United States

McGladrey Survey: Distribution Industry Growing, Adding Jobs

Government regulation, taxes and competition seen as threats



Driven by advances in ecommerce and an improved economy, the U.S. distribution industry is growing, according to the 2014 McGladrey Distribution Monitor. The annual report, presented by McGladrey LLP, the nation's leading provider of assurance, tax and consulting services focused on the middle market, and the NAW Institute for Distribution Excellence – shows that 74 percent of distributors reported an increase in sales over the past 12 months, with an average increase of 7.5 percent. Those numbers are expected to improve in the coming year, as 91 percent of distributors expect to increase sales an average of 8.9 percent.

"At 5.5 million employees, wholesale distribution accounts for approximately one in every 20 jobs in the United States," said Dan Blaylock, 2014 chairman of the board for the National Association of Wholesaler-Distributors. "Because the industry is so important to the vitality of the U.S. economy, identifying and understanding the various strategic management challenges that the distribution community faces is one of the great priorities of our time. Business intelligence – such as that provided by the McGladrey Monitor – helps provide a roadmap to navigate to solutions."

"According to the U.S. Census Bureau, in April 2014, sales of U.S. merchant wholesalers totaled $450.2 billion, up 7.8 percent from April 2013," said Karen Kurek, leader of industrial products for Mcgladrey. "Total inventories of merchant wholesalers were $530.6 billion for the same period, up 6.7 percent from the year before. These figures confirm the results of the 2014 Monitor, which clearly finds good news across the distribution industry."

Monitor results show that 39 percent of distributors describe themselves as thriving in 2014, an uptick from 32 percent in 2013. A lower percentage of distributors say they are holding steady or declining than in 2013. Sixty nine percent of distributors expect their profits before interest and taxes to increase over the next year.

Not surprisingly, given anticipated growth projections, two thirds (66 percent) of distributors expect to add jobs in the U.S. over the coming year, with an average expected workforce increase of five percent.

When asked about potential impediments to growth, distributors most often cited competition from other companies (65 percent) as the biggest threat over the next 12 months. However, nearly as many (63 percent) of distributors cited government regulation as a limiting factor on growth, and 59 percent said they expected taxation to limit their growth over the next twelve months.

When asked about specific regulations and their impact on growth, implementation of the Affordable Care Act was by far the most commonly cited limiting factor. Sixty-eight percent of distributors said they believe the implementation of the law would limit their growth over the next 12 months. The only other regulation cited by more than half of respondents was state regulation (53 percent). Federal (60 percent) and state (61 percent) taxes were also identified as potential threats.

Detailed distribution industry results can be found on the McGladrey website.

About the McGladrey Distribution Monitor
The 2014 McGladrey Manufacturing & Distribution Monitor was conducted using an online questionnaire, promoted by McGladrey and various organizations to manufacturing and distribution companies. The 207 distributor respondents were directed to the 2014 NAW Institute/McGladrey Monitor, with messaging and some questions tailored to distributors. The 2014 NAW Institute/McGladrey Monitor was presented by the NAW Institute for Distribution Excellence and McGladrey.

About McGladrey
Effective Oct. 26, 2015, McGladrey will unite with fellow members of our global network under the common brand name RSM. McGladrey LLP is the leading U.S. provider of assurance, tax and consulting services focused on the middle market, with 8,000 professionals and associates in 80 cities nationwide. A licensed CPA firm, McGladrey serves clients around the world through RSM International, a global network of independent accounting, tax and consulting firms. For more information, join our Facebook fan page at McGladrey News, follow us on Twitter @McGladrey, and connect with us on LinkedIn, and/or on YouTube.


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