ASC’s Libby Baur, right, helps boost BrandSource members’ bottom lines with margin-rich service plans.

This Women in Business booster is reaping what she sews

By Andy Kriege, YSN

If you ever meet Libby Baur you will never forget her.

She greets and treats nearly everyone she meets as though they were long-lost friends. And, truth be told, most people she encounters through all her endeavors do indeed become fast friends. 

Baur is the ever-smiling lady at Associated Service Corp. (ASC), a company that specializes in major component warranties. Her title of executive vice president may sound a bit lofty, but in reality her boots are planted firmly on the ground. She is the woman behind the scenes pulling all the levers, and is the de facto face of the business. 

Baur has devoted nearly 40 years of her life to her career at ASC. “I’ve had only three jobs in my entire life,” she said. “Four if you count being a mom.” 

It all began in 1985, when she responded to a nondescript ad in a local newspaper. “At first they were reluctant to hire me because I was a single mom with two small kids,” she said. “But they took a chance on me and offered me the job anyway.” 

Baur began her career at ASC at the bottom, performing clerical work and shipping out warranty cards. After several years of learning the fulfillment side of the business and assuming more responsibilities, she asked if she could join the company’s owner at a dealer trade show and see how he handled the sales side. He granted her request and began grooming Baur for a leadership position.

It wasn’t long before their roles reversed. “Instead of just doing the fulfillment, I was selling the warranties and essentially running the business,” Baur said. The major component warranty products ASC sells are a popular item among independent dealers. When leveraged properly, they are a valuable tool for adding supplemental revenue and richer margins to big-ticket purchases. The warranties are unavailable through any box store and are therefore an important differentiator for the independent, who may choose to sell them as a standalone service or include them as a value-add to help close a sale. 

Woman in Business

Baur attended BrandSource’s inaugural Women in Business (WiB) gathering in 2015. The newly formed association was just getting started on its mission of helping to empower, educate and inspire female professionals. She jumped at the chance to take part in the organization and make connections within the new group, and has not missed a meeting since.

“I can’t believe how big this thing has grown,” Baur said of WiB. “At that first meeting we hardly filled four or five tables. Now we spill across an entire ballroom.” But despite the group’s dramatic expansion, “I can still sit down at a table where I don’t know any of the women, and by the time we wrap I am sure to have made some new friends and some new connections.”

Related: Women in Business Awards Cathy Wilder

The growth of WiB also reflects the greater role women have assumed in the industry, as there were only a handful of females among the vendor ranks when Baur first began attending BrandSource events. “Back when I started with ASC, the appliance business was a bit of a boys’ club,” she said. “In those days the men wanted to talk to ‘the man.’ I can’t tell you how many times a customer insisted on talking to my supervisor, thinking it was a man that made the big decisions, and would ask me to put ‘him’ on the phone.”

Whether its extended warranties or handmade quilts, Baur has members’ backs.

Baur is happy to see how much things have changed during her career, acknowledging that women like herself have helped tear down the barriers into that boys’ club. She also credits BrandSource for creating an organization that has helped empower female professionals. “I feel like the Women in Business group has given many women a platform to stand up and be heard,” she said.

In fact, it is BrandSource members that give Baur the best feedback. “The dealers are constantly sharing new ideas with me on how they are using our products in ways I never even considered,” she said. “I can then offer these ideas to others to help with them sell more and boost their bottom lines.”

Baur encourages her fellow glass ceiling-shatterers to be as involved in WiB as they can. “You will learn something at every WiB session, and you are sure to make a friend as well,” she said. “Some of my best friends are from this group. We take vacations together and hang out on the front- and back-end of shows just to have fun and bounce ideas off each other.”

When she’s not traveling to trade shows, vacationing with her WiB buddies or selling extended warranties, Baur devotes most of her time to her family, to her garden and to her latest hobby, quilting. “I have two sons and five grandchildren who are my whole world,” she said. “I just finished my third quilt for the grandkids, so I still have two more to go.”

Whether it’s her business career, her loving family, her countless friends, her bountiful garden or her beautiful quilts, this successful businesswoman is clearly reaping what she is sewing. 

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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