Each AVB chapter designed, built and raced a milk carton boat in a wacky, fun-filled team-building effort to raise money for a worthy charity.

AVB raises funds for foster youth at this year’s Leadership Conference

By Andy Kriege, YSN

The AVB/BrandSource buying organization, together with its regional chapters and vendor partners, raised money to assist charity partner Together We Rise (TWR) during the group’s annual Leadership Conference last week in Scottsdale, Ariz.

TWR assists foster kids with a range of initiatives designed to help get them on the right path in life. With over half a million children in foster care and the holidays quickly approaching, this support for the charity will help thousands of kids at a critical time of need.

First Place winner Alex White is flanked by second-place finisher Carl Snyder from the Michigan Region and Pac Rim’s Ed Montague who came in third.

The AVB fundraiser took the form of a “build and race a milk carton boat” event, with teams from each region constructing a custom boat from a supply of materials that included milk cartons, tape, wire, and a few odd pieces of wood. A limited selection of tools (some communal) was provided, and participants were allocated 30 minutes to complete the task.

Boat designs took on many creative shapes and sizes. Some were less seaworthy than others and capsized in the hotel’s pool before the race even started. Each heat featured two regions pitted against one another, racing from one end of the pool and back. The four fastest times then competed in the finals, which featured plenty of high seas hijinks and maritime mayhem, culminating in the team from the Mid-America Region capturing First Place honors.

Team Mid-America had the added benefit of an 11-year-old “ringer” named Alex White (son of AVB’s CMO John White), who was auctioned off pre-race as a bonus teammate to the highest-bidding region. The Mid-Americans, sponsored by Whirlpool, won the bidding war for the sailing services of the junior Mr. White.

The winning craft’s catamaran design was specifically chosen to disperse the weight of the young and agile White and used considerably fewer milk cartons, thus creating far less drag, explained Mike Porter, a Member Relations staffer who assisted Mid-America with the build. “It was the perfect design for Alex at the helm,” Porter said. “The craft was nimble and solid. Everybody pitched in as there was great teamwork and energy with this group.”

“We sure had a lot of fun,” Porter added.

Victory Salute: The Mid-America team celebrates with sponsor Melissa Hodges of Whirlpool and winning racer Alex White (front and center).

Whirlpool’s Melissa “Missy” Hodges also weighed in on the charity event. “If you plan everything right and make it interesting, you are sure to pull off a fantastic event, and AVB did just that,” she said. “The gracious donations to this wonderful charity were beyond belief. We are happy to be a part of it.” 

In addition to the team-building charity race, the conference gave representatives from each of the group’s 14 regions a chance to meet with key vendors, service providers and AVB leadership teams.

Tri-State Region president Barry Kindy goes to work on building his team’s boat from the ground up. 

As Tri-State Region president Barry Kindy noted, the three-day event “was a great opportunity to meet up with your business peers and the industry vendors. As I have told my region members, you can’t learn everything from your customers across the counter …  It is critical to connect with your region and the group to stay ahead of the curve.”

The charity race continued a longstanding AVB tradition of helping children in need. The donations raised at the Leadership Conference added to earlier fundraising efforts for TWR at the group’s August Convention.

The Conference, held Dec. 3-6 at The Scott Resort, also served as a sendoff for South Atlantic Region Manager Harry Buntyn, who will be retiring at the end of January after serving the region for 20 years and spending another 30-plus years on the vendor side of the business.

 “I feel like the appliance industry is like the Hotel California,” Buntyn quipped. “Once you get in it you can never leave.”

YSN wishes Harry well as he pivots from chasing dealers to chasing golf balls.

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