New CEO: Ingram to 'Tie Up' Resellers

BOSTON (03/06/2000) - The new chief executive officer and president of Ingram Micro Inc. said today the hardware and software distribution company is looking to strengthen its Internet relationships with the company's resellers so that the resellers are effectively tied to Ingram Micro.

Ingram Micro's current Internet strategy is to link its resellers' Web sites directly to its own site so that the end-user automatically, without knowing it, logs onto Ingram Micro's site from the reseller's site.

When asked if the idea of this strategy is to tie the reseller more closely to the distributor, Kent B. Foster, Ingram Micro's new CEO and president, said in a phone interview with IDG News Service today, "Of course, we want to tie them up as hard as we can."

However, former Ingram Micro CEO and current Chairman Jerre Stead, also on today's phone interview, immediately cut in on Foster, saying, "We carry over 275,000 products from over 1,600 manufacturers, and provide solutions for all our customers," meaning that the end-users still have a choice of products, even if all the sales go through Ingram Micro.

Ingram Micro finally announced Foster's appointment as the company's new head today, effectively bringing to an end a six-month-long search for a new CEO and president. However, Foster said in today's interview that he received a phone call from a recruitment firm offering him the job as early as November of last year.

Stead, who also phoned Foster in November, will remain chairman of the Ingram Micro board until his retirement in May at the company's annual meeting of shareholders. At that time, Foster will succeed Stead as Ingram Micro chairman.

Foster said today that he has no immediate plans for changing the distribution company's strategy, since the current strategy is so "attractive it doesn't need changing."

For about a year and a half, Ingram Micro has been signing outsourcing deals with its resellers, giving the distribution company full control of its resellers' warehouses and logistics. The most recent deal was with Sweden reseller TCM.

Foster mentioned today the possibility of Ingram Micro going into other fields than IT in the future, even though he couldn't say which areas he might lead his company into first.

Also today, Ingram Micro announced a number of other changes in its organization. These changes included naming Kevin M. Murai as the company's new executive vice president and president of the U.S. operating division, as well as the retirement of 65-year-old J. Phillip Samper from the company's board of directors.

Foster, who was a manager with GTE Corp. for 20 years prior to joining Ingram Micro, will replace Samper on the board.

Ingram Micro operates in 34 countries and had sales exceeding US$28 billion in 1999.

Ingram Micro, in Santa Ana, California, can be reached at +1-714-566-1000 or on the Web at http://www.ingrammicro.com/.

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