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Smith Celebrates 35 Years in Business

Smith looks back on more than three decades of innovation, striving, and success

Smith recently celebrated our 35th anniversary at our headquarters in Houston. For more than three decades, we have been building relationships with customers around the world to help them discover the solutions to their sourcing and supply chain challenges.

The industry has been a changing one. In 1984, Smith’s founders – brothers Bob and Lee Ackerley – recognized the common needs of players in the fast-evolving technology market around them. The late 70s’ tech boom had led into a full consumer-electronics revolution by 1984, and manufacturers worldwide were facing the challenge of sourcing the components they needed to get their products to shelves.

Bob and Lee saw the need for procurement based on incisive market knowledge that could meet customers where they were – on their timelines and with trustworthy precision. This was the vision that drove the brothers and their wives as they all set up shop at Bob’s kitchen table, making Smith’s first cold calls on two landlines.

Those calls found an audience with manufacturers who came to rely on the agile procurement Smith offered. Things escalated fast as the company grew and four employees became forty, then 140, 240, and now 475 around the world. In 1997, Smith opened our Asian distribution hub in Hong Kong – our first office in Asia, rooted there to support our large number of customers in the region. Establishing a footprint in Europe came next with the founding of our Amsterdam hub in 1999.

Smith grew over the years from a small startup into an international company with 16 offices full of employees whose expertise, diverse skills, and enthusiasm have helped build and continually shape the company.

Our global team supports the world’s largest electronics manufacturers with our multifaceted Intelligent DistributionTM, nurturing customer relationships that can span decades. At the same time, our company culture – based on values like giving back and empowering those around us – helps us support the communities our offices call home with regular volunteering and other CSR efforts. In 2011, Smith completed a green renovation of our Houston headquarters and initiated sustainability programs across our worldwide offices.

We have continually focused on innovation and growth, and this drive to stay at the leading edge has been reflected by our being ranked the #1 independent distributor nearly every year since 2000, with annual sales of $1.66 billion in 2018. We have diversified our services to offer customers across industries – from aerospace and defense to solar – the optimal, tailored support they’re seeking, offering inventory management, ITAD, market expertise, and far more through our Intelligent DistributionTM model. And we have supported these programs and services with investments in resources, from our 57,000 sq. ft. operational hub in Houston to its counterparts in Hong Kong and Amsterdam that allow us to mirror top-quality testing and logistics around the world.

As we look back on 35 years, we attribute so much of our success to two elements: our leadership’s drive to innovate and willingness to invest in this innovation – and the amazing talent and spirit of our employees around the world who help make this vision a reality. We will continue to expand and evolve as the industry grows and changes and customers’ needs evolve, too.

We look forward to seeing what the next 35 years will bring!

Curious what we have in the works? Follow us here on our Market Blog or Instagram (@smithweb) to see the latest Smith news and commentary.

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