Avnet’s Gerry Fay: Supply Chain Silos Challenge the Channel

Gerry Fay, who will take the helm as {complink 577|Avnet Inc.}'s chief global logistics and operations officer on July 4, says that even as the global electronics industry gets smaller, it doesn't get any easier.

“The world is getting smaller, and the supply chain is becoming more interconnected, and our job is making sure we are making the investments we need,” Fay told me in a phone interview. “Part of my role is to continually look forward to make sure we are leveraging our infrastructure from both a regional and global perspective.”

Fay, most recently head of Avnet's Velocity global supply chain practice, has been named to succeed retiring President of Avnet Logistics Jim Smith. Smith has headed Avnet's logistics operations since 2000 and is the chief architect of Avnet's global network of warehouses and value-added service centers.

“The one thing we need to keep in mind as we go forward is the customer,” Fay says. “Everything we look at has to be linked to the customer. We need to be focused on providing value. We have 100,000 customers ranging in size from very small to very large, and we have the infrastructure to support that customer base. But we always have to be looking at strategies to add value for the customer, and that is where finding the right service mix is key.”

Since the June 13 announcement of Fay’s promotion, he has “been talking to people, reviewing strategies, and hitting the ground running. I want to use the change as a catalyst.”

In terms of improving the existing supply chain model, Fay says communication and collaboration continue to be crucial. “I think [finding improvement] goes back to the way the supply chain ecosystem has developed. The supply chain is still very siloed. From the component maker to the EMS provider to the ODMs and OEMs, the supply chain operates as a number of independent silos. It used to be the OEM would drive demand down the supply chain and the supply chain would respond. Now, the OEM expects us to sense their demand from the end customer and move that [demand] back [through the channel]. There are always ways to improve — better equipment, more intervention — and we are always looking for ways to better engage with our suppliers' suppliers and our customers' customers.”

In general, Fay feels, the global supply chain continues to do a better job of managing its inventory. “I think since the crash of 2001, supply chain partners are doing a much better job of looking at inventory as an investment. In 2001, there was a lot of inventory in the channel, and I think since, everyone has done a much better job of exception-based supply chain management.”

Fay will continue to lead Avnet Velocity and, according to Avnet, will assume executive responsibility for Avnet Logistics’ global warehousing, semiconductor programming, and integration center services.

“This isn't my first rodeo,” Fay jokes. “I've worked in all of these roles before, and I expect to bring the benefits of that experience to the Avnet team.”

6 comments on “Avnet’s Gerry Fay: Supply Chain Silos Challenge the Channel

  1. Tim Votapka
    June 20, 2011

    Gerry Fay's rodeo analogy at the end of Barbara's story is totally appropriate. The supply chain has its randomity and unpredictability, much like a young bull in a rodeo. Fortunately, organizations like Avnet have always developed a deep pool of experienced riders who know how to handle shifting dynamics, including those generated by industry events, corporate strategy and more. Had never heard that comparison before; it'd make for a good marketing campaign.

  2. eemom
    June 20, 2011

    If Avnet can “sense” the market and make appropriate decision about inventory control, they will continue to lead the market and become a priceless asset to OEMs.  It is wonderful to read a story with such optimism and confidence that the company can predict and meet this everchanging demand environment. Although the comparison to a rodeo is humorous, it rang true and gave the reader the picture of what Gerry is facing.

  3. Tim Votapka
    June 20, 2011

    I think the other thing that caught my eye on this rodeo reference was the allusion to tough personalities. Avnet rose to the top of the dias a long time ago when the industry was marked by the personalities of its leaders as much as anything else. I never had any firsthand experience with the founding members of the Avnet family,  but from what history indicates, Fay joins a legendary hall of spirited individuals who haven't been reluctant to jump into a tough ring.

  4. Daniel
    June 21, 2011

    “The world is getting smaller, and the supply chain is becoming more interconnected, and our job is making sure we are making the investments we need,” 

    I would like to point, when business world becomes smaller and closer, a one to one responsibility has to maintain among the players for strengthen the chain. Otherwise always there may be chance for other players.

  5. jbond
    June 21, 2011

    I feel the rodeo analogy is completely correct when referring to the uncertainty of the supply chain. It is nice to see that Avnet has promoted an individual with foresight and experience. Too many times companies have put the wrong person in the wrong job. Many times causing more headaches then what was currently going on. Gerry Fay seems to be the right guy to help Avnet stay atop the leader board in the supply chain game.

  6. kmullins
    June 21, 2011

    In dealing with Avnet, I have found that unless you have put a pipeline in place with them, parts are extremely difficult to obtain.  Just getting a pipeline up with Avnet is hard.  I usually end up resorting to DigiKey, Mouser or Newark for the first several months of prototyping and production.  I thought that Avnet was supposed to be a stocking distributor and that maybe they had a small bit of uncommitted inventory.  Not the typical case.  This has been going on for decades.  I hope that Gerry Fay can do something different than business as usual with them.  When it becomes easier for us OEMs to deal with them, then they will be able to lure more customers.

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