each time we meet. Our discussions on today’s topics are applicable to our businesses. Sharing with others our unique challenges brings insight and inspiration”, said another.
Recently, the group decided unanimously to start a book club as part of the monthly meeting, the first book of which is The Ideal Team Player, by Patrick Lencioni. Because of everyone’s busy schedule, the book is discussed one section at a time for about 20 minutes during the meeting. The takeaways so far have been immeasurable.
At the end of every meeting, each member makes a professional and/or personal commitment for the next meeting. This is one of the ways that the members hold each other accountable. “I think I may have heard one of the members groan when I first asked for a commitment,” said Anne Salemo. “But now, members seem to embrace it as a means to set personal goals outside those they set at their business.”
Starting in February of last year, the WII Founder’s Group was the springboard for a novel mentoring program for women at all levels in a dealer organization. Every member of the Founder’s Group is involved in the mentoring program, whose primary purpose is help the mentee become more successful in their current position as well as progress in their careers. The mentor/mentee meet monthly for an hour video conference to discuss a variety of topics, such as current challenges, work/life balance issues or other interpersonal situations.
NAEDA women members who want to be mentored sign up via a simple online survey. They provide basic information about their current position, and why they want to be mentored. They can choose to have someone from the same department or someone with a completely different position for a mentor. Anne Salemo tries her best to match mentors and mentees. Mentors make initial contact and find a mutually agreeable day/time to meet each month. Once matched, the mentorship lasts one year.
The first mentoring meeting can be an awkward meeting for some. The best approach is for the mentor to introduce themselves, their role, how long they have been in the industry, what they did before their current position, and something personal about themselves and their family. Mentors will ask the mentee about their current job, how long they have been there, what they like about their company and their current position. Mentors also want to know the biggest thing they hope to accomplish personally and professionally this year.
In the first meeting, Anne asks each mentor and mentee to discuss each other’s biggest pet peeve so they don’t cross the line. This usually breaks the ice and gets them comfortable with one another. “Building trust is probably the biggest thing that a mentor must do early in their mentoring relationship. It is essential for honest and transparent discussions,” said Anne.
“A couple of times, my mentee wanted to do our video conference from home. This allowed her to have more frank discussions about a family situation at work. She felt that she couldn’t be frank enough about the issue with possible ears listening.”
Feedback from mentees indicates that the mentoring program is a huge success. “I don’t know what I would do without my mentor! She has helped me work through some recent struggles at my company. As a business owner, I don’t really have anyone with industry experience with whom I can bounce ideas”, said a mentee.
In the first two years, NAEDA’s Women in Industry Initiative has come a long way, but there is room for growth. The founder’s group is interested in adding a few members. If you are a woman at the executive or owner level of an equipment dealership and want to grow professionally and personally, contact Anne Salemo. If you aspire to be executive level or an owner, contact Anne about becoming a mentee.
WHO IS ANNE SALEMO?
Anne Salemo is the facilitator and founder of the Women in Industry Initiative at NAEDA. Building on her experience as a CPA serving a large construction equipment company while at KPMG, Anne began her career in dealership management systems in 1988 with her father Gerry Fricke, original founder of Charter Software. She later acquired Charter Software in 1996 and achieved significant growth during her tenure until 2019 when Anne sold Charter Software to Constellation Software. Anne is well-known and respected by industry peers as a dealership business expert and has made presentations to regional and national dealer/distributor associations and regional and national CEO organizations. She’s collaborated with virtually every consultant in the farm equipment industry.
Anne holds a degree in Business Administration from Marquette University and has completed numerous courses in Dale Carnegie leadership and business training. Anne is a member of the Colorado Society of CPAs, American Institute of CPAs and a former longtime member of Vistage, a leading peer advisory and executive leadership organization. While not volunteering at NAEDA, she loves to hike, boat, and travel.
If interested in joining the Women in Industry group, please email Anne at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit https://www.naeda.com/elevate/women-in-inudstry/ to learn more.
Article Written By NAEDA Staff