Allied Electronics’ new president Scott McLendon doesn’t expect to make a lot of sweeping changes at the longtime catalogue distributor. Like a number of distributors with a low-volume, high-mix business model, Allied is trying to define itself beyond a catalogue. (See: What's in a Name?.)
"We take a multichannel approach to the market, and one of those offerings is a catalogue," McLendon said yesterday in a phone interview. "We have a very robust sales organization -- we have 400 people in 53 offices in the US and Canada -- so it’s not just self-service for customers after thumbing through a catalogue or browsing a website."
Lee Davidson, who held the president title at Allied for nearly a decade, is stepping aside for health reasons. He’ll be assuming the title of vice president of strategic projects for Allied parent Electrocomponents, which will include assisting and developing global strategies for the business. In the last financial year, ending March 31, 2012, Electrocomponents reported revenue of £1.27 billion ($2 billion).
Allied, which was founded in 1928, is evolving with the market, which means working within a global organization. Parent Electrocomponents, which acquired Allied in 1999, goes to market overseas as RS Components. Combined, the two companies represent about 600 suppliers in the Americas, Europe, and the Far East; globally, the Electrocomponents companies source from 2,500 leading suppliers.
“We are working more closely together than ever before to globalize, particularly in regard to our supplier relationships,” says McLendon. “Instead of developing content or marketing tools two or three times across the company, we do it once.”
Allied, however, will continue to differentiate itself in a number of ways, McLendon explains. Allied focuses heavily on interconnect, passive, and electromechanical (IP&E) components and less on semiconductors than competitors Digi-Key, Mouser, and Newark/element14. The Fort Worth-based distributor has a big presence in industrial controls and automation, and does about 25 percent of its business in MRO. Like the other low-volume players, though, Allied stocks every part it markets for sale. “We’re open 24 hours, and our last truck leaves the warehouse at midnight,” McLendon says. “It’s nice to have the ability to deliver the next day.”
The Electrocomponents family is making some backroom changes, which includes operating on a common SAP platform worldwide. The transition is expected to be completed in the near future.
As for the market in 2013, McLendon, like a number of channel executives, is expecting mild growth. “In the US, we avoided the fiscal cliff but a lot of companies are holding off on their capital expenditure as they see what will happen next,” he said. “That’s good for the MRO market as companies try to keep their legacy systems working a bit longer.”