I've been at the National Association of Wholesaler-Distributors annual meeting this week in Washington D.C. The meeting has good attendance compared with last year's, and I've met quite a few attendees for whom this is their first time at the meeting.
Deliver Distribution News to Your Inbox
Sign up to receive MDM Update, your free weekly distribution news update by email. Enter your email address below:
But while attendance was up - perhaps one sign of hope that conditions are improving - many distributors in attendance said they still hadn't seen much recovery in their respective markets. In fact, many pointed out that though economic indicators are starting to rebound, that rebound is from a low most had not seen before. That means it will be some time before many of them start to rehire, restock and start to look and plan beyond the next quarter.
The consensus seemed to be that while we may have hit bottom in most areas, we still have a long way to go.
Economist Alan Beaulieu gave an overview of conditions and his forecast for recovery at the meeting. He had a more optimistic view of markets, forecasting that we will see the upside of the business cycle in 2011. He said that the signs of recovery we have seen so far are "sustainable" and "real." Improvement in most markets will begin this year, he said. It will be a "boring recovery," he told attendees. "If you are waiting for business to be as it was in 2007, it's not going to happen in the next five years - unless you make it happen."