Acquiring a Distributor

At the EDS conference a few weeks ago, I had the great fortune of meeting up with Bernard Gizzi, president of Electronic Connector Company (ECCO). ECCO is a franchised distributor based out of Chicago that Gizzi acquired last year. ecco-logo

I was intrigued when I learned about this, and wanted to know more about what it's like to acquire and take the helm of a distributor. I interviewed Gizzi after the conference and thought I'd share some of his insights with the users of Octopart.

Christopher Calvi (CC): Please describe your background and experience.

Bernard Gizzi (BG): I have been in the electronics distribution industry for 28 years. Over 19 years at Arrow Electronics in various sales and management roles, 5 years with Newark/Premier Farnell as a VP, and 4 years with Eclipse (my own business) before buying ECCO.

CC: Can you describe the process that led up to you acquiring ECCO? Had you always had it in mind to start/acquire a distributor?

BG: Ed Allen (partner at Eclipse/ECCO) and I had the vision to acquire a electronics distributor that would give us a platform for growth utilizing our skills and experience. ECCO came to us as an opportunity soon thereafter.

CC: Tell us more about ECCO and its history.

BG: ECCO was born out of a previous electronic connector distributor-Air Industries, started in 1963 by a Pilot who dabbled in aviation connectors. He sold it to Anixter in 1987, and it was spun out to Arris Corporation in 1993. Arris has since become a large “head-end” cable equipment company and sold ECCO in March of 2012 to us, as it could no longer focus on electronics distribution, so that is how we stepped in.

CC: Knowing what you know now, what is the advice you'd give to your past self before acquiring ECCO (or others in a similar position)?

BG: Buying or selling a company can be very complex, so give yourself plenty of time and energy, as it is not for the faint of heart and requires some extra patience with all the parties involved.

CC: What is your marketing strategy for ECCO?

BG: First, our value proposition is to… Simply be a stocking distributor and a “specialist in connector solutions”. In addition, we will use our experience & technical skills to add value to our stakeholders via solution selling, cost effective cross referencing, and marketing prowess.

CC: What's your outlook for electronic distribution and what's next for your company?

BG: Electronic distribution has been evolving steadily over the last 25 years, and outside of continued consolidation, there is opportunity in differentiation, personal attention, and partnerships. In the end, if you provide a valued product and service at the right price-you will succeed. That will be our focus at ECCO.