Tech Data picks up momentum

Published Dec. 20, 1995|Updated Oct. 5, 2005

If it grows any faster, its employees should be issued Rollerblades.

Computer components distributor Tech Data Corp. is on an expansion roll. And despite a few serious bumps from an internal systems glitch early this year, the Clearwater-based company shows few signs of slowing down.

"It's been a very strategic year, a very important year," said Jeffery Howells, Tech Data's chief financial officer.

Tuesday marked the one-year anniversary of the company's troubled conversion to a new internal computer system _ one that backfired on Tech Data for months, hurting earnings and client relationships, before the company was able to rebound.

Now a wiser but still bullish Tech Data is back. Analysts at Morgan Stanley and Bear, Stearns are among the recent handful of Wall Street cheerleaders of Tech Data, bumping their respective recommendations up to "outperform" and "attractive" this month. On Tuesday, the company's stock closed unchanged at $16.

Locally, the company is generating higher revenues, adding more jobs and building new office space faster than any other Tampa Bay area corporation.

After creating 800 new jobs in Clearwater in the last two years, the company has plans next year to hire at least another 250 local employees. That would bring its Clearwater employee base to about 2,200 and companywide to more than 2,700.

"I can't think of a single department where we can't add another person," Howells said.

Having just opened a three-story building (its fourth) on its headquarters campus, the company is planning a mid-1996 start on another facility. Tech Data has acquired 5.75 acres of adjacent land as one possible site, but is considering other locations.

Over the next few years, Tech Data plans to develop in the area an entire "second campus" of corporate buildings totaling up to 250,000 square feet to handle additional area employees.

Howells said Tech Data already is "accumulating more acreage" in anticipation of its need for more space. Elsewhere, Tech Data recently more than doubled the size of its sales and distribution center in Miami to support the company's push into the Latin American market.

And as part of a growing emphasis on teaching its wholesale customers more about computer systems, it has increased from 10 to 21 the number of classrooms it operates in training centers in 11 cities.

Wrapping up its fiscal year in six weeks, Tech Data expects to generate at least $3-billion in annual revenues. That's up from $2.4-billion last year, $1.5-billion in 1993 and $979-million in 1992.

In the last few years, Tech Data's sales have blazed by those of such area giants as Home Shopping Network, TECO Energy Inc. and Florida Progress Corp. to become Tampa Bay's second-largest public company.

And analysts expect Tech Data in another year to grow its revenues to $4-billion. By mid-1997, Tech Data may begin pressing Clearwater's Eckerd Corp. as Tampa Bay's No. 1 corporate giant.