This is a part of the 2015 Distribution Trends Special Issue. The annual feature was researched and written by MDM editors based on interviews with dozens of distributors, as well as industry experts and manufacturers. MDM also conducted a survey of its readers to uncover the trends outlined in this issue.
2015 Distribution Trends Special Issue
Distributors in other sectors are actively targeting safety as an area for growth. Many distributors report safety as an attractive target for expansion. For example, safety products now account for about 30 percent of Salt Lake City, UT-based Industrial Supply Company's business. "And it's a growing segment," says Jessica Yurgaitis, vice president of sales and marketing. In addition, distributors like Grainger are adding safety specialists to their staffs, creating even more direct competition for safety distributors.
Customers want more documented value add. Demand for services, such as inventory management (including vending), additional training and e-commerce, continues to grow. And as competition comes from more directions, it's more important to be able to document the value that is provided.
Consolidation ramps up in the sector. The environment is ripe for M&A in distribution, with large strategic acquirers looking to boost their revenue growth and private equity firms wanting to invest the capital they've raised. Combine that with the perceived opportunities in safety, and small- and midsized safety distributors and manufacturers have become an attractive target for acquisition. Just this week, Bunzl announced the acquisition of four companies that "represent an extension of our existing safety businesses," and 3M agreed to acquire Capital Safety, a manufacturer of fall protection equipment.
Consolidation has eased some of the hiring challenges. Most acquisitions result in some turnover. And while distributors report that there is still a challenge in finding qualified employees for the "long haul," other report that some good talent is now available because of the consolidation turnover. Distributors are also investing in training programs to expedite onboarding of new employees and to get them into the field faster.
Mergers & Acquisition highlights in 2014:
Mallory Safety and Supply acquires Interstate Safety and Supply, Sparks, NC.
Bunzl completed several safety-related acquisitions in 2014: Lee Brothers Bilston Limited, Wolverhapmton, UK; Guardsman Limited, Leicester, England; Allshoes Benelux BV, Alkmaar, Netherlands; SAS Safety Corp., Long Beach, CA; pka Klöcker GmbH, Dusseldorf, Germany; and De Santis Distribuição Industrial Ltda, Brazil.
Dillon Supply acquired Brammer Safety Supply Inc., Lynchburg, VA.
Linde Canada Ltd., Mississauga, Ontario, acquired Distribution Equiprotek, Chicoutimi, Quebec.