In the last half century, the electronics distribution landscape and business model has evolved greatly. Master Electronics has managed, through a variety of strategies to maintain and improve its business position through it all.
Fifty years ago, Ike Nizam founded Master Electronics in a cramped 750-square foot apartment in Santa Monica. Now, with 300 employees and 12 locations worldwide, the organization is headquartered a few blocks down the road and has its organization spread across 750,000-square feet of office and warehouse space.
In the decades since its start, the company has made some major shifts, such as moving from being a small regional player to a global distributor. In 2007, the company bought All American Semiconductor to expand its product scope. In 2014, Electro Sonic further expanded the company’s holdings. Once focused solely on relays, the company now carries relays, connectors, power supplies, fans, switches, circuit protection devices, passive components, fuses, filters and more.
Other things, like the company’s focus on flexibility and breadth and depth of product, have remained the same. Today, Master Electronics stocks over 350,000 unique part numbers available for immediate shipment, with over three million additional part numbers available for sale. The Nizam family remains at the helm, and the company continues to operate on the same core values: we care; we are dedicated and loyal; we are entrepreneurial; and we embrace visionary thinking.
EBN sat down with Jamil Nizam, president at Master to talk electronics distribution and staying relevant in a changing market.
EBN: Your company has managed to stay relevant to small and mid-sized customers for over five decades. What would you say is the cornerstone of your strategy? And what are the newest ways that your customers want to work with you?
Nizam: In terms of how we’ve managed to stay relevant, we are very focused on our customers and suppliers. We go to great lengths to provide best in class service and understand what problems they are having and how we can make a positive impact on their business. One of the ways we do that is having an entrepreneurial spirit. We are open minded and take a long-term view of things. We are the last distributor of any scale that really has this entrepreneurial spirit.
I couldn’t mention core strengths without mentioning availability and breadth and depth of our inventory. Our stated goals is to have more parts in stock for our customers than any of competition and to have it available whenb customer needs it. The last part is people. We want to hire people that are a cultural fit and make Master a fine place a work and provide tools to make our people successful in their efforts to be more efficient and take cost out of the process. It would also be about linking and sharing information with our partners. Also, we focus on having a lot of tools that semi automate the decision-making process. We think we’ve been at the forefront of this. We’ve been able to take out a lot of cost.
Our core customers are small to medium sized OEMs that buy from us on a regular basis. We have taken the approach that we should be able to communicate and engage with the customer in their preferred method. That includes phone calls, emails, chats, field sales people, full blown web engagement, and customer portal. It includes communicating via EDI and API. We want to be able to communicate in the way the customer wants.
Recently, we’ve allowed customers to chat with us via mobile device. We’re soon going to launch a feature where sales people can connect with sales people via digital chat. Also seeing more customers wanting us to feed information into their services proactively.