WIT & Co.Executive Vice President-Chief Operations Officer Charlie Moorhead said the development of ancillary programs and initiatives for its owners is a key focus going forward for the Irving, Texas-based buying group.

“WIT values our relationships with our manufacturers, and we’re constantly looking for ways to improve the relationships that exist between our distributors and our manufacturers,” Moorhead told Supply House Times at WIT’s recent Distributor/Vendor Conference in Dallas. “By growing market share and providing value-added initiatives that make us a more efficient partner, we ensure our relevance to our manufacturers in the future.

“We’re currently looking at ways to improve our business model by exploring opportunities to increase our connectivity with our manufacturers.  We also want to evaluate initiatives to assist our distributors in increasing the value they provide to their customers. With business as competitive as it is today, it’s important our distributors are aware of new trends in the areas of logistics, inventory management and technology. Even minor improvement in these areas can bring additional dollars to our distributors’ bottom lines.”

Moorhead added another exciting development in WIT has been the growth of its NEXT Group of next-generation owners and senior-level managers who in many cases are now operating their families’ businesses. 

“The growth of this group has been rapid and the quality and character of WIT’s younger entrepreneurs is first-class,” he said.  “They think differently than my generation and they’re not afraid of change or technology. I believe they will be successful independent distributors in the years ahead.” 

Moorhead said the buying group enjoyed a strong 2014 performance with more than three-quarters of its distributors growing their businesses last year. “We had predicted last fall we would see overall purchase growth in the 6-8% growth range and that’s where we ended the year,” he said. “Our distributors are optimistic about 2015 and despite all the ‘weather reports,’ we think we will achieve mid- to high-single-digit growth next year.”

When asked about other industry hot-button topics, Moorhead stated he sees continued activity with mergers and acquisitions in 2015 and added the new water heater regulations (and resulting product changes) slated to take effect earlier this month have been a challenge for WIT distributors this year. 

WIT honored its members in Dallas for their performance in 2014 in a number of statistical categories. A total of 29 WIT owners were recognized as qualifying for the group’s million-dollar growth category.

Clearwater, Fla.-based Hydrologic Distribution Co. is the winner of the largest growth percentage award in 2014 (56.20%). Also finishing in the Top 5 in that category are Supply Line of Memphis (No. 5, 27.85%), Shore Distributors (No. 4, 29.08%), T. A. Gentry Supply (No. 3, 36.25%) and Air Purchases (No. 2, 39.35%).

WIT also honored its Top 20 owners by 2014 volume. Tigard, Ore.-based Consolidated Supply Co. again finished first. Rounding out the Top 5 are Plumbing Distributors, Inc. (No. 5), Northside Plumbing Supply (No. 4), Standard Plumbing Supply (No. 3) and Goodin Co. (No. 2).

Pentair Residential Flow (40 years) and BrassCraft (35 years) were among the vendors honored for their years of service in WIT.

WIT’s Fall Networking Meeting for its owners is slated for Sept. 8-10 in Washington, D.C. The 2016 Distributor/Vendor Conference takes place March 7-11 in Dallas.

To view a video interview with Moorhead and for a full rundown of WIT 2014 award winners, visit www.supplyht.com/video.