2020 Top 50 Distributors: What the data tells us
At the time of this writing, Americans were waiting for election results. They were also waiting for a safe and effective COVID vaccine, with two possible contenders having released promising findings since then. Both will influence the course of our economy, which will in turn determine whether some distributors close new deals or close their doors.
For many distributors of print and promotional products, the coronavirus pandemic has been a mixed bag of challenges and opportunities. There have been lost accounts and payroll challenges. But, there has also been time to rethink strategies and expand product offerings—personal protective equipment, anyone? The fiscal numbers presented in Print+Promo’s Top 50 Distributors resource were primarily achieved before the pandemic upended the world as we know it. And it should be known that our outreach for the 2020 list began roughly 6.5 months into COVID. That being said, the data tells an interesting story, so let’s break down the facts.
According to our findings, overall revenue for Top 50 submissions was $2.49 billion, a 34.9% decrease over 2019’s $3.83 billion. Of the 42 distributors returning from last year’s Top 50:
- 24 had revenue increases.
- 17 had revenue decreases.
- 1 finished evenly.
Those who have been tracking our lists will recognize striking changes within our top five—most notably, the absence of the previously $1.1 billion, top-ranked InnerWorkings, who, in July, signed a definitive agreement to combine operations with HH Global Group Limited.
“Over the past several months, we’ve been taking actions to put InnerWorkings in the best position to weather the challenging environment in which we’re operating,” Rich Stoddart, CEO of InnerWorkings said in a statement. “In these times of significant economic uncertainty, the board of directors and management determined to undertake a comprehensive process to preserve and enhance value for shareholders. After exploring a range of financing and strategic alternatives, and implementing meaningful cost-saving measures in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, we’re confident this combination represents the best path forward for our shareholders and InnerWorkings.”
InnerWorkings chose not to submit financial information for this year’s Top 50, which paved the way for Proforma, led by the husband-and-wife team of founder Greg Muzzillo and CEO Vera Muzzillo, to take the No. 1 spot. Promotional products distributor DiscountMugs.com, who placed fourth in 2019, also opted out this year. American Solutions for Business moved up to second place, and iPROMOTEu jumped two spots to round out the top three. Not to be outdone by Smart Source LLC, WebbMason Marketing, who tied with the Thomas D’Agostino Jr.-run company in 2019, enjoyed a 2.4% increase in revenue—enough to assume the No. 4 spot. Smart Source LLC completed the top five.
Other missing entries were: The Sourcing Group (No. 10, $98.0 million); Image Source (No. 25, $25.5 million); Inspired Results (No. 29, $18.7 million); Bradley Marketing Group (No. 34, $13.9 million); and SLBF Group (No. 42, $9.6 million). While their absence was felt from InnerWorkings’ departure alone (collectively, the remaining companies earned $380.5 million), it created room for eight new companies. Say “hello” to The Ampersand Group (No. 20, $31.2 million); RBO PrintLogistix Inc. (No. 25, $21.7 million); Brand Fuel Inc. (No. 31, $14.0 million); One Source Inc. (No. 43, $7.3 million); International Printing Solutions (No. 47, $5.2 million); Central Valley Business Forms (No. 48, $4.9 million); Beachley Medical Office Solutions (No. 49, $4.7 million); and Benjamin Litho Inc. (No. 50, $4.6 million).
In the meantime, here are a few extra stats we saw in our analysis:
- Three out of the five top companies had revenue increases. American Solutions for Business’ 3.9% rise in sales was the biggest increase.
- In all, 21 U.S. states were headquarters to at least one Top 50 distributor. Ohio led the way with six distributors calling it home, while California and Minnesota each had five. Nine other states appeared at least two times on the list, leaving nine states with a single distributor.
- This year’s Top 50 distributors employed more than 5,000 people at 1,741 locations (data includes some, but not all, parent company head counts and subsidiary or division locations). The highest employee count for any one Top 50 distributor was 1,154; the lowest was six. Three Top 50 distributors had 300 or more employees, and 39 had fewer than 100 employees.
- Of the 52 principal officers listed for the Top 50 Distributors (two companies listed more than one principal), 47 were men and five were women.
- The top five vertical markets for distributors on our list were Medical/Health Care (listed 29 times); Banking/Financial (listed 21 times); Manufacturing (listed 18 times); Retail (listed 15 times); and Education (listed six times).