More than 75% of the respondents to this year's survey reported a sales increase for fiscal 2003 vs. 2002, and the future looks even rosier.

Even better than projected last year, more than 75% of the respondents to this year's Premier 150 survey reported a sales increase for fiscal 2003 vs. 2002. Last year 61% of PHCP wholesalers had increased sales in fiscal 2002.

The future looks even rosier. More than 95% of the survey respondents willing to make a prediction say they expect sales growth in fiscal 2004. Less than 1% project a decrease in sales and less than 4% see sales remaining flat.

For fiscal 2003, 20.7% of companies saw their sales rise by 10% or more, compared with 8.7% for fiscal 2002 and 7.3% for fiscal 2001. Only 2.7% of reporting companies this year had sales decrease by 10% or more in fiscal 2003, vs. 5.3% in fiscal 2002 and 8% in fiscal 2001.

Also, for this year's report, 35 companies rose 10 spots or more within the ranks of the Premier 150. Last year 25 companies had made that leap.

For fiscal 2003, 57 companies reported total sales of $100 million or more, up from 47 companies last year.

HVACR wholesalers had a particularly good year in 2003, with 92% of the top 50 in that segment reporting an increase in total sales and 13 companies showing double-digit percentage growth. The average increase was about 7%.

Among the top 50 plumbing and hydronic wholesalers, 78% reported an increase in their total sales, averaging about 10%.

The top 50 PVF wholesalers had a more challenging year: 22.7% of that group increased their total sales, averaging about 7% above the prior year.

The volume of the total market of PHCP wholesalers in the United States and Canada was estimated at $53.8 billion (U.S.) for 2003, compared with a revised estimate of $53.2 billion (U.S.) for the total market in fiscal 2002. These figures include refrigerant components and the portion of the PVF market represented by companies that offer exclusively PVF. The total market sales estimates are based on an industry's expert's analysis of data obtained from the U.S. Census Bureau.

The Canadian Institute of Plumbing & Heating reported that in 2003 Canadian PHCP wholesalers generated sales that exceeded the previous record set last year by an estimated 7%. All regions had increases, led by British Columbia, the West region (including Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Thunderbay) and the Atlantic region, according to CIPH.


This year's Premier 150 list contains only 21 companies ranked by “editor's estimates” of their sales, compared with 38 companies last year. The list has been updated and revised to exclude some companies because we could not obtain actual sales figures for them, or they restructured or filed for bankruptcy and/or discontinued operations. Changes include:

-- Carrier Enterprises, the distribution arm of Carrier Corp., Farmington, Conn., ranked No. 3 last year. It was added to the list in 2000; the company reported its distribution numbers separately. Since 2002, actual sales figures for its distribution business have not been available and we have been estimating.

-- Pameco Corp., Golden, Colo., ranked No. 12 in 2003, No. 15 in 2002. The company has filed Chapter 11 and plans to liquidate its assets.

-- USFlow Corp., Grand Rapids, Mich., ranked No. 16 both in 2003 and 2002. USFlow had filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization in August 2003 and planned to sell some of its operations. Later the bankruptcy was converted to a liquidation.

-- Builders Plumbing & Heating Supply Co., Addision, Ill., ranked No. 19 in 2003, No. 20 in 2002. As reported in SUPPLY HOUSE TIMES in January 2004, the company filed Chapter 11 in early December 2003 and then requested the bankruptcy court's permission to sell substantially all of its assets. The Builders Group of Companies had operated under the names Builders Plumbing & Heating Supply Co., Glendale Plumbing Supply Co., Southwest Pipe & Supply and Spesco. Since that time Ferguson, Newport News, Va., has acquired 13 locations that had been part of the Builders Group.

-- Apex Supply, Atlanta, Ga., owned by Home Depot, ranked No. 22 in 2003 and No. 24 in 2002. In 2003 Home Depot said it was combining Apex Supply with other of its operations into a new entity: Home Depot Supply.

-- Gensco Inc., Tacoma, Wash., ranked No. 31; Capitol Group, Springfield, Ill., ranked No. 90; and Lee Supply Corp., Indianapolis, Ind., ranked No. 100, in 2003. These companies had declined to participate in the survey in recent years.

-- Pacific Pipe Co., Oakland, Calif., ranked at No. 134 in 2003. The company was acquired by Kelly Pipe Co. LLC of Santa Fe Springs, Calif.

Meanwhile, Emco Corp., London, Ontario, Canada, remains on the list although now owned by Hajoca Corp., because it operates and reports separately.

Welcome New Members

The 2004 listing contains nine new companies: City Plumbing & Electric Supply Co., Gainesville, Ga., ranked at No. 136; Apex Supply Co., Dallas, No. 140; Eastern Pennsylvania Supply Co., based in Wilkes Barre, Pa., No. 144; Thrifty Supply, Bellevue, Wash., No. 145; Lute Supply, Portsmouth, Ohio, No. 146; Security Supply Corp., Selkirk, N.Y., No. 147; Southern Refrigeration Corp., Roanoke, Va., No. 148; Central States Group, Omaha, Neb., No. 149; and Acme Refrigeration of Baton Rouge, Baton Rouge, La., No. 150.

Some continuing members are listed under different names. For example, Barnett Inc., Jacksonville, Fla., ranked No. 18 in 2003, has been replaced on the list by its parent company, Interline Brands, also of Jacksonville. Interline Brands is an amalgam of distribution companies including Barnett, Sexauer and Wilmar. Interline Brands premiered at No. 10 on the list.

Southern California Air Conditioning Distributors, City of Industry, Calif., is listed under the name U.S. Airconditioning Distributors.

Famous Enterprises, Akron, Ohio, is listed as Famous Supply.

Macomb Pipe & Supply, Sterling Heights, Mich., is listed under Macomb Group.

Thornes, Saint John, New Brunswick, Canada, retains its name while being operated by Source Atlantic.

A Bright Future

As mentioned earlier, 95.31% of the 128 respondents willing to make a prediction for 2004 said they expect total sales to rise. Of those, 29 assigned a percentage to their projection. These included 11 HVACR companies, which projected on average a 9% increase (six HVACR companies expect a double-digit percentage increase); five plumbing firms, which predicted on average an 8.9% increase; one PVF company, which projected a double-digit increase; three plumbing & PVF wholesalers, expecting on average a 5.33% increase; and nine plumbing & HVACR firms, predicting on average an 8.06% increase in total sales.

The survey results indicate a largely positive outlook for 2004.