Putting the Pieces Together for Avnet’s Next Chapter
by Bruce Rayner, Content Director
In September, the world’s largest electronics distributor announced it was selling its Technology Solutions business for $2.6 billion to Tech Data Corp. A month later, Avnet completed the acquisition of Premier Farnell PLC, a UK-based global distributor, for £691 million. And in November, the company acquired a majority interest in Hackster Inc., which serves the engineering, maker, and hobbyist community through its website hackster.io.
Premier Farnell brings Avnet a registered community of more than 430,000 engineers and “innovators” across 36 countries. The company’s U.S.-based Newark element14—and UK-based Farnell element14—has produced Raspberry Pi single-board computers in the UK since 2012. The company manufactures Beaglebone Black, and is the exclusive manufacturer of educational programming boards such as the BBC micro:bit and Codebug.
Hackster adds about 200,000 additional registered users to the mix.
These moves have occurred on the watch of William Amelio, Avnet’s chief executive since September, following a two-month stint as interim CEO. He is taking the long view on building the company’s position with design engineers—including future engineers—that are expected to feed Avnet’s pipeline of component sales for years to come.
“As technology reaches deeper into more products and innovation proliferates through the Internet of Things, the ability to reach a wider base of engineers earlier in the design process will be critical to our future growth and success,” he said in October.
Avnet is not alone. Every distributor worth its salt is targeting design engineers, with a focus on the amorphous social phenomenon known as the maker market. Defined loosely as electronics DIY enthusiasts, one source estimates there are over 100 million adult makers in the U.S., or about 25% of the population. There were an estimated 190 Maker Faires in over 35 countries in 2016. President Barack Obama declared the week of June 17, 2016, as National Week of Making.
For insight into Avnet’s rationale for these decisions, Global Purchasing talked with the man charged with executing Avnet’s new strategy, Gerry Fay, senior vice president, Avnet Inc., and president, Avnet Electronics Marketing, Global.
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