After 35 years, almost $25 billion in annual sales: Happy anniversary, Tech Data Corp.
Wake up and good morning. Can you believe today is the 35th anniversary of Clearwater's Tech Data Corp.? The computer parts wholesale distributor has blossomed in what seems like a short period of time into a colossus within Florida approaching $25-billion annual revenues, ranking it among the largest of businesses -- public or private -- headquartered in the state.
For all its industry clout, Tech Data remains a low-profile corporation in the Tampa Bay area, where its HQ resides just off Roosevelt Boulevard north of St. Pete-Clearwater Airport. For those who have watched Tech Data over the recent years, we've seen the transition of longtime CEO Steve Raymund (upper left) to current latest chief executive Bob Dutkowsky (right). But we've also seen a remarkable transformation of a company from a "pick, pack and ship" operation into an "integrated supply chain specialist" model where technology manufacturer and resellers rely on Tech Data as a strategic go-to-market partner. That was brought into focus again when I visited Tech Data a few weeks ago just as it was preparing for the opening day sales of Microsoft's Windows 7 operating system software.
With the help of Jarred LeFebvre at Tech Data, we thought it would be fun to take a quick peek at some highlights from Tech Data history through some photos snapped at the company (and shared with us) along the way. Few companies here have come so far, so fast. Kudos, Tech Data!
Tech Data Corporation was founded in 1974 by Edward C. Raymund, father of the company's chairman and former CEO Steve Raymund. As the history of the company states, Tech Data's original charter was to market data processing supplies directly to end users of mini (remember them?) and mainframe computers. In 1983, the company expanded its target markets and redirected efforts toward servicing microcomputer resellers as a wholesale distributor. Tech Data employed about a dozen people during its formative years and handled all customer orders from a small office/warehouse building in Clearwater, not far from the company's worldwide headquarters.
Here's an informal shot of Tech Data celebrating its reaching $1 billion in annual sales. That used to be a big number, though Tech Data usually rakes in more than $5 billion per quarter these days. If I am reading the banner correctly, this photo is from October 1993. To celebrate the $1 billion mark, Tech Data brought in the Busch Gardens Marching Band.
Here's a shot at one of Tech Data's early national sales meetings at which the company celebrates inking a deal to distribute Microsoft products. Remember, this was long ago in technology years, so no one at this sales event likely could have imagined what a juggernaut Microsoft would become over the decades -- even if the tech scene is changing so fast today.
Here's Tech Data's own release about its 35th anniversary.
Let's see what Tech Data's doing at its 50th anniversary. This is a company that's learned to evolve -- fast. We can hardly guess what changes are coming.
-- Robert Trigaux, Times Business Columnist