Dave Doherty is set to assume the position of president and COO at Digi-Key Corp., effective July 1. In the first generational leadership change at the electronic components distributor long-term president and COO Mark Larson who led Digi-Key for a majority of its existence and helped build it into a $1.76 billion enterprise will assume the position of vice chairman of the company’s board of directors and remain in an advisory capacity at the Thief River Falls, Minn-based distributor.
The company said in a statement today that Doherty will report to Ron Stordahl who founded the company more than 40 years ago. Larson and Stordahl were high-school friends who helped transform the electronics distribution business by selling components in small lots and packages to engineers and hobbyists across the United States initially before expanding operations globally. Doherty has held several senior management positions at Digi-Key and was most recently vice president of operations at the company.
Digi-Key was famous for its hefty print catalogs but production and distribution of these ended several years ago as engineers began sourcing information about components online. Sales have also shifted massively to online orders, which now represent a huge chunk of sales across the industry. Digi-Key markets itself as a “full-service provider of both prototype/design and production quantities of electronic components” and has more than 650 suppliers on its roster. In recent years it has added carefully selected components manufacturers to its line-card to beef up offerings in specialized and fast growing market segments.
Since it was established Digi-Key has maintained a steady focus on engineers and eventually became known as one of the preferred sources for components required by designers building prototypes and for other types of new product development activities. The company has only in recent years added some traditional supply chain and inventory management services to support customers demanding value-added support offerings related to small to medium-volume production.
Larson managed the company through many of the major changes Digi-Key has made over the years and had been expected to hand over the reins to any of a younger generation of executives who either rose through the ranks or joined the enterprise in recent years. When he joined Digi-Key in 1976 the company had annual sales of $800,000 but by his departure sales had shot higher to almost $2 billion with the company growing annually several percentage points above the industry average.
"It's certainly been an amazing ride," Larson said, in a statement. "Over the past 39 years, I've enjoyed the daily challenge of adapting and improving our business to better serve our customers. By staying the course and focusing on the fundamentals, we just kept doing what we did best better and better each day. Looking forward, as the industry continues to evolve, Digi-Key is well positioned for the next stage and I'm extremely confident in the future of the company with Dave Doherty at the helm."