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Warehouse 34
Despite the month-to-month regression for 2024 and 2025, full-year revenues are still expected to outperform the U.S. GDP by a healthy margin.

Premium Monthly

This issue addressed what went wrong with MSC’s web pricing realignment and what they’ve done about it; the role of diversification in our 2024 Top Distributors feature; using analytics to build profit; and disruption updates from The Home Depot and Amazon Business.
This issue addressed cognitive biases’ impact on analytics ROI; distributors’ top business risks; Sonepar’s acquisition journey; a case study on rooftop solar; and more.

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.
Inflation-Index-Template-for-March

Modern Distribution Management's monthly Industrial Inflation Index measures a cross-section of industrial supplies.

This index includes:

  • Abrasives Products
  • Cutting Tools
  • Power Transmission Equipment
  • Fasteners
  • Valves, etc.
  • Power Tools
  • Material Handling Equipment
  • Belting
  • Hand Tools
  • Misc. Metal

Subscribers should log-in below to read this article.

Not a subscriber? Subscribe below or learn more.

The wholesale HVAC distributors website now features an enhanced online catalog and improved search functionality, and the company invested in text ordering capabilities to improve mobile functions and shorten wait time. The efforts earned Charles D. Jones an MDM 2019 Digital Innovator award.

Subscribers should log-in below to read this article.

About seven years ago, Hisco, a leading specialty distributor based in Houston, set out to better understand the companys profit drivers through a data-based analysis. Developing a successful system has taken years of cultural change and realigning team members thought processes around what makes a profitable customer, but the real driver, says President & CEO Bob Dill, continues to be turning the data used to anchor the initiative into real action. Hiscos relentless pursuit of actionable data makes the nearly 50-year-old employee-owned institution one of MDMs 2019 Digital Innovator Award winners.

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Cosgrove-Graphic
Eighty-percent of business owners want to retire in the next 10 years, according to a Business Enterprise Institute survey. Unfortunately, most of those business owners have not actually created a concrete, written plan for their exit strategy.The lack of an exit plan can be problematic. It takes much longer than many distribution owners may expect to prepare their company for a transition. Whether you are planning to sell the business to a third party, pass ownership to the next generation or explore other options, preparing for a transition can take between five and seven years.

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This Munich-based, third-generation distributor of bearings, power transmission, fluid power and tooling products took a non-traditional approach to transforming into a digital distribution business. It started by digitizing and strengthening the automation capabilities of its back-end systems purchasing, inventory management, logistics before focusing on the sales side of the business. And it accomplished this transformation by developing its internal technology and development expertise, thus being able to customize and enhance ERP and other critical platforms. One of MDMs 2019 Digital Innovator Award winners, heres Ludwig Meisters story on how the distributor has built a culture of digital innovation.

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Baird1Q-Image-1

Since 2010, Robert W. Baird & Co., in partnership with Modern Distribution Management, has conducted quarterly surveys of distributors and manufacturers to gauge business trends and the outlook for the industry. This quarter’s survey polled approximately 500 industry leaders to determine the latest indicators on revenue and pricing based on first-quarter 2019 results and distributor and manufacturer expectations for second-quarter and full-year 2019.

Subscribers should log-in below to read this article.

This report is researched and produced by MDM editors. View the Fourth Quarter/Annual 2018 report here.

These product groups provide a snapshot of inflation trends based on the Producer Price Index from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. First quarter 2019 pricing levels are compared with fourth quarter 2018 and first quarter 2018. 

To view this report, log-in and click on the download link below the product listing to access the print-ready PDF.

Not a subscriber? Subscribe today for immediate access.

Industrial

  • Abrasives
  • Adhesives & Sealants
  • Metal Cutting Machine Tools
  • Metal Forming Machine Tools
  • Pumps, Compressors, & Eqmt
  • Ind. Material Handling Eqmt
  • Rubber & Plastic Hose
  • Rubber & Plastic Belts & Belting
  • Ind. Rubber Products, nec
  • Metal Valves (not fluid power)
  • Personal Safety Equipment & Clothing
  • Steel Mill Products

Construction

  • Softwood Lumber
  • Hardwood Lumber
  • General Millwork
  • Gypsum Products
  • Hardboard, Particlebd, Fiberbd
  • Plywood
  • Plastic Construction Products
  • Wood Ties, Siding, Shingles,
  • Shakes

Electrical

  • Electrical Machinery & Eqmt
  • Electronic Components & Accs
  • Integrating and Measuring Instruments
  • Motors & Generators
  • Wiring Devices
  • Transformers & Power Regulators
  • Switchgear, Switchboard, etc., Eqmt
  • Communications & Related Eqmt
  • Electric Lamp Bulbs & Parts

Other Related Electrical

  • Lighting Fixtures
  • Nonferrous Wire & Cable
  • Fabricated Ferrous Wire & Cable

Power Transmission/Bearing

  • Mechanical Power Transmission Eqmt
  • Ball & Roller Bearings
  • Plain Bearings & Bushings
  • Speed Changers, Drives & Gears

Fluid Power

  • Fluid Power Eqmt
  • Fluid Power Valves
  • Fluid Power Hose/ Tube Fittings
  • Fluid Power Pumps & Parts
  • Fluid Power Actuators/ Accum/ Cylinders

Plastics

  • Plastic Resins & Materials
  • Plastic Products (Overall)

Fasteners

  • Nuts, Bolts, Screws, Rivets, Washers (overall)
  • Aircraft Fasteners
  • Externally Threaded Fasteners
  • Internally Threaded Fasteners
  • Nonthreaded Metal Fasteners

Hardware

  • Hardware (overall)
  • Builders’ Hardware

Tools

  • Hand & Edge Tools
  • Power-Driven Hand Tools
  • Tools, Dies, Jigs, Molds, Fixtures
  • Cutting Tools & Accs (overall)
  • Precision Measuring Tools
  • Small Cutting Tools

Gases/Welding

  • Industrial Gases
  • Welding Machinery/ Equipment

Paper

  • Pulp, Paper & Allied Products (overall)
  • Sanitary Paper Products
  • Boxes
  • Packaging Products from Plastic

HVACR/Plumbing

  • Air Cond. & Refrigeration Eqmt
  • Heating Eqmt
  • Plumbing Fixtures & Fittings

To view this report, log-in and click on Download pdf below the product listing.

As customer bases shift, competition intensifies and commodity prices seesaw, it's more crucial than ever for distributors to maximize profitability by magnifying the value they provide for their customers and not competing on price alone. Increasing prices by 1 percent without hurting volume can improve profits as much as 11 percent, according to one pricing consultant.

Distributors looking to boost profitability and refocus on value should analyze and redesign their pricing strategy.

"If a sales force is out negotiating deals, there's very little control. They come back and say, 'I've got a deal at $90. I know our price is $100, but if we don't give them $90 we won't get the deal.' And everyone feels as if they are being held for ransom, says ...


Channel dynamics, as our lead article explores, have arguably never been more complex or more fluid. One of the core concepts as this article came together was the need to have a clear line of visibility from manufacturer to end-user customer. With so many variables at play, visibility seems to be one of the few constants.


Channel conflict appears when clarity disappears, whether in communication, policies, discount structures or behaviors. There is no right answer, yet there are great examples of consistent and clear approaches that are working.


Ten years ago, the hot issue was how integrated supply was radically altering traditional channel relationships. Power was shifting to the customer. The redundancies and inefficiencies of traditional channels were ripe for ...

The Home Depot, Atlanta, GA, has launched its Eco Options program in the U.S. Eco Options is a classification that allows customers to easily identify products that have less of an impact on the environment.
&nbsp ;
The Home Depot has identified more than 2,500 Eco Options products, including all-natural insect repellents, cellulose insulation, front-load washing machines, organic plant food and vegetables in biodegradable pots. The array of Eco Options also includes compact fluorescent light bulbs, programmable thermostats and certified wood.
&nbsp ;
Products with the Eco Options label are either eco friendly by definition, such as solar lights that use natural power, or have met certain environmental performance criteria verified by Scientific Certification Systems, an ...

Our cover story this week in Modern Distribution Management on channel management has been a fascinating subject to research. There are some significant role shifts taking place. We gained a lot of input from innovators in manufacturing and distribution, including many more beyond those quoted in article.
&nbsp ;
It was also a difficult topic to get beyond the generalizations, stereotypes and misperceptions that in fact too often form the basis for relationships and ultimately policies in many companies. For some people, channel management is an oxymoron, because they are using the same pricing and marketing formulas in place 10 or 20 years ago. But we found others who are finding some good ...

Channel management is a slippery subject. The most jaded observers might argue the term has largely become an oxymoron, as stories of mismanagement and dysfunctional practices seem like commodities.


But as the lead article in this issue outlines, distributors and manufacturers are finding ways to leverage the current shifts in markets to focus and define their value. Channel participants are grappling with many complex issues -converging channels, private label brands, new product programs, new discount models.


The key emphasis today is active management. One size can't fit all. Those who gain some understanding of how customers are shifting in their sourcing needs and problems, and then build programs and policies to meet those needs, find a competitive differentiator ...

Distributors that lack a digital strategy can find themselves falling behind their competitors as e-commerce and other digital platforms become more important to customers. Linda Taddonio of InsiteCommerce discusses the need to develop a digital strategy and ways to jumpstart the development of that strategy in the recent MDM Webcast, Navigating the Digital Landscape for Distribution.

This article includes:

  • Why distributors are facing technology deficits
  • Steps for conducting a digital boot camp
  • How to create a digital innovation team

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Not a subscriber? Subscribe below or learn more. Subscribers also have access to the following related articles:

Earlier this year, Tacoma, WA-based Stellar Industrial Supply announced the addition of Larry Davis, former president of ORS Nasco, to its executive team as executive vice president and chief commercial officer. The move was part of a strategy by Stellar to grow “faster and more effectively.” MDM Publisher Tom Gale recently spoke with Stellar’s executive team, including President & CEO John Wiborg, Executive Vice President & COO Steve Slater and Davis, about the shifts in the market that drove the shift in strategy and where the company is heading.

This article includes:

  • Why Stellar Industrial hired Larry Davis
  • The goals the distributor has for shifting its strategic focus
  • How the move will impact Stellar's customers and partners

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  • Cost-Effective Channel Alignment
  • Who's My Coach? The Changing Role of Sales Managers in Distribution
  • Redwood Plastics: Success through Online Engagement

At this point, it has become pretty well accepted that data should be a part of big decisions.There are many challenges to becoming highly data-driven, though, from technology limitations to information overload. But one common challenge is the tendency to view an indicator or measurement as something that it’s not.

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  • Differentiate to Combat Disintermediation
  • 2014 State of Distributor Marketing: Distributor Marketing Shifts to Digital
  • Disasters Can – and Will – Happen

Baby boomers are retiring, and sales managers are recognizing that their current management styles may not be quite as beneficial as they could be. Adopting a strong philosophy and vision for leading a sales team is the first important step to take when shifting a management culture.

This article looks at reasons why the change is happening and what sales managers can and in some cases, should be doing to improve their management styles.

This article includes:

  • Why sales managers should consider being proactive, not reactive
  • Important first steps to take when shifting a management style
  • How technology tools can help (and hurt) the sales team

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  • Commentary: The Trouble with Rebates
  • Interview: Operations as a 'Lever for Innovation'
  • U.S. Economy: Out of 'Surviving' and on to 'Thriving'

With all the technology available to sales personnel, the nature of the sales position is changing drastically. This article examines some of the ways in which the role of the salesperson is changing, as well as ways to prepare a sales force for today's ever-changing environment.

This article includes:

  • Challenges of a more informed customer base
  • Why fast turnarounds are important across the entire transaction process
  • Recommendations for improved training of sales personnel

Subscribers should log-in below to read this article.

Not a subscriber? Subscribe below or learn more. Subscribers also have access to the following related articles:

  • Cost-Effective Channel Alignment
  • The Changing Role of the Distributor
  • Differentiate to Combat Disintermediation

There is often a perception in sales that the smallest accounts are not worth the time and effort to obtain the small amount of sales they provide. In this article, Jonathan Bein of Real Results Marketing provides an overview of how realigning sales channels can help distributors benefit from these small customers.

This article includes:

  • How the multichannel approach benefits house accounts
  • The role of inside sales
  • Why e-commerce and direct marketing should play a significant role in the realignment

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  • Making Money with Small Customers
  • Measuring the Customer Experience
  • The Changing Role of Sales Personnel

In this two-page report, available to download in PDF after log-in, we feature data on merger and acquisition trends and financial metrics for the largest publicly traded distributors across diverse sectors in the second quarter of 2014.

In partnership with Houlihan Lokey, an investment banking firm, the report includes data on M&A activity trends across all industries (not just distribution), as well as valuation multiples for deals in all industries.

Technology has become an integral part of doing business today. But it's also changing how salespeople do their jobs.

This article includes:

  • Why omnichannel or multichannel strategies should consider salespeople, not just customers
  • The impact technology has on the role of the salesperson
  • How technology is being used in sales

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Not a subscriber? Subscribe below or learn more. Subscribers also have access to the following related articles:

  • Disruptive Technologies: The Rise of Robots in Distribution
  • Zandi: Economy to Pick Up Through 2015
  • Commentary: Dont Invest in Technology for Technologys Sake

Successfully measuring customer satisfaction can improve the customer-distributor relationship. This article examines some of the most popular metrics and discusses how to develop a strong customer feedback program that can help improve the customer relationship.

This article includes:

  • What metrics to track to find out what your customers want
  • Problems to avoid in implementing a customer feedback system
  • How to maximize benefits from the feedback you receive

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Not a subscriber? Subscribe below or learn more. Subscribers also have access to the following related articles:

  • Commentary: Cutting to the Chase On Digitals Value Proposition
  • College Recruiting: Go Beyond Career Fairs
  • 2014 Economic Outlook: Building for the Future

Modern Distribution Management's monthly Industrial Inflation Index measures a cross-section of industrial supplies.

This index includes:

  • Abrasives Products
  • Cutting Tools
  • Power Transmission Equipment
  • Fasteners
  • Valves, etc.
  • Power Tools
  • Material Handling Equipment
  • Belting
  • Hand Tools
  • Misc. Metal

Subscribers should log-in below to read this article.

Not a subscriber? Subscribe below or learn more. Subscribers also have access to the following related articles:

  • MDM Pricing Trends Report: First Quarter 2016
  • 2016 Distribution Remodel: How to Build a Better Business
  • Market Analysis: Fluid Power Consumption in the United States
MA_FluidPower

The MDM Market Snapshot, based on data from MDM Analytics, includes consumption of Fluid Power supplies by end user in the U.S., plus the top end users by 6-digit NAICS.

Subscribers should log in below to read this article.

Not a subscriber? Subscribe below or learn more. Subscribers also have access to the following related articles:

  • MDM-Baird Distribution Survey: 2016 a Turning Point?
  • Market Analysis: Saw Blades Consumption in the United States
  • MDM Pricing Trends Report: First Quarter 2016
shopkey-small

More distributors are crossing the threshold to e-commerce maturity, according to the fifth annual MDM distribution e-commerce survey conducted in partnership with Real Results Marketing. But if they expect continued growth, they must remember it is a journey, not a one-time event.

Part 1 of this series examined the continued trend of distributors moving from the nascent stage – less than 5 percent of revenue being through the e-commerce channel – to the growth and maturity stages.

This article includes:

  • Marketing vehicle effectiveness
  • How to keep website visitors engaged
  • Self-service capabilities

Subscribers should log in below to read this article.

Not a subscriber? Subscribe below or learn more. Subscribers also have access to the following related articles:

  • Be Patient, Persistent on Your E-Commerce Journey
  • Grainger Tackles the Data Challenge
  • 2016 Distribution Remodel: ‘Invest or Die’

The lack of diversity in distribution has been a hot topic in recent years, but little has been done to identify the underlying issues that keep it a problem. Recent research from Texas A&M University sought to uncover the issues facing women in the industry and provide a starting point for addressing the problem.

This article includes:

  • The importance of workplace diversity
  • Harassment in the workplace
  • Benefits of improving diversity

Subscribers should log in below to read this article.

Not a subscriber? Subscribe below or learn more. Subscribers also have access to the following related articles:

  • 2016 Distribution Remodel: Deepen Talent Development
  • MDM Interview: Beyond Change Management
  • Differentiating Through Professional Development
Quarterly-MDMBaird

Robert W. Baird & Co., in partnership with Modern Distribution Management, conducted a survey of more than 600 distributors and manufacturers to gauge business trends and the outlook for the distribution industry in diverse sectors. Here is a summary of first-quarter results and distributor and manufacturer expectations for the remainder of 2016.

This article includes:

  • Revenue, inventory and pricing expectations
  • Sector breakdown
  • Analysis of trends affecting sales and operating performance

Subscribers should log-in below to read this article.

Not a subscriber? Subscribe below or learn more. Subscribers also have access to the following related articles:

  • 2016 State of E-Commerce: E-Commerce Races to Maturity
  • 1Q2016 Financial Metrics & Trading Multiples
  • 2016 Distribution Remodel: Refocus on the Core

Innovation is critical to long-term success in distribution. This article shares tips on how to create a culture that encourages innovation throughout your organization.

This article includes:

  • How distributors currently innovate
  • Attributes of innovation
  • Six options to consider for improving innovation

Subscribers should log-in below to read this article.

Not a subscriber? Subscribe below or learn more. Subscribers also have access to the following related articles:

  • 2016 Distribution Remodel: How to Build a Better Business
  • Move Beyond Sales Training
  • MDM Interview: Beyond Change Management

Modern Distribution Management's monthly Industrial Inflation Index measures a cross-section of industrial supplies.

This index includes:

  • Abrasives Products
  • Cutting Tools
  • Power Transmission Equipment
  • Fasteners
  • Valves, etc.
  • Power Tools
  • Material Handling Equipment
  • Belting
  • Hand Tools
  • Misc. Metal

Subscribers should log-in below to read this article.

Not a subscriber? Subscribe below or learn more. Subscribers also have access to the following related articles:

  • MDM Pricing Trends Report: First Quarter 2016
  • 2016 Distribution Remodel: How to Build a Better Business
  • Market Analysis: Saw Blades Consumption in the United States

This report is researched and produced by MDM editors. View the Fourth Quarter & Annual 2015 report here.

These product groups provide a snapshot of inflation trends based on the Producer Price Index from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. First quarter 2016 pricing levels are compared with fourth quarter 2015 and first quarter 2015.

To view this report, log-in and click on download link below the product listing to access the print-ready PDF.

Not a subscriber? Subscribe today for immediate access.

Industrial

  • Abrasives
  • Adhesives & Sealants
  • Metal Cutting Machine Tools
  • Metal Forming Machine Tools
  • Pumps, Compressors, & Eqmt
  • Ind. Material Handling Eqmt
  • Rubber & Plastic Hose
  • Rubber & Plastic Belts & Belting
  • Ind. Rubber Products, nec
  • Metal Valves (not fluid power)
  • Personal Safety Equipment & Clothing
  • Steel Mill Products

Construction

  • Softwood Lumber
  • Hardwood Lumber
  • General Millwork
  • Gypsum Products
  • Hardboard, Particlebd, Fiberbd
  • Plywood
  • Plastic Construction Products
  • Wood Ties, Siding, Shingles,
  • Shakes

Electrical

  • Electrical Machinery & Eqmt
  • Electronic Components & Accs
  • Integrating and Measuring Instruments
  • Motors & Generators
  • Wiring Devices
  • Transformers & Power Regulators
  • Switchgear, Switchboard, etc., Eqmt
  • Communications & Related Eqmt
  • Electric Lamp Bulbs & Parts

Other Related Electrical

  • Lighting Fixtures
  • Nonferrous Wire & Cable
  • Fabricated Ferrous Wire & Cable

Power Transmission/Bearing

  • Mechanical Power Transmission Eqmt
  • Ball & Roller Bearings
  • Plain Bearings & Bushings
  • Speed Changers, Drives & Gears

Fluid Power

  • Fluid Power Eqmt
  • Fluid Power Valves
  • Fluid Power Hose/ Tube Fittings
  • Fluid Power Pumps & Parts
  • Fluid Power Actuators/ Accum/ Cylinders

Plastics

  • Plastic Resins & Materials
  • Plastic Products (Overall)

Fasteners

  • Nuts, Bolts, Screws, Rivets, Washers (overall)
  • Aircraft Fasteners
  • Externally Threaded Fasteners
  • Internally Threaded Fasteners
  • Nonthreaded Metal Fasteners

Hardware

  • Hardware (overall)
  • Builders’ Hardware

Tools

  • Hand & Edge Tools
  • Power-Driven Hand Tools
  • Tools, Dies, Jigs, Molds, Fixtures
  • Cutting Tools & Accs (overall)
  • Precision Measuring Tools
  • Small Cutting Tools

Gases/Welding

  • Industrial Gases
  • Welding Machinery/ Equipment

Paper

  • Pulp, Paper & Allied Products (overall)
  • Sanitary Paper Products
  • Boxes
  • Packaging Products from Plastic

HVACR/Plumbing

  • Air Cond. & Refrigeration Eqmt
  • Heating Eqmt
  • Plumbing Fixtures & Fittings

To view this report, log-in and click on Download pdf below the product listing.

Logistics

While distributors dont always prioritize their logistics capabilities, it is critical to optimize transportation efforts and distribution center networks amid growing threats and rising expenses. This article details supply chain strategies distributors can deploy to better manage costs and retain customers.

This article includes:

  • Areas to cut costs
  • Managing customer expectations
  • Logistics opportunities

Subscribers should log in below to read this article.

Not a subscriber? Subscribe below or learn more. Subscribers also have access to the following related articles:

  • Better Supply Chain=Improved Profitability
  • Preparing for the Worst
  • 2016 Distribution Remodel: Refocus on the Core

The fifth annual MDM distribution e-commerce survey conducted with Real Results Marketing revealed several key trends:

  • The number of companies with at least 10 percent of their total revenue from e-com¬merce grew 8 percentage points from 2014.
  • Most distributors require a customer to log in to see pricing and purchase products.
  • The primary objectives among distributors for e-commerce remain acquiring new customers, enhancing their company brands and improving the user experience.
  • A quarter of distributors receive 50 percent or more of their orders by email.

This article examines the results of the 2016 State of E-Commerce in Distribution Survey and how the industry’s e-commerce offerings are maturing.

This article includes:

  • E-commerce top priorities
  • Types of e-commerce platforms
  • Tips for handling pricing

Subscribers should log in below to read this article.

Not a subscriber? Subscribe below or learn more. Subscribers also have access to the following related articles:

  • The ROI Case for B2B E-Commerce
  • Grainger Tackles the Data Challenge
  • Historical E-Commerce Trends in Distribution
MA_sawblades

The MDM Market Analysis, based on data from MDM Analytics, includes consumption of Saw Blades supplies by end user in the U.S., plus the top end users by 6-digit NAICS.

Subscribers should log in below to read this article.

Not a subscriber? Subscribe below or learn more. Subscribers also have access to the following related articles:

  • 2016 Distribution Remodel: Refocus on the Core
  • Market Analysis: PVF Consumption in the United States
  • MDM Pricing Trends Report: Fourth Quarter 2015

Employees are one of the primary reasons for success in distribution, but training programs and budgets often do not reflect their importance. This article, based on the results of a recent Real Results Marketing survey, looks at why the gap exists and how distributors can shift their thinking about training.

This article includes:

  • An overview of the skills training gap
  • Internal vs. external training
  • Tips for closing the gap

Subscribers should log in below to read this article.

Not a subscriber? Subscribe below or learn more. Subscribers also have access to the following related articles:

  • 2016 Distribution Remodel: Deepen Talent Development
  • Succession Planning: Positioning for the Future
  • MDM Interview: Beyond Change Management

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