Future Electronics Inc. plans to spend an additional $10 million to expand services at its state-of-the-art Memphis areas distribution center as part of plans to enhance offerings at the 10-year old facility, according to company executives.
The increased investment at the facility, which employs about 300 workers, was announced earlier this month at a celebration to mark the 10th anniversary of the facility. The planned expansion would include an extension of the current warehouse facility and the recruitment of about 100 additional employees, Future said.
“When our team first presented the idea of the Memphis Area Distribution Center (MADC) in 2001, it was at a time when nobody was investing in the Americas,” said Robert Miller, founder and CEO of Canada-based Future in a prepared statement. “I was presented with three options: Option one was a low cost solution, option two was a medium cost solution, and option three was the Cadillac of them all. I chose option three. Why? Because I believed the business environment would improve and having the best distribution center in the industry was and remains an essential element of providing the best service in the industry.”
The 10th anniversary event included a speech by Governor Phil Bryant of Mississippi who highlighted the state’s experienced workforce, competitive labor rates and growing economy. The company hosted several discussion panels on key issues concerning the electronics industry, including a session on manufacturing onshoring. Presenters for the panel titled Onshoring: Why is it Suddenly Making Sense to Move Electronics Manufacturing Back to the Americas?, include Chris Durham, senior VP of supply management at OnCore Manufacturing Services, and Peter Ermish, co-founder and general manager of Variosystems, a mid-size contract manufacturer with plants in Asia, Europe and North America.
Other speakers on the panel include Steve Korn, VP of North American operations and global supply chain at Kimball Electronics, and Scott Theune, VP, supply chain at Plexus, another major contract manufacturer. The presenters noted that certain high-end and low-volume products are being moved back to North America by some OEMs out of concern about the extended supply chain required to support production in Asia.
In order to support these companies, contract manufacturers are retooling their offerings and adding “specialized, value-added design functions,” according to Theune. “Customers want more design engineering support,” the Plexus senior executive said. “This means contract manufacturers are being selective too. At Plexus, we want to be the supplier of choice to the customer of choice.”
A second discussion panel hosted by Future during the MADC 10th anniversary event focused on how the distribution landscape has changed over the years. The panel discussion, moderated by John Denslinger, president and CEO of the Electronics Components Industry Association, noted the sharp decline in the number of distributors serving the North American market as a result of a spate of acquisition and mergers over the last decade.
The panel presenters included Louis DiNardo, president and CEO of Exar Corp., Gordon Hunter, chairman, president and CEO of Littelfuse Inc., Oleg Khaykin, president and CEO of International Rectifier Inc. and Matt McKenzie, president of CUI Inc., a designer and supplier of power and PC board components.
As part of the celebration of the Memphis distribution center’s 10th anniversary Future also invited representatives from component suppliers and customers. It treated the group to a tour of Graceland, Elvis Presley’s home in Memphis, and a dinner at which the company recognized employees who had served at the distribution center since it was established 10 years ago.
Here are the key facts of the current distribution center as outlined in a publication provided by Future:
- 368,000 storage locations serviced by a state-of-the-art crane-to-crane picking system; 4,284 reserve pallet locations
- 100 percent process redundancy; each part of the automation has a back-up system
- Air conditioned and humidity controlled, meeting the latest JEDEC standards
- 24/7 security, card access, CCTV
- C-PAT (customs-trade partnership against terrorism) certified level II
- ISO 9001, ISO 14001, AS9120, and ANSI/ESD S20.20 certifications
The distribution service center is supported by employees from all the major logistics companies, including DHL, UPS and FedEx, which has its major cargo hub in the Memphis area.