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What the present (and future) holds for integration tech

April 12, 2021

What the present (and future) holds for integration tech
What the present (and future) holds for integration
Imagine a facility that can build virtually anything tech-related you can think of. That’s kind of what the Ingram Micro’s Integration Centers are known for—that and a whole lot more. That's because in addition to custom manufacturing, the facility can also handle everything from logistics, support, R&D and shipping.
 
So how has the center handled the recent pandemic and what can we expect in the future? For the answer, we asked John Marinick, director, Sales & Integration Services at Ingram Micro. Here’s what he said.
 
Q&A: How Ingram Micro does integration
 
How did COVID affect operations at the Integration Center?
COVID impacted us in a big way. Our business dropped off to almost nothing in Q2 of last year and we struggled to make sure everyone kept their jobs, but we did. We worked with the Advanced Logistics Center to move our associates into the warehouse, made sure their wages didn’t change and they kept their benefits, and we were able to weather the storm.
 
How else has the pandemic changed things?
From a human resources perspective, this situation is new territory for me. Keeping people motivated and having to deal with safety protocols on a daily basis presents challenges, including everything from enforcing mask wearing to regulating temperature checks.
 
The good news is that business has picked up. I think that’s due to both us and our partners adjusting to the “new normal” of COVID-19. Partners are starting to understand they don’t need to own a brick-and-mortar location to manufacture their own product. By partnering with Ingram Micro, they can outsource a huge part of their business so they can focus on their IP and what made them stand out in the first place. They’re starting to see there’s a lot of value in letting someone else manage their supply chain, returns, manufacturing, the program management, etc.
 
You oversaw the entire construction of the Mira Loma Integration Center. What was that like?
So, first I worked with the Advanced Logistics Center on the space we were allocated for the center. Once we knew what the final square footage was, we hired engineers who made sure we safely accessed the power we needed without crippling the rest of the Mira Loma facility.
 
We also think through various scenarios like power-down situations. For instance, in the event of a power interruption, will our generator run the entire conveyance in that million-square-foot warehouse, etc. From there we hired contractors and got started and built it from the ground up. I was also working with the SAP development team to design the control software for the center. And it all finally came together about 2 years ago. 
 
What are some recent innovations the center has experienced?
We have some small startup companies we build hardware for. One of those companies was recently trying to get another round of funding, but their investors said they didn’t have the right business model because of their large capital expenditures.
 
Essentially, we were building systems for this company, and they would turn and sell them to their customers. I suggested that we could lease the hardware to them instead, and they in turn would rent the hardware to customers, thus creating a recurring revenue financial model. Meanwhile the Integration Center would refurbish their leased hardware. They followed our advice and the company was bought out near the end of 2020.
 
Their CEO told me without the support of our Integration Center, their company would have gone out of business. But as it is, they negotiated that every employee would keep their job after the acquisition.  
 
What is your 5-year plan for the Integration Center?
I consider the center to still be a proof of concept, but we have identified some clear paths to new revenue streams that have yet to be fully explored. Within the next five years, I want to see the Integration Center filled to capacity. I want us to book so much business that it’s a problem. To the point that we need to build a new site.
 
Our global footprint for integration isn’t as big as it could be. Many of our competitors have multiple sites in different locations around the world. The advantages of that include local sourcing, local returns, easier tax management, etc. For smaller customers, this isn’t as important, but for the big accounts, these factors need to be addressed moving forward.
 
We want to expand our footprint—whether with more brick-and-mortar centers or contracted manufacturing—to the other regions of commerce (LATAM, APAC, EMEA), so that we can start to take on those much bigger accounts and grow our integration efforts into a truly global business.

 

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