Posted May 7, 2020

Motion Industries customers are returning to work

by Rich Vurva

As states begin to loosen stay-at-home requirements imposed by the coronavirus pandemic, Genuine Parts Company chairman and CEO Paul Donahue says that the company is beginning to see more factories returning to work.

“We are actively tracking the status of our customers’ factories and seeing more customers returning to work and opening their plant,” Donahue said during a quarterly conference call yesterday.

Donahue expects that the growing automation solutions capabilities at Motion Industries will help drive the recovery.

Total sales for GPC’s Industrial Parts Group were $1.5 billion in the first quarter, which were up 4.7 percent, after excluding the October 2019 divestiture of EIS. North American comp sales were down 3.1 percent, including an approximate 1 percent decline in sales due to the impact of COVID-19.

Donahue said the growing pressure on demand related to customer closures and the broad decline in economic activity over the last two weeks of March led to just two of 14 product categories posting positive year-over-year sales gains in the first quarter. This included the safety products category, which benefited from heightened demand for PPE and other safety supplies throughout the crisis.

By industry sector, all 12 key groups posted year-over-year sales declines, ranging from slight decreases for the food processing and aggregate and cement sectors, to double-digit declines for equipment and machinery, iron and steel, automotive and oil and gas.

“Thus far, in the second quarter, the economic pressure of COVID-19 has continued to impact the demand environment. With that said, we sell to thousands of customers, representing a diverse cross-section of industry sectors, which should soften the level of sales declines for this business,” Donahue said. “Likewise, we continue to expand our automation solutions capabilities and prepare for the surge in demand associated with incremental maintenance and repairs in a recovery.”

He said the signs that more factories are opening up is a positive development for the industry, and will drive improved demand for core industrial categories, including powered transmission and electrical products, hydraulics, pneumatics and conveyance.