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At the 2014 Grainger Show in Orlando – Grainger’s annual trade show for customers and suppliers – safety is front and center. Massive banners declaring “Think Safety, Think Grainger” are displayed over the long line of registration booths, and a large section of the trade show floor is dedicated to Grainger’s safety products and services.
In a roundtable discussion with media at the event, Grainger CEO Jim Ryan said that the $9.4 billion MRO distributor had “for years” under-marketed the safety capabilities that it had.
So Grainger has focused on building its reputation around safety products and services, taking advantage of the scale it has built and the product line it already has.
But can Grainger compete in a space that historically was reserved for safety specialists, smaller distributors with a laser focus on safety?
Ryan believes it can. While the distributor has historically not been able to match the service offering of smaller, more focused safety distributors, it is building out the required expertise. Grainger acquired Safety Solutions at the end of December as part of that strategy.
The distributor also announced this week a new partnership with the National Safety Council called the Journey to Safety Excellence. More details will be released in September 2014, but Grainger was able to say that it will include a joint website that will serve as a one-stop shop for a company to analyze safety issues.