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Price, Performance And Persistence

Price, Perfomance and PersistanceStrategies for distributor growth in the new year

We are getting better at working in adversity,” said one distributor interviewed for The MHEDA Journal’s Annual Forecast edition. It’s been a long haul over the past few years, and as evidenced by this year’s Industry Forecast, new products and new ways to make a profit are reflected in distributors’ plans.

65% of distributors anticipate that sales will be better this year. Thankfully, no one predicts a downward spiral, but a large portion, 35% are forecasting sales to stay the same. Of all four material handling segments—Industrial Trucks, Engineered Systems, Storage & Handling, and Diverse Products—the highest number predicting growth, 73%, are IT distributors. For comparison, only 60% of ES distributors are forecasting growth (see chart on page 38).

Many distributors remark about the difficulty of finding employees. Turnaround at companies is high, as distributors search for the right skill levels, particularly in sales. Some distributors did not let go of employees during the down turn and are ready to rock and roll as the economy turns around; those that did are having a tough time finding new employees.

Another common theme this year is that customers want to do more with less and are turning to automation. Distributors are at the forefront of helping them uncover ways to be more efficient. It goes the other way too, as many distributors are looking for efficiencies in their own processes, whether through automation, software upgrades or removing excess fat.

After 16 years of putting the annual Industry Forecast together, randomly calling thousands of distributors and suppliers throughout North America (Supplier Forecast begins on page 49), several things have become very clear: MHEDA members do whatever it takes to keep their businesses strong. Whatever it is, distributors have taken a long, hard look at how they do business and are ready to face the new year with new strategies. Here’s to a successful and profitable new year.

INDUSTRY FORECAST Distributors

Material Handling Equipment Distributors Association