Ja-Mar’s Shauna Runkle: Embracing the Spirit of BrandSource Membership

Dealers’ Delight: A warehouse full of freezers, courtesy of Whirlpool and Ja-Mar’s Shauna Runkle.

By Alan Wolf, YSN

AVB’s CEO Jim Ristow often speaks of the “M factor” — the esprit de corps that binds the fellowship of BrandSource members.

Shauna Runkle, owner of Ja-Mar TV, Appliance & Bedding in Portland, Ind., recently exemplified that brother- and sisterhood after she hit the jackpot: a considerable cache of 15-cubic-foot freezers.

Knowing that her neighboring Mid-America Region members, like all appliance dealers, were hard pressed to find freezer inventory, Runkle set aside 43 pieces for Robert Tylisz Appliances in Michigan City and Bishopp’s Appliances in Shelbyville and Columbus.

Shauna’s dad Troy Rose (right) lends a hand to the boys from Bishopp’s as they fill a truck with precious cargo.

A grateful John Loftis, Operations Manager at Tylisz, immediately sent his crew on the three-hour journey to Ja-Mar to load up a trailerful of the chest-style freezers, while Bishopp’s Store Manager Doug Cassidy rented a U-Haul truck for the nearly two-and-a-half-hour ride to Portland.

Why share such a precious commodity, which brings customers as well as dealers from throughout the region?

“Why not take care of each other?” Runkle replied. “Isn’t that what being a part of this group means?”

Although the shipment packed her warehouse to the rafters, she reasoned that “If I didn’t grab them up, Lowe’s, Best Buy, Home Depot or Menards might have gotten them. I would much rather they went to members. I chose to do this because I want all of us to succeed.”

Runkle, a former a finance specialist at Thomson Consumer Electronics (RCA), joined the family business 20 years ago after a fire and the death of her mom, Kris Rose, nearly ended Ja-Mar.

Today, Runkle runs the company, named after grandparents Jack and Mariana Payne, with an occasional assist from her retired dad Troy.

But all that begs the question: How did she land that freezer shipment when there’s little product to be had? The short answer is … persistence. When she’s not busy selling appliances — sales are up 55 percent year-to-date through early July — Runkle is on her computer at least once every hour, checking the Whirlpool portal for inventory, and continues the search at home on her phone.

Her diligence has paid off in spades, with Runkle receiving 140 freezers since April and another 45 on the way. “Our delivery guy always asks, ‘How are you getting freezers?!’ It’s a joke in the warehouse,” she laughed.

But sharing the wealth comes naturally to Runkle and her Mid-America peers, who often exchange inventory in a pinch.

“The region works well together,” she said, adding “Anything I can do to help another member.”

BrandSource is a unit of YSN publisher AVB Inc.