Rick Hamada, who will take over the CEO post from Roy Vallee at Avnet Inc. (NYSE: AVT) in July, will use the energy generated by change to maintain Avnet's forward momentum while taking the next few months to talk to customers, employees, and suppliers.
"I don't want this to be 'business as usual.' I want to make sure I am listening to our customers, managers, and have my finger right on the pulse of what is going on in our company and in our industry," he says. Avnet just came out of a global managers meeting and is in its next fiscal year planning process, and Hamada says the company is "energized" by the prospect of change. "This is not to say I would expect to see anything 'dramatic,' but rather an opportunity for me to make sure I have the correct perception of what our customers and suppliers are saying to us."
Hamada is far from out of touch with the market. He has spearheaded Avnet's commitment to growing organically as well as through merger and acquisition. "Roy [Vallee] and I have dealt with the same people, but in a different context," he says. "The next few months will be about setting a new context for Rick."
As chairman of the board, Vallee will remain active in the company, and Hamada expects he will be consulting with Vallee often. Additionally, the company will be using the transition period to make sure all the bases are covered in terms of its executive management. Currently, Hamada carries the titles of president, chief operating officer, and CEO-to-be. "That is an element of what we are looking at during the transition," he notes.
In the short-term, Hamada says Avnet's business is tracking with the expectations outlined during the company's earnings conference call in January. "As we ended [fiscal] Q2, we were surprised the bookings came in with enough strength to be at 1-to-1; Europe has a positive regional outlook; China was close to a 1-to-1 book-to-bill, and that was before they got back from the holiday. So far, we remain comfortable with our outlook...
"Our main goal," he adds, "is a seamless transition over the next few months. We are telling our management team, 'You can count on continuity, but it's not business as usual.' Let's use the energy of this transition to make sure we keep an external focus and not turn inward and that we are in sync with the marketplace. Let's keep up the momentum."