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2015 Top 40 Industrial Distributors

02. W.W. Grainger – Top Industrial Distributors

Company Profile

W. W. Grainger logo

Contact Information


Headquarters: Lake Forest, IL
2014 Revenues: $10 billion
Change in Sales from 2013: 5.6%
Employees: 23,600
Locations: 377 branches (U.S.); 181 branches (Canada)
Number of New Locations: 1
2014 Acquisitions: WFS Enterprises
Key Executives: James Ryan, chairman, president & CEO; Court Carruthers, senior vice president & group president, Americas; D. G. Macpherson, senior vice president & group president, global supply chain international; Michael Ali, senior vice president & CIO; Laura Brown, senior vice president, communications & investor relations; Joseph High, senior vice president & chief people officer; John Howard, senior vice president & general counsel; Ron Jadin, senior vice president & CFO

In 2014, more than one-third (36 percent) of Grainger's total sales came through its e-commerce platform. The distributor continues to add new features to its website to improve the user experience and to create a uniform experience across platforms. There's no magic trick for improving that experience, says Paul Miller, vice president of global e-commerce, customer information and innovation. “A lot of this gets back to grungy, gnarly data work."

Safety products is one of the key areas being targeted by Grainger in 2015. Grainger recently launched its online Safety Resource Center to help customers identify and prevent workplace hazards. It also continues to expand its field safety specialist team nationwide. Safety and security products currently make up about 18 percent of Grainger's product mix – the largest individual category for the distributor.

President and CEO Jim Ryan called 2014 a "challenging year," as the company worked to address underperforming businesses. Sales in the U.S., up nearly 7 percent in 2014, were a bright spot for the distributor, while sales in Canada fell 3 percent year-over-year. 

Grainger now has 592,000 SKUs in its U.S. catalog, according to its 2015 Factbook, and 1.5 million products available company-wide.

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