This is a part of the 2014 Distribution Trends Report. The annual report was researched and written by MDM editors based on interviews with dozens of wholesaler-distributors, as well as industry experts and manufacturers. MDM also conducted a survey of its readers to uncover the trends outlined in this report.
2014 Distribution Trends Report
Adhesives continue to encroach on the Fasteners market. According to Mike McGuire, editor of American Fastener Journal, this is especially true in the aerospace industry, where the cheaper cost is driving manufacturers to adopt more adhesives. Distributors in the fasteners market are also looking at expanding their product offering. "We’re seeing dramatic growth with fastener distributors who are looking to broaden out what they sell to enable them to compete against a Fastenal," says Roger Woodward, president of Alliance Distribution Partners LLC, Gallatin, TN.
International influences will play a bigger role in the fasteners market. Competition is increasing from foreign suppliers, according to McGuire. "Foreign fastener suppliers will continue to grow market share and will develop new distribution channels to reach the American fastener distributor or even the OEM," he says.
There is also the Taiwan plating issue that has been causing delays in shipping and price increases, according to McGuire. The Taiwanese government recently tightened regulations following a series of incidents related to waste discharge. As a result, many electroplating plants have closed across Taiwan, as much as 80 percent, with delays for plated fasteners anywhere between 30 to 60 days and plating cost increases of around 30 percent, according to information collected by the British Association of Fastener Distributors.
Fastener training is a hot topic. Training on fastener products is "getting a lot of attention from distributors," McGuire says. While this focus on increasing product knowledge is good for the industry, associations need to do a better job of providing information to their membership, he says. Associations should have "reference to costs in the metals market (i.e. nickel and/or titanium)."
Inventory management demand increases as distributors look to control costs. Vendor managed inventory services continue to be in high-demand in the sector. As more inventory solutions become available, "new twists and approaches to VMI systems continue to grow among distributors," McGuire says.
A big force driving the demand for these services is the price sensitivity of the industry. There is a lot of price-checking, causing a mentality of "brokers" in the industry, as fastener distributors look to manage costs wherever possible, McGuire says.