By Jim Ristow, CEO AVB BrandSource

Imagine what it would be like if just a few of our employees working behind the scenes suddenly stopped doing what they are doing.

One need look no further than all those ships anchored outside our ports to understand how a shortage of critical workers can throttle an entire economy. There are idle ships anchored as far as the eye can see. The thought of being in that same boat is really sobering when one considers just how much we rely on our employees to move our goods.  

While we’re certainly thankful that business is robust, backlogged merchandise, edgy customers, long hours, longer waits and higher costs have all created a lot of frustration and angst.  And that’s in addition to health and safety concerns. Has there ever been more collective chaos in the retail world than in the past couple of years? If so, I certainly don’t recall.

Now step back and imagine contending with all that without the unwavering support of our overworked employees. These are the unsung heroes of every business who all too often get overlooked in the madness of the daily grind.

We may not think about it as we go about our own seemingly endless duties, but we are incredibly dependent on a dedicated workforce showing up and knocking out the mundane tasks that make it all come together, day in and day out.

It is no exaggeration to say that our success can be measured as the sum of all the small efforts made every day by our employees. We owe them a debt of gratitude like never before.

We all need to make a conscious effort to recognize, reward, listen to and develop our workforce to keep them happy, healthy, motivated and productive. 

Ultimately, we want to keep them in the fold and not headed somewhere else. That’s why we launched the recent HRSource initiatives, and why we will continue to make employee retention a point of emphasis.

See: YSN Launches HIGH FIVE Employee Recognition Program

With that, I am happy to announce the first annual BrandSource High Five Awards.  Each year this program will honor five special employees in the industry for their relentless pursuit of doing whatever it takes to get the job done. We aim to salute those who are doing the heavy lifting behind the scenes with little or no fanfare. They are the backbone of every business, and they deserve their day in the sun. Think of it as a collective “high five” from all your peers and a way to say “Thank you” for all they do.


To nominate someone in your business, simply fill out the High Five nomination form and tell us about that special unsung employee who works diligently outside the limelight. The form takes only minutes to complete, so please take the time nominate one of your superstars and help us pay tribute to them. Deadline for submissions is 12-31-21.

I would be remiss if I did not take this opportunity to personally thank all the staff at AVB who work tirelessly stern and starboard to assure that our ship sails smoothly. You are all valued, appreciated and critical to the success of all those we serve. Without the efforts of our dedicated crew, this ship, the S.S. BrandSource would certainly have never come in.

Final thought, it is imperative to treat your crew as if your entire livelihood depends on it. Because it does.  

Jim Ristow is CEO of AVB Inc., the operational arm of BrandSource, a $22 billion-plus merchandising and marketing co-op for independent home goods retailers.