As expected, the vast majority of our Survey of Distributor Operations respondents are MRO products distributors. Nearly 83 percent say they sell to the manufactur- ing/processing market, just a hair lower than last year. Construction is again the
second-largest market, up less than a percentage point from 2015 at 63.6 percent, while at
60.2 percent, the share of OEM market sellers was third-largest and down two percentage
points from a year ago. Machine shops, energy and utilities market sellers each represented
between 50 and 58 percent of respondents, all within a point or two of last year, while government market sellers had a notable decline of nearly six points.
Altogether, the market demographics of our survey respondents vary little year-to-year, as
was the story again for the 2016 version. That’s largely because a considerable amount of
respondents has similar attributes in longevity, ownership. Fifty-seven percent had 2015 sales
of less than $50 million and 47 percent have been in business 50 years or longer.
Some interesting figures:
• The business size of respondents took a slight shift toward smaller this year. More
than 30 percent had sales less than $10 million, up three points from 2015, while
the amount that had at least $250 million in sales decreased from 34 percent last
year to 25 percent in 2016 (Figure 1). At 57 percent, the segment at $50 million or
less is fairly consistent to years past, while the 20 percent segment at $500M+ likely
represents fewer companies since some of those respondents likely work for the
• Despite 2015 being another big year for consolidation across industrial distribution,
the amount of respondents who said their distributorship is family-owned rose from
58 percent in 2015 to 65 percent this year. Still, that figure is down considerably
from 78 percent in 2005.
• At 36 percent, the Midwest continues to dominate in terms of respondent location,
followed by the Northeast ( 21 percent) and Southeast ( 14 percent). Each of those
figures is nearly identical to last year.