The future shows distributors responding to a wide range of customer needs. Some distributors see a green future, while others see themselves working more closely with customers to ward off the problems associated with counterfeiting. Still others see design support as the critical element to satisfy customers. All distributors envision a bright future for distribution.
Most industries — from medical to automotive — are using more electronic components in their products. And distributors see themselves as the logical source for many of those parts. “I see a real bright future for distribution,” says Craig Conrad, senior vice president of marketing at TTI Inc. “Manufacturers are looking for lean, quality ways to manage their supply chain and they’re more and more likely to consider a distributor since we’re the most efficient way to manage broad-based electronics.”
Environmental compliance has also become a big issue where distributors can offer increased support to their customers in the future. “The support for compliance is going to continue to grow,” says Phil Gallagher, president of Avent Electronics Marketing Americas. “The lead-free initiative prompted so much activity and people are now looking at the next step. What’s China going to do? What’s California going to do?” Gallagher expects customers to turn to distributors to help with multi-initiative compliance.
Andy Femrite, manager of the Engineering Solutions Center at Arrow Electronics Inc., sees increased design support as a big part of the future. “Design is getting more complex. The complexity is growing exponentially,” says Femrite. In response to this growing need, Arrow has revamped its design services. “We approach design from a holistic view. We break it down by vertical group and by the technology of the supplier,” he says.
Distributors also acknowledge that counterfeit parts continue to plague the components market. “We believe counterfeiting will get worse before it gets better,” says Scott McLendon, vice president of product management and marketing at Allied Electronics Inc. “Our obligation to our customer is to protect them against counterfeit products. We have policies where we secure products only through authorized sources.”