BrandSource will host its first Young Professionals University (YPU) event in Orange County, California on May 18—20. The Young Professionals’ division, led by director of marketing, Jennifer Baldwin, is BrandSources' “breeding ground” for prospective future leaders of the company. The three-day event is an opportunity for the industry’s under 40 demographic to network with one another in a casual setting while earning valuable knowledge about the retail industry.
The Young Professionals’ division, which was created in 2014, is a mixture of young, highly motivated independent dealers, sales representatives, buyers, sales managers, and vendor partners looking to share new ideas and grow their businesses. It is hoped that the members converging in Orange County in May, through a mixture of educational seminars, social networking, and guidance by current membership, will be the next group of business leaders capable of meeting the needs of future generations in the electronics, appliance, furniture, and bedding industries.
The upcoming YPU event will be dynamic much like the recent BrandSource and ProSource Summit in Orlando in terms of combining business related activities with social events designed to encourage networking and collaboration. Team building events, seminars, roundtable discussions, and workshops will be mixed in with other activities including a beach BBQ, a tour of the Bosch facility, and an interactive vendor/member mixer. The Young Professionals’ membership will also be treated to keynote speakers Tim and Kris O’Shea who will present “The O’Shea Report: Change 180,” an informative and humorous look on how to use humor to deal with the ups and downs of change. The popular duo has previously presented to such prominent companies as McDonald’s, General Motors, and Hewlett-Packard.
The event will also coincide with the Power Dealer Meeting, which is a meeting of the company’s largest volume members. The timing of the event will afford the Young Professionals a unique opportunity to introduce themselves to veteran members of the BrandSource family, learn from their vast experience, and make valuable contacts along the way. “We think this will be a great time for them (the Young Professionals) to network and learn from our more seasoned retailers. We are inviting vendors who have young professionals within their industries to join us. We want the young retailers to know that this is still a viable industry in all categories- consumer electronics, major appliances, furniture, and bedding,” said Jennifer Baldwin, who is leading the contingent’s visit to Orange County.
The overlap of the Young Professionals and Power Dealers meetings has an additional purpose: overcoming the common issue of succession planning. It is hoped that fraternization with prominent members of the BrandSource membership could help current owners find ways to more easily pass their businesses on to often-reluctant future generations. “The concern amongst our members has been that their desire to pass on their businesses to the future generation is being met with hesitation,” said Baldwin. “Our purpose is to share best practices and networking opportunities to these future leaders to prove that this can be a very successful and lucrative venture and to provide direction on how this can be accomplished.”
The commingling of current and future generations of dealers is intended to spread the vision of the BrandSource membership that, despite the popular misconception depicted in the media, that younger employees share the same drive and determination of their predecessors.
“Today’s young professionals are considered the most educated generation ever,” asserted Baldwin. “This generation understands that nothing can be achieved alone and therefore work extraordinarily well collaborating together. Besides being completely tech savvy, they aspire to find solutions to problems. We’re really excited because this is the first ever Young Professionals University, the first time we’ll have YPs together for more than just a few hours. This is an excellent way for them to not only network but to share ideas and really learn from one another.”