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A rare day at Tech Data as one CEO hands leadership of the company to the next

Tech Data's incoming CEO Rich Hume (left) shares a moment with outgoing CEO Bob Dutkowsky during a send off celebration for Dutkowsky Wednesday afternoon at the company's headquarters in Clearwater. JIM DAMASKE   |   Times
Tech Data's incoming CEO Rich Hume (left) shares a moment with outgoing CEO Bob Dutkowsky during a send off celebration for Dutkowsky Wednesday afternoon at the company's headquarters in Clearwater. JIM DAMASKE | Times
Published Jun. 7, 2018

CLEARWATER — In 44 years, Tech Data has marked the transition from one CEO to the next just three times.

The first was in 1986, Steven Raymund became CEO of the small company that his father, Edward Raymund, had founded.

The second was in 2006, when Robert Dutkowsky succeeded Raymund.

And the third was Wednesday, when chief operating officer and former IBM executive Rich Hume, 58, succeeded Dutkowsky, 63.

LAST MONTH: Tech Data names Rich Hume to take over as CEO

Remarkable, Dutkowsky told several hundred employees at Tech Data's Clearwater headquarters, when you consider that the average tenure of a CEO at a publicly traded company is four years.

"That's a different company with a different culture," Dutkowsky said, one where people "embrace each other, put their arms around each other and ensure that they're going to be successful, day after day, week after week, quarter after quarter. ... This team is really well-positioned for a great run."

And it's not just any company. Tech Data is Florida's largest public company by revenue, with $36.8 billion in annual sales and is No. 83 on the Fortune 500 list of biggest companies.

LAST WEEK: Tech Data's first-quarter net sales jump 22 percent to $8.5 billion

So we asked the three members of the Tech Data CEO club (Edward Raymund died in 2008) their thoughts on this rare day for their company:

Bob Dutkowsky, on what's next in his new role as executive chairman of the board: "I'm going to be out of the day to day completely. A big part of what a CEO does is to be engaged in every big decision that's made in the company every day, and that's now Rich's job. My job now is to be there to advise Rich ... as well as to be available to be engaged in big projects. ... The role of the CEO is think strategically and deliver tactically. And so the tactics consume what you do every single day, and if you had more time to think strategically you could get more done. With areas like that I might be able to help Rich off-load some of that, but, again, he is now the leader of the company. ...

"Steve stayed on the board for 10 years after he left as CEO, so we kind of know how that CEO-chairman separation should work. And so we're going to be fine."

Rich Hume: "To be able to reach out to Bob will be the most extraordinarily helpful thing for me. When we look into the future and we look at large strategic projects that require the engagement and/or approval of the board, I would certainly like to get his advice ...

"The first thing on my to-do list is to make sure that I'm touching (base with) all of our employees, to make sure I reaffirm the future and what we'll be working and focusing on. Second is to continue to engage with customers and vendors to make sure I hear what they have to say. And then most importantly to get the entire organization aligned on our strategic direction. The strategy is fortunately very clear now to the organization, and we all now have to work on deploying it."

Steve Raymund, on what it's like watching the succession: "If you have confidence in the leadership and the process, then it's a great feeling, and I do. It really is a great feeling. The company is infinitely better today, better run than back in my day in terms of its people, processes, systems, position in the market. Bob has really taken the company to new highs. And I'm really confident in the succession planning process. ... There's no doubt in anybody's mind that Rich Hume is absolutely the right guy to be next leader at Tech Data. ...

"In the world of technology, what worked yesterday is not necessarily the formula that will work today. So they're going to have to come up with maybe new business models, new strategies, new programs and perhaps new people to carry them into the industry as it evolves going forward. It's completely different today than back in my day. I wouldn't have a clue about running the business today. So, yeah, they've got a lot of work to do."

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