January 30, 2013

Global Converge Leaders in EMEA: Meet Bobby Ireland

In this blog, we continue our ongoing series introducing you to the key Converge global business leaders.

Meet Bobby Ireland, Director of Global Business Trade Operations

Q: Tell us a little about your responsibilities at Converge and how long you have worked here.

A: I have been with Converge for about ten years. I am responsible for the overall coordination of global strategic accounts, business operational reporting, programs and processes as well as a number of corporate and regional support areas such as Global Account Management. As a former EMS guy I am able to bring a lot of structure into what I do for Converge, ensuring we can track, report and take advantage of key impact areas.

Q: What region do you primarily serve?

A: I am based in the United Kingdom, so my main role is within EMEA, but I am also responsible for a majority of corporate and global activities with global accounts and my colleagues in Peabody, Massachusetts.

Q: Tell us a little more about your background and what career path led you to Converge.

A: After graduating from the University of Abertay in Dundee, I immediately went to work for Solectron, which at the time was the world’s largest EMS. They just happened to have a huge site in my home town of Dunfermline, Scotland. During the six years I worked at Solectron, I did some work with Converge for the materials group. A few months later I joined the organization.

Q: What services does Converge offer in your region?

A: Since Converge is a global company, we have all of the same service offerings in EMEA as we do in the Americas and APAC. So anywhere the customer is located, we can provide shortage, excess, and obsolete inventory solutions, all backed with an industry-leading quality assurance program.

Q: Do you focus more on any specific services or technologies?

A: My focus is in three main areas. First, I coordinate and help manage the corporate relationships for global strategic accounts in the region. My involvement depends upon the level of business and their footprint. For these customers, I support contract discussions, attend quarterly business reviews and manage and monitor performance and trends.

The second area of focus within the same strategic business is global responsibility for several accounts — I serve as the main contact to our parent company for their global business.

The third area is business operations reporting and tracking, which we use extensively in EMEA and globally to manage our overall business. This area includes metrics reporting, commodity focus, vertical tracking, regional trends and penetration, etc.

Q: How does the EMEA market differ (if at all) from the Americas?

A: I see Europe as much more of a melting pot, with many differing cultures, languages and areas that need to be considered.

Take, for example, the Israeli and German markets. Converge needs to have offices in these regions to fully serve these markets. And within these offices we need the right people with the right skill sets and relationships who have the ability to help us develop the market.

Europe also has very defined markets — the United Kingdom has a very small to medium-sized business centered mainly around high-margin verticals such as Medical, Military and Automotive.

Central Europe (now moving into Ukraine/Russia) is considered to be the lower-cost region, holding most of the medium to high volume in Europe.

Germany and the Nordic countries have a large base in Computers, Telecommunications and Embedded accounts. These points, factored with the cultural and language diversity, make the EMEA market challenging.

Q: Is there anything you would like to share or brag about that readers might not know?

A: I would like to reiterate Johan Dahl’s comments from his recent blog interview: Our quality assurance program is what differentiates us most from the competition. We have made, and plan to make, further investments into our integrated systems and quality-testing equipment. And our dedication to continual improvement won’t stop there, as we strive for higher levels of certifications to capture a larger base of high-reliability customers.

Our customers can see for themselves that, in comparison to the rest of the market, Converge can back up their quality standards, while others only talk about it.…..

Q: How can readers learn more about Converge services in EMEA?

A: We have a great footprint in EMEA, with plans to expand further. Our goal is to service the primary markets in EMEA, with Converge regional offices or personnel close to the physical locations of our customers.

I would encourage any customers to discuss any aspect of the market with us, to gain a better understanding of what we can do to support them.

The “broker” market is not what it once was — we are now a long-standing independent distributor and strategic partner to our customers.

Q: Anything else you would like to share? Tell us about your family, favorite hobbies, etc.

A: I am married. I met my wife, Jennifer, during my time at Solectron and we have our young son, who keeps us more than busy. The less said about my local and national football teams the better, although my colleagues in Peabody, Massachusetts, might just convert me to be a New England Patriots and Boston Bruins fan if things keep going as they are.

Thanks, Bobby!

If you would like to talk to Bobby about how Converge can help your company (or would like to discuss hockey and football), you can contact him at bobby.ireland@converge.com.

January 16, 2013

2012 Customer Satisfaction Survey Results Reflect Positive Feedback

A few months ago, Converge conducted its annual Customer Satisfaction Survey, which many of you, our customers, received. For those who participated, we would like to thank you for taking the time to provide us with valuable feedback. Your comments and suggestions allow us not only to measure our processes but also to improve on our performance and services as an independent distributor.

It’s no secret that the majority of our customers rely primarily on franchise/authorized distributors for their supply chain needs, but like everything else, the market has its ups and downs — and that’s when Converge steps in with our market intelligence and global logistics. As an established independent distributor, we are able to source electronic components from reputable vendors around the globe as well help you recover value from your inventory in times of excess.

No wonder our customers ranked “ability to locate product” as the number one motivating reason to partner with Converge. And why a majority of our customers said they would continue to partner with us for their component shortages needs first and surplus inventory second.

In addition, our customers indicated they were satisfied with Converge’s overall performance, our knowledge of product(s), and their sales experience with us. But most importantly, they were pleased with the level of quality we provide making our quality inspection process still the most important factor when choosing to partner with Converge.

So we asked our customers more specifically about our quality inspection process, and once again the feedback was very positive: The quality of product, whether customer requirements were met, accuracy of orders, and communication/reporting were overwhelmingly better than or as expected.

Even though Converge continues to receive praise for our market expertise, sales process, and quality management programs, we are still of a firm belief that there is always room for improvement.

And as pleased as we are with the results from the survey, we will always be committed to the continual improvement of our processes and services year after year. No distributor is perfect, but that being said…we will be looking into areas where we can not only excel, but also offer our customers additional value-added benefits.

For more information on the Converge’s suite of services, visit our website.

January 3, 2013

Converge Implements 5S to Optimize Quality and Efficiency

If you’ve read the Converge blog before or have ever been to our website, then you probably already know that quality is a big deal to us. In fact, it is one of the key tenets of who we are as an organization. We help electronics manufacturers and service providers solve shortage and excess inventory problems, AND we do it with a component quality assurance process that is second to none. Every order we buy or sell must come to a Converge facility for a thorough quality inspection and, if needed, advanced in-house testing services such as X-ray and decapsulation. So it is extremely important to us that our warehouses – where all receiving, inspection, testing, and shipping activities occur – operate as safely and efficiently as possible. 

That is why we are excited to tell you that Converge adopted the “5S” workplace organization method earlier this year. The 5S method, closely tied to Lean Six Sigma and popularized by the Japanese automotive industry, enables a company not only to optimize a workspace for efficiency but also to put a culture into place that sustains these improvements. The name stems from the fact that the five primary phases all start with “S”: sort, straighten, shine, standardize, sustain. Starting in June 2012, our warehouse teams began to seriously evaluate their work spaces and list opportunities for improvement in each of these areas. We asked ourselves questions like “Where should tools be stored in order to make sure they are in the right place at the right time?” and “How can we arrange the equipment in this workspace to reduce the number of steps needed to accomplish a task?” Did we feel we had strong processes in place before? Yes. But that didn’t mean there wasn’t room to make them even stronger. 

Six months later, we are proud of what we have accomplished so far. If you were to walk through our warehouses, you would see our 5S scorecards posted in each work area. Scoring of the identified action items is done on a weekly basis by our internal audit team. Each week, these auditors identify new opportunities for improvement, which are discussed and delegated at team meetings. We have found that even little tweaks and changes are translating into significant efficiency improvements in hours and throughput. In addition, the 5S method has created a culture in which our employees are always looking for ways to improve rather than slipping into complacency. With improved efficiency and a heightened culture of awareness, we feel more confident than ever that we can provide Converge customers with a counterfeit detection program that provides them not only with the parts they need but also with peace of mind. 

If you would like to see our 5S process in action, we would be happy to give you a tour of one of our facilities – and show you our testing and inspection process while we’re at it. Just drop us a line to start the conversation.