When Digi-Key first showed up at the electronica exhibition in Munich eight years ago it was all about establishing the brand in Europe, and some fun to support the promotion – free footballs (or soccer balls depending which side of the pond you are), a Marilyn Monroe lookalike and a competition in which one lucky punter drove away in a Chevrolet Stingray.
If you aren’t aware of Digi-Key in 2014, then I hope the relatives you have been visiting on Mars are well. The brand is ubiquitous, not bad going for a company which hails from the small northern Minnesota town of Thief River Falls.
Mark Larson, President and Chief Operating Officer is the architect of the distributor’s global expansion which now sees it operating in all the major global geographic regions. As the distributor expanded its business, he recognised more management muscle was required. Two industry veterans, Chris Beeson, now Executive Vice President, Sales and Supplier Development and Dave Doherty, now Executive Vice President, Operations were hired. Others have followed , and the company has added more technical resource to support customers.
So when electronica opens for business on November 14, it will be a Digi-Key meaning business.
“This year is structured around meetings with suppliers and customers,” says Chris Beeson. And why wouldn’t it be. Digi-Key is making its mark in the European arena. Sales look set to grow north of 25 per cent in this calendar year driven by sterling performances in Germany and the UK.
Over the past three years Digi-Key has established a presence in Europe to support existing customers and to truffle out new business.
“Feet on the ground are important,” says Beeson. “We have moved from a virtual model approach where it is hard to understand the different market cultures in different continents.”
There are now 80 Digi-Key employees based in Europe and as Beeson points out, “We can engage in local conversations and align our market and value propositions to offer clarity to customers.”
“European contract manufacturers and OEMs are seeking out ways to shorten their cycle time and speed time to market,” he comments.
The proposition from Digi-Key is an extensive inventory of parts and a big emphasis on meeting customer’s supply chain requirements.
“It has made us a viable player in the process that’s stretches from design to high mix, low volume production quantities of parts,” Beeson remarks. Digi-Key has registered From Prototype to Production as a trade mark to support the strategy.
The Digi-Key team will be on duty to discuss those propositions at electronica.
And just in case this all sounds too serious fear not, the free footballs will be there to snapped up with the usual gusto, Marilyn Monroe, Johnnie Depp and Penelope Cruz will be on stage for photo opportunities and this year the big competition prize is a 2014 Tesla Model S.


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