Tom Hudak's resignation as president of Chicago-based Newark element14 this week underscores several major management and branding changes at the distributor over the past decade. Since 2003, the North American distribution business of UK-based Premier Farnell plc has had five presidents and two brands, changing from Newark Electronics to NewarkInOne and now Newark element14.
While management turnover is a fact of business, many leading electronic component distributors have historically been led by long-time executives. In the catalog (or low volume/high mix) business, Newark element14 competitor Digi-Key Corp. was lead by president Mark Larson for nearly 40 years until his recent retirement; Glenn Smith, president and CEO of Mouser, has held that position since 1988. Until very recently, Lee Davidson headed the executive team at Allied Electronics for a decade.
It is unclear how closely Newark element14's turnover has been tied to financial performance. Over the past 10 years the distributors performance has been on a roller-coaster ride.
Newark element14's head office's revolving door began when Paul Tallentire took over as president of Newark Electronics in 2003. Tallentire joined Premier Farnell in May 2000, and had been regional director of Western Europe within the Marketing and Distribution Division (MDD) since December 2001. Previously he was managing director of Premier Farnell’s KENT business in the UK.
About the same time, Premier Farnell announced the roll out of the new ‘InOne’ brand in early 2003, which involved the rebranding of Farnell, Newark, Buck & Hickman (later sold), and a fourth business in the division called MCM. The move was made to better reflect the shared global capabilities of Premier Farnell’s marketing and distribution businesses. The InOne strategy was about sharing and leveraging each of the sister company’s information, capabilities, services and products to become a one-stop source for customers.
Newark was also making some major moves with new services to target the design engineering community. The president of Newark InOne was Mike Ruprich, who was replaced by Tallentire. At the time, Ruprich noted that an important part of InOne’s goal was to provide customers with one-on-one service instead of a one-size-fits-all catalog, supported by the millions of dollars in investments for services and technologies that ranged from e-procurement services to inventory management programs.
Tallentire helmed Newark InOne for about four years and was succeeded by DeWight Wallace as president in May 2007. Tallentire returned to the UK to become president of NewarkInOne's sister distributor, FarnellInOne.
During Wallace’s tenure, Premier Farnell announced the launch of the element14 community in June 2009. The online technology resource and community specifically targeted electronic design engineers, providing them with technical information, tools and services to help with the design and development of their products. This was followed by the launch of the element14 sales channel in the U.S. in February 2010.
Branding Premier Farnell's global companies under the single moniker "element14" -- which is silicon -- was the brainchild of then-Premier Farnell Group CEO Harriet Green. Green joined Premier Farnel in 2006 from Arrow Electronics and began to unite the company's brands, line cards and services under a single umbrella. Green headed Premier Farnell until 2012 when she departed, to the surprise of many in the industry, to head the Thomas Cook travel empire.
In May 2010, Premier Farnell replaced Wallace with Gert Labuschagne as president at Newark element14. Previously, Labuschagne was president of Altech Distribution, South Africa's largest distributor, and led its joint venture with Arrow Electronics, merging four business units into one organization. Labuschagne has now been named chief strategy and marketing officer, who will take over control of sales and marketing at Newark element14, starting on July 1.
Newark “officially” rebranded itself as element14 in May 2011. The announcement was made at the annual EDS show for the distribution industry. The move was made to bring a single global brand identity to market and for better efficiencies of scale. However, the phase-in has been slow as the well-known Newark brand was established in the U.S. in the 1930s. Its massive catalog of electronics components was long known as the "bible of the industry."
Less than one year later, in February 2012, Paul Buckley took over and served as Newark element14 president until November 2013 when Hudak took the reins. Buckley joined Newark in 2007 to serve as senior vice president of sales and supplier management. Tom Hudak joined Newark element14 in November 2013 following five years as president of Akron Brass, another Premier Farnell company.
Additional reporting by Barbara Jorgensen, managing editor, Electronics Purchasing Strategies.