Each year, our May/June issue puts the industrial distribution industry under a microscope and examines the results of our annual comprehensive report, the Survey of Distributor Operations. In its 68th year, this report reviews everything from distributor profits, revenues, business strategies, investments, and consolidation, and more – thanks to our loyal readers, we always find a nice pool of survey respondents to help direct our efforts.
While I’d certainly encourage you to read through the report in its entirety – kicking off on page 20 – I’d also recommend you make a quick pit stop along the way and read this issue’s Distributor Profile on UDG. United Distribution Group is well known in the industry (and lands at #24 on our Big 50 List) and we had the opportunity to send Jack Keough out on the beat, to interview UDG’s executives, leaders in its subsidiaries, and top customers.
While I think there is a lot that can be gleaned from the Survey of Distributor Operations, UDG’s story can also be considered a case study on industry success. The discussion between Jack and these industry leaders focused on things like strategic acquisitions, customer service, national accounts, and product depth – areas we review yearly in our survey. But placed in the context of a successful business like UDG, these elements come to life – rather than a pool of stats, we’re looking at the practical application of distribution best practices, and a candid look at how it all works together.
Each year, I attend about a half dozen association meetings, and my favorite part is getting a chance to discuss the marketplace with industrial distributors – face to face. It’s these kinds of discussions that provide the most insight, no matter how much market research there is out there. But for most of you, you probably don’t get a look inside other facilities and businesses. An industry that was once much more intimate has now expanded, and – with it – guards come up. So don’t miss your chance to learn from other, successful businesses when they’re willing to open their doors.
That said, Industrial Distribution is constantly on the lookout for successful companies to profile within the magazine – and you don’t have to be a Big 50 company to get our attention. In fact, we’d love to hear from those of you who think you have something to share with your peers in the industry. Email me with the subject line “Distributor Profile” and let me know why you think we should visit your distribution company and put your organization on the cover of the magazine. Because stats are one thing, but putting a face and name to these best practices can really provide the kind of leadership and insight that this industry needs on a consistent basis. So don’t be shy.
Anna Wells, Executive Editor