END MARKET PERFORMANCE:
Fluctuations in end market business – The sequential trends noted above were directly linked to fluctuations in our end markets. To place this in perspective – approximately 50% of our business has historically been with customers engaged in some type of manufacturing. The daily sales to these customers grew in the first, second, third, and fourth quarters (when compared to the same quarter in the previous year), and for the year, as follows:
Our manufacturing business consists of two subsets: the industrial production business (this is business where we supply products that become part of the finished goods produced by our customers) and the maintenance portion (this is business where we supply products that maintain the facility or the equipment of our customers engaged in manufacturing). The industrial business is more fastener centered, while the maintenance portion is represented by all product categories.
In the second and third quarters of 2012, the decrease in the rate of growth was more pronounced in our industrial production business. This is in sharp contrast to the first quarter of 2012 where the growth was more pronounced in the industrial production business, a trend that had also existed in 2011 and 2010. The first quarter and prior quarters were a direct counter to the 2009 contraction, which was more severe in our industrial production business and less severe in the maintenance portion of our manufacturing business.