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We don't predict the future, but we do try to offer observations and insight from our coverage of diverse distribution sectors in
North America and abroad so our readers can plan and react quickly. Our lead article distills feedback gained in the latest MDM survey as well as a poll of distribution consultants to measure emerging trends and concerns for the year ahead.
Five years ago, the severe industrial downturn in this country went unnoticed for a long time by national news outlets. This year, the industrial sector is making money, not headlines, even though growth has slowed to single-digit levels, according to sales trends in 2007. In fact, most distributors we talked with a year ago planned on single-digit growth.
Lessons from the last downturn: Many distributors found new customers or grew surviving customers in smaller niche market segments. In many cases, the dollar volume decreased but the profitability increased as customers relied more on their distributors for higher levels of knowledge and support in product, service and inventory management functions. But don't expect to see that side of the story on the front page, except in MDM of course.