This list reviews the 2013 fiscal year sales results for the companies represented and, for many, sales were relatively flat. Some
notable companies even went backwards in
2013, and its no surprise based on variables like
confusing regulations, unemployment, and the
October government shutdown. Unfortunately
for those companies, 2014 kicked off with its
own challenges, including a “polar vortex” that
brought record low temperatures and froze
many balance sheets as well. Not to mention,
many small businesses still felt crippled by constant infighting at a federal level, as requirements remained in limbo.
Luckily, we have a chance to survey our audience extensively each year with our annual June
Survey of Distributor Operations and I’m happy
to report that, for many, mid-year 2014 outlooks
were better. In fact, the number of those who
cited the economy as one of their primary concerns was lower than it’s been since 2008. Nearly
two-thirds had said their sales have increased,
and over half said the same about their profits.
And if distributors use this opportunity to take
on a strategy of growth, we’ll likely continue to
see consolidation, product line expansions, more
e-commerce functionality, and additional hiring.
In fact, e-commerce was one challenge that, per
our survey, is growing in its status as a primary
concern. So is price competition, which suggests
that many of these companies – The Big 50 all
the way down to the Little 50 – are keeping a
close eye on emerging online players like Ama-zonSupply and Alibaba. This may be why more
of our Big 50 companies talked about IT investments when we asked them what they’d been
up to this past year.
Other investments will likely come by way of
consolidation, and many companies are tak-
ing an aggressive look at the market and how
they can capitalize on the consolidation boom.
With the right tools and resources, some of
these companies will have every opportunity to
-Anna Wells, Executive Editor