The 2020 Mid-Year Economic Update_long

Day: September 24, 2008

FCX Performance Acquires North Coast Instruments

FCX Performance, Inc., Columbus, OH, has acquired North Coast Instruments, Cincinnati, OH, a distributor of electric actuators and related process equipment and provider of repair services.

Our combined resources in this important marketplace will provide an efficient outlet to market for our key vendors and provide our customers with one-stop shopping capabilities for an enhanced range of flow control products and services,"said Charles Simon, president and CEO of FCX.

FCX Performance distributes specialty flow control products with combined sales of $130 million, 14 offices serving 21 states and over 190 employees. ...

Worthington Industries Reports Sales Up 20% in 1Q

Worthington Industries, Inc., Columbus, OH, reported first quarter sales of $913.2 million, a increase of 20% over same period sales of $750 million a year ago. Profit improved 240% to $68.6 million.
While we benefited from a rising price environment, we have also been very focused on reducing costs, maximizing asset utilization and driving improvements in our operations,"said John McConnell, CEO. "Unfortunately, the record quarterly sales and net earnings are not sustainable given current market conditions, particularly in the Steel Processing and Metal Framing business segments."
On Sept. 23, 2008, U.S. Steel and Worthington Industries announced a plan to expand their existing Worthington Specialty Processing joint venture. Under the terms of the agreement, ...

NEMA Electroindustry Business Index Up Slightly

The National Electrical Manufacturers Association's Electroindustry Business Confidence Index for current North American conditions clawed slightly higher in September, rising to 37.5 points from 37 in August -the second small increase in as many months.
Still, the index -which has remained firmly within the low 30- to high 40-point range over most of the last year and a half -continued to lag the 50-point breakeven"mark, signaling a weakening business environment.
By contrast, the EBCI for future North American conditions tumbled, dropping 11.6 points to 29.2. The decline brought the future conditions index to its lowest level in two years.
The Electroindustry Business Confidence Index gauges the business confidence of the electroindustry in Asia, ...

Some Wholesalers Go Retail Online

With already tight margins in a struggling economy, some distributors are looking for creative ways to survive, and hopefully make a dollar or two along the way. A recent article from the Wall Street Journal at (subscription required) highlighted how some wholesalers are taking on a virtual retailer role to expand their sales base. Companies like, operated by glass and tile wholesaler Eli Mechlovitz in New York, are setting consumer-focused Web sites for direct orders to fill gaps left by retail and other commercial clients that are also struggling.
Any commitment to selling online, whether to a distributor's traditional customers or direct-to-consumer, requires a ...

Another Wage-Hour Case Rears Its Head

Another wage-hour case has reared its head in distribution.
Building Materials Holding Corp. is the latest to be hit by a lawsuit, filed by employees in its construction unit, under the Fair Labor Standards Act. According to a report by the Los Angeles Times, 14 plaintiffs allege a number of violations, including that they were "coerced for years into working unpaid overtime." Other allegations include being asked to sign blank time sheets, skip breaks and travel without compensation.
BMHC has denied the allegations.
Fastenal Company recently settled a wage-hour case. Read about that and more on the intricacies of this sticky law

Canadian Wholesale Revenues Up 2.3% in July

Canadian wholesale revenues rose 2.3% in July to $46.2 billion as increases across a number of sectors contributed to a fifth consecutive monthly gain. Price effects were minimal in July, as sales in volume terms rose 2.2%.

July's gains were spread across six of the seven wholesale sectors, with food, beverages and tobacco products the only sector reporting lower sales.

The largest contribution came from the other products" sector, which rebounded from a 3.4% drop in June to post a 6.0% rise in July. Sales in this sector have increased significantly over the past year, mostly as a result of higher global demand for agricultural supplies. Exports of fertilizers and fertilizer material rose by more than 30% in July and have more ...

Survey: Health Care Premiums Rise 5% in 2008

Premiums for employer-sponsored health insurance rose to $12,680 annually for family coverage this year -with employees on average paying $3,354 out of their paychecks to cover their share of the cost -and the scope of that coverage has changed, with many more workers now enrolled in high-deductible plans, according to the 2008 Employer Health Benefits Survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation and the Health Research &Educational Trust (HRET).
Premiums rose a modest 5% this year, but they have more than doubled since 1999 when total family premiums stood at $5,791 (of which workers paid $1,543). During the same nine-year period, workers'wages increased 34% and general inflation rose 29%.
This year many workers are also facing higher deductibles in their plans, ...

Wolseley on Potential Stock Sale: ‘Riding Out the Storm Not an Option’

Wolseley has confirmed at least one of the rumors floating around this past summer. It is considering a sale of Stock Building Supply, its building materials arm in the U.S. UK-based Wolseley, a global building materials/plumbing/HVAC distributor, also owns Ferguson.
Wolseley Chief Executive Chip Hornsby said in a Webcast Q&A this week that he expects the new residential market to get worse before it gets better, and that riding out the storm is not an option for us." He also said that the company had done pretty much all it could do in cutting costs at Stock. "We must acknowledge that further large-scale reduction of Stock will inevitably eat into the infrastructure of the business," he says.
Stock lost £123 million in the 2008 fiscal year. That's about ...