This is a part of the 2016 Distribution Trends Special Issue. The annual feature was researched and written by MDM based on interviews with dozens of distributors, industry experts and manufacturers. MDM also conducted a survey of its readers to uncover the trends outlined in this issue.
2016 Distribution Trends Special Issue
Oil and gas – and other natural resources – continued to drag down the power transmission and bearings sector. States heavily reliant on the oil and gas industry saw distributors posting double-digit declines. Canada has also suffered from declines in natural resources.
Diversification expands. Many end markets served by power transmission and bearings distributors have seen wild swings in demand since the recession. As a result, many distributors have been expanding their target markets. Key targets for growth: food and beverage and automotive.
Counterfeit bearings remain a concern. Nearly every major bearing manufacturer has been hit over the last few years by counterfeiters – and as a result, they're working with channel partners to combat the growing issue. A key element of these partnerships is expanding communication and education about the products and how to identify them.
More power transmission and bearings distributors are focusing efforts into building an online presence, but many still struggle with differentiating themselves from other online companies, such as Amazon. Target areas to improve this include providing better product data – "Product data is the key to our future success," noted one survey respondent – and ensuring technical expertise and service.
Training is viewed as more important than ever, but most power transmission and bearings distributors noted that they struggle to find time to provide the extended training they would like to offer employees – new and old. "The biggest challenge is allocating enough time for training," noted one respondent to the 2016 MDM Market Trends Survey. "For new employees, we tend to ask them to hit the ground running with little training. Existing employees tend to get stuck in the day-to-day operation so not as much time as desired is allocated to training."
Mergers & Acquisitions in 2015:
Kaman Distribution Group continued to build on its fluid power platform with the acquisition of Calkins Fluid Power. It also acquired G.C. Fabrication in 2015.
Average growth for companies on the Power Transmission/Bearing Market Leaders list: -2.4%