AVB|BrandSource honored three member dealers at the 2019 Convention & Expo for their lifetime of achievement within the group and the industry.
Ron Bemis of Bemis Appliance; John Horst of Famous Tate Appliance & Bedding Centers; and Bill Pleasants Sr. of Plaza Appliance Mart are the first to be inducted into the inaugural BrandSource Hall Of Fame, commending their commitment to independent retail.
The Hall of Fame Award is an extension of last year’s Lifetime Achievement Award, which AVB bestowed upon retired Whirlpool Sales VP Sam Abdelnour for his years of outstanding service to the retail industry.
As AVB CEO Jim Ristow explained, the Hall of Fame extends the accolade into an annual award that acknowledges both members and vendors for their extraordinary efforts.
“It’s not just about sales volume,” Ristow noted. “We want to recognize individuals who have been great stewards of the industry, of their brands and of BrandSource. They are living the American dream and will leave a very meaningful mark.”
Abdelnour returned to this year’s Convention to host the trio’s inaugural induction ceremony.
The inductees include Ron Bemis, a BrandSource board director and past region president, who built the family business into a thriving Yakima, Wash., destination by embracing change and leveraging the group’s resources. But success hasn’t clouded his memory of the store’s early struggles, and Bemis remains an outspoken advocate for smaller, growing members.
“You can’t be afraid of change,” Bemis advised. “What we do now is different than it was 10 years ago, and in another 10 years it will be different again.”
Joining him is honoree John Horst, who followed a parallel path in Florida. Horst left a steady job to follow his entrepreneurial destiny and sank his meager savings into a backroad general store that sold TVs and appliances. “I realized very quickly that I made the biggest mistake of my life,” he laughed. But hard work and discerning hires helped him build Famous Tate into an 11-store powerhouse – an achievement, he insists, that he owes entirely to his team.
The third inductee has probably logged more miles than any BrandSource member. As a longtime past president, North Carolina’s Bill Pleasants Sr. has traveled the world negotiating BrandSource programs with vendors, and has crisscrossed the country to share his business acumen with dealers in distress. The good news: “They’re all still in business, which is a point of pride for me,” Pleasants said.
Ristow extended his congratulations to each of the inductees, describing their awards as well deserved but long in coming. “Whether in sports or in business, people recognize greatness,” the CEO said. “But all too often good work goes unrecognized in this industry, and we are correcting that at the Convention.”
Besides presenting BrandSource’s first-ever Hall of Fame Awards, the 2019 Convention will celebrate the 50th anniversary of parent company AVB. Half a century later the group has grown into the largest member-owned buying organization in the country, serving nearly 4,000 independent appliance, home furnishings and consumer tech retailers.