MDM Podcast: BlackHawk Industrial’s John Mark on Strategy, Growth and Leadership - Modern Distribution Management

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MDM Podcast: BlackHawk Industrial’s John Mark on Strategy, Growth and Leadership

President & CEO John Mark discusses BlackHawk’s go-to-market strategy, how it differentiates in the markets it serves and its continued aggressive growth strategy. He also talks about the importance of culture and leadership challenges today.
BlackHawk Industrial

BlackHawk Industrial — No. 30 on MDM’s 2022 Top Industrial Distributors List and No. 15 in MRO — has been on an acquisition tear ever since its private acquisition by Snow Phipps Group in the fall of 2018. After going 2015-2018 without a bolt-on, the distributor of metalworking and MROP products has since made 14 acquisitions, including three so far in 2022.

And the Tulsa, Oklahoma-based company has no plans of slowing down. In its Nov. 10 announcement of acquiring L.A. Tool & Supply Co. in Akron, Ohio, BlackHawk said, “Today’s deal is part of a flurry of acquisition activity BlackHawk has planned in order the expand into new categories and increase its product assortment to service customers better.” 

So, expect to see M&A headlines continue for BlackHawk going forward. Today, BlackHawk has over 1,000 employees across nearly 50 locations in the U.S.

John Mark

That aggressive growth strategy was a key point of conversation in the latest MDM Podcast, which featured BlackHawk President and CEO John Mark as the featured guest with Tom Gale.

Mark detailed to Gale how BlackHawk was founded in 2010 on the concept and theory that there is an engagement gap between the biggest industrial distributors and the smaller regional ones — the latter of which Mark said is more focused on a technical degree of service, as opposed to a focus on scale like its national competitors. Even so, Mark said, those regional distributors end up competing with the big guys. That’s where BlackHawk’s aggressive bolt-on strategy comes in.

“So, if BlackHawk could acquire those smaller distributors as regional players and connect this network to create the scale and the geographical reach that allowed them to compete at that same level, yet still provide that same high-touch, high-technical selling model, you’ve got a recipe for success,” Mark said in the podcast.

It’s exactly the mantra behind BlackHawk’s “Big Enough to Serve and Small Enough to Care,” motto.

Mark will further discuss his company’s M&A strategy and lessons learned at MDM’s upcoming Distribution M&A Summit, held virtually Feb. 22-23, which will explore the state of M&A markets and the 2023 outlook.

Besides M&A, Gale and Mark’s podcast conversation explored how BlackHawk differentiates in the markets it serves; what the company is hearing from customers on the demand front mid-way through 2022’s fourth quarter; how BlackHawk has navigated industry-wide challenges in talent recruiting and retention; and what the guiding principles have been for Mark along his career.

Listen to the full episode via the audio player above, and check out all of our previous MDM Podcasts at our page here.

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