Top 50 Distributors Projecting Spike in 2013
The 2013 Distribution Center Magazine’s Top 50 HVACR Distributors survey found that 84 percent of respondents expect their sales to increase in 2013. The mean increase projected is 10.3 percent. Flat sales were anticipated by 6 percent and 5 percent said they expect sales to decline in 2013. The mean sales decline projected was 14.3 percent.
“It is great to see that the vast majority of the Top 50 experienced significant growth last year, certainly outpacing the average growth rate in 2012 of all HARDI distributors,” said Talbot Gee, executive vice president and chief operating officer, Heating, Air-conditioning & Refrigeration Distributors International (HARDI).
“However, that growth and even the relative optimism for 2013 is obviously being restrained right now,” he continued. “While last year’s survey revealed government as the biggest concern to last year’s Top 50, government shares the stage this year with more general economic uncertainty as the two issues the 2013 Top 50 see facing HVACR distribution. Expectations are tempered for these reasons, so while we expect growth this year, we are preparing for it to be more modest than perhaps it could have been absent these barriers.”
Concern about government regulation was the second most frequently mentioned factor cited by respondents when asked about what might impact business in 2013.
Jim Vetter, chief financial officer at Century Holdings, Houston, pointed to government regulation and the consumer as the factors he expected to most impact HVACR distribution in 2013.
“Legislation will continue to impact the economic climate,” said Kevin Parsley, vice president and sales director at ACR Supply Co., Durham, N.C. “Pending fiscal issues and the bent that Washington has for ineffective money management will hold back the private sector from really ramping up growth and job opportunities. Most companies will continue to watch cash, as cash still is king.”
A CLOSER LOOKThe average HVACR distributor saw sales increase 5.6 percent for fiscal 2012, according to HARDI. However, greater increases were reported by many of the HVACR distributors that responded to the second annual Top 50 U.S. HVACR Distributors report presented by DC and HARDI.
This year’s study found that 17 of the Top 50 distributors enjoyed a 10 percent or higher boost in their HVACR sales, and six of those reported increases of 15 percent or more. Among all of the companies that responded (more than 90), 72 percent said their HVACR sales increased in 2012. The mean increase reported was 14.4 percent. Flat sales were reported by 12 percent of respondents.
In last year’s study, 79 percent of respondents had projected a sales increase in 2012, with the mean increase being 7.1 percent, and 13 percent projected flat sales.
Watsco enjoyed growth in both residential and commercial product segments in the United States, with residential growth especially strong in the fourth quarter and expected to continue into 2013, according to an analyst blog by Zacks Investment Research.
Wolseley plc reported that Ferguson’s HVAC business remained subdued for fiscal 2012 due to the removal of government tax incentives last year.
Among all respondents to the survey, 83 percent said they are currently members of HARDI. Only two of the distributors in the Top 50 are not HARDI members.
WHO's WHOThe overall ranking chart lists the Top 50 HVACR distributors in the United States, based on responses to our survey, ranked by their total HVACR sales for 2012. We had to estimate for a few of the companies, identified with an asterisk (*).
The Top 50 HVACR distributors listed here represent more than $11.5 billion in HVACR sales. All responding distributors to the survey represented $12.4 billion.
There are some new faces in this year’s chart, which resulted in a few distributors that appeared in last year’s Top 50 being knocked off the list. New this year are: Insco Distributing, San Antonio; ACES A/C Supply, Houston; Virginia Air Distributors, Midlothian, Va.; O’Connor Co., Lenexa, Kan.; Lohmiller & Co. dba Carrier West, Denver; McCall’s Inc., Johnsonville, S.C.; First Supply LLC, Madison, Wis.; and Southern Refrigeration Corp., Roanoke, Va.
A few companies from last year’s Top 50 appear on this year’s list under slightly different names. Last year CCOM Group Inc., Hawthorne, N.J., was listed as Colonial Commercial Corp., and Century Holdings, Houston, was The Century Cos.
STAR PERFORMERSSlakey Brothers Inc., Elk Grove, Calif., was the Top 50 distributor that reported the largest percentage sales increase in HVACR for 2012 vs. 2011.
Other distributors in the Top 50 that reported increases of 15 percent or more in 2012 are: Morrison Supply Co., Fort Worth, Texas; Lohmiller & Co. dba Carrier West, Denver; Munch’s Supply Co., New Lenox, Ill.; Watsco Inc., Coconut Grove, Fla.; and Standard Supply & Distributing, Dallas.
Among all respondents to the survey, here are other star performers that reported double-digit increases in HVACR sales: Mid-City Supply Co., Inc., Elkhart, Ind.; Minvalco Inc., Minneapolis; McKenney Supply Inc., Searcy, Ark.; Fresh Air Ventilation Systems LLC, Lewiston, Maine; GBG Inc., Pittsburgh; P & H Supply, Muskogee, Okla.; Plumbing & Heating Wholesale Inc., Sioux Center, Iowa; Team Air Distributing Inc., Nashville; United Supply Co., North Plainfield, N.J.; Western Nevada Supply, Sparks, Nev.; Williams Distributing Co., Grand Rapids, Mich.; Wolff Bros. Supply Inc., Medina, Ohio; and HVACR-Tools.com (a national supplier and Internet distributor), Paulsboro, N.J.
Some of the above distributors enjoyed increases of 20 percent or more in their HVACR sales in 2012, including: Team Air Distributing, Minvalco, Mid-City Supply, and McKenney Supply.
FACTORS AFFECTING BUSINESS IN 2013Asked to identify what specific factors would most affect HVACR business in 2013, the largest number of respondents overall, 33, cited the economy; 15 said government regulation; 13 said R-22, and 13 said the weather.
“With the phaseout of R-22 equipment and the energy rebates available to the consumer, I see the industry strengthening in the green market,” said Kent Jones, president, McKenney Supply, Searcy, Ark. “The HVACR industry has the potential of making a great impact on our futures in energy savings and economies.”
Some distributors had a laundry list of factors. For example, one said: “Continued weak economy; low consumer spending; high percentage at 13 SEER; soaring cost of R-22.”
Another said: “Economy - raw materials, transportation, unemployment, government interference, taxes, EPA.”
Other factors mentioned by respondents included: jobs and unemployment; shortage of skilled tradespeople; home sales, home starts, construction; rebates and tax credits; and vendor price increases.
“Residential energy efficiency tax credits being returned … should not necessarily increase the number of units sold, but will increase revenue, with fixed cost remaining steady through the next year,” said Brett E. Mattison, president, Freeman Supply Co., Hutchinson, Kan. “We as distributors must continue to promote the sale of high efficiency heating and cooling equipment among our dealers and make sure that we have the products in stock and ready for immediate shipment to their market.”
MISCELLANEOUS COMMENTS FROM DISTRIBUTORS
Competition is stiff - the economy is forcing everything to be price driven. It is not as easy to sell features and benefits as it used to be.”
- an unnamed distributor
“I am very concerned about many policies coming out of Washington that too often actually discourage economic growth, and sometimes are openly hostile to business.”
- an unnamed distributor
“Tax credits will help move the consumer to higher efficiency.”
- an unnamed distributor
“Rebates would be a key to jumpstart more retrofits for homeowners to upgrade their old systems that are inefficient. We had a great boom when there was a federal tax rebate. The HVAC industry gets a backseat to rebates, although HVAC is 50 percent of the utility usage. HVAC impacts the electric grid, and more attention should be driven to the HVAC market.”
- Phyllis LaVoy, CEO, Pacific HVAC Depot, San Leandro, Calif.
“The political uncertainty (national debt, taxes, budget cuts) has created a hesitancy through all levels of the economy for anybody to actually do anything. The uptick in economic activity we’ve seen to date is only a fraction of what it could and should be.”
- Stephen Torrice, owner and CEO, S.G. Torrice Co., Wilmington, Mass.
“We are very optimistic about the future of our HVAC business!”
- Jeff New, president, Mid-City Supply Co., Elkhart, Ind.