AVB CEO Jim Ristow Kicks Off 2020 Convention

By Alan Wolf, YSN

Jim Ristow, CEO of AVB, took to a virtual stage on Sunday to formally kick off BrandSource’s —and the industry’s — first ever virtual convention and buying expo.

Ristow began his traditional State of the Union address with a montage of member testimonials and an unexpected guest, actor Charlie Sheen. And after announcing the promotion of AVB’s Dave Meekings from Chief Technology Officer to Chief Operating Officer (congratulations Dave!), Ristow welcomed attending affiliates Mega Group/BrandSource Canada, The New England Appliance Group and Intercounty Appliance Corp., as well as member staff and vendors, and got down to business.

Despite dire predictions by analysts of a 20 to 30 percent decline in our industries due to the impact of COVID, BrandSource has outpaced most of our business sectors by upwards of 20 percent, Ristow reported, thanks in large measure to members’ agility and resiliency. “You’re actually taking market share during the worst financial and health crisis in a century,” he said.

“But we’re not out of the woods yet,” he warned, and advised the BrandSource dealers not to get complacent.

Click here for a replay of Jim’s State of the Union address.

Rather, members need to double down on technology, solutions and digital marketing to continue riding the wave of change that the pandemic has wrought. Chief among the COVID-era trends is the dramatic shift to online shopping. Ristow recalled how, at the March Summit just six months ago, he predicted a 600 percent spike in online sales growth for the group over the next three years. Since then, he said, BrandSource’s comparable online sales have skyrocketed 825 percent and a staggering 1,300 percent in total, while live chat is off the charts.

To keep the momentum going and continue outpacing the competition, BrandSource is introducing a new KIOSQ program that brings the efficacy of the LINQ online merchandising portal in-store. The interface presents an “endless aisle” of offerings for sales associates and consumers to access via mobile devices or an AVB-provided big-screen monitor, and bundled discounts are available for the KIOSQ, the LINQ4U assisted merchandising service and the turbocharged Commerce version of the group’s Alta 360 e-commerce platform.

In addition, the group will follow the Convention with the launch of a complimentary vendor and business training series this fall under the AVB University umbrella.

And as always, Ristow reminded, BrandSource has the members’ backs, as it demonstrated during the onset of the pandemic by posting over 250 critical articles on the YourSourceNews/COVID Info Hub; hosting 112 Region calls with members; and conducting more than 45,000 individual dealer consultations since Summit, touching 99 percent of the membership.

Taken together, they provide the components of what Ristow described as a winning equation: Entrepreneur (the store owner) + Information + Buying Right + Technology = Success.

“If you do this, if you follow the plan, the Checklist for Success, you’re gonna win,” he concluded. “Not just now, but you’re setting your business up for years to come.”

For all things Convention related, visit the 2020 Convention section of YSN.

BrandSource, a unit of YSN publisher AVB Inc., is a nationwide buying group for independent appliance, mattress, furniture and CE dealers.