MDM readers spent 2016 digging into what's happening at the industry's leading companies – what they have planned and how well (or poorly) they're performing. Nine of our top 10 most-read blogs published this year at mdm.com featured news about one of our Market Leaders, while the other blog featured our Market Leader list.
Here are our Top 10 Most-Read Blogs of 2016:
- Labor Rules Lead to Fastenal Closures
New labor rules redefining exempt employees forced Fastenal to change its store opening strategy. The company closed 65 stores in the third quarter and planned to close another 32 stores in 4Q, though it didn't expect the closures to significantly impact sales.
- Home Depot 'All in' for MRO Growth
The Home Depot is reaping the benefits of its $1.6 billion acquisition of Interline Brands, which the company bought in 2015 to fill a hole it had serving professional contractors. President and CEO Craig Menear said in May the big-box retailer was planning a $550 billion market "all in" strategy in the MRO space.
- Grainger's Gloomy Forecast
Grainger admitted in October it didn't have high hopes for a strong finish to 2016, with newly appointed CEO DG Macpherson saying, "We continue to operate in a challenging economic environment. We expect fourth quarter demand to remain challenged." That refrain was a common one throughout the year in the industrial space.
- Grainger to Close Branches, Invest in Clean Energy
Challenging market conditions around oil and gas and manufacturing drove down sales for Grainger in the fourth quarter of 2015 and the year as a whole, forcing the company to "continue to adjust the U.S. branch network in 2016" with plans to close 55 branches throughout the year.
- 2016 Top Industrial Distributors Announced
This year saw some interesting shifts on the sector lists, notably in building materials & construction, where acquisitions in 2015 brought together some of the largest distributors. On the Top 40 Industrial Distributors list, the change at the top of the list was driven by our efforts to better reflect the competitive landscape.
- Grainger's Investment Blueprint
Amid Grainger's woes throughout 2016, the company didn't hold back on capital investments, former CEO Jim Ryan told MDM at the beginning of the year. "Many companies, we found, will take a timeout on those more capital-intensive investments in down economies," he said. "But this is not only an opportunity to be different; it's an opportunity to move forward faster."
- ‘Transformation’ Powering Anixter in 2016
Recent strategic moves helped Anixter International Inc. post record sales and also positioned it for further top- and bottom-line growth, according to CEO Bob Eck. Specifically, the acquisition of HD Supply's Power Solutions division in 2015 helped Anixter bolster its low-voltage, transformer and switchgear product offering to gain traction in mid-size construction projects.
- Fastenal Feeling Customers' Pain
Fastenal began 2016 lamenting the pain that grew more severe across its customer base the previous year because the economy continued to weaken. CEO Dan Florness said more than a fifth of Fastenal's customers were down 25 percent or more in the fourth quarter of 2015, with some experiencing shutdowns.
- Fastenal Builds Momentum with On-Site Stores
As Fastenal's customers fought an uphill economic battle, the distributor furthered embedded itself into their businesses by adding more on-site locations, in hopes of the company having "an even more intimate relationship (with each customer) than we've had in the past," according to Florness.
- What Faster Air Liquide-Airgas Closing Means for Sector
The faster-than-expected closing of Air Liquide's acquisition of Airgas – the largest deal to close in 2016 (it was announced in 4Q 2015) – also shortened the window for gases & welding equipment distributors to take advantage of the transition.