Monday, August 11, 2008

The Distributor Green Specialist?

In the past couple of weeks we have noted electrical distributors making the move toward green products, industrial distributors moving toward green packaging and Distribution giant Grainger announcing that their green based products - from toilets to who knows what - selling like the proverbial hotcakes.

When we think about the office environment, computers and associated equipment must be a big spend. The U.S. Government is requiring green ratings on their computer purchases in the future. And, distributors are responding. I see a day when distributors may think about employing a Distributor Specialist who supports the sales of green products.

The following comes from (The Week in Consumer Electronics):

Santa Ana, Calif. — Ingram Micro has launched a service to help resellers identify “green” electronic products.
The distributor’s North American arm has updated its product database to include information from nonprofit Green Electronics Council’s Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool (EPEAT) rating system that evaluates desktop computers, notebooks and monitors based on 51 environmental performance criteria.
According to the company, the database now includes bronze, silver or gold EPEAT rankings along with other product data to enable resellers to easily identify environmentally preferable computer products.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Distributor Activity in India

The channel to market is rapidly developing in India. Most of the products purchased in India are still purchased through very small operations - what we (in the U.S.) would call Ma & Pa operations. But things are changing... Here are a couple of news announcements from last week that indicate things will be heating up on the sub-continent.

NEW YORK (Associated Press) - Maintenance products distributor W.W. Grainger Inc. said Wednesday it has paid $5.4 million for a stake in an Indian industrial and electrical wholesale distributor.
Along with the $5.4 million purchase price for 49.9 percent of Asia Pacific Brands India Ltd., Grainger put in a $1.1 million matching investment to help expand the business.
Asia Pacific had revenue of $47 million in its last fiscal year ended March 31. It has 27 locations across India.

And this one from ITInformation India:

Power management firm Eaton Corp today said it has signed a nationwide distribution pact with Redington India to deliver its single phase uninterruptible power supply (UPS) systems.
"Through this partnership, Eaton will benefit from Redington's significant reach and infrastructure for making Eaton's products available to channel partners," Eaton Power Quality General Manager Deepak Sharma said in a release here.
Redington provides integrated supply chain solutions with 10,000 channel partners across India, Middle East and Africa.
"Redington will be able to cater to the ever expanding power quality solutions market, making Eaton's highly reliable, state-of-the-art single phase UPS available to our channel partners," Anand Chakravarthy, Head, strategic business unit, networking, storage & power, Redington India said.

Power Transmission Distributor Association (PTDA) Posts Increase

The year for industrial based-distributors continues to be a bit "bouncy". Power Transmission distributors lie dead center in the world of industrial supply. Their products range from belts and pulleys to complex Automation and electronic Motion Control devices. June sales trended up, other months have been smooth or slightly down. It has been that kind of year in the North American market.

One very interesting development this month comes in the down turn in Variable Frequency Drives and Linear Motion products. These categories have been shining stars in past months and one can only wonder if next month will see a corresponding upturn.

Here is the press release from PTDA -

Chicago, Ill. — August 6, 2008 — The Power Transmission Distributors Association (PTDA) today released June 2008 month-end trend data for distributors and manufacturers of power transmission/motion control (PT/MC) products.

U.S. distributors’ overall sales of PT/MC products rose 2.7 percent in June 2008 compared to May 2008. When matched up against sales in the same month last year, sales in June 2008 were up 2.1 percent. Accounts receivable collection days dropped 2.3 percent since May 2008. The confidence index of U.S. distributors for June remained flat at 5.6 (on a 10-point scale).

U.S. manufacturers’ sales increased in June 2008, with a 6.6 percent gain compared to May 2008. Sales in June 2008 climbed 5.6 percent compared to the same period last year. Orders in June 2008 were down 5.0 percent over May 2008. The confidence level of U.S. manufacturers remained flat at 5.3 (on a 10-point scale) for the second month in a row.

Product-by-product sales between May 2008 and June 2008 reflect the overall increase in sales experienced by U.S. and Canadian manufacturers. Only three of nine product categories for U.S. manufacturers—variable speed drives, mechanical drive systems and other PT products and positioning systems/ linear motion products—posted drops in sales. For Canadian manufacturers, four product categories posted a loss—clutches & brakes, variable speed drives, mounted bearings and unmounted bearings.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Distributors Going Green

A week or so ago we reported that the National Association of Electrical Distributors (NAED) had hired a consultant to lead them into the "Green" market. There seems to be a great deal of interest in all things green. This report was listed in today's version of The Electrical Distributor Magazine on-line.

CLAMORING FOR GREEN—an April 29 Reuters report, which TedMag stumbled across only recently, noted that “building maintenance supply company W.W. Grainger says…customers are clamoring for the energy-efficient lights, high-efficient water faucets, and even waterless toilets it sells…Grainger’s sales of such products rose 20% in the first quarter from a year earlier, compared with a 7% revenue gain overall, a company spokesman said.”

I suspect that distributors in nearly every line of trade are looking for ways to put an energy saving spin onto some of their products.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

US Census Reports - Manufactured Good Up!

This is one of those good news bad news stories for wholesalers. The US Census is reporting that manufactured goods are tracking upward. This no doubt leaves many distributors scratching their heads. If you happen to be an Electrical Distributor, Automation Supplier, or HVAC Distributor you will be particuarly interested in this.

Here are a few of the headline statistics:
08/04/08 – New orders for manufactured goods increased $7.6 billion or 1.7 percent to $457.6 billion in June, the U.S. Census Bureau reported. This was at the highest level since the series was first stated on a NAICS basis in 1992 and followed a 0.9 percent May increase.

But the real story is in the details of the report. Take just a moment to check out the report located here.

Check out the numbers for these items
Industrial Machinery - Shipments down 6.2%
Electrical Equipment - Shipments nearly flat
Electrical Lighting - Shipments down 10.8%

And no surprise here - Light Trucks and Utility vehicles down 20%

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Distributors need to add Training to their Mix

We have long pushed for Distributors to get involved in the training business. This is especially true for those wholesalers involved in technology oriented businesses.

But allow me to add a point of clarification here; when many think of technology they think of Silicon Valley - computers, data-communications and the like. Technology is nearly anything that changes and needs a bit of training to understand. Distributor members of HARDI, NAED, PTDA, AHTD, NIBA, SEDA and others should be considering training as a potential source of revenue.

We believe that Distributor Specialists need to be involved in the training. Many upper quartile distributors have already figured this out, others are quietly ramping up their efforts.

A resent survey conducted by accounting firm, RSM McGladrey, detailed the need for skilled workers.

“One in five companies cannot find the workers they need for today’s advanced technology manufacturing and wholesale distribution environments,” said Karen Kurek, managing director in RSM McGladrey’s manufacturing and wholesale distribution practice. “As baby boomers retire, demand for labor will certainly increase – irrespective of economic conditions. The industry is challenged with properly training displaced workers and bringing jobs where workers are located.”

You can read the entire report at