ProSource Debuts At Bally's Bash

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LAS VEGAS - The newly formed ProSource buying group formally debuted Wednesday night at a CES-eve cocktail reception at Bally's Hotel.

The group brings the Progressive Retailers Organization (PRO Group) and Home Entertainment Source (HES) together under a single umbrella to create what ProSource described as "the largest single buying group for premium products."

The move also rolls PRO Group into the $14 billion BrandSource parent organization.

The merger formalizes a strategic partnership that was forged two years ago between the two specialty A/V buying organizations under The Alliance banner, and will serve to "amplify the voice of independent dealers," said HES executive VP Jim Ristow. "The pendulum's gonna swing in 2011."

Ristow and his PRO Group partner, executive director/COO Dave Workman, will continue to lead their respective organizations, which serve different volume classes of independent dealers. The groups will also continue to hold separate annual meetings, with HES's in February and PRO Group's in May.

"We're not throwing everything together," Workman told TWICE. "It's not going to be homogenized. Some members will be serviced through direct programs and some will be serviced through Expert Warehouse," BrandSource's in-house distribution program.

However, the two groups plan to unify the direction of their volume buys by developing signature ProSource programs with six core vendors, which dealers from both organizations can share in.

 "We're dead serious about bringing the groups, and vendors, into alignment," Workman said. "Expanded distribution has had a bad effect. Vendors are realizing that huge volume doesn't pay all the bills. [Mass merchant] channels are harvesters rather than farmers of new technology."

Instead, "the industry needs to return to channel strategies and restore levels of differentiation," noted Ristow. "We're the clear place to go for better products and the most profitable mix."

ProSource will also "cross pollinate" committees from both groups, and form new ones to address categories such as wireless broadband, tablet computers, smartphones, security, and technology integration that have yet to be embraced by the traditional A/V specialty channel, the executives said.

"We're reinventing the whole business model for buying groups," Ristow said. "We're going to be the gold standard."


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