Our motto is Growth through Customer Service . This is important given the points noted above. We believe in efficient markets – to us, this means we can grow our market share if we provide the greatest value to the customer. We believe our ability to grow is amplified if we can service our customer at the closest economic point of contact. 

The concept of growth is simple, find more customers every day and increase your activity with them. However, execution is hard work. First, we recruit service minded individuals to support our customers and their business. Second, we operate in a decentralized fashion to help identify the greatest value for our customers. Third, we build a great machine behind the store to operate efficiently and to help identify new business solutions. Fourth, we do these things every day. Finally, we strive to generate strong profits; these profits produce the cash flow necessary to fund the growth and to support the needs of our customers.

MONTHLY SALES CHANGES, SEQUENTIAL TRENDS, AND END MARKET PERFORMANCE

Note – Daily sales are defined as the sales for the period divided by the number of business days (in the United States) in the period. 

This section focuses on three distinct views of our business – monthly sales changes, sequential trends, and end market performance. The first discussion regarding monthly sales changes provides a good mechanical view of our business based on the age of our stores. The second discussion provides a framework for understanding the sequential trends (that is, comparing a period to the immediately preceding period) in our business. Finally, we believe the third discussion regarding end market performance provides insight into activities with our various types of customers.

MONTHLY SALES CHANGES:

All company sales – During the months in 2012, 2011, and 2010, all of our selling locations, when combined, had daily sales growth rates of (compared to the comparable month in the preceding year):
  Jan. Feb. Mar. Apr. May June July Aug. Sept. Oct. Nov. Dec.
2012 21.3% 20.0% 19.3% 17.3% 13.1% 14.0% 12.1% 12.0% 12.9% 6.8% 8.2% 9.7%
2011 18.8% 21.5% 22.8% 23.2% 22.6% 22.5% 22.4% 20.0% 18.8% 21.4% 22.2% 21.2%
2010 2.4% 4.4% 12.1% 18.6% 21.1% 21.1% 24.4% 22.1% 23.5% 22.4% 17.9% 20.9%

The growth in the first three and a half months of 2012 generally continued the relative strength we saw in 2011 and in most of 2010. During 2012, there were two distinct economic slowdowns. The first occurred in the late April/May time frame, and then moderated until September. The second occurred in the October/November time frame. This was exaggerated by an unusual business day comparison in October (23 days in 2012 versus 21 days in 2011 - the maintenance portion of our business is often linked to monthly spend patterns, which are not as business day dependent, this can dilute the daily growth picture given the change in business day divisor) and the impact of Hurricane Sandy. The change in currencies in foreign countries (primarily Canada) relative to the United States dollar lowered our daily sales growth rate by 0.1% during 2012 (this lowered our growth in the first, second, and third quarters by 0.1%, 0.4%, 0.2%, respectively and increased our growth in the fourth quarter by 0.2%). This was a sharp contrast to 2011 and 2010, when changes in foreign currencies increased our growth by 0.7% and 0.6%, respectively.

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