We are one of the largest distributors of specialty wire and cable and related services to the U.S. electrical distribution market. During 2009, we served approximately 3,000 customers, including virtually all of the top 200 electrical distributors in the U.S. We have strong relationships with leading wire and cable manufacturers and provide them with efficient access to the fragmented electrical distribution market. During 2009, we distributed approximately 21,000 SKUs (stock-keeping units) to over 8,700 customer locations nationwide from eleven strategically located distribution centers in ten states. We are focused on providing our electrical distributor customers with a single-source solution for specialty wire and cable and related services by offering a large selection of in-stock items, exceptional customer service and high levels of product expertise.
We offer products in most categories of specialty wire and cable, including: continuous and interlocked armor cable; control and power cable; electronic wire and cable; flexible and portable cords; instrumentation and thermocouple cable; lead and high temperature cable; medium voltage cable; and premise and category wire and cable. We also offer private branded products, including our LifeGuard™ low-smoke, zero-halogen cable. Our specialty wire and cable is primarily used in repair and replacement, also referred to as maintenance, repair and operations ("MRO"), and related projects and is increasingly purchased for larger-scale projects in the utility, industrial and infrastructure markets. Our specialty wire and cable is used within a diverse range of industries, including the communications, energy, engineering and construction, general manufacturing, infrastructure, petrochemical, transportation, utility and wastewater treatment industries.
Our wide product selection and specialized services support our position in the supply chain between wire and cable manufacturers and electrical distributors and their customers. Offering the breadth and depth of specialty wire and cable that we do, requires significant warehousing resources and a large number of SKUs. An electrical distributor, however, typically sells a wide variety of electrical products ranging from lighting to MRO supplies, and only a small percentage of these items represent specialty wire and cable. In addition, given their bulk and weight, specialty wire and cable require a disproportionately high percentage of warehouse space and materials handling capabilities compared to the sales volume they generate for an electrical distributor. Instead of dedicating larger amounts of warehouse space to inventory and making the investments in employee training, same-day shipment capabilities for specialty wire and cable, end-user support, and information technology needed to maintain industry leading levels of service, our distributor customers rely on us to supply much of their specialty wire and cable. At the other end of the supply chain, while manufacturers may have the space and capabilities to maintain a large supply of inventory, we do not believe that any single manufacturer has the breadth of product that we offer. More importantly, manufacturers historically have not offered the services that our customers need, such as complimentary custom cutting and same day shipment, and do not have multiple distribution centers across the nation. As a result, we believe that we serve an important role in the supply chain for specialty wire and cable and that it would be undesirable for manufacturers or electrical distributors to compete with us, given our nationwide product and service capabilities.
Our Cable Management Program addresses our customers’ growing demand for more sophisticated and efficient processes for large quantities of product procurement, in order to meet budgets and reduce expenses. This program entails purchasing and storing dedicated inventory, so our customers have immediate product availability for the duration of their projects. Some advantages of this program are extra pre-allocated safety stock, firm pricing, zero cable surplus and just-in-time delivery. Used on large construction and capital expansion projects, our Cable Management Program combines the expertise of our cable specialists with dedicated project inventory and superior logistics to finish complex projects on time and within budget.
U.S. Industry Overview
We operate within the U.S. electrical distribution market, which Electrical Wholesaling magazine estimates had industry-wide sales of $75.3 billion in 2009. Within the electrical distribution industry, our business focuses on specialty wire and cable. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the total value of manufacturers' shipments of specialty wire and cable totaled approximately $9.6 billion in 2008. The products we sell are often highly engineered and require sophisticated knowledge to insure proper application. Examples of primary end-markets for specialty wire and cable include the communications, energy, engineering and construction, general manufacturing, infrastructure, petrochemical, transportation, utility and wastewater treatment industries.
The sales channel for specialty wire and cable depends on a number of factors, including order type, product selection, service level expectations, inventory management and delivery requirements. The greater the need for customization and high service levels, the more likely the transaction will involve a specialty wire and cable distributor such as us.
In certain circumstances, manufacturers of specialty wire and cable sell their products directly to the end-user. These transactions typically consist of a bulk volume of wire and cable, involve little or no customized services and may require long lead times between order and delivery. An example of this type of transaction would be the purchase of full reels of cable with manufacturing lead times ranging from 8 to 16 weeks after receipt of the order. More frequently, an electrical distributor serves as the sales channel directly between the manufacturer and the contractor or end-user. The typical sale by an electrical distributor may involve a commonly purchased item that is specifically designated by the end-user and shipped from stock along with a variety of other electrical products. It is generally most economical for electrical distributors to carry in their inventories only those wire and cable SKUs that are commonly ordered and do not require high levels of specialized knowledge or services.
For customers requiring highly specialized wire and cable, custom cut lengths, technical expertise, short lead times or additional services, electrical distributors will generally source products from a specialty wire and cable distributor. We believe that the increasing complexity of specialty wire and cable specifications and the growing need for just-in-time delivery and logistics support will drive further growth in purchases through specialty wire and cable distributors.
Our business is driven, in part, by the strength, growth prospects and activity in the end-markets in which our products are used. We have targeted three of these markets—the utility, industrial and infrastructure markets—in our recent sales and marketing initiatives.
Utility Market. The utility market includes large investor-owned utilities, rural cooperatives and municipal power authorities. According to Industrial Information Resource’s 2010 Global Industrial Outlook, the spending on the power market in 2010 is expected to be $58 billion. While we do not distribute the power lines used for the transmission of electricity, we sell many products used in the construction of a power plant and the related pollution control equipment. As such we are positioned to benefit from expenditures for new power generation needed to satisfy a growing population with increasing energy demands and to comply with federal mandates to reduce toxic outputs from power generating facilities. We expect to benefit from this trend as our customers utilize our cable management services to support the distribution of specialty wire and cable required for the construction of new power plants and upgrading of existing power plants. These upgrades often require the addition of highly-engineered and capital-intensive environmental compliance devices such as selective catalytic reduction (SCR) and flue gas desulfurization (FGD) systems to remove harmful emissions from these existing power generation units. These projects require the specialty instrumentation, power and control products that we distribute.
Industrial Market. The industrial market is one of the largest segments of the U.S. economy, comprised of a diverse base of manufacturing and production companies. According to Industrial Information Resource’s 2010 Global Industrial Outlook, the 2010 projected total industrial spending within the United States is expected to be $168 billion. We help our electrical distributor partners provide a wide variety of products specifically designed for the petroleum refining, chemical processing, metal/mineral, and manufacturing industries where there may be significant exposure to caustic materials or extreme temperatures. As with the utilities market, we are positioned to benefit from several environmental compliance projects, for example benzine reductions at refineries and sulphur dioxide reductions at chemical processing facilities.
Infrastructure Market. We believe that significant infrastructure improvements and additions to support population density and growth will be needed over the next several years. Infrastructure market opportunities include construction within the transportation, water management, waste management, education and health care industries. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), passed in February 2009, is providing $787 billion to support infrastructure projects throughout the country. According to Electrical Wholesaling magazine, $130 billion of the ARRA funds are earmarked for the construction industry. We believe we are positioned to benefit from this investment as capital projects associated with multiple opportunities including waste water management, mass transit, and newly emerging energy markets, require the products and services offered by our company. We are assisting our customers to further penetrate the engineering and construction market by working with application engineers to drive specialty wire and cable specifications in these large construction projects.
We believe that demand for low-smoke, zero-halogen products is in its infancy in the U.S. and represents a significant opportunity across our targeted markets. Low-smoke, zero-halogen cables have been used extensively in Europe and Asia for many years. We are leading the development of the market for low-smoke, zero-halogen cable in the U.S. When traditional cable burns, the acid gases produced are particularly destructive to electrical and electronic equipment, which represents a significant investment for many businesses. In contrast, low-smoke, zero-halogen compounds provide significant flame resistance, minimal smoke production and substantially reduced toxicity and corrosiveness when burned, as compared to traditional wire and cable. We sell our LifeGuard™ products across most of our end-user markets.
Through our relationships with many of the large wire and cable manufacturers, we have access to a full spectrum of specialty wire and cable, allowing us to consistently meet the needs of our customers. Our focus is on specialty wire and cable that is engineered for specific usage and supplies critical power and data to end-users across diverse markets. We custom cut our wire and cable to exact specifications so that they can be installed as soon as they arrive at the destination. Our product strategy is to carry an extensive array of specialty wire and cable to meet the diverse, dynamic and time-sensitive needs of our customers. In addition, our infrastructure is designed to respond to short lead times with high levels of product availability and same day shipment.