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Grainger Show 1
MRO
The company’s biennial Grainger Show customer event perfectly demonstrated how the distributor is hyper-focused on customer solutions — just one of which is its expansive product assortment.

Premium Monthly

Find deeper cybersecurity analysis, a case study on Motion, career advice from industry executives and best practices for knowledge transfer, talent management and more.
Cybersecurity threats, talent strategy and 2023’s M&A activity led our December Premium content. Find our downloadable PDF here.

Market Insight Reports

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.
Our 2023 third quarter M&A report features in-depth articles on activity by Ferguson and Veritiv, and chronicles the overall quarterly pace of new deals.
See MDM’s analysis of 2Q23 M&A activity pertaining to wholesale distributors, plus M&A financial benchmarks and recent Premium articles that had an M&A focus.
State-of-EBiz-pt-1-Chart-1
Distributors and manufacturers who do not have e-commerce capabilities or have yet to get traction with existing e-commerce implementation still have an opportunity to get in the game. While the adoption rate is growing fast it increased by more than 50% for smaller companies ($10 million - $50 million) from 2018 to 2019 nearly 87% in this sector still do not have e-commerce. Even the majority (55%) of the largest companies (greater than $1 billion) still do not have e-commerce. These data, from the eighth-annual MDM distribution e-commerce survey conducted with Real Results Marketing, show there is still plenty of e-commerce runway left.

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MacLean_Graphic1

Analytics-driven operations can deliver staggering profit gains, but it takes a visionary leader who won’t accept a company’s current limited analytical expertise. In this article the author, who will outline these concepts at MDM’s Pricing & Profitability Summit, www.pnp.com, Apr. 15-17, argues that distributors can shift from a revenue-share mindset to a profit-share mindset by zeroing in on three key metrics: gross profit, cost-to-serve and net before compensation. It also outlines how the concepts of line-item profit analytics and quantum costing can create an effective analytics environment. This article is an excerpt from a chapter in A Distributor’s Guide to Analytics, a book published by MDM.

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Zehnder-for-Premium-2
January is typically not a big sales month for Earnest Machine, a 72-year-old fastener distribution company out of Cleveland. But this January was not typical. The company was up 29% at the start of 2019, said CEO Kirk Zehnder. Speaking last month at MDMs Sale GPS Conference, Zehnder explained the radical shift in Earnests sales department structure that he credits for the boost.

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Theres a lot of talk about whether or not the U.S. is looking at an economic recession in the near future and the impact a market downturn could have on distributors profitability in the process. But the truth is, distributors should be examining their pricing strategy no matter how well or poorly the economy is performing, says Al Bates, principal at Distribution Performance Project. Whether its a good market or a bad market, youve got to get control of your pricing, he says.

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Since the Great Recession of 2008-2009, few publicly-traded companies have undertaken as much change in sales model, technology platform, process improvement and culture as Chicago-based Lawson Products. From 2009 to 2013, Lawson converted all of its sales representatives from a network of independent sales agents to sales employees, today numbering 1,000. MDM last talked with President and CEO Michael DeCata in 2014, who outlined the unique service-focused value proposition and changes taking place at the time. Four years after transitioning its sales model, we check in again for a progress report. In this issue we conclude our conversation with Decata.

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While new products and technology designed to assist and enhance the wholesale distribution industry have continued to evolve in the last couple of years, wholesalers report their top challenges remain the same. The short-term problem they most expect to face in 2019 is the increasing volatility of demand due to new competition, new customers and digital e-commerce (79 percent), according to supply chain solution company Blue Ridge.

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Theres a lot of jargon around all things digital, and I plead guilty on all charges when talking about them digital platforms, omnichannel, cloud, big data ... the more digital we go, the fuzzier the logic we seem to attach to the terminology used to describe it.

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  • The State of Analytics in Distribution: 2014
  • The Shifting Competitive Landscape in Distribution
  • Redefining Competitive Advantage

The third annual MDM distribution e-commerce survey found that distributors’ e-commerce revenue as a percent of overall revenue is rising. But while distributors are increasingly using multiple vehicles to drive demand online, they have not yet effectively integrated tools such as marketing automation and paid search into their efforts. This article looks at how distributors approach demand generation online and ways they can improve the weakest links, as revealed by the survey.

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  • The 2014 State of E-Commerce in Distribution, Part 1
  • Special Report: The Industrial Vending Boom
  • Behind Grainger's E-Commerce Strategy
shopkey-small

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

  • E-commerce revenue as a percent of overall revenue is rising relative to last year’s survey.
  • The primary objectives among distributors for e-commerce remain acquiring new customers, growing wallet share with existing customers and improving website usability.
  • Mobile deployments are growing rapidly.

This article examines the results of the 2014 State of E-Commerce in Distribution Survey and how the industry’s e-commerce offerings are maturing. Part 2 will look at best practices for distributor e-commerce marketing, data management and operations.

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  • Strategies for Private Label Success
  • Special Report: The Industrial Vending Boom
  • Behind Grainger's E-Commerce Strategy
KamanIndTech

In late February, Bloomfield, CT-based Kaman announced an agreement to acquire fluid power distributor B.W. Rogers, Akron, OH. Steve Smidler, president of the Kaman Distribution Group, recently spoke with MDM about the reasons for the acquisition and plans for integrating the distributor into Kaman’s business.

This article includes:

  • How acquisition deepens the Parker relationship
  • How acquisition will expand Kaman's end-market reach
  • How Kaman will integrate B.W. Rogers

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  • MDM Interview: Kaman's Expansion Strategy
  • Applied Industrial: Fluid Power a Growth Area for Distributor
  • Special Report: The Industrial Vending Boom
FLEX-QandA

As the face of the workforce shifts, managers need new skills to connect and effectively lead a more diverse employee base. A new book, Flex: The New Playbook for Managing Across Differences, was written to address this need. MDM Editor Lindsay Konzak recently spoke with the book’s co-author Jane Hyun, an executive coach and global leadership adviser to Fortune 500 firms.

This interview includes Hyun's take on:

  • Why it's important for manager's to be able to "flex" their management styles
  • How managers can bridge the power gap
  • The cost of not considering different management styles

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  • MDM Interview: Avnet's Roy Vallee Reflects on Changes in the Industry
  • Where Managers Blunder
  • Commentary: Re-evaluate the Human Capital in Your Company
GraingerMobile

In 2013, Grainger surpassed $3 billion in sales from e-commerce channels, representing a third of total company sales. Paul Miller, vice president of global e-commerce for Grainger, spoke with Editor Lindsay Konzak about Grainger’s approach and plans for e-commerce.

This article includes:

  • How the distributor approaches e-commerce
  • Grainger's multichannel approach
  • Where Grainger sees opportunity with technology

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  • The State of E-Commerce in Distribution
  • Grainger's E-Commerce Evolution
  • Beyond Amazon: E-Commerce's Impact on Wholesale Distribution Markets
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In this two-page report, available to download in PDF after log-in, we feature a new, expanded quarterly report with data on merger and acquisition trends and financial metrics for the largest publicly traded distributors across diverse sectors.

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

Where there are gaps, there are opportunities. MDM’s research on the state of analytics in wholesale distribution identified clear gaps across analytics technology, talent and techniques. This perspective from Publisher Tom Gale talks about why you should think about a strategy and plan for analytics.

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  • The Rise of 'Little Data' in Distribution
  • Minding the Gap Between Data and Action
  • Commentary: Better Data, Better Analytics/li>
data-on-gray-background

Research conducted by MDM on the adoption and use of analytics by wholesale distribution companies revealed several key trends:

  • The wholesale distribution industry is transitioning to a more data-driven mindset, but there are widely different views on what that means.
  • Many distributors say they don’t have the right analytic tools, technologies and talent needed to stay competitive in quickly shifting markets.
  • Survey respondents are generally satisfied with analytics centered on operational efficiencies and financial reporting, but less satisfied with deployment of more strategic tools focused on profitability, sales, marketing and service development.

This article includes:

  • The evolution of Analytics
  • Results from the MDM survey on use of analytics in distribution businesses
  • Opportunity for competitive advantage using analytics

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  • Beyond Amazon: E-Commerce's Impact on Wholesale Distribution Markets
  • The Rise of 'Little Data' in Distribution
  • MDM Interview: Breaking Down the Barriers for CRM

"Truthiness" describes using intuition or gut feeling to define "truth" without regard to facts, data or even logic. Today, there's a lot of truthiness surrounding big data, market planning and customer relevance.

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  • MDM Interview with Guy Blissett: Uncertainty + Change = Opportunity?
  • Where Managers Blunder
  • How Distributors Say They Measure Up to the Competition

Many distributors have struggled with where to invest limited dollars to meet the demands resulting from the rapidly growing role of technology in the industry. This article looks at distributors' current technology challenges and plans, identified by respondents to the 2014 MDM Industry Outlook Survey, sponsored by NetSuite.

More details from the 2014 MDM Industry Outlook will be provided in the upcoming Jan. 16, 2014, webcast, the 2014 Distribution Industry Outlook.

This article includes:

  • Distributors' plans for technology investments in 2014
  • Key challenges related to new technologies
  • How to overcome some of those key challenges

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

  • Beyond Amazon: E-Commerce's Impact on Wholesale Distribution Markets
  • Grainger's E-Commerce Evolution
  • MDM Interview: Breaking Down the Barriers for CRM

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

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  • MDM Pricing Trends Report: Fourth Quarter 2015 and Annual
  • 2016 Distribution Remodel: How to Build a Better Business
  • Market Analysis: HVACR Consumption in the United States

The distribution industry is due for a remodel. What has worked for decades still works, but it is far less effective now for businesses that want to grow. MDMs team has identified key areas that distributors need to focus on in 2016 to build the adaptive model that changing market conditions require.

This article includes:

  • Bridging the cycle gap
  • Investing on the Down Side
  • Finding Balance & Focus

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  • MDM-Baird Distribution Survey: Declining Demand Drives Down 4Q
  • Top Trends for 2016
  • Chasing Profitability

Distributors that invest wisely in talent, technology or other areas of their business will gain a competitive advantage and market share when economic conditions improve. This article explains why strategic investment is critical and provides tips on where and how to devote resources.

This article includes:

  • Reasons to remodel
  • Areas to invest
  • Pitfalls to avoid

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  • Rebranding Road Map
  • 2015 State of Distribution Inside Sales: Strive to be Proactive
  • Industry 4.0: Technology-Driven Change

For business leaders to get better, they must disrupt their own businesses, engage more deeply with employees and continually innovate. This article shows how they can achieve these steps and others on the path to transforming their leadership skills.

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  • Chasing Profitability
  • MDM Interview: Beyond Change Management
  • The 2016 Strategy Playbook

Distributors cant rely on what works today to get them through tomorrow. Being proactive is key to future success.

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  • The 2016 Strategy Playbook
  • MDM-Baird Distribution Survey: Declining Demand Drives Down 4Q
  • MDM Interview: Beyond Change Management
MA_HVACR

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

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  • MDM Pricing Trends Report: Fourth Quarter 2015
  • Market Analysis: Janitorial Supplies Consumption in the United States
  • Top Trends for 2016

This report was formerly called the Inflation by Commodity Group Report.

This report is researched and produced by MDM editors. View the Third Quarter 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. Fourth quarter 2014 pricing levels are compared with fourth quarter 2015, third quarter 2015 with fourth quarter 2015, and end of year 2014 with end of year 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.

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: Fourth Quarter 2015 and Annual
  • 2015 State of Distribution Inside Sales: Strive to be Proactive
  • Market Analysis: Janitorial Supplies Consumption in the United States
Quarterly-MDMBaird

Robert W. Baird & Co., in partnership with Modern Distribution Management, conducted a survey of more than 500 distributors and manufacturers to gauge business trends and the outlook for the distribution industry in diverse sectors. Here is a summary of fourth-quarter 2015 results and distributor and manufacturer expectations for 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:

  • 2015 State of Distribution Inside Sales: Strive to be Proactive
  • Market Analysis: Janitorial Supplies Consumption in the United States
  • 4Q2015 Financial Metrics & Trading Multiples
ChasigProfitability

After following a yo-yo pattern in the wake of the Great Recession, distributor performance appears to have leveled off. The following analysis by Al Bates, director of research for Profit Planning Group and principal of the Distribution Performance Project, examines key profit drivers in wholesale distribution across 31 lines of trade. This article includes historical data from the past five years and trends in 2014, the latest year for which full data is available.

This article includes:

  • Distributor ROA by line of trade, year & segment
  • Sales growth & gross margin for distributors
  • Inventory turnover & days sales outstanding for distributors

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

  • MDM-Baird Distribution Survey: Grinding to a Halt
  • MDM Interview: Beyond Change Management
  • Top Trends for 2016

Investment Banking Directory

Work with a banking partner that knows your business. Get detailed information on investment banks with expertise in the wholesale distribution industry.

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