Distribution: past, present, future

Hughes Peters’ president, Mike Okel

Electronics Sourcing discusses history, acquisitions, challenges and recipes for success with Hughes Peters’ president, Mike Okel.

Hughes-Peters might be a relatively new distributor to some ESNA readers. However, the company has been in business for 100-years and boasts a long history in electronic component distribution. The company has experienced strong growth over the last 20-years under its current ownership: Mike Okel, president; Mike Smith, VP of sales; and Donna Hensley, Vice President.

Among four acquisitions in 12-years, Hughes-Peters acquired Hammond Electronics in 2017 and Tonar Industries in 2020. How are customers benefitting now that these companies are under the Hughes-Peters umbrella?

Every acquisition has been a building block for Hughes Peters. In each case we have expanded our geographic reach, added talent and picked up new manufacturers for an already strong line card. The benefits for these added locations include the support of a financially sound company; inventory management programs and value-added services; and access to a best-in-class
line card.

2021 sees the company’s 100th Birthday. What have been the biggest distribution challenges over more recent years and how do you envisage the electronic component supply chain developing?

I cannot speak about the first 60-years since I have only been in distribution for the last forty. The list of challenges during those years would be very long. In general, distribution has faced margin erosion, while needing to bring more services to its customers. Distributors that have survived and grown have developed ways to use great employees with technology to achieve success. Distribution does more today than just pick and ship parts. In many cases, we have become part of the customer’s manufacturing team, and part of our supplier’s design team. Being the company in the middle we take on new responsibilities for our customers and suppliers. We must continue to be an “easy to do business with” company, while adapting to the changes and challenges our industry presents.

To what do you attribute your company’s consistent growth?

I believe two key things have made Hughes Peters successful. First and foremost, our great people. You will never have a strong, growing business without a team that is dedicated and on board with the company focus and expectations. Second, we developed a very specific business model. Our model focuses on long-term customers we can do demand creation with. We also provide value-added services for those customers, which takes the transactional cost out of their business while shortening lead times. We know our strengths and we stay in our lane.