WESCO International – an electrical distributor – has agreed to acquire one of the larger independent safety products distributors, Conney Safety Products, with $85 million in annual sales. WESCO does not break out the percent of sales it has in safety products in its annual report, but in a news release the distributor said this acquisition would "significantly strengthen" WESCO's safety portfolio. WESCO had $6.1 billion in sales in 2011.
The acquisition continues a trend over the past decade that has introduced new competitors into the safety products landscape.
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More distributors, large and small, have added safety products as complementary product lines. Gases and welding supplies distributor Airgas, for one, has an entire division dedicated to safety products. Grainger has also targeted safety as a key growth area.
Broad success in safety goes beyond adding a few lines to a distributor’s product offerings. While safety products do offer a way to expand existing spend in an account for products that the customer is already buying, some distributors expanding into this area recognize that customers may need a higher level of support and expertise in certain categories. This has driven some of these distributors to hire and train safety specialists and add services specific to safety.
It’s driving independent safety distribution specialists to expand their service offerings and focus on communicating their value propositions even more clearly in an increasingly busy competitive landscape.
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