The road ahead beckons

By Jim Ristow, CEO, AVB BrandSource

Yogi Berra had it right when he famously stated, “It’s tough to make predictions, especially about the future.”

Yet as hard as it is to make predictions, you need to look ahead to remain relevant with your customers and to decide which direction to follow.

But to do so, one must first take a look back to see what’s already transpired, determine what is happening now, and then map out a plan to move forward.

For those of you who attended Summit 2023, you may recall my mainstage presentation, in which I took everyone on an imaginary road trip in my family’s 1977 Mercury Marquis station wagon. Joining me on this epic cross-country journey were the leaders of the five AVB affiliates, as we went back in time to 1980, using the best navigation and trip-planning tools available. “Are we there yet?” was asked repeatedly, and each time I replied emphatically, “No, we are not there yet!” In fact, in 1980 we were far from there.

The point of the story was to illustrate that up until relatively recently, we traveled much the same way, with the same rudimentary tools as we had used the last 80 years of the 20th century. These included paper maps, rulers and pencils, the Yellow Pages and phone booths. Low-tech ruled the day.

Just planning a journey in the not-too-distant past was a loathsome and tedious affair. On top of that, the trip itself was slow, taxing and often chock full of unwelcome surprises.   

Back then we did not have the ability to plug into an array of modern tools like mobile phones with GPS, and an assortment of travel apps that have since made the same journey faster, simpler and more efficient (not to mention infinitely less stressful). 

The same can be said about the way you plan and map out the future of your business. At AVB we have an array of tools that can seamlessly plug into your systems to help your company run more smoothly and efficiently and with less stress than ever before. As the theme of this year’s Summit and Convention underscores, you simply need to “Plug In” to the latest technology to reap the benefits. We truly make it simple and are here to help you.

To run your business the way you did 20 years ago makes about as much sense as planning your next trip by letting your fingers do the walking through a greasy truck stop phone book. Especially since you have a multitude of cutting-edge business tools at your immediate disposal, right here, right now. To not utilize them is unimaginable.

So, the next time someone asks me “Are we there yet?” I can emphatically answer, “Yes, we are there now!” And by plugging in, you can get there too.

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

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