For its first 28 years in business, TTI Inc. was not an acquisitive company. But starting in 1999, TTI has methodically been adding to its family of specialty distributors. The interconnect, passives and electromechanical component (IP&E) specialist dipped its toes into semiconductors with the 1999 acquisition of Mouser Electronics and is now adding to that product lineup with the acquisition of Symmetry Electronics based in Hawthorne, CA.
Symmetry, a privately held semiconductor distributor, will operate as a wholly-owned subsidiary of TTI with current management to remain in place. This has been TTI’s model with Mouser and with Sager Electronics, which TTI acquired in 2012. Symmetry’s day-to-day activities and operations will not be affected by the acquisition – Symmetry will operate separately, and independently, according to TTI.
What TTI can bring to the party is the backing of Berkshire Hathaway, which acquired TTI in 2006. Berkshire Hathaway is also known for its hands-off management of its acquisitions and Paul Andrews, founder of TTI, remains its CEO.
“The acquisition of Symmetry Electronics is a natural extension of our Specialist distribution model,” Andrews said in a release. “TTI has long heard customers express their desire to have a TTI-like semiconductor distributor as part of their supply chain, and from semiconductor manufacturers a wish for a distributor in their path to market with the focus, scale and commitment to inventory of TTI. In Symmetry, we envision a path to ultimately providing, on a large global scale, an answer to these wishes and desires.”
Semiconductor specialists were a fixture of the electronics industry during the 1980s and 1990s. These boutique distributors focused on a limited but highly profitable group of chip companies. As customers began to migrate toward one-stop shopping through their distribution partners, specialty companies were acquired by larger broadline distributors during the late 1990s. The VEBA Group, which continued to run a number of semiconductor specialists under its umbrella during the height of distribution industry consolidation, was divided up and acquired by Arrow Electronics Inc. and Avnet Inc. in 2000.
Symmetry carries lines such as AMD, Fujitsu, Lattice, and Nordic Semiconductor. Going forward, TTI will actively support Symmetry’s management team in accelerating investment in the business through inventory investment, expansion of the sales, marketing and engineering teams, and expansion of backend infrastructure, TTI said in a release. Andrews added, “It’s a real pleasure to welcome the successful and hardworking team at Symmetry Electronics and their partners to the TTI and Berkshire Hathaway family.”
TTI avoids a number of problems through its arms-length acquisitions. Although linecard conflict is less prevalent than it used to be, it’s a minor issue when acquisitions are run separately. IP&E products—which are low-cost relative to semiconductors—often get short shrift in a broadline organization that focuses on higher-margin products. IP&E products account for 80 percent of a typical circuit board, and TTI’s focus on IP&E products has long been a differentiator in the industry.
There could also be some synergy between Mouser, which specializes in low-volume engineering and design orders, and Symmetry. If a project identified by Mouser has the potential to reach volume production, Symmetry is poised to fulfill larger orders.
“There could be no more perfect fit for the continued success of our partners and employees than TTI,” said Symmetry co-founders Gil Zaharoni and Joe Caravana. “Our mission to bring technical value to our customers while driving demand for our suppliers through a focused line card is a strategy TTI has been successful with for decades. We are very pleased to be counted among TTI Inc. subsidiaries Mouser Electronics and Sager Electronics.”
TTI Inc. globally maintains 1.2 million cubic feet of dedicated warehouse space containing over 850,000 component part numbers. Along with its subsidiaries, Mouser Electronics and Sager Electronics, TTI employs more than 4,700 employees and is represented in over 100 locations throughout North America, Europe and Asia.
Symmetry Electronics is a global semiconductor distributor offering technical support, sales and distribution of wireless and video technologies. It serves customers with a worldwide sales and engineering team delivering technical services alongside an e-commerce experience. Founded in 1998, Symmetry Electronics is headquartered in Los Angeles with international offices in Mexico, Brazil, Canada and China.