twice connect

Ultimate Returns To PRO Group

7/26/2004 02:00:00 AM Eastern

Ultimate Electronics has rejoined the Progressive Retailers Organization (PRO Group), the high-end dealer consortium it helped found 17 years ago.

Ultimate left the buying organization early last year due to territorial conflicts with other PRO Group members, as the A/V chain aggressively expanded into new markets. While trading area overlaps will remain, Ultimate's president/CEO Dave Workman said he now believes the benefits of exchanging ideas with his retail peers outweigh any regional issues.

"With the CE industry in such technological and distribution flux, leveraging audio/video specialty knowledge is more important than ever," Workman said. "The PRO Group is the best place for Ultimate to discuss effective [lessons] in mid- to upper-market audio/video specialty retailing. What we can gain working together to profitably address the industry challenges far exceed the regional competition which occurs here and there within PRO."

Ultimate's re-addition to PRO Group's ranks, effective immediately, adds greater heft to an organization that already boasts such national and regional powerhouses as Tweeter Home Entertainment, Abt Electronics, Crutchfield, MyerEmco and 6th Avenue Electronics among its members. Specifically, the move raises the organization's roster to 17 dealers, its storefront count to 310 and its total annual retail sales to $2.3 billion.

Workman will also regain his former seat on PRO's board.

"We are quite excited about immediately integrating Ultimate into our current business idea exchange activities and vendor programs," said Roger Heuberger, PRO Group's executive director and chief operating officer. "Ultimate's management team was a big part of the PRO culture for years, so we're delighted to have them back."

Heuberger said he had been pondering a reunion with Ultimate ever since the chain decided to leave, and downplayed the significance of any territorial overlap. "Curiously enough, in almost every case, the members who compete with one another are operating very different formats," he said, describing the group's various approaches to the market as "absolutely one of PRO's strengths."

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