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BrandSource, HES Dealers See Marketplace Stabilizing

DALLAS — While the industry isn’t
out of the woods just yet, dealers and integrators
attending last week’s Brand-
Source and Home Entertainment Source
(HES) spring summits said business is
regaining equilibrium after a bruising
2009, and are optimistic about new marketplace

For Jeff Tracy, principal of Tracy’s Appliances,
opportunity came in the form
of the federal “cash for appliances” rebate
program, which just reached his home
state of Ohio. The Lima-based business
ran a double-rebate promotion for refrigerators
and offered tripled rebates on
front-load washers, which struck a chord
with consumers.

“We hit it hard and it paid off,” Tracy
told TWICE.

After opening his doors at 8:00 a.m.
— and holding his breath for 45 minutes
— the crowds came “and it really
hit. You can’t turn your back on opportunity.
Lowe’s did 10 percent off and we
knocked ’em stiff.”

Tracy, who was recently elected to the
AVB/BrandSource board of directors,
said he’s also seeing “a lot of optimism
from new members in these bad times.”

For custom installer Ronnie Zielinski
of Creative Systems in Natick, Mass.,
business “is steady and better than last
year. We’re busy.”

Zielinski, a member of HES, expects
to be even busier as warm weather returns
to his Massachusetts and Pennsylvania
markets, and new-home construction,
which represents the bulk of his
business, resumes.

“The Boston housing market is holding
up better than other parts of the
country,” he said.

For Greenville TV & Appliance in
Greenville, N.C., personalized service, inhouse
repairs and a long local history help
distinguish the family-owned business
from big-box competitors, said VP Davis
Williams. His dad Malcolm, who founded
the one-store operation and serves as
president of AVB’s South Atlantic chapter,
said the group’s BrandSource branding
program and Expert Warehouse logistics
solution have also given him a competitive
edge in their university town.

Vance Pflantz, founder and principal
of 53-year-old Pflanz Electronics in
Sioux City, Iowa, went further, saying
Expert Warehouse helped allay multiple
business concerns he had last year. “The
economic times are quite challenging,
the consumer tide is unpredictable, and
we’re extremely challenged by tight margins,
instant rebates and inventory management,”
he told the HES rank and file in his first term as president.

Pflantz, who also serves as chairman of the
Professional Audio Video Retailers Assn.
(PARA), described the warehousing program
as “a survival tool” thanks to its $5,000
prepaid freight terms, access to inventory,
and instant-rebate service that speeds reimbursements
and helps cash flow.

Pflantz is also optimistic about 3D TV,
a “profitable new technology” that he has
been demonstrating in his showroom for
the past six months. Sales staffers have
been instructed to offer demos to every
customer who walks through the door,
and response has been “enthusiastic.”