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MARTA Members Balance Work And Play During Meeting

Scottsdale, Ariz. — MARTA committees discussed a couple of new initiatives intended to oil the wheels of the buying group during its meeting here in mid-June.

One way the group plans to ease operations is to have uniform price tags, with the manufacturers’ bullet items and suggested price being e-mailed from the group’s headquarters in Phoenix. Eventually, the lists of products and price tags will be mailed to the members on CD-RW discs.

This will make the individual member’s job easier and will add credibility in the eyes of consumers, who assume a handwritten price tag means the price has been jacked up, said executive director Warren Mann.

Members also discussed the benefit of selecting one of two models in various categories, in order to funnel a lot of their business to select companies, thereby gaining more clout with those companies. The group used this approach last fall when it decided to focus its room air conditioner business on Frigidaire and GoldStar models, Mann said.

Most of the new initiatives discussed at the show focused on making the buying group as cohesive as possible. “We’re almost as good as a single entity,” he said.

At some 120 member dealers, MARTA has seen a small decrease since last year, when the total was closer to 125. Three members left for the Nationwide buying group last year, and a couple others sold or went out of business. Mann, who took his position at the helm last summer, called those losses minor, natural side effects of the change in leadership. The recent addition of Rod Kush Furniture of Omaha, Neb., as well as Mann’s goal to add stores in the Northeast, suggest the group is as strong as ever.

Other events at the show included a late-night basketball game (between the “appliance guys” and the “CE guys,” with the “whites” defeating the “browns” by one point) and officer elections. The following officers were elected or re-elected to the board:

  • Elmer Karl, of Karl’s of Gregory, S.D., chairman.
  • Mike Fisher, Neilson’s Tire, Spencer, Iowa, first vice president.
  • Jeff Blumenthal, B&B Appliance, Cleveland, second vice president.
  • John Valentino, JV Distributing, Philadelphia, treasurer.
  • John Mistak, Walter’s Home Appliance, Detroit, secretary.
  • Herb Weisblatt, Mel Heller, Roger Van Vreede, Pat Goff, John Grant, Tom Belestreri, Bill Holda were elected to be members.
  • And Cotton Christiaansen and Terry Stewart were elected to be alternates.