By Ken Ryan—The face of flooring distribution is changing as large distributors flush with cash expand territories either through acquisitions or taking on new lines. Meanwhile, smaller wholesalers—some of them aging or lacking the financial wherewithal to continue operations—are looking to sell.
At the same time, with more private equity flowing into the business, the pace of mergers and acquisitions is likely to increase, executives say.
Following is a sampling of moves that have transpired during the COVID-19 pandemic:
- Between August and September, Galleher acquired West Valley Hardwood Floor Distributors, a wholesaler of hardwood flooring and installation supplies throughout Washington and Oregon; and Trinity Hardwood Distributors, a dominant hardwood player in Texas.Trinity Hardwood is expected to play a strategic role for Galleher as the Santa Fe Springs, Calif.-based distributor continues to expand its presence across the U.S. By acquiring West Valley Hardwood in Washington state, Galleher has now expanded to six western states.
- ACF Distributors and All Floor Supply acquired Gardner Industries, a full-service wholesale flooring distributor in the New York/New Jersey market. The merger agreement integrates the three distributors into one unified company—ACF-Gardner, which will operate 85,000 square feet of warehouse space across New York, New Jersey and Florida.
- WILsquare Capital, a St. Louis-based private equity firm, acquired Tri-State Wholesale Flooring, LLC, a distributor of flooring products based in Sioux Falls, S.D. Tri-State was then merged into Crown Products Inc., a WILsquare portfolio company.
- Xpress Global Systems (XGS), through its private investment firm Aterian, acquired Delta Distribution/Michigan Carpet, a specialized LTL company, as well as 7 Hills Transportation, an asset-based carrier headquartered in Cartersville, Ga.
- B.R. Funsten and Tom Duffy Company unveiled a branding consolidation to unify the companies under Tom Duffy Company. “It allows us to tighten up our operational, warehousing and trucking efficiencies, helps to fast track our plans for digital transformation and promises a collaborative company culture,” said Anne Funsten, president.
- Galleher acquired Sunwood Distribution, a distributor in the Salt Lake City area that services the Utah and Idaho markets with hard surface flooring and installation supplies. The acquisition provided an opportunity to combine Sunwood’s local service and relationships with Galleher’s deep breadth of products, inventory and sourcing capabilities.
- Tri-West Ltd. assumed the distribution rights for Armstrong Flooring’s products in Northern California and in Nevada. Tri-West had served as Armstrong’s distributor in Southern California and the Las Vegas area; with this change, they now serve all of California and Nevada, in addition to Arizona, New Mexico, Utah and Hawaii.
- E.J. Welch Company burst into FCNews’ top 20 distributor list by virtue of its acquisitions of T&L Distributing and Gilford-Johnson Flooring. Both distributors were top 20 members at one point. Prior that, in 2019, E.J. Welch was acquired by private equity group Center Rock Capital Partners, which set the stage for the acquisitions a year later. As Welch CEO, Mitch Jolley, observed, “With Center Rock as our partner, we are eager to pursue further growth via organic initiatives and acquisitions.”
- It’s not just distributors getting into the act. In its effort to expand beyond the West Coast, supplier Republic Floor bought properties and turned them into distribution centers, and also acquired Hughes Western, a Salt Lake City wholesaler. The purchase extended Republic’s coverage into Utah, Wyoming and Montana; part of their push to go nationwide.