Avnet CEO Transition: No Bumps Ahead

Longtime {complink 577|Avnet Inc.} executive Rick Hamada, 53, has been named CEO of the company, effective July 4, with current Chairman and CEO Roy Vallee remaining as executive chairman. The move is part of a planned and multi-year succession process, and the industry can expect an absolutely seamless transition. (See: Rick Hamada Named Avnet CEO.)

Hamada has been COO of the company since 2006 and was named president in 2010. He's the clear successor to Vallee, sharing many of the same management philosophies — operational excellence, value-based management, employee engagement, and profitable growth. Hamada has been with Avnet since 1983 and has a track record of performance and team success. Unlike some of the “house-cleaning” transitions the industry has seen when new management takes the helm, I'd expect to see few changes at Avnet as Hamada takes over.

Hamada and Vallee have been leaders of a management team that has grown Avnet from $5.9 billion in revenue to nearly $20 billion in sales and global leadership in distribution. Vallee, who began his career with Avnet in sales in 1977, succeeded longtime Avnet CEO Leon Machiz in 1998. Vallee was an early adopter of forward-thinking management practices, such as value-based management and corporate transparency, and has made profitable growth the cornerstone of his career.

During Vallee's 13-year tenure as CEO, Avnet expanded its global position through some of its biggest and most strategic acquisitions (Marshall Industries and VEBA Electronics); established a thriving business in China; and was consistently recognized by suppliers, customers, and business publications for its operational excellence. The company has quadrupled sales while significantly improving return on capital employed and cash flow by establishing and driving value-based management principles globally. Vallee been instrumental in helping Avnet achieve superior results and emerge from the recent economic downturn a stronger company.

Last year, Avnet celebrated its 50th year on the {complink 7745|New York Stock Exchange (NYSE)} and is the oldest electronics distributor to be listed. Vallee jokes that the executive management team at Avnet — Hamada, CFO Ray Sadowskihas, and himself — has more than 100 years' experience among them.

Hamada started his career with Avnet as a technical support specialist and rose through the ranks to take on key leadership responsibilities in sales, marketing, and business development. In July 2006, Hamada was named COO and has been directly responsible for Avnet’s operating groups, Electronics Marketing and Technology Solutions, as well as global logistics operations, information technology, operational excellence, and business innovation. Before he was COO, Hamada served as president of Technology Solutions since January 2002, driving profitable growth and global expansion while achieving Avnet’s highest return on capital performance. Hamada was first elected a corporate officer of Avnet in 1999, is a member of Avnet’s Executive Board, and chairs Avnet’s Global Executive Council. He is a graduate of San Diego State University.

As executive chairman, Vallee will continue to provide board leadership, focus on a smooth transition, and be actively involved in strategic mergers and acquisitions. “It has been a privilege to serve as Avnet’s CEO these past 13 years. With Rick completing his fifth successful year as COO and the business performing well, this is the perfect time for me to transition these duties. I look forward to working closely with Rick and our Board to ensure a seamless transition, while contributing in new ways to the success of Avnet’s stakeholders,” Vallee said in a statement.

“I am very excited about our future and the privilege to lead this great team and company,” said Hamada. “I look forward to working closely with Roy, our Board and our outstanding global team to deliver on Avnet’s key business objectives and commitments for fiscal year 2012 and beyond. I remain personally and deeply committed to accelerating the success of our customers, suppliers, employees and shareholders by maintaining a focus on our performance and values-based culture of excellence and our value based management approach to managing, investing in and defining profitable growth across the Avnet enterprise.”

There's no question that the transition at Avnet will be transparent to suppliers, customers, and shareholders. Hamada and Vallee share many of the same leadership qualities and have together worked with the leaders of Avnet's two largest operating groups — Harley Feldberg at Avnet Electronics Marketing and Phil Gallagher at Avnet Technology Solutions. I believe “team” is the best way to describe this group and all of the other leaders within Avnet's organization. Avnet's culture of respect, integrity, and customer service is consistent throughout the company, from Vallee down to the warehouse staff. I've said for a long time that the folks at Avnet “walk the walk and talk the talk.”

After more than 20 years covering the distribution industry — and a few bumps with Avnet along the way — I can say this without hesitation: Vallee, Hamada, and their team have established Avnet as one of the finest organizations in the high-technology business, and this will continue with Hamada at the helm.

4 comments on “Avnet CEO Transition: No Bumps Ahead

  1. eemom
    February 14, 2011

    This clearly shows what a stable clear visioned leadership team can do for a company.  We often see companies hickup when new management is put in place.  If you have a good, working formula, there is no need to change it.  It will only strengthen Avnet's market position going forward.

  2. Ms. Daisy
    February 16, 2011

    Greast Article!

    What an impressive company bio that was described in this article. No wonder Avnet can celebrate 50 years on the NASDAQ. The smooth succession of CEOs obviously is as a result of the company's hard work on prepearing future leaders within the company coupled with its value based culture of integrity, customer service, and respect.

    Hamada's cross trainings in sales, marketing, and business while under the supervision of Vallee will obviously pay off in his new role as CEO. Team work in Avnet is a solid foundation to future successes. 

    It is wonderful to see that each of these leaders in Avnet rose through the ranks and have gathered a lot of experience along the way. This is definitely the blue print for a success that other companies need to emulate.

  3. Barbara Jorgensen
    February 16, 2011

    The distribution industry did go through a period of turmoil during the mid to late 1990s. At that time, many companies were run by their founders or members of their founding families. In many cases, that was also the succession plan. The pressures of going public and running a global business created a demand for managers that came up through the business side of things (known as “MBA-types” in those days.) For the big players such as Avnet and Arrow, I think transition is now more carefully planned out and companies are more likely to go “outside the family” for the next CEO.

  4. Carla Mahrt
    February 21, 2011

    I've had the pleasure of working very closely with the Avnet organization the past two years in my previous role at Tyco Electronics.  Without a doubt a first class professional organization and a real pleasure to work with.  Rick will step in and not miss a beat with Avnet's pipeline of great senior leaders right behind him!

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.