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ProSource Marks Formal Merger, Finalizes New Board At CES

LAS VEGAS – ProSource named its debut board of directors here earlier this month, marking the formal merger of the Progressive Retailers Organization (PRO Group) and the Home Entertainment Source (HES) buying groups.

The announcement was made on the eve of International CES at PRO Group’s traditional Monday night reception at Bally’s, which was co-sponsored this year by the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA).

More than two years in the making, the merger creates a $3.1 billion retail group with “the largest book of business in luxury, integration and specialty CE,” Pro- Source executive VP Jim Ristow told TWICE.

Ristow, formerly head of HES, will run the new organization with ProSource president/CEO Dave Workman, who previously headed PRO Group.

ProSource is a chapter of the $14 billion Brand- Source buying cooperative for independent CE, appliance and home-furnishings dealers. Its longtime CEO, Bob Lawrence, plans to step down by year’s end, and a search is underway for a successor.

Going forward, ProSource will organize its retail and custom-install membership into three distinct tiers defined by size and business model: a custom-install tier will encompass “400 of the best integrators in the country with more integration volume than all the other groups combined,” Ristow said; a power custom-install tier will include 60 to 70 of the nation’s largest integrators; and a pro tier will represent the largest specialty CE retailers and e-tailers.

The PRO Group and HES names will fade this year, he said.

Ristow noted that ProSource will also be “more marketing focused,” with forthcoming initiatives that will introduce Ultra HD TV and whole-home audio and control to “the hard-to-reach masses.”

Other efforts will include turnkey lighting and energy solutions provided by Maryland-based Energy Squad and a new BrandSource LED division, and a focus on affordable wireless audio systems for the group’s more traditional TV and audio dealers.

To cement the merger, the new ProSource board is comprised of members from each of its component groups. Chairman is Murray Huppin, principal of Huppin’s/ OneCall, and treasurer is Andy Kersey, CEO of Hamlin & Kersey. The directors include David Pidgeon, president/CEO, Starpower Home Entertainment Systems; Walt Stinson, president and co-founder, ListenUp Audio/Video; Rick Souder, merchandising executive VP, Crutchfield; Bob Cole, president/founder, World Wide Stereo; Bill Janka, president, Mission Audio Video; and Bob Dodge, CEO of Talk of the Town.

BrandSource and its various divisions will next convene at the group’s annual Spring Summit & Expo, which returns to the World Marriott Center in Orlando, Fla., March 16-19.