People who get IT, shop for it at CDW. The company offers about 100,000 information technology products, including notebook and desktop computers, software, printers, servers, storage devices, networking tools, and accessories, under more than 1,000 brands through its retail store at its corporate headquarters and its e-commerce site. Top brands include Adobe, Apple, Cisco, Hewlett-Packard, Microsoft, VMware, among others. More than half of its sales come from private businesses, while most of the rest comes from public-sector clients. Founded in 1984 as Computer Discount Warehouse, private equity firms Madison Dearborn Partners and Providence Equity Partners are its largest shareholders.
CDW operates two business segments: Corporate (52% of 2014 sales), which serves private-sector medium/large business customers (businesses with over 100 employees) and small business customers; and Public (40% of sales), which serves government agencies, education, and healthcare institutions. The remaining revenue comes from CDW's three other operations include Canada; CDW Advanced Services, which provides customized engineering services, hosting, and data center services; and Kelway TopCo (which is 35% equity owned by CDW).
By product sales in 2015, CDW generated 20% of its revenue from notebook/mobile device sales, 15% from NetComm Product sales, 8% from Enterprise and Data Storage (including drives) solution sales, 35% from other hardware sales, and 17% from software sales. About 4% of its total revenue came from its services.
CDW has 24 offices in the US and two in Canada. It has two distribution centers, one in Illinois and one in Nevada. Canada accounted for 5% of the company's sales in 2014. It operates data centers in Wisconsin, Minnesota, and the UK.
Sales and Marketing
The company serves 250,000 small, medium and large business, government, education, and healthcare customers via its own sales force and service delivery teams. It also markets via online, broadcast, print, social, and other media channels. The company targets decision makers, influencers, and the general public through news releases, case studies, media interviews, and speaking opportunities to support these promotional efforts.
Products made by Hewlett-Packard and Cisco Systems accounted for 18% and 16%, respectively, of the company’s 2015 sales.
Overall, the company increase advertising spending to $147 million in 2015 from $138 million in 2014.
CDW's customers have been buying a lot of IT equipment and services sending the company's revenues and profits higher over the past several years, driven by consistent double-digit annual growth in its medium/large business channel.
In 2015 the company’s revenue increased 8% to a shade under $13 billion compared to $12 billion in 2014 on almost across-the-board increases. The medium/large business category's revenue rose 5% in 2015, adding $273 million in sales. The federal, state, and local government category wasn't far behind, adding $227 million in sales (a 16% increase) for the year.
Profit rocketed 65% higher in 2015, charged by more revenue and a gain on remeasurement of an equity investment related to the acquisition of Kelway.
CDW explained a decrease in cash flow from operations ($277 million in 2015 compared to $435 million in 2014) on the surge of government sales. Those customers take more time to pay than do corporate customers.
CDW continued in 2015 to use its three-part growth strategy, which includes: growing its share with existing and new customers by "enhancing seller capacity and capability" so they may focus on meeting customer needs; broadening its services suite and expertise in delivering "integrated solutions;" and expanding its service capabilities.
With growth of overall personal-computer shipments slowing, the services business is CDW's best hope for future growth. Accordingly in 2015, CDW continued to invest in its infrastructure (people, processes, technologies, and facilities), adding customer-facing coworkers to support its evolving "go-to-market strategy" and ensuring the delivery of "high-growth, integrated solutions" such as Data Center, Unified Communications and Collaboration, Security, Mobility and Cloud.
Other service lines added in recent years include Managed Services, Professional Services, Partner Services, Configuration Services and Warranty Services. By hiring 120 employees in 2014, the company was able to expand the services teams it had in 25 markets, while adding new service markets to its portfolio.
Mergers and Acquisitions
In 2014, the company further diversified its revenue streams more into service after acquiring a 35% non-controlling stake in UK-based IT solutions provider Kelway, which has global supply chain relationships that enable it to conduct business in more than 100 countries. The 100% acquisition of Kelway was completed in 2015 with the purchase of the remaining 65% of its outstanding common stock.
CDW went public in mid-2013. It was hoping to raise $500 million with its IPO but walked away with $395 million. The computer seller will use the proceeds to service debt, to conclude ties with its owners, and for general corporate services. This was its second IPO after being in private hands for six years.