The last time ProSource members gathered in person was the second week of March 2020. Two days later, the entire world shut down due to COVID-19 lockdowns. So needless to say, the vibe at the ProSource 2022 Spring Conference was loaded with high energy.
“This is almost like a family reunion,” said Jim Ristow, CEO of BrandSource/AVB, the parent organization of ProSource, as he spoke to the group at the opening State of the Industry presentation. Ristow challenged attendees to take control of their local markets and not give back any of the market share they have gained over the past year.
There four distinct groups within the BrandSource buying group that all gathered in Las Vegas in early March under the theme “Own It.” In addition to the tech-focused ProSource members, the meeting gathered members from the appliance and furnishings world under the New England Appliance Group, Intercounty Appliance Corp., and BrandSource.
“To say it has been a busy year is an understatement,” says Andy Orozco, vice president of business development for ProSource. “There has been incredible consumer demand, and vendors are working hard on the supply chain. It has been difficult for CI dealers and they are working hard to manage their schedules.
Speaking to the nearly 400 integrators and 200 vendors in attendance, Orozco noted the theme of this year’s event is “Own It,” and he told attendees, “by being here that is exactly what you are doing.”
Orozco cited some strong data from ProSource members in 2021, including an overall sales volume increase of 24% year over year. Also, volume rebate transactions with vendors were up 51% year over year for the 600-member ProSource group. In all, 30 new members joined and ProSource and the buying group had a 98% retention rate.
“We have been on a wild ride. Demand for luxury items is insane. Rolls Royce had a record year. Got out and try to buy a Rolex… you can’t find them,” says Orozco. Heading into 2022, the group is “cautiously optimistic.”
Orozco cited the still lingering effects of COVID-19 on the market, coupled with the tough labor market and inflation, as big challenges. He also expects housing starts to remain at their current levels of 1.6 million in 2022 and 2023.
“In this post-pandemic economy, household savings are strong, but we expect consumer demand to moderate later in the year. We also see retail momentum slowing down, with spending shifting to services versus goods, especially with the supply chain still trying to catch up,” he notes.
“We are definitely optimistic. There will be growth opportunities but you need to be strategic. Sales of big TVs might be down, so you might need to focus on big screen OLED. Both audio and electronics sales will improve but not until later in the year. Now is the time to take action and ‘own it’ for your own success,” he adds.
ProSource Education Expands
Sherry Dantonio, Prosource’s senior director of education and member recruitment, highlighted a busy year for the group in terms of expanding its training.
Prosource University formed in May 2020 just before the pandemic with only 16 courses. Today is has more than 750 available courses, including the entire CEDIA catalog of training.
“It has been wildly successful and it is only going to grow from here,” she says. Dantonio noted that ProSource members have saved more than $150,000 by taking CEDIA courses via ProSource U.
Meanwhile, ProSource Academy has trained 58 new technicians since its launch in 2021 and will be instituting a Level 2 training course in the spring of 2022. Meanwhile, the ProSource Lighting Tech Certification has trained 137 at Level 1 and another 48 at Level 2. ProSource hosts one lighting technology certification class per quarter at its Lighting Technology Learning Center in Dallas.
“We are the only group in the industry that has anything like this,” she says.
At the Vegas event, ProSource held a series of roundtable discussions focusing leadership, how to earn your next $1 million, and improving proposals to boost your closing rate. The group also had a panel of integrators who are already having great success in the lighting fixture industry. The panel discussed how to work closely with electricians, what the margins are, lighting design and more. (CE Pro will have more detail on that panel upcoming.)
Tim Bashford, senior director of sales at ProSource, also recognized the Members of the Year Awards:
- South Central — Elite Automation & Technology
- West — Pacific Audio and Communications
- Southeast — SoundVision
- North Central –Technology Interiors
- Northeast — Total Home Technologies
“ProSource is built on member engagement and solutions, not just ROI on buying,” noted Bashford.
The only element of the ProSource “family reunion” missing was executive director Dave Workman who was unable to attend in person as he recuperates from a health issue, but Workman sent along a video message to the attendees to open the show.