2022 Top Distributors: Making Sense of the Numbers
Welcome to Print+Promo Marketing’s second annual Top Distributor’s Resource!
The world is in a strange place. Some would argue that we’re post-pandemic compared to early 2020, which seems fair. Businesses and schools are open with relaxed guidelines, vaccines are accessible and COVID briefings are nonexistent. But technically we’re not post-pandemic. Right now, there’s speculation about the next Omicron variant — how will it appear and when? And what about Monkeypox? After increasingly loud whispers, the Biden administration finally declared it a public health emergency on Aug. 4.
Cost inflation, material shortages and a lack of skilled labor continued to cause concern for print and promo distributors, but if there’s one thing we’ve learned over the years, it’s that this industry consists of resilient individuals. Distributors were vigilant and aggressive about finding ways to ensure their customers received an optimal experience. For many, that creativity paid off.
According to our data, the Top 75 Distributors totaled $8.37 billion in 2021 sales — up 23% from 2020, which finished at $6.79 billion. Of the top 75 distributors who reported annual sales this year:
- 53 had revenue increases, compared to only 31 last year.
- 21 had revenue decreases. Two of those companies still placed in the top 10.
- One finished evenly.
If you paid attention to Print+Promo Marketing’s first joint list, you’ll recognize many of the names this go around, though 2022 isn’t short of surprises. The biggest news is the return of HH Global, the global company that acquired InnerWorkings in 2020. HH Global’s print and promo sales carried it to nearly $1 billion — enough to knock HALO out of the No. 1 spot. We should note, those are HH Global’s North America numbers only, so it doesn’t account for its world revenue in LATAM, EIMEA and APAC. HALO reported a 7.47% increase in sales, which was enough to stay ahead of 4imprint (ranked No. 3) despite the latter’s impressive 40.71% sales rebound. Proforma and American Solutions for Business rounded out the top five.
Other interesting facts include:
- The top five vertical markets for distributors on our list remained consistent with 2021’s findings. Healthcare was the most common top vertical (listed 32 times). It was followed by Financial (listed 27 times), Retail (listed 20 times), Technology (listed 17 times) and Manufacturing (listed 16 times). Thanks to widespread COVID vaccine accessibility, the hardest hit verticals like Hospitality and Education continued to recover — both collected 16 listings combined.
- Of the 80 principal officers listed for the Top 75 distributors (five companies listed more than one principal), 69 were men and 11 were women. That’s a split of 86% versus 14%, in line with last year’s breakdown.
- In all, 28 U.S. states and one Canadian province (Ontario) were headquarters to at least one Top 75 distributor. Illinois led the way with 13 distributors calling it home, followed by Ohio with six and Minnesota with five. Fifteen other states appeared at least twice on the list, leaving nine states with a single top distributor each.
- All four major regions of the U.S. (Northeast, South, Midwest and West) had at least one distributor on the list.
- This year’s Top 75 distributors employed more than 20,000 people at 3,586 locations (data includes some, but not all, parent company head counts and subsidiary or division locations). The highest employee count for any one Top 75 distributor was 4,500; the lowest was 16. Eight Top 75 distributors had 500 or more employees, while 21 companies had fewer than 100 employees.
- Six of the Top 75 distributors have been in business for more than a century, while 12 have been in business for at least 50 years. Only two have been in business for less than a decade.
We could go on, but why not let the distributors do the talking?
In this resource, readers will see a detailed analysis of this year’s findings, followed by the Top 75 Distributors chart (including data on top vertical markets and prior-year sales), individual product category breakdowns, a Top 25 Fastest-Growing Distributors chart and company profiles featuring senior executives.
There are so many takeaways here, but we hope the greatest one is a sense of pride in being part of a talented industry.