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2020 Wholesale Distribution Study Reveals Surprising Trends

Published on by Tony Lane in Wholesale / Distribution

2020 Wholesale Distribution Study Reveals Surprising Trends

An in-depth study of wholesale compensation and benefits trends revealed some surprising results, including insights into what roles are seeing compensation increases, which roles are seeing declines, and creative strategies wholesale distributors are using to retain talent.

Conducted during the summer of 2020, the report includes insights into how companies are adapting to pandemic conditions, and what the impact has been on the industry. The study includes data from 47 regional wholesalers and distributors, with data separated by company size so you can easily benchmark against your own business.

Study sponsors Barnes Dennig, USI Insurance, and WesBanco revealed the results in a virtual event on September 29th – you can watch the recording to get insights from industry professionals and request your own copy of the report on the Barnes Dennig website here.

Here are just a few of the findings from this new study:

Company Background

  • Of the 47 participants, 29 had over 50 employees and 18 had under 50 employees.
  • The most respondents were in the $10 to $25.9 million range (13 companies).
  • When asked about staffing levels, 37% of companies expect staffing levels to remain at their current levels, while 33% plan on increasing their staffing levels this year.
  • The top company type reported was S Corporation, followed by C Corporation.
  • 79% of companies surveyed outsource their payroll services.
  • The average ROTA is 10.35% (down from 11.1% in our 2018 study).
  • When asked what percentage of the company’s gross margin represented compensation, benefits, bonus and commissions, the following was revealed: 37% compensation; 7% benefits; 4% bonuses and 8% commissions.

Financial Information

  • 2020 average salaries are listed in the report. For example, the average base salary for the President/CEO in a company with over 50 employees is $251,638, down less than 1% from 2018.
  • The range of annual employee salary increases in 2020 was 1.7% to 4.4%.
  • 79% of companies offer commissions to outside sales personnel. Of the 79%, percent of gross profit (54%) is utilized most frequently as a means for calculating commissions.
  • 30% of companies offer commissions to inside sales personnel. Of the 30%, percent of gross profit (57%) is utilized most frequently as a means for calculating commissions.

Benefits Information

  • Not surprising to most, 53% of participants identified the impacts of COVID-19 to be the top issue they’re facing for benefits.
  • Of the participants, 98% offer health insurance, 81% offer disability insurance, 49% offer cafeteria plans/Section 125 plans to their employees.
  • 54% of employers contribute a flat amount to employee Health Saving Accounts.
  • 12% had a specialty prescription drug claim in excess of $100,000 annually in the last two years.
  • 48% indicated that they currently implement a wellness program.
  • Enhanced compensation and skills/personality profile assessments were the top two employee recruitment strategies.
  • The top two strategies to retain talent are offering flexible work arrangements and increased compensation.

Additional Resources

These statistics were pulled from the extensive report created by Barnes Dennig, USI Insurance and WesBanco. Request your copy of the full report, watch the reveal event recording, and get the presentation slides on the Barnes Dennig website here.

If you have questions about this report or wish to know how your company can be better positioned to compete in 2021 and beyond, get in touch with a member of our Wholesale/Distribution team for a no-cost consultation, or call us at 513.241.8313. We’re here to help.


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