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A Buyers Take on Early 2013

By Sam Sterner

I am in a very fortunate position.  With my role as a National Acquisitions Manager, I get to see the state of our industry from the inside out.  An unfortunate truth about my job is that not only do I assist companies selling off excess product, I help close them down completely.  The way I see it, people contact me to sell material for three reasons: they are selling leftovers or excess material, they are moving/consolidating and need to empty their current facility, or they are closing and need to liquidate.  In 2012, it was a mix of selling excess material, and liquidating.  In 2013, it seems this has reversed.  Many people I have talked to have been exploring the option, or followed through with, moving out of leased buildings and into owned properties.  A rearrangement of materials is all that is needed in some cases, and warehouse space can be maximized to fit accordingly.  It is an option that pays itself off extremely quickly when done correctly.

In the three months that have passed in the new year, and depending what you read or whom you listen to, opinion on our industry’s condition is all over the board.  My take away so far is this- it seems we are on a verge, or a teetering point.  The hundreds companies I have talked with are wanting to expand or to improve their current functioning warehouse.  As a buyer, the shift this year has been from companies selling excess material or closed businesses liquidation remaining assets into improving distribution and maximizing storage space.  As a company, we have seen the RFQ’s for materials and projects that tell us distribution is on its way back.  It is still teetering however, because the industry seems hesitant.  The projects are there, the material is available, its the pulling the trigger that will push us over the edge into full blown recovery mode in my mind.  Will this continue until late in the year?  Time will tell.  If there is one thing I have learned as a buyer, it is that everything comes in cycles.  Material that is undesirable one month is highly sought after the next.  2013 started with a showing that the distribution industry could be climbing back, and the late spring period can show if this is a real bounce back in the right direction, or just high hopes.