As we embark on the second half of 2023, I will be interested to see how long the ‘cautious optimism’ remains throughout the distribution sector. My many conversations with distribution executives during May and June, I frequently asked what the demand outlook was for their company’s core product categories. And the most common things I heard were that while these executives aren’t ignoring the many economic red flags as of late June, their optimism remains buoyed by strong order backlogs and feedback from customers telling them that demand is still solid overall, albeit choppy. (Read more in MDM’s June 2023 edition of Premium Monthly.)
This year’s second quarter was indeed more choppy than 1Q, and we’ll dive into the demand metrics in the results of the Baird-MDM’s 2Q23 Industrial Distribution Survey in mid-July, so stay tuned for that Premium-exclusive research and insights. In the meantime, my June 13 blog examined the latest wholesale trade economic data, how distributors’ expectations changed month-to-month, and other economic indicators and what it all means for this industry.
Two June Premium blogs offered a behind-the-scenes perspective on two recent distributor acquisitions. One featured a chat with Global Industrial Company CEO Barry Litwin on his company’s $69 million purchase of St. Louis-based Indoff. The other featured insights from BlackHawk Industrial CEO John Mark on its acquisition of Stock’d Supply (formerly known as Bolts and Nuts Corp.) and how that addition fits in with BlackHawk’s other recent acquisitions. Both pieces touched on what led to the deal, why each distributor target was chosen and what Global and BlackHawk’s plans are for that new entity going forward.
To cap off June, I distilled some of the key takeaways from MDM’s spring research project in the field of customer experience and what distributors are doing to improve. We surveyed a pool of 130-plus distributors during April-May about how they’ve seen customer engagement change; the tools their utilizing to offer the customer experience buyers expect today; and how they foresee those trends shaping in the near future. This research was shared in a June 22 webcast and an accompanying whitepaper, which dive much deeper into the results than what I had space to touch on in that blog. And while not Premium-exclusive, June also saw the launch of MDM’s 2023 Top Distributors Lists — our 14th annual feature that ranks North America’s largest distributors of industrial, commercial and building supplies by their annual revenue within 17 different product sectors.
MDM is all set for our Virtual Profitability Summit, to be held July 19 from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. ET. Conducted in partnership with Dorn Group, the FREE event will deliver best practices, emerging innovations, impacts of AI and other technologies that your peers are leveraging to expand margins today.