AVB Leadership Conference Raises $154K for Kids’ Cause

Start Your Engines: AVB Grand Prix racers and their crews prepare to compete in the group’s annual Leadership Conference charity event.

By Alan Wolf, YSN

The AVB/BrandSource buying organization, together with its regional chapters and vendor partners, raised $154,000 to assist ailing children during its annual Leadership Conference this past weekend in Scottsdale, Ariz.

The fundraiser took the form of an “AVB Grand Prix,” with attendees racing battery-powered Power Wheels toy cars for cash. The beneficiary: Make-A-Wish Arizona, the founding chapter of the now international organization that helps grant the wishes of children with life-threatening medical conditions.

Paulsen Appliances’ Donald Paulsen, president of BrandSource’s Greater Midwest Region, gets his motor running for Make-A-Wish.

Donning helmets and assisted by pit crews, drivers from BrandSource’s 14 regional chapters raced vendor-sponsored cars around an indoor track as onlookers cheered them on. Following the checkered flag, vendors pledged additional dollars to the cause as did AVB, along with BrandSource’s chapters and divisions; its custom install affiliate ProSource; and Expert Warehouse, AVB’s consumer tech distribution arm. (For the record, BrandSource’s Mid America, Rocky Mountain and Great Plains Regions placed first, second and third.) Also donated were the cars themselves, to a local children’s foster care agency.

“Think about how many kids’ lives are about to be touched,” remarked Jim Ristow, CEO of AVB. Added Brenna Stewart, Development and Events Coordinator for Make-A-Wish Arizona, “Please know you are making a huge difference in the lives of our kids.”

The charity race continued a longstanding AVB tradition of helping children in need, and more than doubled last year’s take of $75,000, raised in a bake-off competition for Toys for Tots.

Sherry Dantonio took the wheel of the ProSource car, sponsored by Expert Warehouse.

The event was a highlight of the annual Leadership Conference, in which AVB’s directors, regional officers, senior management team and vendor partners review the group’s progress and performance over the past 12 months and set new goals and initiatives for the year ahead.

“We’re bullish on the membership,” Ristow told attendees as he looked ahead to 2020. “We’re significantly outpacing the box stores and the momentum will continue.”

The AVB “racers” were donated to a local children’s foster care agency.

The Conference, held Dec. 3-6 at The Scottsdale Plaza Resort, also served as a send-off for Mike Allen, BrandSource’s Vice President of Home Furnishings, who will be retiring at the end of January after serving the group and its members for 24 years.

YSN is published by BrandSource parent company AVB Inc.