BrandSource member Dustin Leon with wife Karen and their daughter Alyssa

Livingood’s Peoria transplant

By Andy Kriege, YSN

Dustin Leon was so excited about a job opportunity that popped up in 2019, he packed up his family and moved nearly 1,000 miles to pursue it at a company he knew little about and an area he had never been to.

Dustin Leon

The alluring job was with Livingood’s Appliances & Bedding, a large, regional BrandSource member with three locations in and around Savannah, Ga.

Prior to accepting the position, Leon had never ventured far from his hometown in Peoria, Ill., where he had grown up and his family still lives. He had worked in sales at a relatively small appliance, furniture and mattress operation in Central Illinois, but longed for more responsibility and a larger role in the business. “I knew I was ready to expand my horizons and venture into other aspects of retailing, but I was limited where I was,” Leon said. 

Yearning to see what other opportunities were out there, he answered a recruiting site post from an appliance store that was hiring for a purchasing position. The job matched his skill set perfectly and looked like the ideal opportunity to make a career move, so he responded with a resume. After extensive conversations over the phone, Leon headed down to Savannah to see for himself.

“They invited me to come down to take a look around at the operation and see the area before I made up my mind about the job,” he said. “I think they really just wanted to see how serious I was about packing up the family and moving across the country to take a job in a city I had never been to.” 

Leon accepted the job in June 2019 and has not looked back since. “I took a different route,” he said, “as I was not born into a family business. Everybody’s path is different, but we are all essentially doing the same thing — selling appliances.”

Leon’s role at Livingood’s has expanded far beyond merchandising to include marketing, the website, working with the service team and even some onboarding of new employees. “I help keep all our departments connected and communicating with each other,” he said. “I am always looking for ways to make things more efficient and work tasks easier.”

Leon was introduced to AVB’s Young Professionals (YP) under-40-something networking group via a Zoom call during the pandemic. After several virtual sessions, he was anxious to meet some of his newfound cohorts in person. That finally happened in 2022 when the group resumed on-site gatherings, beginning with a YP University in Austin, Texas. 

“That event was an eye-opener,” he said. “There were many things I found to be helpful and interesting. I have adopted many ideas from those sessions, including some that concerned sticky HR situations. All that information is critical for people in my position.”

Leon (fourth from left) attended his first in-person Young Professionals event at YP University in Austin.

Gabe Hedges, the general manager of Idler’s Home in Paso Robles Calif., first met Leon at that YP University event and instantly connected with Livingood’s young upstart. “Although I have been in this grind much longer than Dustin, he brought a perspective that was very enlightening,” Hedges said. “He really knows this business and brings great energy and ideas to the group that he is not afraid to share.”

BrandSource Region Manager Brian Lawrence, who also serves as YP ambassador and facilitates the group’s activities, concurred. “Dustin has been a great addition to our YP events,” he said. “He is always willing to speak up and ask thought-provoking questions. He also pushes us to be better by coming up with new ideas to get more participation within the group.”

One novel idea recently proposed by Leon is the formation of a YP book club. A voracious reader, he wants to share his passion for books about motivation and management with the group, and even volunteered to lead the club. 

When not putting out fires or otherwise taking care of business at Livingood’s, Leon has really taken to the Southern charm of the Savannah area. He and Karen, his wife of 14 years, bought a home and have settled in with their 13-year-old daughter Alyssa.

“We simply enjoy hanging out as a family, going to the movies, shopping, go-karting or heading to the beach,” he said. “We enjoy doing just about anything … as long as we can do it together.”

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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