Members capped a first-night reception with anniversary cakes from AVB CEO Jim Ristow.

By Allyssa Baird

There was double cause for celebration at the Southeast Region’s Annual Meeting Oct. 27-28: the chapter turned 35 this year, while parent group AVB marked its 50th anniversary.

Some 40 members and over 25 vendors, along with their guests, marked the occasion at the Crown Plaza in Memphis. The meeting began with a Sunday afternoon session featuring AVB’s Director of Merchandising Matt Berry, who reminded all of the many services and opportunities that BrandSource affords its members.

The Southeast Region’s annual meeting drew some 40 members to the Crown Plaza in Memphis.

Following Berry were guest speakers Harry Buntyn and Roy Brown from the neighboring South Atlantic Region, who delivered a message of planning and execution to assure greater profitability for the Southeast members.

The day ended suitably with a Suppliers/Members Welcome Reception and Celebration. Southeast Region Manager Tim Clements, a 32-year veteran of AVB, recounted the rich history of the group and the Southeast chapter for the hundreds in attendance. He also thanked the vendors for their continual support across five decades, and offered a special thanks to two beloved supporters, Jim Heintz and Jim Lore of TransAmerica Commercial Finance Co. (TCFC), who were responsible of for AVB’s “greatest recruiting tool” back when he began in 1988.

“Their finance program and investment into every member was priceless,” Clements said.

Next, Mike McCallum, a founding member of the Southeast Region, recounted the chapter’s history, noting that the South Atlantic, Mid America and Michigan Regions all grew out of the early days of the Southeast group – or, as it was known in 1984, The Tennessee Chapter.

The night was topped off by the serving of AVB and Southeast Region anniversary cakes, provided courtesy of AVB CEO Jim Ristow.

The following day was packed with presentations, beginning with renown furniture industry consultant Phil Gutsell reminding members how to implement effective advertising and training. Later, over 25 vendors made brief presentations before the region members, followed by a 2 ½ hour series of rotations during which members could conduct individual meetings with manufacturers and suppliers.

From left, AVB furniture chief Mike Allen; South Atlantic Region Manager Harry Buntyn; Tempur-Sealy’s Paula Higginbotham; and Scott Zitter of Expert Warehouse

That evening the group held a Recognition Banquet featuring a reception, dinner and a charity auction, and all capped with laughs from celebrity comedian Reno Collier.

On the final day, a hands-on training on LINQ was well-received, with Matt Berry demonstrating the proprietary platform’s many benefits including price and merchandising tracking.

Chapter President Tony Brocato provided the meeting’s final words: “Until next year, take advantage of the group’s many resources.  Have a safe trip home … and get registered for the Summit!”