Association of Progressive Rental Organizations | America’s Champion for Rent-to-Own

Buddy’s Newco Innovates for Annual Leadership Conference

From left: Will Powell with American Freight, Michael Bennett with Buddy’s Home Furnishings and Brent Turner with Liberty Tax.

Buddy’s Newco LLC, dba Buddy’s Home Furnishings, recently held its Annual Leadership Conference with new safety precautions to keep attendees healthy. The annual event, held in Orlando, Florida, at the Loews Royal Pacific Resort, displayed a new way for events to continue in the future. Just like the conference’s theme suggests, Buddy’s made a way for the rent-to-own industry to enact Together Towards Tomorrow.

Todd Evans with Franchise Group, Inc. launched into a conversation at the general session.

“With all of this uncertainty, what we know for sure is we are more powerful together than by ourselves,” said Teresa Hill, event co-organizer and Vice President of Operational Support at Buddy’s Newco. “Together Towards Tomorrow means no matter what the future looks like, we will be able to get through any challenges by working together.”

Nina Shively with Buddy’s Newco and Kevin Gaughan with Ashley Furniture.

To ensure the safety of all who took part, the hotel and event organizers put in place health measures based on CDC guidelines, including the use of social distancing at all meals and meetings, single-serving food items during breaks and hand sanitizer stations throughout the venue. In addition, all attendees and staff were required to wear masks in public spaces, received temperature checks upon arrival and the hotel staff disinfected all meeting spaces every 90 minutes.

“This year’s event definitely held some challenges with CDC guidelines and hotel protocols. All that aside, this was our biggest meeting to date,” said Nina Shively, Director of Purchasing at Buddy’s Newco and co-organizer of the event. “I think given the current social atmosphere, attendees were excited and anxious to be with their peers again face to face. That was the overwhelming response we received from not only our attendees but vendors as well.”

Tony Farrell and Charles Smitherman from PTS Financial and Benefit Services, visit with attendees.

The three-day event featured more than ten speakers, a Hot Show and a vendor show for the 125 attendees. Michael Bennett, Chief Executive Officer of Buddy’s Home Furnishings spoke throughout the conference. Along with Bennett, other Buddy’s speakers included Roy Griffaw, Chris Koch, Nina Shively, Jammy Williams and Mike Zagar. APRO Executive Director Jill McClure spoke during the general session about the national association’s response during the pandemic. She noted APRO’s strategy working with members to maintain or defend their essential status. Other guest speakers included APRO members Doug Allen, President of Climatic Home Products and Michael Helton a tax shareholder at Rivero, Gordimer & Company P.A.

“Buddy’s franchisees and vendors put their trust in us to deliver a safe and informative leadership conference,” said Bennett. “What happened? We delivered!”

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