AVB CEO delivers inspirational Summit kick-off

By Alan Wolf, YSN

In his traditional kick-off-to-Summit speech this morning, AVB’s CEO Jim Ristow explored the meaning behind the show’s theme of “WIN,” and how members can apply the true components of winning to their businesses.

Harkening back to his own childhood, when he won a school-wide chess tournament while still in third grade, the self-taught player said the trophy he won paled in comparison to the pride he felt .

Similarly, in the realm of pro athletes, Olympic speed skater Bonnie Blair won’t discuss her five Gold medals (and one Bronze) and you’ve probably never heard Magic Johnson or the late Kobe Bryant talk about their five respective championship rings, Ristow said. Rather, Johnson speaks of winning and losing, and the importance of never giving up, while Bryant — who was known for his discipline and grit — stressed that great things come from hard work.

 “Winning doesn’t always mean being first,” Ristow quoted Blair as saying. “Winning means you’re doing better than you’ve ever done before.”

Point being, the usual metrics of winning, whether it’s a trophy, a nice house or a fancy car, aren’t necessarily the best ways to measure winning in life, Ristow explained. “What may be even more important are the actions a person takes or how they live their lives that allows them to get to those markers.”

Indeed, studies have shown that people with a winning or “growth” mindset share certain positive attitudes, including:

  • They believe they can learn from failure
  • They want to improve and grow
  • They believe they can learn to do anything they want (like that third-grade chess novice)
  • They’re willing to try new things
  • They welcome honest, constructive feedback

So how does that relate to independent BrandSource dealers? Winning was easy following the pandemic, Ristow recalled, when homebound consumers rife with stimulus funds helped fuel record sales. Today, however, inventory is back along with promotions, and renewed aggressiveness by box stores is challenging member margins, requiring dealers to “get back to the basics and tighten up our companies.”

And while BrandSource still outpaces the industries it competes in, dealers who are fully engaged in the group’s resources and services are outperforming their member peers by a delta of 15%, he said, up from 10% last year. His advice for those not yet leveraging AVB’s playbook: start small by picking the one or two solutions that will make the biggest initial impact on business and build from there. It’s all part of having a winning mindset and “plugging in” to the opportunities offered, he said.

And just like Bonnie, Magic, Kobe and that little third-grader with a learning chess board, “You also can learn to do anything you want,” Ristow said. “Your group has made many of the difficult things easier to implement … You just need to take action and show the grit that has made you famous” — and true WINners.

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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