[A Closer Look]
the MRO arena. Wesco is also opening more branches throughout
the country and is opening a hybrid regional distribution center in
California during the second half of the year.
Conney Safety will be hiring about 35 more people, and is not
the only distributor to be adding employees to its staff.
Fastenal is hiring up to 900 employees, many
of them part-time sales support people to get
more time for salespeople to be with customers. MSC will also be adding to its sales force
this year. MSC, of course, made the biggest
purchase of the year by acquiring Barnes Distribution North America.
This $550 million acquisition, which surprised many in the industry, allows further
opportunities for MSC in Canada as well as
expansion of an excellent inventory management program for its customer base.
The Second Half
While the Big 50 distributors continue to
grow, many of them that are publicly traded
have lowered their expectations for the year.
Originally, many distributors (and manufacturers) had issued forecasts that the first half
of the year would be slow but would tick up
in the second half. That doesn’t appear to be
the case and some distributors say that sales
will only grow one to three percent in the
second half. Time will tell if those predictions
In summing up what is happening in the
• Mergers and acquisitions will continue at a
strong pace with larger distributors acquiring
• Some of these distributors will be adding
acquisitions that complement their existing
product base to expand their offerings and
• Distributors will be looking to become a
“one stop shopping” experience for their
• Newer, stronger capitalized companies will
be coming into the marketplace: e.g.
• Watch for a large brick and mortar chain
with some exposure to industrial markets to expand further be-
cause of their ecommerce capabilities.
Jack Keough is contributing editor for Industrial Distribution. He
can be reached at John.Keough@comcast.net.