AVB’s Ristow Reveals a Range of BrandSource Initiatives

By Alan Wolf

Following a celebratory 50th Anniversary bash for AVB at the Glass Cactus nightclub, CEO Jim Ristow and the BrandSource membership got down to business the next morning at the Convention’s General Session.

In a terse 38-minute presentation, Ristow ticked off the group’s recent accomplishments, newest initiatives and future goals as AVB|BrandSource embarks on its next half century.

Underscoring this year’s theme of “Better Together,” he reminded dealers that “What makes BrandSource different is that members help members … It’s in our DNA, and we are ultimately better off together.”

Moving onto AVB’s online efforts, Ristow noted that some 350,000 product SKUs are now loaded onto the cloud, and that 80 percent of BrandSource members are utilizing the group’s web platform – at a cost that’s 40 percent less than benchmark websites. Further enhancements will begin arriving in the fourth quarter, when Project Blackburn – an ambitious program in which BrandSource members’ top sales staffers host product demo videos – will begin populating dealer websites.

Another Summit announcement update involved the AVB Makeover: Store Edition Contest, in which four members were selected for showroom remodels, with easy step-by-step procedures to be shared with the dealer rank-and-file. At the General Session, Ristow revealed that a fifth winner – Don’s TV & Appliances, which will receive an exterior renovation.

Ristow also emphasized the group’s focus on the home furnishings category, as reflected in the introduction of a new BrandSource Home Furnishings badge at the show. The badge provides a simple way for like-merchandised members to connect with vendors and each other during the Convention, he said.

Other major announcements from the stage included:

  • An upcoming BIG Laundry & Mattress Event at month’s end;
  • A 10 percent reprieve from tariff-related price hikes on the group’s electronic price tags, and rebates for early-in members who rented the devices prior to a recent purchase option that resulted in savings of 70 percent;
  • LINQ4U, a new service for members in search of assistance with the LINQ portal and their digital merchandising needs;
  • A new turnkey TV solution through Samsung and Expert Warehouse that will provide members with an easy and profitable entrée into video featuring the company’s award-winning 4K and 8K QLED displays;
  • An all-new AVB University online and on-demand educational series; and
  • The launch of YourSourceNews.com, a news and information website designed to keep BrandSource members in the know and ahead of the curve.

Ristow reminded attendees that the AVB hierarchy is based on an inverted pyramid, with the members at the very top, followed by the regional boards, the board of directors, and finally the AVB staff supporting each of the tiers above. He also pointed to BrandSource’s Merchandising Committee and new Technology and Service Committees, which are “here to serve you.”

Ristow ended the presentation by asking members to continue AVB’s 50-year tradition of helping one another, and then turned the stage over to veteran Whirlpool sales exec Sam Abdelnour, who hosted the inaugural BrandSource Hall of Fame induction ceremony. Honored were Ron Bemis of Bemis Appliance, John Horst of Famous Tate Appliance & Bedding Centers, and Bill Pleasants Sr. of Plaza Appliance Mart for their lifetime contributions to the industry and to fellow BrandSource members.

YSN is published by BrandSource parent company AVB Inc.