Top 100 Distributors
Independents Forge Ahead
Top distributors embrace technology as revenue continues to soar
by Bill Drennan and Maggie DeWitt
The independent forms industry juggernaut shows no indication of slowing its pace of growth. Last issue, we reported on the gains made by manufacturers and suppliers. This month, it is the distributors' turn to shine.
Distributors had another strong year as sales for the Top 100 reached $1.756 billion, an 8.4 percent increase over last year's $1.620 billion. And productivity, as measured by sales per employee, increased by 2.6 percent to $294,737.
This year the Top 100 reported that 46.8 percent of their revenue came from forms sales, with 9.6 percent from labels, 1.5 percent from electronic forms and 42.1 percent from commercial printing, promotional products, direct mail and other non-forms items.
In actual sales numbers, forms sales reached $822 million this year, compared to $690 million for last year's Top 100 Distributors. Non-forms sales were $739 million compared to $753 million. Labels reached $169 million from $160 million last year, and electronic forms hit $26 million compared to $16 million a year ago.
There were 5.7 percent more people (5,958) employed by the Top 100 this year at 26.6 percent more locations (1,228). The increase in locations can be attributed to acquisitions, the increased number of franchises reported by American Business Forms and ProForma and an increase in the use of home offices. The increase in number of locations caused a decrease in sales per location from $1.7 million last year to $1.4 million.
In 1998, the top 15 forms distributors all showed sales of $20 million or greater. This year, that number is up to 20 companies. Ten companies reported sales of $30 million or higher, compared to just six companies last year.
Overall, the top 20 companies account for 65 percent of the overall revenue for the Top 100, and 56 percent of the employees. The top five companies alone account for about 40 percent of the overall revenue and a third of the employees.