Famous Tate’s Annual Awards Gala Goes Virtual

Famous Tate GM Claude Ward (seated) prepares to host the annual sales recognition event. Behind him, bedding merchandiser Jeff Willis is flanked by company founders Marilyn and John Horst.

By Andy Kriege, YSN

BrandSource member Famous Tate held its annual Sales Awards ceremony last week and, like most large events recently, it was conducted online.

The presentation, now in its 23rd year, was hosted by general manager Claude Ward, who kicked things off by noting that this was the first and hopefully last virtual Sales Awards ceremony for Famous Tate.

Reflecting on the tumultuous year just past, Ward quipped, “If 2020 were an ice cream flavor, it would be Rocky Road for sure.”

“It would be easy to say let’s just skip the ceremony this year,” he continued, “but it is too darn important. It is especially important this past year, when we faced so many challenges, to recognize the achievements of our great staff.”

The sales recognition event has traditionally been an opportunity for the entire Famous Tate team to enjoy a night out and get to know each other better. “In normal times, they also invite a guest or spouse, which helps provide a better understanding of our company, and we become more inclusive,” Ward said. “It is always very positive. Salespeople by their nature love recognition, and rightfully so.”

Despite the year’s tribulations, 2020 was a year in which Famous Tate shattered all previous sales records. Ward and owners Jason and John Horst felt it was especially important to recognize the accomplishments of the hard-working staff — not just in sales, but for all team members across all departments.

Related: Famous Tate’s 20 Reasons to Be Grateful in 2020

The first shout-out of the night went to the warehouse team, which helped make all the sales success possible by delivering 223,000 units last year.

Jason also tipped his hat to the chat team. “They handled over 13,000 chat sessions from March through December 2020,” he said. “This was instrumental in driving customers to our showrooms or guiding online purchases during the pandemic.” 

Director of retail operations Bill Webber acknowledges the achievements of team members in 2020, as Claude Ward looks on.

Turning to the sales side, seven specific awards categories were recognized, including:

  • Top Sales Associate
  • Customer Satisfaction
  • Most Valuable Performer
  • Warranty Sales
  • Bedding Sales
  • Rising Stars

In addition, Ambassador Awards were conferred to staffers for going over and above to promote goodwill both inside and outside the company.

In all, over half of Famous Tate’s sales associates were recognized for bringing in $1 million or more in sales volume, which underscored the success of the company’s sales team. Leading the pack was first-place winner Heather O’Brien, who joined the retailer five years ago in an administrative role before switching to sales in 2017. Last year she generated just under $2.5 million in sales for the Tampa-area business.

AVB CEO Jim Ristow made a virtual guest appearance at the event to congratulate all for their remarkable achievements.

The evening featured a special shout out from AVB CEO Jim Ristow, who noted how Famous Tate, like other independents, outperformed their big-box competitors in growing their businesses and taking care of customers during the worst financial and health crisis in 100 years. He also recognized the staff for the hard work they put in and the remarkable success they achieved during a year fraught with challenges.

General manager Ward believes the galas are not only good for team bonding, but also help stoke the associates’ competitive juices. “One of the best reasons for this event is that it truly motivates our newest associates and encourages them to ‘be on the stage’ next time,” he said. What’s more, he finds that the ceremonies have a lasting effect that helps motivate his team throughout the year.

Ward urges fellow BrandSource dealers to make a point of recognizing their employees as well. “Any effort you make toward letting associates know they are valued is well worth it,” he said. “The positive effect is incalculable, and it lasts throughout the year.”

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