By Jim Ristow, AVB

Last year, like 2020 before it, was a period we will not soon forget.

In many respects the past two years have been among the most challenging in our collective lifetimes. The lingering pandemic continues to disrupt our lives and businesses in so many unpredictable ways. If there ever was a “normal,” I have forgotten what that was like.

Yet during this time of continuous disruption, I find myself reflecting not on the tumult of the last two years but rather on the opportunity that lies before us as we embark on 2022. I see a bright future as we lean into the rapidly evolving, digital-first world that has been thrust upon us.

The fact that we pivoted our businesses so quickly to this new paradigm amid all the chaos only reinforces my belief that we will come out of all this stronger, smarter and more relevant than ever.

First, hats off to all of you as you continue to shine and grow volume, market share and margin. Last year your businesses outpaced the industry by 14 percent, and BrandSource members grew their market share more than fivefold from the previous high. It is clear you have figured out how to navigate the landscape better than anyone else.

Success is never an accident; you have adapted your businesses to the world we live in and it is paying off big time. No one could have predicted all the changes that came your way and the course corrections you had to make to survive. All told, you are doing remarkably well.

Yes, 2021 was another transformative year. It was a year in which we further bolstered BrandSource by growing our ranks and rolling out major initiatives that will help guarantee our continued success. The technologies our members now employ allow us to compete more efficiently and effectively than anyone in our space. And the cutting-edge tools we continue to develop will cement our advantage for the future.

Again and again over the past year you all helped demonstrate our strengths as an organization and made clear that when it comes to BrandSource, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

This group derives its purpose and power from you, its members. I continue to be amazed at how quickly you take on each new challenge and how readily you collaborate with the group and each other to make the most of every opportunity. 

In all my years at BrandSource, I’ve never been more excited about our future as we chart our course for 2022 and beyond. While there may be bumps in the road as we evolve our businesses to meet the new technological age, we have what every consumer needs: The products essential to their everyday lives, coupled with the knowhow to explain, install and service them. Along with our unmatched ability to market and sell those goods, we are uniquely positioned to continue growing and taking share for years to come.

This year’s Summit theme, “Own It,” speaks to empowering you to press ahead and boldly raise the bar even higher for your business. You control your own destiny and need to take action to ensure your success. At BrandSource, we are here to help you do just that.

Thank you for partnering with us on this exciting journey ahead. Here’s to 2022 and beyond!

Jim Ristow is CEO of AVB Inc., which is the operational umbrella for BrandSource, the nation’s largest member-owned merchandising and marketing co-op for independent appliance, furniture, bedding, and consumer tech dealers.