Suppliers Eye Europe for Continued Growth

Oct. 29, 2014
North American distributors continue to follow new business opportunities in Europe, capitalizing on November’s Electronica 2014 exhibition to make new connections.

Europe remains an important target for supply chain companies based in North America, as the outsourcing trend continues and companies look to both expand upon and develop new business opportunities across the continent. The trend has companies large and small focused on expanding their presence with new locations, personnel, marketing programs, and other services aimed at satisfying demand on both the design engineering and production sides of the business.

Texas-based independent distributor Smith & Associates is one such company. Smith has had a presence in Europe for 15 years, and will use the upcoming Electronica 2014 Trade Fair as an important marketing tool. To be held in Munich November 11-14, the 26th Annual Trade Fair for Electronic Components, Systems, and Applications—known as Electronica—is one of the electronics industry’s top attractions, held every two years.

“[We are] exhibiting at Electronica Munich with a full complement of sales, purchasing, marketing, and business development staff to offer in-depth views of Smith's global procurement support services,” says Mark Bollinger, Smith’s vice president of marketing. “At Electronica, Smith will highlight our unique and long-standing capabilities that are focused on meeting Europe's high standards for quality and specific regulatory requirements, including RoHS, WEEE, CE, among other regulatory compliances.”

Smith is not alone. Other top distributors will use Electronica as a platform to grow and develop business over the next two years. And it’s no surprise, as the electronics supply chain becomes increasingly global and Europe plays an important role in the transformation.

“Europe's progressive outlook on automation and energy conservation make it an important market,” adds Bollinger, pointing to large-scale municipal and Smart City projects in Europe as well as leading-edge medical device and automotive electronics research, design, and manufacturing as key opportunities. “We view the European market as a growth opportunity, and our strategy is to continue supporting the vital projects of Europe's leading electronics innovators.”

Outsourcing Drives Business Growth

More than 60% of North American electronic component buyers say their companies outsource manufacturing and design services to other regions and that Europe remains a key attraction, according to a Global Purchasing survey of 800 purchasing and supply chain professionals. Released in October as part of Global Purchasing’s annual Salary Survey, the report showed that 16% of companies outsource design and manufacturing services to Europe, making the region fourth behind outsourcing to other locations in the United States (72%), China (32%), and Mexico (16.5%). Europe came in just ahead of India (14%) and Canada (12%).

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Another U.S.-based distributor capitalizing on the trend is Minnesota-based Digi-Key Corp., which has developed a new footprint in Europe over the past two years. Digi-Key used Electronica 2012 as a launching pad for its new presence in the region, and has big plans for this year’s show as well, according to the company’s corporate communications director Michelle Gjerde.

“This is our fifth Electronica, and we’re going all out as we typically do,” explains Gjerde, pointing to marketing and promotion efforts aimed at attracting attendees to Digi-Key. The distributor will raffle chances to win a 2014 Tesla and is sponsoring hourly iPad giveaways, for instance. Celebrity look-alikes, interactive games, and special student-targeted promotions are also planned. Digi-Key will give away two Vespas and 10 laptops during the exhibit’s Student Day event.

“We can really point to impressive growth in the region,” says Gjerde, noting that Germany, the United Kingdom, and other regions of Europe represent Digi-Key’s largest growth in recent years—upwards of 30%.

Digi-Key will use the four-day event to announce new Web and e-commerce initiatives, as well as a slate of new design tools that are part of its recent partnership with software provider Mentor Graphics.

Other distributors that already have a strong foothold in Europe also plan to make waves at Electronica. Avnet Electronics Marketing EMEA, for instance, will introduce its MSC Technologies division during the show as part of the Embedded Platforms Conference. Avnet acquired the European business in 2013, expanding its presence across the region and substantially growing its embedded technology business.

“We focus on intelligent embedded and display solutions for various industrial applications—everything from a single source," according to Wolfgang Eisenbarth, director of communications at MSC Technologies. In doing so, the company promises scalable processor technologies, advanced communications interfaces, and maintenance-free system solutions, especially for future markets such as home automation and energy technology, Eisenbarth added.

50 Years of Electronics Coverage

Electronica Munich turns 50 this year, and will celebrate with more than 2,700 exhibitors and a slate of programs focused on automotive, embedded systems, medical electronics, lighting, security, and energy efficiency. The event remains one of the largest in the electronics industry. In 2012, the Trade Fair hosted more than 73,000 attendees from 79 countries.

"I am looking forward to celebrating half a century of electronica with our exhibitors, visitors and partners,” exhibition director Anke Odouli said earlier this year. “In the context of the anniversary, we are planning various events and activities, in which we don't just want to look back, but more importantly, look forward to the next 50 years. Electronics are an essential part of our lives. In November, electronica exhibitors will again be showing what will drive our society forward in the future.”

For more information on Electronica 2014, visit For similar coverage from Global Purchasing, visit

About the Author

Victoria Fraza Kickham | Distribution Editor

Victoria Kickham is the distribution editor for Electronic Design magazine, SourceESB and, where she covers issues related to the electronics supply chain. Victoria started out as a general assignment reporter for several Boston-area newspapers before joining Industrial Distribution magazine, where she spent 14 years covering industrial markets. She served as ID’s managing editor from 2000 to 2010. Victoria has a bachelor’s degree in English from the University of New Hampshire and a master’s degree in English from Northeastern University.

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