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Workman On Main Issues Facing PRO

Scottsdale, Ariz. – Aside from all the discussions about Harvey Electronics’ proposed acquisition of fellow PRO Group member MyerEmco, there were plenty of other issues on the minds of attendees at the organization’s spring meeting this week. Executive director Dave Workman sat down and discussed a few of them with TWICE.

Workman said that the group still has 18 members and that “estimated annual sales would be around $2 billion. We crested above that previously but with reorganization at Tweeter some sales volume has come down.”

When asked if PRO is considering expansion, Workman said, “We are not on a rush drive. We don’t need to validate ourselves by having 19 or 20 members. It is more important to have the right members. Our members have been actively recruited because they bring complimentary value to the group. Where we feel there would be an additional retailer out there that could bring value we would always welcome a new member.”

But he feels that the expansion at Ken Crane’s and Sixth Avenue Electronics “and growth with our Internet retailers, one balances off against another.” He was upbeat, saying, “We are growing as a group, we had a good year last year, even with the choppy waters out there we still think we can catch a little wind in our sails and end up with a pretty reasonable year.”

Here are few of the key issues Workman discussed with TWICE:

TWICE: How Is Tweeter’s Consolidation Affecting PRO?

Workman: “It would be stupid to say that our largest member is undergoing a reorganization and it won’t have an affect whatsoever on the group. The issues around Tweeter are issues that both the industry needs to deal with. – keeping specialty chains like Tweeter growing. I would say that it is incumbent upon [PRO] to rally behind Tweeter with the challenges they are facing in their business and help them in any way we can. I’m confident that they will find an answer. There are consumers who look for something more than a price.”

TWICE:What Is the Major Concern of the PRO Group at this meeting?

Workman: “The main concern is can we retain profitability for all channels in this business, recognizing that manufacturers have to do volume? We have to also realize that there are varying channels and that each of those channels has a position and a benefit to the consumer. But we sometimes race to zero in this industry. We just can’t rush to commoditization so quickly with everything we have to sell.”

TWICE:What impact has the problems of national retailers had on the industry?

Workman: “When you are in the CE business you are not in a vacuum. There is a ripple effect. And as we look at products, when you create a solution for consumers, this industry has always been noted for products will always become commoditized but solutions don’t. I think there is more and more emphasis on the part of all retailers to come up with an end solution for consumers. Too often we are just offering a product. How do we take all this wonderful technology, bring it to consumer and make it easy to understand and easy to use? That requires a certain level of knowledge and a certain level of training you just can’t get off of a spec sheet.”

For more on the PRO Group and coverage of the spring meeting, watch for updates online and in the May 21 issue of TWICE.