Foodservice Equipment Reports

First Impressions From This Year’s Top Dealers

Chris Palmer and I will compile the numbers for this year’s FER Top Dealer Report this week. We want to first thank all those who reported and verified, especially those dealers who verified for the first time this year. We had a significant influx of new verifiers. Thanks again.

And though I haven’t reviewed all the forms, I’ve seen enough to have some first impressions. First, it appears nearly everyone had a good year in 2012, at least in top-line revenue growth. (Though as Hal Schroeder from Concept Services always reminds me, top-line revenue can be goosed in many ways and thus can be a lousy way to judge a dealer.) And for the first time since we started this process three years ago, it looks as if the gains were distributed throughout the country. For the past couple years, those dealers in regions most affected by the housing collapse or high unemployment have struggled to maintain volume. That was not the case in 2012.

Second, chain-oriented dealers generally continue to report higher growth rates than those niched in other ways. Bid-oriented dealers are still scratching in many areas of the country, as institutional operators such as schools, publicly funded healthcare and corrections continue to experience funding problems. But some other spec markets—lodging, gaming, colleges, even some business & industry—are either rebounding or held their own throughout the downturn.

Third, the growth of dealers that have fully embraced Internet sales, either as their primary strategy or a key component of their other activities, is very apparent. There is no question that online sales are changing the business in very significant ways. A key question that our Top Dealer analysis can’t answer adequately is from whom are these fast-growing Internet-oriented dealers taking share?

Finally, and by no means least, the composition of the Top Dealers demonstrates that there is actually quite a bit of dynamism in the dealer channel. Yes, the big dealers get bigger, through both organic growth and often through acquisition. TriMark’s acquisition of Strategic Equipment is a case in point, though the effects of that deal won’t appear in the listing until next year. We’ve also seen Singer and M Tucker combine and Wasserstrom pick up part of PrimeSource Food Service Equipment. And Bargreen Ellingson has by now bought most of the other dealers in Hawaii.

But there are a number of fast-growing dealers in both the first tier—Clark Foodservice—and second tier: Mobile Fixture, Ka-Tom, Tundra Specialties and others.

We’ll do more in-depth analysis in a couple of weeks, after we’ve put all the numbers together. In the meantime, thanks again to all those who reported this year.

Cheers,

 

Robin Ashton

Publisher

rashton@fermag.com



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