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Ristow Succeeds Lawrence As BrandSource CEO

TUSTIN, CALIF. — Former HES head and current ProSource co-president Jim Ristow has been tapped to succeed Bob Lawrence as CEO of the $13 billion BrandSource buying group.

Dave Workman, who shared co-president responsibilities at the group’s A/V and custom integration division, will now serve as president.

Lawrence announced his intention to step down from the top spot last December after more than 20 years at the helm.

His decision led to an extensive internal and external search for a successor by the BrandSource board.

Ristow, who joined the group 15 years ago to lead its CE merchandising efforts, was ultimately chosen for his leadership abilities, analytical skills and passion for the business, board chairman Jeff Zeglin said.

He steps into his new role on Jan. 1.

“Jim has a tremendous aptitude for leadership and is highly respected by his colleagues for his ability to offer strategic thinking and keen insights on the latest retail and industry trends. These attributes, along with a genuine passion for this industry, make him an ideal choice,” Zeglin said.

“It’s an honor to be chosen to lead BrandSource and to carry on the ‘members first’ philosophy set in motion by Bob Lawrence nearly 20 years ago,” Ristow said. “Our mission is to continue being the strongest ally in the industry for the independent retailer. We will strive to bring ‘best of class’ services and solutions to our members in every category that we offer to help them successfully compete against big box retailers and online.”

In his new role, Ristow faces a stagnant sales environment for the group and the industry, and the rapid growth of mobile commerce, which were cited by Lawrence in a farewell address last August as key challenges and opportunities.

Ristow must also move beyond his CE comfort zone to embrace Brand- Source’s other core categories, including major appliances, bedding, furniture, outdoor and floor care.

Lawrence will stay on in an advisory role for the next year as Ristow transitions into his new duties, and hopes to remain active within the group, possibly supporting the Expert Warehouse fulfillment program he founded.

Ristow joined BrandSource in 1999 and would go on to head its Home Entertainment Source (HES) specialty electronics division. He was later named CE executive VP, and co-president and chief business officer of ProSource, which formally emerged this year from the fusion of HES and Workman’s Progressive Retailers Organization (PRO Group) for A/V specialty dealers.

He plans to relocate to BrandSource headquarters here from his native Wisconsin.