Recently we bore witness to a couple of major events in the supply-chain sector of the roofing industry. Beacon Roofing Supply, the first consolidator of roofing distributors to go public, was called out by NASDAQ (where their stock is traded under the symbol BECN) and recognized in a bell-ringing ceremony. But Beacon did not create the buzz inside the roofing industry that a couple of their rival roofing distributors made when word broke out the same day that ABC Supply Company was acquiring Bradco Supply Corp.
According to news releases, this is the largest acquisition since ABC Supply was founded in 1982. I think it is fair to say this was the largest acquisition of any roofing distributor ever, at least in this country. The companies went on to announce that the deal should close by the end of June pending regulatory and other approvals.
What does this mean to roofing contractors? Will it mean less choice? Will it mean less competition in some markets? I doubt it. For the 35 years I have been in this business, roofing-oriented distributors have worked very hard to improve their craft. They perform more services with fewer people and less equipment than they did when I entered the sector in 1985. Just like the roof-contracting trade, roofing distributors have used technology and experience to get better at what they do.
Bradco Supply occupied a significant place in the world of roofing for a very long time. Now some of the good things they brought to the table by way of their people and processes will continue to influence the industry by way of their new persona as part of ABC.
As for ABC Supply and their ability to execute this kind of acquisition: they are uniquely qualified for this kind of work. They have done some good things for the industry - not always perfect but always moving forward in the style of founders Ken and Diane Hendricks. So now, execute they must. And with change always part of the equation, nothing should be taken for granted.
As for the people at Bradco Supply whose world is suddenly and unexpectedly turned upside down: I think the roofing industry continues to need seasoned professionals. I believe there are and will continue to be great opportunities in the roofing industry for those who are wiling to work hard and accept new challenges. It has always been the case.
Is this the beginning of a new chapter where more “super-consolidation” will take place? I do not know but I will not be as surprised the next time a bombshell hits as I was with this one.
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