Cathy Wilder receives the Women in Business Industry Impact Award before attendees at the AVB Summit’s General Session on Monday.

Plaza Appliance sales manager honored at Summit 2023

By Andy Kriege, YSN

Women in Business (WiB), BrandSource’s professional organization for women in the appliance, furniture, mattress and consumer tech sectors, has bestowed its 2023 Women in Business Industry Impact Award to Cathy Wilder of Plaza Appliance Mart in Charlotte, N.C.

The honor, presented to Wilder during Monday’s General Session at the 2023 Summit in Las Vegas, recognizes her efforts as a highly successful woman in the independent retailing industry. It is awarded annually to an outstanding lady who has been deeply committed throughout her life and career to challenging, motivating and inspiring other females.

Cathy Wilder with her Women in Business Industry Impact Award.

Wilder serves as sales manager, with sales responsibilities for Plaza’s four retail locations throughout the greater Charlotte area. Over the span of four decades she has worked in multiple capacities, albeit all within the appliance and retailing sectors. Her career began in the 1980s as a retail warehouse worker, which led to positions in appliance sales. “This gave me my first taste of working trade shows and I absolutely loved it,” Wilder said.

Following a stint at GE, BrandSource came a-knocking and offered her a position in a newly launched private-label service sontract division called Expert Protection. Wilder counts her time assisting BrandSource members as among the most rewarding in her career. “I feel blessed to have met so many of the group’s members during those years,” she said. “I consider myself fortunate to count many of them among my good friends to this day.”  

Wilder eventually found her way to Plaza Appliance Mart not once but twice, both times after late owner and BrandSource Hall of Famer Bill Pleasants Sr. offered her a job there. “When Bill Sr. approached me to come back to work for him a second time, I discovered that Plaza was much like BrandSource in that once you become part of the family you are always part of the family,” she said.

Bill’s son, current owner Bill Pleasants Jr., was effusive in his praise of Wilder. “Cathy is a strong woman who is not afraid to express her opinions,” he said. “She is always thinking outside of the box and is not afraid to share her ideas. She has always been willing to do anything that is asked of her, even if it is outside of her job description, she will jump right in. She is a great asset to our leadership team.”

AVB Member Relations Lead Arlene Soto, who serves on the Women in Business board and helps coordinate many of its functions, is equally impressed with Wilder. “Cathy’s contributions to BrandSource and the WiB group over the years cannot be overstated,” she said. “She has been a force in this industry no matter what role she has been in.

“We wanted to make sure we honored Cathy not only for her longevity in this business, but more importantly for her ability to break through and shine as a trailblazer in an industry that had long been predominantly male dominated,” Soto said.

Women in Business was created in 2014 to address the issues of women’s empowerment, education and inspiration. It regularly meets at BrandSource events to explore such topics as finding, connecting and networking with other female professionals; successfully building leadership teams; earning recognition in a male-dominated industry; bridging the gender gap in one’s professional life; and finding comfort and satisfaction in one’s personal life.      

YSN publisher AVB BrandSource is the nation’s largest merchandising and marketing co-op for independent appliance, mattress, furniture and CE dealers.

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