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PRO, HES Strengthen ProSource Partnership


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