By Lisa Johnston
New products on display at the American International Toy Fair, held in N
Tustin, Calif. – Bob Lawrence plans to step down as CEO of the BrandSource buying group by the end of 2014.
A search committee led by BrandSource dealers will begin an internal and external hunt for his successor beginning in January.
Lawrence, who has headed the $14 billion operation since 1994, told TWICE “It’s time for some new blood and new ideas.”
He said if requested he will continue to serve BrandSource during the leadership transition and beyond, conceivably in a full-time role with its in-house distribution program (Expert Warehouse) or its inventory finance operation (Expert Finance).
In the meantime, Lawrence will continue to run the buying group for independent appliance, CE and home furnishings dealers and integrators, and will assist the search committee in a non-voting ex officio capacity. He also plans to continue serving on the board of Ronald McDonald House Charities, for which BrandSource has been a benefactor.
“At this point I feel that I’ve taken BrandSource as far as I can,” he said. “I’m giving the board a full year to find someone to help move things forward. This will be a very smooth transition and there will be no interruption in daily business for BrandSource staff, vendors or members.”
Lawrence, previously a Western U.S. branch manager for Maytag, joined the group in 1994 when it was still operating as Associated Volume Buyers (AVB). Under his watch it grew from less than 600 to over 4,000 members as he spearheaded the BrandSource co-branding program and led the rollout of warehousing, finance, private-label credit card, leasing and digital marketing initiatives for dealers.
The announcement follows news of a succession plan from the rival Nationwide Marketing Group that positions senior execs Dave Bilas and Jeff Knock as eventual heirs to the top management ranks.
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