Mergers & acquisitions in the industrial distribution market have cooled off in August compared to its breakneck pace in July, but that hasn't stopped a steady stream of notable news items. With many distributors' bottom line tied to the oil & gas market, an analyst's remark that oil prices could still be a ways from bottoming out received lots of attention. A major milestone for Fastenal's FAST machines was a top item as well.
Here's this week's Top 5:
Analyst - Oil Prices Could Hit $15: Crude oil prices last week hit their lowest levels in more than six years, but one expert believes prices could drop to half of that amount or less. U.S. crude oil fell to a low of $41.35 per barrel on Friday before climbing above $42 early this week. Cumberland Advisors co-founder David Kotok, however, told CNNMoney that the market could see "$15 or $20 oil -- easily." "There is no evidence whatsoever to suggest we have bottomed," Kotok said of the oil market.
Fastenal Installs 50,000th FAST Vending Machine: Earlier this summer Fastenal installed an additional FAST Solutions industrial vending machine within the Terex Mixer manufacturing plant in Fort Wayne, IN, representing the 50,000th FAST Solutions device concurrently installed at Fastenal customer sites worldwide. To put Fastenal's milestone in perspective versus a more publicly visible vending offering, there are now significantly more FAST Solutions devices in operation than Redbox movie and game rental locations. And despite sluggish demand overall in the industrial supply market so far this year, Fastenalstores have signed and installed more devices year to date than the same period in 2014, with the pace accelerating in recent months.
HD Supply Waterworks Pays $4.9 Million To Settle NY Fraud Case: The Associated Press and Atlanta Journal-Constitution both reported Friday that HD Supply Waterworks has agreed to pay more than $4.9 million to settle allegations that it was involved in a fraud scheme in which falsely represented its work to gain subcontracts. The reports say that Atlanta-based HD Supply Waterworks provided material that prime contractors reported had come from western New York's now-defunct American Indian Builders & Suppliers Inc., based in Lewiston. The U.S. Department of Transportation said Aug. 14 that contractors reported to authorities that they were using a American Indian Builders as a subcontractor on federally funded projects, while they were actually obtaining supplies from Waterworks. Waterworks would then pass its invoices with a markup through American Indian Builders to falsely appear that the work had been completed by a disadvantaged subcontractor.
How Technology Makes You A Better Salesperson: Seasoned pros working in industrial distribution can be somewhat skeptical about the power of technology as anyone working in the industrial space may have reason to be wary of machines. That being said, the notion that software is more trouble than it’s worth is more than a little misguided. In this article, sales-i president Kevin McGirl discusses the how embracing an abundance of available technology resources makes for a better salesperson, and makes their day-to-day work life easier.
Jack Keough: Airgas Forsees No Company-Wide Layoffs: In the past few weeks as earnings have rolled in for industrial distributors and manufacturers, it is apparent, for a variety of reasons, that business is "sluggish" at best. As a result, many of these industrial companies have said they will be restructuring and laying off hundreds of employees. That isn’t the road that Airgas will be taking. Industrial Distribution contributing editor Jack Keough discusses how the Radnor, PA-based gas, welding, and safety distributor says that it will continue to look for "process improvements" and taking other steps to decrease costs rather than terminating employees.