Roy Vallee, Chairman & CEO of Avnet - AZ Business Magazine Jan/Feb 2011

CEO Series: Roy Vallee

Long-time member talks technology, dealing with global economic problems, adapting to the changing world of technology, and more.

Roy Vallee
Title: Chairman and CEO
Company: Avnet

How you would you assess the current state of your industry?
Things are going pretty well for technology. Calendar 2010 will be a very good year by historical standards for our electronics business and our IT business. And in 2011, I would say things are going to normalize and grow at the secular growth rate for the industries. For us that’s good news because secular growth is kind of 1-1/2 to 2 times overall economic growth, so things are pretty good in technology.

You had a great first quarter. What do you think that portends for the economy in 2011?
Well, I’m not 100 percent sure, of course, but I think a couple of things are clear. Technology is leading this recovery. We’re growing a lot faster than the overall economy, certainly certain segments of the economy. So, I’m very pleased about that. And I think it also does indicate that we are at least in the early stages of a macro-economic recovery, even if it’s a gradual one … and hopefully that cyclical recovery will continue through 2011 and beyond.

Could this improvement possibly be a blip?
I think from an IT spending perspective that the possibility of it being a blip is there, but let’s maybe define blip. … Corporate psychology is such that it’s ready to invest in IT projects after it’s done swapping out the old hardware. I would also like to point out, though, that a significant part of our business is electronic components and a portion of those find their way into a variety of consumer goods, and that part of our business is quite strong, as well. So it’s not just corporate spending that’s driving our growth.

How is Avnet dealing with the various Global economic problems?
We deal in a variety of markets. Some of them are actually quite exciting right now; obviously places like China, India, Brazil, other parts of Asia Pacific, parts of Eastern Europe. There are parts of our business growing very rapidly these days. So the way we deal with that is we gear up and try to support the market that is there. In the areas where the developed countries have been hard-hit by the economic downturn and credit crunch, we simply dial the resources down. … we basically size our business to the amount of opportunity that exists on a local level.

In December, Avnet celebrated 50 years on the New York Stock Exchange. What do you think that says about your company?
It says a lot of things. First and foremost, adaptability: there have been a lot of economic cycles, there’s been changes in technology, there’s been changes in our industry structure at the fundamental value proposition of distributors like Avnet; there’s been globalization. So, the company being (on the NYSE) 50 years says we’re highly adaptable as an organization. … I think another thing it speaks to … is what I would call financial conservatism or fiscal discipline. And I think the third thing … is the culture. We’ve got a culture that is very grounded in our core values.

    Vital Stats



  • Joined Avnet in 1977
  • Appointed president of Hamilton/Avnet Computer in 1989
  • Elected to Avnet’s board of directors in 1991
  • In July 1998, he was elected chairman of the board and chief executive officer
  • Named to the Twelfth District Economic Advisory Council for the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco in 2010
  • Member of the Arizona Commerce Authority board of directors
  • Member of the boards of directors for Teradyne and Synopsys
  • Inductee of the CRN Industry Hall of Fame
  • Participates in Greater Phoenix Leadership

Arizona Business Magazine Jan/Feb 2011