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The U.S. wholesale distribution's sector's overall revenue outlook for 2024 moved more aligned with its historical growth average, with an even better 2025 to follow.

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This new-look issue offers research on suppliers’ changing purchase minimums, distributors’ (lack of) AI progress and geopolitical impacts; and updates on Ferguson, Home Depot-SRS Distribution and more.
This issue compares AI adoption rates in manufacturing vs. distribution; explores Grainger’s role as a ‘Problem-Solver’; examines Border States’ acquisition path; and shares takeaways from the MODEX expo.

Market Insight Reports

See our in-depth M&A articles from the first three months of 2024, including the Home Depot-SRS blockbuster; the acquisition strategy for Ferguson and Border States; and the latest EBITDA trading multiples.
Find a wealth of data and analysis extracted from the 1Q24 Baird-MDM Industrial Distribution Survey, including trending charts and figures for revenue and expectations, plus plenty of interesting commentary.
The report features in-depth articles that recap the year that was 2023 in distribution dealmaking, a full rundown of every deal we covered in October-December, the latest EBITDA trading multiples and more.
Find a wealth of data and analysis extracted from the 3Q23 Baird-MDM Industrial Distribution Survey, including trending charts and figures for revenue and expectations, plus plenty of interesting commentary.
Find a wealth of data and analysis extracted from the 3Q23 Baird-MDM Industrial Distribution Survey, including trending charts and figures for revenue and expectations, plus plenty of interesting commentary.

Grainger wasn’t the first distributor to introduce a mobile app, but the app it recently launched is arguably one of the most robust available on the market. The announcement comes as demand for mobile access to product information, availability and order capabilities continues to increase across industries. This article examines the process behind Grainger’s application development, as well as what’s driving more distributors to go mobile.

Have a question? Check your smartphone. We’re no longer required to wait until we get home or until we can connect our computers to the Internet to get the answer. While this has been a growing trend in our personal lives for years, it is now making a major mark in the B-to-B world.

A number of distributors have developed their own targeted apps.

Platt Electric Supply, for one, developed an app with a store locator and mobile access to your Platt account. HVAC distributor Johnstone Supply created a broader “toolkit,” including a duct-sizer and efficiency savings calculators.

Grainger’s new mobile app, released in August, takes the concept even further – aiming to bring the full functionality of to the smartphone.

The Grainger Model
Over the past year, mobile traffic to Grainger’s website has increased 400 percent, …

Strategic alliances between distributors should be aimed at improving business for all participants. But this isn’t always the driver of organizations that enable independent distributors to get together.

“Our experience is that it’s often reactive in nature,” says Brent Grover, principal at Evergreen Consulting LLC and author of The Little Black Book of Strategic Planning for Distributors. Grover recently took part in an “Ask the Author” webcast event with MDM, answering audience questions about his new book, which is available at

In his experience, the frequent focus on national accounts …

In the recent MDM Webcast, Managing for Profit: Five Building Blocks of Success, Jonathan Byrnes, senior MIT lecturer and author of Islands of Profit in a Sea of Red Ink, offers strategies in five key areas that can, when applied together, help managers lead companies to a better bottom line. The webcast, the final in a four-part series on managing for profitability, is available on DVD at

Even in leading companies, 30 percent to 40 percent of the business is unprofitable. At the same time, 20 percent to 30 percent is highly profitable, enough to subsidize the loss, according to Jonathan Byrnes, senior MIT lecturer and author of Islands of Profit in a Sea of Red Ink. While many business leaders tend to focus on the unprofitable aspects of their businesses in an attempt to fix what’s broken, Byrnes says companies would do well to focus more on those products and initiatives that contribute to the bottom line.

“If you don’t secure that business, you’re really in trouble,” he says.

In the recent MDM Webcast, Managing for Profit, Byrnes recommends leaders focus on five building blocks that, when executed effectively and simultaneously, can …

More than half of U.S. counties have been designated as natural disaster areas after the worst drought in more than 50 years ravaged crops and pastures this summer. As of Aug. 28, 2012, nearly 53 percent of the country was still in moderate drought or worse, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor, released weekly by the National Drought Mitigation Center at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

Manufacturers and distributors serving these markets will or already have seen an impact as the drought continues to dampen economic activity.

The impacts have been widespread, from cracking …

Saw Blades represented a market in 2006 of $1.22 billion, according to estimates by Industrial Market Information, Minneapolis.&nbsp ;

These charts show the top ten industries, by SIC code, consuming these products; and the 2006 end-user consumption of these groups sorted by the nine
government market regions.

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Economic activity in the manufacturing sector expanded in March for the second consecutive month, while the overall economy grew for the 65th consecutive month, say the nation's supply executives in the latest Manufacturing Institute for Supply Management Report On Business& reg; .
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Manufacturing improved slightly in March as the PMI reflected growth for the second consecutive month. The New Orders and Production Indexes advanced while the Employment and Inventories Indexes declined. A positive for March is the Customers' Inventories Index (falling below 50% after five consecutive months above the breakeven line), which is a possible indication that manufacturers' inventories are nearing satisfactory levels. On the negative side, prices appear to be ...
Industrial production increased 1.0 percent in February after a decrease of 0.3 percent in January and a rise of 0.8 percent in December. Output in the manufacturing sector gained 0.4 percent in February and was led by increases in motor vehicles and in high-technology goods.
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The output of utilities jumped 6.7 percent in February, as colder-than-average temperatures boosted production at both electric and natural gas utilities. The output of mines edged up 0.1 percent. At 113.1 percent of its 2002 average, overall industrial production for the month was 3.4 percent above its year-earlier level.
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The rate of capacity utilization for total industry in February rose 0.6 percentage point, to 82.0 percent, a level 1.0 percentage point above its 1972-2006 average. ...
Building Permits
Privately-owned housing units authorized by building permits in February were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1,532,000. This is 2.5 percent (& plusmn; 1.0%) below the revised January rate of 1,571,000 and is 28.6 percent (& plusmn; 1.1%) below the February 2006 estimate of 2,147,000.
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Single-family authorizations in February were at a rate of 1,089,000; this is 3.1 percent (& plusmn; 0.9%) below the January figure of 1,124,000. Authorizations of units in buildings with five units or more were at a rate of 372,000 in February.
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Housing Starts
Privately-owned housing starts in February were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1,525,000. This is 9.0 percent (& plusmn; 10.2%) ...
Following a strong end to&nbsp ; 2006, wholesalers began the year on a subdued note, as weaker deliveries of automotive products and personal and household goods pushed overall sales lower.
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Wholesale sales declined&nbsp ; 0.5% in January to&nbsp ; $42.7&nbsp ; billion, reversing some of the&nbsp ; 2.7% gain made in December. Significant drops in the automotive products (-4.6%) and personal and household goods (-4.5%) sectors were behind all of decline in January. Both of these sectors had posted substantial gains in December.
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The remaining five wholesale sectors, representing&nbsp ; 67% of overall sales, all registered increases in January, led by the building materials and machinery and electronic equipment sectors.
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Ontario bore the brunt of ...

Sales. January 2007 sales of merchant wholesalers, except manufacturers'sales branches and offices, after adjustment for seasonal variations and trading-day differences but not for price changes, were $333.4 billion, down 0.9 percent from the revised December level, but were up 6.2 percent from the January 2006 level. The December preliminary estimate was revised downward $0.5 billion or 0.2 percent. January sales of durable goods were virtually unchanged from last month, but were up 5.7 percent from a year ago. January sales of nondurable goods were down 1.8 percent from last month, but were up 6.7 percent from last year.

Inventories. Total inventories of merchant wholesalers, except manufacturers'sales branches and offices, after ...

Many if not most distributors measure product fill rates, and often report to customers in order to document their value. But how many distributors measure information fill rates? How well do you meet customer information needs, from a speed and quality standpoint?

A recent panel discussion on changes in distribution touched on a key observation. An astute panel member observed that velocity is a critical skill for a distributor today. Some may argue that hasn't changed. Customers have always demanded high fill rates and on-time deliveries. But there is a difference.

Velocity is defined by speed and direction. Direction is all about how your company is positioned to meet customer needs. Customers expect and demand fast when it comes to logistics and product delivery. But ...
The Producer Price Index for Finished Goods advanced 1.3 percent in February, seasonally adjusted, the Bureau of Labor Statistics of the U.S. Department of Labor reported. This increase followed a 0.6-percent decline in January and a 0.9-percent rise in December. At the earlier stages of processing, the intermediate goods index turned up 1.1 percent after falling 0.7 percent in the previous month, and prices for crude goods climbed 8.9 percent following a 6.3-percent decrease in January.
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Among finished goods in February, the index for energy goods moved up 3.5 percent compared with a 4.6-percent drop a month earlier. The rate of increase for consumer foods prices accelerated to 1.9 percent in February from 1.1 percent in January. Excluding prices for foods and ...
January 2007 sales of merchant wholesalers, except manufacturers' sales branches and offices, were $333.4 billion, down 0.9% from the revised December level but up 6.2% from January 2006.
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January sales of durable goods were virtually unchanged from last month, but were up 5.7% from a year ago. Sales of metals and minerals, except petroleum, were up 4.4% from last month.
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January sales of nondurable goods were down 1.8% from last month, but were up 6.7% from last year.
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Total inventories were $396.7 billion at the end of January, up 0.7% from last month and up 9.2% from a year ago. End-of-month inventories of durable goods increased 1.1% from December and were up 9.3% from last January. Compared to last month, inventories of motor vehicle and ...

January U.S. manufacturing technology consumption totaled $297.48 million, according to the American Machine Tool Distributors' Association and The Association For Manufacturing Technology. This total, as reported by companies participating in the USMTC program, was down 9.8% from December, but up 30.9% from the total of $227.23 million reported for January 2006.

These numbers and all data in this report are based on the totals of actual data reported by companies participating in the USMTC program.

While early forecasts for 2007 have suggested it is unlikely that growth in our industry's sales will surpass the results of 2006, January has made an impressive start, says John J. Healy, AMTDA president. Results were well above year-ago levels in almost every ...

This article details two mid-sized distributors' experiences with global sourcing and is adapted from presentations at the National Association of Wholesaler-Distributors' annual meeting, with additional information provided through follow-up interviews with MDM.

To use a cliché, the devil is in the details. Andrew Berlin, president of Berlin Packaging, says this has never been truer than when sourcing from China.

And one more cliché," he says. "You get out of it what you put into it."

Berlin should know. He's been sourcing from China for his customers and suppliers for almost 20 years, and understands the value of taking the time required to set up a profitable transaction rather than ...

In Part II of MDM's interview with Wolseley CEO Chip Hornsby, he addresses the differences between the global building materials and HVAC/plumbing distributor's North American and European markets, and Wolseley's aim to grow significantly on the European mainland -doubling its market share every five to seven years.

MDM: Can you talk a little about the European distribution landscape?

Chip Hornsby: The first thing I had to understand -we laugh about it all the time -was that in fifth-grade geography they didn't teach us that there's another continent out there called the UK. And then there's Europe. And those 22 miles are bigger than the ocean between us and them. I get asked all ...

Home Depot CEO Frank Blake reinforced his drive to refocus on the business' retail division at the company's annual investor and analyst conference at the end of February.

To that end, Blake told participants that acquisitions outside of the retail core won't be a priority for us. HD Supply acquisitions have slowed and will continue to, with the exception of White Cap's recent purchase of concrete distributor GSI General Materials.

Soon after the annual meeting - at which HD executives only briefly touched on the possible sale of HD Supply, and then only in response to a question - reports started to emerge on private equity firms' interest. Many analysts and industry-watchers expect the supply division to be sold, despite Blake's insistence that a decision has not ...

As this first quarter comes to a close, it's a good time to evaluate the annual plan created in September, or in January for those who subscribe to JIT strategic planning. This is when most plans start rotting on the shelf. The end-of-quarter flurry is too hectic to perform a disciplined review. Then a new cycle starts.

Perhaps you know where you are on the most important scale - your own internal sense of behind, on or ahead of plan year-to-date. Your sales force is crystal clear where they are. Most of the time that's good enough. But with as volatile as current markets, customers, competition and the economy are, your company might benefit from a more formal review process with your entire executive team. Consider a different approach to the typical rearview mirror ...

Janitorial Supplies represented a market in 2006 of $19.98 billion, according to estimates by Industrial Market Information, Minneapolis.

These charts show the top ten industries, by SIC code, consuming these products; and the 2006 end-user consumption of these groups sorted by the nine government market regions.

Click on Related Document below to see the charts and breakdown by end-user.


Modern Distribution Management's January Inflation Index, which measures a cross-section of industrial supplies, was up 0.59% from the previous month, and up 3.27% from January 2006.

Summary of&nbsp ; MDM Inflation Index for the past 12 months:

January 2007 Index 268.7
December 2006 Index&nbsp ; 267.1
November 2006 Index 266.5
October 2006 Index 265.9
September 2006 Index 265.6
August 2006 Index 265.2
July 2006 Index 264.0
June 2006 Index 263.0
May 2006 Index 262.1
April 2006 Index 262.1
March 2006 Index 262.1
Febuary 2006 Index 261.2
January 2006 Index 260.2

Please click below on Related Document to view a print-ready pdf of the&nbsp ; MDM Inflation Index for January 2007, listing the ten ...

The European manufacturing sector, much like that of the U.S. and Japan, saw its industrial cycle peak in 2006 and will see its growth moderate in 2007, according to the Manufacturers Alliance/MAPI Industrial Outlook for Europe February 2007, a report that analyzes 27 major industries.

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In a sign of manufacturing sustainability, however, 23 of the 27 industries tracked in the report had inflation-adjusted production above the level of the previous year, indicating continued broad-based growth in the industrial sector.

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Top industry performers in 2006, recording year-over-year double-digit growth, were valves, tubes and electronic components (20 percent); machine tools (14.7 percent); optical instruments (14.3 percent); electric ...

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