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EW's Top 50 Electrical Distributors Expect Double-Digit Bounce in 2021 Revenues

May 21, 2021
Here's a sneak preview of the 50 largest companies on Electrical Wholesaling's annual ranking of the largest electrical distributors in North America.

Electrical Wholesaling magazine’s annual ranking of the largest distributors in North America always provides a realistic snapshot of the key trends affecting the electrical market, and our 2021 ranking is no different. The two most evident trends in this year’s ranking were major acquisition activity and a solid sales recovery in 2021 after the negative impact of COVID-19 on 2020 revenues through full-line and specialty distributors of electrical supplies.

Of the 40-plus distributors that provided a sales forecast for our Top 150 survey, 10 were expecting a rebound of more than +20% in 2021 and 17 saw an increase of +10% to +15%. The average for these responses was a +12.5% increase. The historical average for annual sales growth in the electrical wholesaling industry is between +4% and +8%.

Johnny Andrews, COO for TEC Manufacturing & Distribution, Georgetown, TX, a utility specialist, said his company saw solid growth in 2020 and is expecting +10% growth in 2021. He attributed their 2020 growth to "huge growth in all sectors in Texas and market share increase. Also, new sole source alliances, Broadband, AMI (metering), power transformers."

Mergers and acquisitions had a major impact on the 2021 ranking. WESCO’s 2020 acquisition of Anixter pushed it to the top spot on the list with $11 billion in North American revenues and the sale of the Philadelphia metro’s Rumsey Electric to Kendall Electric, Portage, MI; OmniCable’s purchase of Houston Wire & Cable; and Supply Chain Equity Partners’ acquisition of Electric Supply of Tampa will reshape the ranking for years to come.

M&A activity and the impact of COVID-19 on the market were also the major factors in our decision to only rank 150 distributors this year instead of 200 companies, as we have done for well over a decade. Over the past five years, more than 20 distributors formerly ranked on the Top 200 have been acquired, reducing the “pool” of sizeable companies to include in the list.

We also detected an undercurrent of hesitancy to participate in the survey this year. EW’s editors attribute that to the challenging economic conditions that cut into 2020 sales revenues. It’s not uncommon in down economic years for fewer distributors to provide sales data and other company information, and 2020 was by any measure one of the worst down years the industry has seen in many years. While the survey would typically elicit sales data from up to 140 electrical distributors, only 100 provided that data this year, so we had to place many companies in the ranking based on 2019 sales data.

Despite the smaller list, the 150 distributors in this year's ranking have tremendous clout in the market, with an estimated $73.9 billion in 2020 revenues. The 50 largest distributors are listed in the table below.