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Distributor Acquisition Surge Continues

April 27, 2018
Our picks for 25 acquisitions that made the biggest news in this industry over the past 25 years.

It’s not all that unusual for 10 large electrical distributors to be acquired in one year, according to EM’s acquisition database, but it typically only happens in the frothiest of acquisition climates. We appear to be in one right now. The biggest distributors acquired in 2017-2018 are Associated of Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA; City Electric Supply, Syracuse, NY; Tacoma Electric Supply, Tacoma, WA; The Hite Co., Altoona, PA; Kriz-Davis, Grand Island, NE; Electrical Equipment & Engineering (3E), Windsor Heights, IA; Womack Electric Supply, Danville, VA; Upchurch Electrical Supply Co., Fayetteville, AR; Reynolds Co., Dallas, TX: and Tri State Supply, Washington, PA.

Distributors use acquisitions in their growth strategies in many different ways. Some companies blend them with aggressive branch start-up campaigns, while other distributors rely on acquisitions more heavily to expand into other markets. Some companies build their market presence almost entirely by branch startups. Here are the most common acquisition strategies:

  • Acquire a company to establish a geographic presence in a market adjacent to an existing branch’s market area.
  • Go big and buy a multi-branch distributor to expand into a new region of the country.
  • Use an acquired company as a platform for further growth by acquisition.
  • Make an acquisition because of a product line the company carries.
  • Make an acquisition to establish or build out a presence in a new product specialty or expertise, such as lighting or industrial automation.

In the chart (click View the Full List, below) are our picks for 25 acquisitions that made the biggest news in this industry over the past 25 years. For more analysis of M&As, check out the cover story in EW’s upcoming May issue.

Electrical Marketing's editors have also compiled a database of distributor acquisitions in the electrical market over the past 25 years. You can download it in an Comma Separated Values (CSV) spreadsheet file by clicking here.