Despite what NAW described as a sluggish overall economic recovery in 2013, the wholesale-distribution industry saw growth according to the Alan Beaulieu, the association’s senior economic advisor and president of ITR Economics. His “State of the Wholesale Distribution Industry” commentary found in the annual report reported that total Wholesale Trade was up 4.2 percent from the year ago level for total sales of $5.13 trillion.
“A growing labor market helped support U.S. economic growth in 2013, and the wholesale-distribution industry did its part,” said Beaulieu. “Wholesale trade employment averaged 5.8 million workers in 2013, a 1.6 percent gain from 2012. The economy as a whole added jobs at a 1.0 percent clip. Wholesale trade employment rising at a faster pace than the overall economy suggests the industry is improving.”
When addressing 2014, Beaulieu noted that he expects U.S. industrial production to push higher than initially forecast. He explained that the U.S. industrial production rate is the benchmark he uses for the overall economy.
“We are still calling for a rate-of-change decline in 2014 extending into 2015, and the economy’s rate of growth in 2014, at 1.9 percent, is expected to be below that posted 2.6 percent growth rate for 2013,” said Beaulieu’s report. “We are still calling for a period of seasonal softness in late 2014 and early 2015, but the annual trend will not decline.”
NAW enjoys bringing its membership together as peers, not as competitors. It considers itself a federation of associations where multiple wholesale distribution industries can be represented.
“NAW has created a number of peer groups that offer you and other wholesale distribution executives endless opportunities to meet with and learn from your noncompeting peers,” the association said. “Through exchanging ideas with peers in other lines of trade, you can grow your business and gain a competitive advantage in your industry segment.”
To help do this, NAW offers its membership several roundtables throughout the year. It also endeavors to help make the most of participants time.
“NAW events are short but information packed so the time commitment is minimal,” said the report. “There is enough time built in at NAW events for both learning experiences and networking in an intimate setting that offers a candid atmosphere for information exchange.”
Involved in several advocacy programs on Capitol Hill, NAW also has two grassroots programs to help bolster member involvement — the E-Alert program and the Washington Action Network (WAN). With the E-Alert program NAW communicates with participants who in turn communicate with their U.S. Senators and Representatives. The WAN, according to the association, catalogs the personal relationships that exist between individual wholesaler-distributors and members of both houses of Congress.
“Senate passage of the Marketplace Fairness Act, a bill to empower the States to require remote sellers to collect and remit state sales taxes just as brick-and-mortar sellers must do, was a victory limited by the bill remaining stalled in the House,” said NAW. “Health care continues to be a major contributor to the partisan angst that grips Capitol Hill.”
NAW is now watching closely the regulatory and rulemaking that extends from health care and other major issues.
NAW’s events and services to the wholesale-distribution industry have been vast in 2013 and will continue throughout 2014, according to its annual report. A new addition to the NAW team direct from the HVAC distribution industry comes from HARDI. Talbot Gee, HARDI executive vice president and COO, has accepted a position on the NAW Institute board of directors. According to HARDI, the association looks forward to being part of an organization that regularly conducts research in distribution, and is eager to use this research to improve member business practices and ultimately give members the tools they need to successfully evolve in the future.
“The NAW Institute for Distribution Excellence has a very similar mission to our own HARDI Research Foundation, though obviously not focused on the HVACR industry, so I’m excited to be a part of this excellent institution of higher learning for progressive wholesale distributors,” noted Gee.
The NAW Institute for Distribution Excellence’s mission is to conduct research into strategic management issues affecting the wholesale distribution industry. Much of this research stems from distribution industry executives who seek to discover practical solutions to real-world problems. Major current research revolves around trends in wholesale distribution, profit, pricing, operations improvement, financial management, supply chain management, warehouse and inventory management, and more.
“We’re delighted that Talbot will be joining the NAW Institute Board,” said Dirk Van Dongen, president and treasurer of NAW. “He’ll bring innovative and creative thinking to a board made up of some of wholesale distribution’s best strategists. Talbot is a strong industry leader. He’ll make many contributions as the Institute continues its work to help wholesaler-distributors remain the most effective and efficient distribution channel.”