I really do. I love change. It makes my writing job so easy. Getting words structured into proper sentences and spelling words right is not much of a challenge when you have spell checker along with talented and educated editors fixing everything you mess up (thanks, y’all).

I really do. I love change. It makes my writing job so easy. Getting words structured into proper sentences and spelling words right is not much of a challenge when you have spell checker along with talented and educated editors fixing everything you mess up (thanks, y’all). It is the creative part of the writing process that gives me headaches. But observing and writing in the roofing industry comes easy because very little remains the same.

Companies change. People who work in the industry come and go all the time. New systems appear routinely to great fanfare. A good percentage of those systems die and go away, usually with very little notoriety. To quote the great philosopher, Roseanne Roseannadanna, “I tell ya, it’s always something!”

Just this week 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 - symbol BECN - is traded) and recognized in a bell-ringing ceremony on May 10. This was a very big deal in the world of public markets, especially for a firm whose IPO was a scant five and a half years ago. But it did not create the buzz inside the roofing industry that a couple of Beacon’s 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 hit the road on the way to becoming the nation’s first national roofing distribution outlet back in 1982. I think it is fair to say this was the largest acquisition of any roofing distributor by another 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. There is no reason to doubt that this deal will go through.

Now what? 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 hone their craft. They perform more services with less people and equipment than they did when I entered the sector in 1985 as a branch manager for JGA Corp. Just like the roof-contracting trade, roofing distributors have used technology and experience to get better at what we do.

This “super consolidation” is a natural next step in the maturation of the roofing distribution industry. The outfit I took over back in 1985 was a lumberyard turned roofing distributor: a family-owned enterprise consisting of exactly one yard. ABC Supply, by the way, continues to be a family-owned enterprise. Anyway, back to my story … in 1985 the industry was going through a round of consolidation that included ABC Supply and other regional distributors buying out the “one-off” family-owned local distributors.

In the decades that followed the regional distributors continued to grow and ABC Supply moved into “national” status. The next step had larger regional distributors consolidating with Bradco Supply and Allied Building Products Corp. growing exponentially followed later by GulfEagle, SPEC, Beacon Roofing Supply, and others. Beacon went public in 2004 and has continued to grow organically and by acquisition.

So in what will seem from the outside a very small amount of time (and from the inside may seem like an eternity), ABC Supply will assume the assets and operations of Bradco Supply and life will seem quite normal as Bradco fades into our memories.

For the folks who faithfully patronize and work for Bradco Supply, this change may not seem all that good. Change, even when all goes well, is hard. Regardless how you view this (good or not-so-good), it will work out. Bradco Supply did have a significant place in the world of roofing and they held it 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. I have an enormous amount of respect for their leadership. 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 they must execute. And with change always part of the equation they should take nothing for granted.

As for the people at Bradco Supply whose world is suddenly and unexpectedly being turned upside down: I think the roofing industry continues to need seasoned professionals. Change will come and in some cases it may not work out so great. But 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… that is one thing that has not changed so much. Easy for me to say … my world is not turned upside down. But my turn is coming. Remember, change is my friend (usually) and I know it is always just around the corner.

And what about the rest of the distribution world? Is this the beginning of a new chapter where more “super-consolidation” will take place? I do not know but will not be as surprised when the next bombshell hits as I was when the news of this acquisition hit.