Less than two months after being named interim CEO of Avnet Inc., William “Bill” Amelio was appointed as its chief executive officer effective today. After a review of both internal and external candidates, said William Schumann, chairman of Avnet’s board of directors, the board concluded Amelio was the best candidate for the top job.
“Avnet is fortunate to have someone of Bill’s character and experience,” Schumann said in a statement. “He brings energy and focus to the business, and the board unanimously agreed that making him the permanent CEO was in the best interest of our customers, employees and shareholders.”
In light of Avnet’s financial performance, the move couldn’t come too soon. Its Q4 sales of $6.2 billion were down 8 percent year over year; its fiscal 2016 sales of $26.2 billion were down 6.1 percent year over year. The electronics distributor has also been wracked by integration issues related to acquisitions, a problematic ERP system rollout that has cost more and taken longer than the management expected and the high-cost of a years-long restructuring program. In the last year, it has scaled back its engagement with high-volume but low-margin component deals in Asia while struggling to spark growth in North America.
Avnet’s board was expected to act quickly. During Avnet’s most recent conference call with analysts in mid-August Amelio said he was "very interested" in the CEO job. “The board, of course, has their fiduciary responsibility to make sure that we do a credible search and to make sure that we leave no stone unturned," he added. “I expect the search to be done relatively rapidly and I'm hopeful for good news sometime in the future.”
It is unclear, however, just how much scrutiny Avnet’s board gave to other candidates. Amelio was appointed on July 11 and in August Avnet veteran Ed Smith, considered one contender for the CEO spot, abruptly departed after 20 years with the company. Avnet has had a long history of promoting from within: former CEO Rick Hamada had been with Avnet for more than 30 years, and he was appointed by Roy Vallee, a 34-year veteran of the company.
Amelio himself has more than 35 years of industry experience. Amelio was the president, chief executive officer and a director of CHC Group Ltd., an international oil-field services company, from 2010 to 2015. From 2005 to 2009, he served as president and chief executive officer of Lenovo, a multinational Fortune 500 technology company, and was previously a regional senior vice president and president, Asia-Pacific and Japan for Dell Inc. He began his career with the Microelectronics Technology Division of IBM in 1979 and later became the General Manager Worldwide Operations of the Personal Computer Division.
Amelio also previously served on the board of directors of National Semiconductor. He has a chemical engineering degree from Lehigh University and a master’s degree in management from Stanford University.
“For me, Avnet is all about passion and possibilities,” Amelio said in a statement. “We have an experienced management team and an engaged workforce comprised of talented employees who are dedicated to serving our customers, suppliers and partners. By better aligning these resources with our competitive solutions specialist, embedded and supply chain strengths, Avnet will undoubtedly be positioned to achieve profitable growth for our shareholders and deliver upon the ever growing market potential in our industry.”