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PRO, HES Strengthen ProSource Partnership

5/08/2012 12:01:00 AM Eastern
FORT WORTH, TEXAS — The Progressive Retailers Organization (PRO Group) and Home Entertainment Source (HES), a unit of BrandSource, entered into a long-term agreement last month under the umbrella organization ProSource.

The agreement, described as a “final step” in last year’s merger of the two buying groups, puts David Workman in the newly created role of president/CEO of ProSource in conjunction with his role as executive director/COO of PRO Group.

Jim Ristow continues as executive VP of HES and will continue to represent all non-HES BrandSource members that sell electronics.

PRO Group and HES will continue to operate as separate organizations, with separate boards, profitand- loss functions and other operations, while Pro- Source will represent the membership of both organizations to the vendor community, Workman and Ristow told TWICE.

The business models of PRO Group and HES members are similar, the executives said, with PRO Group members, in general, being larger than HES members.

“Jim Ristow and I have had a vision for our two organizations stretching back for almost three years,” Workman said in a statement. “We each have the privilege of managing two very successful buying organizations, but with the myriad of changes that continue to occur in the CE industry, we knew that we needed to change as well.

“While PRO and HES will continue to function independently from an operations standpoint to cater to the specific needs of each organization’s member base, this agreement finally allows us the opportunity to harness the potential of our combined volume and work even more closely with our core partners.

“We believe that the strength of our buying power, combined with the strategic infrastructure of Expert Warehouse will deliver growth opportunities unrivaled by any other buying group. I am extremely excited to work even more closely with Jim Ristow, Dean Sottile, Andy Orozco and the rest of the ProSource team as we proactively address the needs of our membership and vendor partners.”

Added Ristow: “We believe that the challenges being faced by big-box retailers today present the industry with vibrant growth opportunities in specialty CE and integration. This final step in the ProSource merger allows us to combine resources and unify our focus to advance the position of our group members and vendor partners.”

A newly formed six-member steering committee has been created with equal representation from the boards of both PRO Group and HES. The committee will guide the direction of ProSource and assist in prioritizing its initiatives, the group said. Charter members include George Manlove, chairman of Vann’s; Murray Huppin, president of Huppin’s/OneCall; Walt Stinson, president of ListenUp; David Pidgeon, CEO of Starpower; Bob Dodge, CEO of Talk of the Town; and Andy Kersey, CEO of Hamlin & Kersey.

ProSource will also establish two additional committees, for custom/control and marketing, to further address the changing needs of the membership within both organizations, the group said.

ProSource was founded in 2011 as a cooperative member-owned, not-for-profit buying group. It has combined retail sales of more than $3.1 billion and over 500 retail members with more than 950 storefronts. PRO Group is holding its annual meeting with vendors this week from May 9-11 in Dana Point, Calif.

See Retail Buying Groups, a TWICE Special Report.
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