Companies in this industry distribute electrical, plumbing, and HVAC materials and supplies, as well as hardware, handtools, and other equipment. Major companies include Ace Hardware, Anixter, Graybar Electric, True Value, and WESCO International (all based in the US), as well as Rexel (France) and Wolseley (UK).
Sales are driven by demand from the construction, telecommunications, and hardware retailing industries. Profitability depends largely on merchandising and efficient inventory management. Large companies have wide distribution networks and may offer customers a broad selection of products and services. Small operators can compete successfully by stocking specialty products, stocking all of the parts that their particular customers need, or delivering superior service.
Products, Operations & Technology
Companies in this industry typically buy large quantities of products from hundreds of manufacturers, then "break bulk" and resell them to thousands of customers. This practice allows customers to buy small quantities of products from many different manufacturers. Electrical products, for example, may include wire, cable, wiring devices, fiber optic products, electrical connectors, bolts, fittings, screws, and data products for local or wide area networks. In addition to selling products, many distributors provide technical knowledge and support and some provide maintenance and repair.