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Warm Remembrances: Friends, Colleagues Bid Lawrence Adieu

TUSTIN, CALIF. — Bob Lawrence may be stepping down as CEO of BrandSource at the end of the year (a successor is expected to be named shortly), but it doesn’t mean he’s leaving the group he helped build.

Following a transitional year as advisor to the new CEO, he hopes to continue playing an active role within BrandSource, possibly supporting the Expert Warehouse fulfillment program he founded. That will be determined by the group’s board.

But whatever the next chapter brings, Lawrence will always have the thanks and admiration of the leadership, staff and vendors he’s known and worked with through the years, as reflected in the following farewells.

“Besides his obvious intelligence and creative vision, it has always amazed me how much passion Bob has displayed for the independent retailers. At every turn or negotiation he has measured the value of any initiative against what is truly in the dealers’ best interest. His philosophy has always been if we can make the dealer more successful, the group’s success will follow.” – Jeff Zeglin, national chairman, Brand- Source

“Bob has been a great leader in the industry for many years. His insight and innovative ideas have helped shape where the industry is today. Bob’s progressive ideas and his representation of the independent dealer have been critical to helping his members compete in a challenging marketplace. Bob’s leadership will be missed.” – Mark Hecht, Whirlpool

“I was on the executive team that hired Bob. We brought him into the electronics world, which is certainly different from Bob’s background from his days at Maytag. He became quite adept in venturing into our various initiatives, always flashing that Bob Lawrence smile.

“Always focused on growth, Bob kept us moving forward … respecting the constituent members, while exploring new pathways to keep us profitable.

“As a board member or a dealer member, Bob was always responsive and sensitive to my point of view, whether he agreed or not. That takes a man with empathy and good leadership skills. I’m sure he went home to Judy many nights, wondering how he could keep the peace with this group of disparate members. Somehow he did it, and I am pleased to report we’re much indebted to him for his style and vision.” – Bob Young, Young’s Appliance

“I have known Bob Lawrence for approximately 25 years and always found him to be an ‘idea man.’ He was the first, as I recall, to bring service, financing, marketing and operations solutions to the members of BrandSource. Many of BrandSource’s members were and are single-store operations, and the services BrandSource offered in the early days helped many survive the tough times and the economy during the last eight years or so.

“Bob also had a vision many years ago of creating a brand for the members, so in any city or town you could find a BrandSource dealer. I recall early conversations with Bob, and his passion for the vision. He could clearly see the value of establishing a brand and marketing it across the U.S.” – Sam Abdelnour, sales VP, Whirlpool

“Bob Lawrence is an innovative thinker who always has the best interest of the independent retailers in mind. Over the 10 years I have worked with Bob, I have learned to think outside your typical ‘retail box,’ and even more so embrace the power of the independent retailers, and how their hard work and dedication ensures that they will go on forever.” – John White, appliance executive VP, BrandSource

“Over my career, Bob has been a competitor, a business associate, a peer and a friend. I will remember Bob as great leader who always found solutions to the daily myriad of vexing problems we all faced in this industry. But more importantly, he will remain a friend who never wavered in his support of me.” – Joe Higgins, regional director, Whirlpool (retired)

“One of the most innovative, early adapting, forward- thinking leaders the industry has ever seen. Our group has been extremely fortunate to have benefited from his leadership and direction.” – Tom Bennet, sales VP, BrandSource

“Bob Lawrence has been a true visionary for Brand- Source and our industry as a whole. His leadership and mentoring skills will have a significant future impact on BrandSource members and our entire leadership team.” – E. Michael Allen, home furnishings VP, BrandSource