PHCP wholesale distributors reported fairly flat sales in 2001, but are optimistic about 2002.

Considering the economic slowdown in 2001 and the tragic events of 9/11, the status quo sounds pretty good. Respondents to this year's Premier 150 survey reported combined 2001 sales of $30.9 billion, a 5.8% decline from the $32.8 billion in 2000 sales reported last year. The typical sales change in the industry was 4%, down from 5.9% last year.

More than half (55.8%) of the Premier 150 wholesalers reported an increase in 2001 sales vs. 2000. However, only 7.3% of those firms had growth of 10% or more vs. nearly 33% who reported such an increase last year. Sales declined for 36.97% of respondents, but only 8% had sales declines of 10% or more.

The volume of the total market of PHCP wholesalers in the United States and Canada was estimated at $53.2 billion for 2001, down 4.6% from $55.8 billion in 2000. These volume figures include refrigerant components and the portion of the PVF market represented by Premier 150 companies that do not handle plumbing and heating products. Excluded from these figures are hardware and electrical sales and industrial supply business other than PVF. The sales estimates for 2000 and 2001 are based on revised U.S. Census Bureau figures. The adjusted figures were re-evaluated for us this year by an industry expert, which is why the year 2000 sales reported here differ from what we reported in last year's Premier 150.


Industry consolidation continued in 2001. McJunkin Corp. acquired Joliet Valve and included that company's sales from August through December as part of its 2001 sales for the Premier 150 ranking. Joliet Valve was ranked No. 103 in this year's Premier 150 survey based on its sales for the first seven months of 2001, but will be removed from the list next year. McJunkin also acquired M.P. Wilkins Supply and Automation & Controls Specialists in 2001.

Wilson Industries, a subsidiary of Smith International, acquired the U.S. assets of Van Leeuwen Pipe and Tube Corp., No. 25 last year.

Carrier Corp. acquired the HVAC business of Climatic Corp., No. 62 last year. Climatic became part of Carrier Enterprises, Carrier's distribution company. Carrier Enterprises (No. 3) is included in the Premier 150 based on estimated distribution figures for Carrier Enterprises. Carrier also acquired Nashville, Tenn.-based Andrews Distribution Co., No. 129 last year.

London-based Wolseley plc, the parent company of Ferguson Enterprises, acquired The Westburne Group from Paris-based Rexel S.A., including Westburne Plumbing & Waterworks in Canada, Westburne Supply in the United States, Westburne Refrigeration & HVAC in Canada and Westburne Industrial Products in Canada. Westburne was listed as Rexel Canada and ranked No. 3 in last year's Premier 150.

In Canada, Noble Trade Plumbing Supplies acquired Quinte Plumbing Supplies and Howell Plumbing & Supply acquired Ontario Plumbing & Heating Supplies.

Home Depot acquired Your Other Warehouse, a master distributor of faucets, fixtures, and bath and kitchen accessories, from LCR-M, its parent company, which in turn is controlled by Hajoca Corp.

Economic considerations also led companies to consolidate internal operations. Late last year Wolseley plc announced plans to merge the operations of Ferguson Enterprises, Familian Northwest and Westburne USA. Watsco, ranked No. 4 this year, closed and integrated seven locations in the first half of 2001.

Other companies closed their doors. B&M Plumbing, Heating & Tile, a 60-year-old plumbing and heating wholesale and retail operation in the Chicago area, discontinued operations in its Englewood neighborhood location. Milwaukee Lead Works (Milwaukee) ceased operations as it entered its 75th year in business.

Moving On Up

New to the Premier 150 this year are MSI HVAC (Mira Loma, Calif.) at No. 141; Macomb Pipe & Supply (Sterling Heights, Mich.) at No. 142; Best Plumbing Supply (Yorktown Heights, N.Y.) at No. 144; and Wholesale Supply Group (Cleveland, Tenn.) at No. 150.

Hirsch Pipe & Supply, J.O. Galloup, Andrew Sheret Ltd., Industrial Piping Specialists, Kelly Pipe Co. LLC, Cal Steam, Kelly's Pipe and Supply, Palermo Supply, S.W. Anderson Sales, Nunn Electric/Bush Supply Co., and Lee Supply Corp., each moved up within the ranks of the Premier 150 by 10 points or more.

Honorable mention to those companies that just missed the list: Dealers Supply Co. (Forest Park, Ga.); Apex Supply Co. (Dallas); and C&L Supply (Vinita, Okla.).

The Numbers Tell

The ranking by 2001 sales reported here includes 13 companies with volume of half a billion or more, one less than last year.

The top 10 companies accounted for 49.5% of the sales for the entire Premier 150 and 28.8% of estimated sales for all U.S. and Canadian PHCP firms. In contrast, the companies ranked Nos. 11-20 represented 13.1% of Premier 150 sales and 7.6% of total U.S. and Canadian PHCP wholesaler sales. The remaining 130 companies listed provided 37.3% of Premier 150 sales and 21.7% of the industry's total sales.

Wholesalers are optimistic for 2002: 70.8% expect sales to increase. Another 23.6% project flat sales, while only 5.6% predict a sales decrease.