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One distributor's reaction to global change


Author: Eric Gervais, CEO, Commodity Components International, Inc.

In today's fast-paced markets, all organizations are being forced to adapt and change as a result of global conditions. Most recently, the worldwide semiconductor distribution and manufacturing network has been impacted by RoHS, WEEE, and multiple other pending environmental regulations. These sweeping laws, backed by governments around the world, will forever change the way that OEM's, CEM's, and distributors conduct business.

From top to bottom, most organizations conducting business in the electronics marketplace are being forced to reevaluate, restructure, and relearn the new laws of distribution under the newly enacted environmental guidelines. Many companies have found themselves investing in new testing equipment, employee training, warehouse segregation, research and logistical support. These changes are critical to survival and long term growth. Those who adapt will survive and those that don't most certainly will not. My company, Commodity Components International, is one of those that has done more than adapt. We've identified an opportunity and become a leader in yet another area.

Commodity Components International has been a top ten independent distributor for more than twenty years. During that period, we have consistently adapted and thrived in various changing markets and worldwide conditions. With offices around the world - it has been critical for our company to remain a leader across all borders. Our focus and key mission has always been to provide our customers the best product and service available. With twenty years of challenges behind us - it is the RoHS and related initiatives that have offered our company both the greatest challenge and best opportunity for our customers that have ever existed.

The independent distributor's role in the supply chain is clearly not the most high profile in terms of RoHS/WEEE compliance, but it is very clear that all companies play a role and certainly have some liability with respect to future violations. It would be unwise for any electronics organization to simply ignore the current regulations and laws. However, it appears that many have done just that over the last year. My feeling is that any distributor not willing to adapt will simply not survive in these market conditions. So, how did Commodity Components International change when confronted by RoHS/WEEE?

In early 2006, I formed a RoHS committee made up of individuals from across our organization. We also contracted with the 5-Trees consulting organization to educate our management and staff with respect to what kind of impact RoHS would have on our industry and organization. After many months of research and discussion - several bold initiatives came out of these actions. The following is a brief overview of those programs:

  • Employee Training - Our compliance team dedicated a great deal of time gathering internal and external information regarding RoHS. That information was molded into a RoHS employee training program for all CCI employees. Each employee's role is diverse, so this program was designed to focus specifically on the job descriptions and departments.

  • Mission Statement and Policy Updates - To compliment our ISO 9001:2000 mission and vision statements, CCI has developed a corporate policy and set of standards for RoHS compliance. This included an overall mission statement, warehouse policies, and updates to much of our internal paperwork.

  • Segregation of Product - In early 2007, CCI completed a renovation of our warehouse facilities to fully comply with our ROHS certification. We will continue to supply our customers with ROHS compliant and non-ROHS compliant products. As such, our warehouse facility is now fully segregated based on ROHS status.

  • Internal Labeling - Our RoHS committee initiated a labeling program for our products. RoHS standards did not mandate any universal labeling/packaging, so it will be incumbent upon manufactures and distributors to ensure that product is clearly marked and segregated.

  • Identification of Resources - CCI has begun the process of partnering with other organizations and resources to ensure that our organization will be the single source for RoHS information and assistance to our customers.

  • XRF Testing - CCI opened "CCI RoHS Solutions" in January of 2007. This full service facility does XRF RoHS analysis for our customers, as well as outside clients.

This entire project was voluntary, but critical to our current and future business ventures. While many of the OEM's and CEM's have done much more elaborate RoHS-based projects - I believe that ours is unique among the independent distributors. Many independents will wait until changes are forced upon them or they become involved in a litigation regarding product that they sold. When this project was initiated, I felt strongly that it was our obligation to take a lead role in order to enhance our service to customers. In the last several months, our customers have responded with inquires, testing needs, and overall confidence in my organization.

The goal for all supply chain organizations is the same, but I believe RoHS/WEEE and future initiatives will test the integrity and stamina of even the strongest organizations. Those that plan and proactively manage will continue to lead while those that don't will be left behind. The RoHS compliance process is not simple or inexpensive, but it is one way for electronics distribution organizations to solidify a major role for the future.

CCI would be glad to discuss or share our compliance program with other organizations. Please contact Doug Sutherland at for more information.

Author Eric Gervais

Mr. Gervais has been the Chief Executive Officer of the company since 1996. He had been outside counsel to the company since it's founding in 1990. He was a partner in two law firms in Western Massachusetts from 1978 to 1990 concentrating in business law and commercial litigation. He is a graduate of St. Michael's College and earned a Juris Doctor degree from Western New England School of Law. He is admitted to the Massachusetts and Federal Courts. He has served on the board of directors of two commercial banks, held several volunteer municipal positions and served charitable causes.

Commodity Components International is a global leader in the independent electronic component distribution industry. We offer supply chain component solutions to the electronic manufacturing industry throughout the world providing state of the art, allocated ,obsolete and end- of life semiconductors and integrated circuits.

CCI stocks a broad line of devices and have available millions of products through our expansive vendor relationships. Delivering quality, value and service each day make us the One Source One Solution for all your component needs.

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