Stellar Industrial Supply has been one of the most active well-known industrial distributors in recent years, making four bolt-on acquisitions since late 2014, including three between April and August 2015.
One of those moves was a merger with Tampa Bay, FL-based Impact Industrial Supplies, announced in April 2015, which gained Tacoma, WA-based Stellar a foothold in the U.S. southeast to compliment its presence in the northwest, southwest and in Oklahoma.
Along with gaining an enhanced market share in MRO, safety, metalworking and abrasives products, the addition of Impact gained Stellar new vendors and an experienced team of employees, including Impact founder John Diaz.
It's been roughly one year since the merger completed. During the Industrial Supply Association Expo on April 17 in Rosemont, IL, I paid a visit to Stellar's booth to chat with Stellar president and CEO John Wiborg and Diaz about how the transition went and the benefits both sides have seen.
"The transition has been everything we thought it would be," said Diaz, who is Stellar's vice president of sales and business development. "Everything we talked about is coming true and we’re living up to what we said we were going to do. Our people are excited to be part of Stellar and the opportunities that it's providing."
"We’ve done a great job with the transition," echoed Wiborg, who is also vice chairman of ISA. "John’s come on as our Southeast regional VP and has done a marvelous job getting to know how Stellar operates and contributing and helping us mend that operation to be better. John has been in this business for a very long time and is a progressive leader in this industry. He brought a lot to the table and has grown business down there."
Shortly before the Impact merger, Stellar merged with Billings, MT-based Advantage Machine & Tool, and opened a branch in Tulsa, OK — Stellar's first location outside the northwest. After Impact, Stellar filled another geographic gap by announcing the acquisition of Tuscon Abrasives in July 2015. Less than a month later, Stellar announced a merger with San Luis Obispo, CA-based Graffams Industrial.
Diaz said the suppliers that were great Stellar partners and didn't have a relationship with Impact have embraced the company in the Florida and greater U.S. southeast market.
"They’ve been able to see the value and the capacity we can bring to them," Diaz said. 'We’re very excited after the first year and see a lot of good things happening in the future."
With any business acquisition or merger, have a smooth transition between company cultures is a key part of its success. Stellar and Impact had a business relationship before the merger, and both Wiborg and Diaz said the two companies' similar philosophy went a long way toward ensuring a seamless merger process.
"We knew John and his company’s people and they knew us. We share the same core values. We share the same approach to helping customers make profit and do a lot more than just transactions and move boxes around," Wiborg said. "Because we have shared values and vision, we’ve come together extremely well. We brought a lot of ideas over from John’s business. So now we have a new company and culture that goes with it. It’s not radically different, but it’s formed up nicely."
"I think it was important that we knew each other for so long coming into this," "Diaz added We knew the alignment of how we treated our customers and employees. Like with any other transition, if there’s something that’s going to be a challenge, having that similar culture helps us work through that. A lot of confidence from everyone involved that the company will thrive and continue to grow."