N.F. Smith & Associates
N.F. Smith & Associates, number 10 on the 2013 Top 50 Distributors list, expanded its operations in Guadalajara, Mexico, last year to accommodate increased business among its manufacturing customers in the region. Company COO Matt Hartzell points to rising wages and housing costs in China in particular as a key reason some manufacturers are beginning to move or consider moving some manufacturing operations back toward North and Central America.
“You might see a continuation of that if labor and real estate prices continue to climb in China,” he says.
Another pressing issue is counterfeit components, which has shined a light on the independent distribution market recently. Distributors such as N.F. Smith & Associates say they have seen a consolidation in that market that may signify a turning point for the industry. The heightened focus on quality is raising the bar among independents, and those that don’t offer testing and other vital quality assurances simply aren’t making the grade.
“We’ve seen a lot of consolidating among the independents and the cream has kind of risen,” says Marc Barnhill, chief trading officer for N.F. Smith. “There aren’t as many as there used to be, and we think that’s a trend that will continue.”
Matthew Hartzell, Chief Operating Officer
Marc Barnhill, Chief Trading Officer
Company Headquarters: Houston, Texas
2012 Sales: $465 million
Company website: http://www.smithweb.com/