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Six Weeks Of Buying Group Changes

2/08/2006 01:30:00 PM Eastern

New York — This month’s departures of Roger Heuberger from PRO Group and David Workman from MARTA were only the latest in a recent series of changes at the industry’s largest buying organizations.

The latest round of restructuring began days before International CES in January when Workman, then president of Warrentech Consumer Product Services, was named successor to MARTA’s executive director of six years Warren Mann, and the group announced a strategic alliance with Brand Source. Nationwide followed in January with the formation of an A/V specialty division headed by Jeanette Howe, formerly an executive with Brand Source’s own

A/V specialty division, Home Entertainment Source.

Earlier this month, Heuberger left PRO as president, executive director, COO and CEO after a decade at the helm over contract renewal disagreements with the group’s board. His departure dovetailed with that of Workman, who left MARTA after less than a month as president/CEO. Both Workman and John Rice, chairman of MARTA’s board and president/CEO of DeSears Appliance & TV, said the departure was prompted by the group’s new alliance AVB, and newfound redundancies between its services and the role of MARTA’s chief executive.

"I didn’t want to be an extra spare tire in the trunk," Workman told TWICE.

Going forward, MARTA has eliminated Workman’s position and dispersed its remaining responsibilities between its board, its merchandising committee and newly promoted managing director Bill Bursley. The group may also consider canceling its convention and group meeting in August, Rice said.

Despite industry speculation that Workman will succeed Heuberger at PRO, given the proximity of the announcements and Workman’s long history with the group and founding member Ultimate Electronics, all parties remain mum. PRO said it expects to announce a successor in several weeks.

Meanwhile, Mann is laying the groundwork for a new no-frills, low-cost buying organization called the World Merchants Buying Group, and plans to step up his recruitment efforts following the upcoming Nationwide and AVB convention and buying shows. He can be reached at (201) 612-1541, and at warrenmann@aol.com. Separately, Heuberger can be contacted at (847) 530-4157 and at

rogerheuberger2001@yahoo.com.