Sonepar USA CEO Tony Burr provides his view on the state of the economy, the impact of copper and fuel prices on the electrical distributor's business, and attracting new talent to the industry.
MDM: How do you view the current state of the economy?
Tony Burr: We cannot exempt ourselves from what is going on in the economy. The marketplace is difficult. We all see what is happening in construction, and a chunk of our business is in that. We are also in commercial, which is holding up reasonably well. One of the things I did a few years ago when I started buying up companies here for Sonepar was to spread our risk. I moved us away from being totally contractor-related.
Al Bates, founder and chairman of Profit Planning Group, Boulder, CO, wants to change how distribution executives think about their business. In this interview, he addresses dysfunctional behavior, alternatives to typical mindsets and ways that distributors can manage better in a turbulent economy. Based on his experience as a corporate financial planner and decades of data analysis, he's not afraid to buck conventional wisdom. In fact, he enjoys it. Bates has studied financial performance across dozens of wholesale distribution sectors for more than 25 years. His firm conducts the annual benchmarking report series, PAR reports, for more than 40 wholesale distribution associations. This interview discusses key themes from his new book, Profit Myths in Wholesale Distribution: ...
CEO Joe DeAngelo talks about distributor's vision, post-Home Depot
April 10, 2008
HD Supply, Atlanta, GA, now separated from its parent company The Home Depot, is ready to move forward as a focused organization after the ups and downs of 2007. HD Supply's CEO Joe DeAngelo spoke recently with MDM on the distributor's plans to stay on the acquisition trail, the company's strategy for integrating acquired companies, its plans for private label and green, and how he views the current economic situation.
MDM: How did the past year of not knowing the direction of the company in terms of ownership affect HD Supply and its ability to execute its strategy?
Joe DeAngelo: The good news is that we got through it all. We woke up the first part of 2007 and find out we're for sale mid-February, and you go with the flow with that and ...
Part II: Master Distributor is in private label because our customers ask for it.""
February 25, 2008
MDM spoke with United Stationers CEO Dick Gochnauer recently about the company's move into the industrial sector as well as the role it plays as a master distributor. In Part II of this interview, Gochnauer addresses private label, recruiting and retaining employees and data-sharing. MDM: How is United Stationers preparing for a potential economic slowdown in the next year?
Dick Gochnauer: I have less concern over industrial, foodservice and JanSan. In the office products space, we are seeing a slowdown. We saw it starting to occur in 2007. We figured it was coming and it did. We are prepared if the economic slowdown continues in 2008. We are planning to get growth but know that it may be more challenging. The good news in the office ...
Part I: United Stationers on its place in the supply chain
February 10, 2008
United Stationers, with sales approaching $5 billion, is a master distributor of business, foodservice and janitorial supplies, and recently moved into the industrial space with the purchase of ORS Nasco, a master distributor of industrial supplies with sales of close to $300 million.
MDM recently sat down with United Stationers'CEO Dick Gochnauer to talk about United's recent move into the industrial sector, as well as what the company is seeing in the various market segments it serves. United Stationers has recently embarked on a journey to expand its e-commerce capabilities with its distributor customers.
It also plans to spread best practices from its core competency -office products distribution -into other segments: JanSan (served by its ...
Distribution vets form Supply Chain Equity Partners
November 25, 2007
Sensing a need for outside investors with a firm grasp of distribution businesses, a group of industry veterans, as well as consultants Adam Fein and Brent Grover,  ; has formed the first private equity firm that will invest exclusively in distribution companies. The goal is to use the principals'and investors'experience, expertise and networks in the industry to help management maximize the growth and profitability of portfolio companies, says Jim Miller, a principal in the firm.
MDM: Where did you come up with the concept for Supply Chain Equity Partners?   ; Jim Miller: The idea actually came from the distribution industry itself. Supply Chain Equity was created to fill a void in the distribution sector that was expressed by ...
Doug Levin: Candid thoughts on meeting technology needs
November 10, 2007
Doug Levin has been involved in distribution information technology for more than 20 years. He is well known in many distribution sectors as the former executive vice president of Prophet 21 software company, acquired by Activant Solutions in 2005. In this interview, the guy who sold a lot of technology systems urges distributors to optimize current systems first. Here's Levin's perspective on IT best practices, standards, consolidation and challenges ahead.
MDM: What's your perspective on the consolidation you've seen in distribution software over 20 years, some of which you actively drove in your role with Prophet 21? Have distributors benefited?
Doug Levin: It has probably gone from 30 companies that focus specifically on distribution ...
Industrial Distribution Group's CEO on the One Company Strategy
July 9, 2007
Since 1997 when the company was formed through the rollup of nine industrial general-line distributors, Industrial Distribution Group, Atlanta, GA, has seen its share of integration challenges. Charles Lingenfelter, a founding member of IDG, became president and CEO of the $550-million national distributor in November 2005. Since taking the helm, Lingenfelter has pushed hard to take the distributor from four divisions to one company. MDM spoke with Lingenfelter recently at the Industrial Supply Association's annual meeting in Las Vegas, NV. Lingenfelter spoke of his company's progress and the work that still has to be done to make IDG's One Company plan a success. MDM: Over the past 10 years, IDG has had a series of integration ...
Ryan: Large players, specialty distributors in best position
May 25, 2007
The competitive landscape has shifted thanks to growing consolidation, Grainger President and COO Jim Ryan said recently. Small regional and local distributors still command the overwhelming share of this market," he said. "But they're under attack from larger regional and national players. The billion-dollar plus players are growing at a disproportionate rate to the market and to their smaller competitors. "...There is going to be a need for specialist distributors, and there is absolutely a place for large-scale distributors. The ones who will find it more difficult are the generalists in the middle." Ryan was addressing analysts attending the annual meeting of the Electrical Products Group of New York. Grainger is a $5.9 billion broad-line supplier of ...
Former Wolseley CEO talks about career move to private equity
March 25, 2007
In 2006, Charles Banks retired as CEO of global building materials and plumbing/HVAC distributor Wolseley plc. Banks had nearly 40 years with Wolseley and its subsidiary Ferguson. He decided to apply that vast experience elsewhere at retirement and joined the private equity firm Clayton, Dubilier & Rice, long-time investors in the distribution world. He serves as an operating partner for the firm, meaning his job is to help improve purchased companies to boost value for CD & R.
CD & R is an owner of electrical distributor Rexel and lab supply wholesaler VWR International. Both companies may be sold or up for IPOs in the coming months.
Banks recently sat down with MDM to talk about his transition from leading and building a public company to working for a ...