Day: January 10, 2010

Rehiring for the Recovery

MDM readers say they are prepared to do "more with less" as they move into what could be the start of a recovery. This article looks at current job growth expectations across industries, as well as signs to look for that indicate it may be time to start hiring again.

With recovery now making headlines more than recession, attention has shifted toward what that recovery could look like. Debate continues over when the U.S. and global economies will rebound, but a dominant belief is that when recovery does occur, one thing it may be lacking is jobs.

Distributors and manufacturers are planning to do "more with less" in 2010, according to the results of MDM's annual Reader Survey conducted in December. More than a third …

Commentary: M&A Market Focuses on Value

The first few days of 2010 have already produced a number of announcements regarding deals in distribution and manufacturing sectors. There are a relatively high percentage of distressed sales, but some healthy companies are in play, as well. There are some excellent opportunities to build value in this part of the cycle. It's a fundamentally different M&A landscape than just a few years ago when valuations were sky high, and distribution markets were the hot ticket for investment funds.

Creating an Ownership Culture

The author of this article, the 20-year owner and CEO of a fluid sealing distributor, talks about the rewards and challenges in transforming the culture of his company to one where the employees took ownership and went beyond their normal daily activities to do what is best for the company.

I once had the pleasure of hearing Retired General Arnold Schwarzkopf speak on the topic of leadership. To paraphrase, leadership is getting others to do what they would not ordinarily do, voluntarily. In an ownership culture, employees voluntarily do activities they would not normally be expected to perform.

In visiting hundreds of companies, I have observed wildly different corporate cultures. It doesn't take long in a visit to sense a strict authoritarian …

Exclusive Summary: MDM Readers Outline Plans to Improve Profitability

Profitability has become the key focus for distributors over the past 12 months, as top-line sales growth has dropped off due to a severe decline in many end-markets in 2009.

Most respondents to a recent Modern Distribution Management-Activant survey are optimistic and expect individual company profitability to be greater in 2010 versus 2009.

In the survey, respondents also outlined where they would focus in each of four areas to improve profitability in 2010.

To improve processes and personnel productivity, …

Airgas on Strategic Accounts, Private Label, & Acquisitions

Airgas, Radnor, PA, outlined its growth strategies and successes in its annual analyst meeting in December. Here is an overview of the key areas covered by the gases and welding hardgoods distributor.

Product and Segment Focus
According to Airgas, about 30 percent of its total sales go to customer segments that are "growing faster than GDP." Strategic products, a group of five product areas, account for 40 percent of sales. Those are: Bulk, Medical, Specialty Gas, CO2/Dry Ice, and Safety Products. These product areas have grown faster than Airgas' other core business, COO Michael Molinini told analysts, and the areas cater to "favorable customer segments."

One growth driver for these areas is cross-selling. For example, …

Download This Issue: MDM January 10, 2010

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