Chairman and chief executive officer, Tech Data Corporation
Born: November 16, 1955, in Van Nuys, California.
Education: University of Oregon, BS, 1978; Georgetown University School of Foreign Service, MBA, 1980.
Family: Son of Edward Raymund, the founder of Tech Data Corporation, and Annette Leah, a philanthropist and volunteer for Gulf Coast Jewish Family Services; married Sonia (maiden name unknown); children: two.
Career: Manufacturers Hanover Corporation, 1980–1981, employee; Tech Data Corporation, 1981–1984, operations manager; 1984–1986, COO; 1986–, CEO; 1991–, chairman and CEO.
Awards: Entrepreneur of the Year, Arthur Young Entrepreneurial Services, 1988; 25 Most Influential Executives in the PC Industry, Computer Reseller News, 1989–2004; Industry Hall of Fame, Computer Reseller News , 1999.
Address: Tech Data Corporation, 5350 Tech Data Drive, Clearwater, Florida 33760-3122; http://www.tech data.com.
■ In 2004 Steven A. Raymund was the chairman of the board of directors and chief executive officer of the Clearwater, Florida–based Tech Data Corporation, one of the industry's leading providers of information technology (IT) products, logistics management, and other value-added services. When Raymund's father, Edward, founded the business in 1974, it was called a "pick, pack, and ship" operation. Raymund developed that small company from a 10-employee, $2-million-insales business to a 7,900-employee, integrated supply-chain specialist worth over $15.7 billion and depended on by technology manufacturers and sellers worldwide for outsourcing materials. During his two-decades-plus association with Tech Data, Raymund developed and expanded the company's contributions to such essential industry services as technical support, education, and custom configuration while at the same time expanding into international markets across the globe.
Edward C. Raymund, Steven's father, founded Tech Data in 1974. Although its original purpose was to market data-processing supplies directly to end users of miniature and mainframe computers, the company expanded its markets in 1983, redirecting efforts toward serving microcomputer resellers as a wholesale distributor. Tech Data remained a small organization during its first decade of operations, employing about a dozen people who handled all customer orders from a small office and warehouse building in Clearwater, Florida. The elder Raymund credited his son Steven with expanding distribution well beyond its modest beginnings.
In 2004—thanks to the younger Raymund's drive, intelligence, and abilities—Tech Data was the world's second-largest distributor of computer-related products (behind Ingram Micro). Tech Data provided more than 75,000 different items to more than 100,000 resellers in about 70 countries in North America, the Caribbean, Latin America, Europe, and the Middle East. Its extensive catalog of products and services included computer components (such as keyboards, disk drives, and video cards), networking equipment (such as routers and bridges), peripherals (such as modems, printers, and monitors), software, pre and post-sale training, technical support, configuration and assembly services, e-commerce solutions, and financing options. The company distributed products from about one thousand manufacturers. Tech Data added to its international operations in early 2003 with the acquisition of the United Kingdom's Azlan Group; sales were then evenly divided between Europe and the United States.
Raymund was employed as a janitor at the Pasadena Elementary School in California while taking a year off between high school and college. He was able to finish his duties in half of the time needed and so was left with plenty of time to read and study. The janitorial job earned him enough money to travel to Europe and parts of the Middle East, which gave him an urge to do further international traveling. With regard to his professional life Raymund decided that picking up trash and cleaning up after children was not what he wanted to do; he decided to attend college to learn a better profession.
Raymund completed his undergraduate work at the University of Oregon in Eugene in 1978, earning a bachelor's degree in economics. He went on to earn a master's degree in international politics in 1980 from Georgetown University's School of Foreign Service in Washington, D.C. After graduation Raymund found a job with the Manufacturers Hanover Corporation in the financial district of New York City. After a short time Raymund realized he was one of about two thousand employees who had master's degrees in business administration within the company. He did not think he would be able to develop his full potential in such an environment. He quit the Wall Street job and returned home to Florida—unemployed and with no career plans.
Raymund's father had started Tech Data a few years earlier and offered him the chance to develop a new retail catalog for the company's rapidly growing telemarketing department. Believing that he would accomplish this task in a couple of months and then look for another job elsewhere, Raymund took the offer. During his first few months at the new job Raymund also assisted in other areas of the company that needed help. At that time, somewhat suddenly, several members of upper management left for promising jobs at a local competitor—taking with them the majority of the business and product lines developed at Tech Data. Seeing the company's business cut to one-fourth of its previous month's revenues, the younger Raymund made a bold move. He convinced his father to begin selling products within the fledgling personal computer (PC) market that IBM and Apple had recently introduced. He also made a commitment to stay on at Tech Data.
With 10 employees who were as committed to the struggling company as the owner and his son, the younger Raymund expanded the company with hands-on techniques. Those employees remembered Raymund as being "just your average guy" who was learning the business in the same fashion as they were doing. One of the important ingredients in Tech Data's early success was Raymund's ability to surround himself with smart people who could teach him the PC business. He was known as a good learner and teacher who was very curious about all sorts of things. Most importantly the employees did not construe his inquisitiveness as being intrusive. The comradeship formed during those early years continued into the 2000s.
Before orders were made electronically, Tech Data's sales associates placed completed order forms in baskets that would be periodically picked up by the distribution department. As an example of Raymund's curious nature he would go through the piles several times a day in order to recognize sale trends. This desire for knowledge helped Tech Data stay on top of the drastically changing computer industry as it grew during those infant years. Later, when the company was fully computerized, Raymund helped to pioneer the creation of "co-location"—that is, the procedure of shipping products to end users directly from a manufacturer's plant—a process that was eventually called integrated distribution.
When Raymund became Tech Data's operations manager, his father went around the country in search of distribution contracts with vendors and further business with small resellers. Both men saw that rival distributors were aiming at large resellers and members of the emerging retail market; thus, in small resellers they found an important and often overlooked niche early in the development of the industry. During this period the senior Raymund instilled a sense of partnership with Tech Data's suppliers, a sense that was not ordinarily present when companies did business with suppliers. This sense of partnership would remain an important aspect of the younger Raymund's dealings with suppliers.
The younger Raymund directed the company to expand its sales of computer supplies, such as computer monitors, printers, add-on cards, and other accessories new to the burgeoning PC market. He quickly realized that dealing with computer supplies garnered great profits for the company. Tech Data grossed $2.1 million in sales in 1982; that number tripled to $6.3 million in just two years. A huge jump in gross sales in 1985 of $21 million was nothing compared to the continued climb of $38 million in 1986—the year Raymund took Tech Data public on the NASDAQ stock market.
Raymund expertly molded successful operations at Tech Data by using a steady internal-growth model. After becoming convinced that the company had solid, consistent performance in the United States, Raymund ventured into the rest of the world.
Raymund expanded Tech Data operations into Canada in 1989 and founded an export division in Miami, Florida, in early 1993 to serve the computer market of South America. He entered the European market in 1994 through the acquisition of the Paris, France–based Softmart International, which was France's largest distributor of PC products. In 1997 Raymund opened a distribution center in São Paulo, Brazil—Tech Data's first center in South America. In 1998 Raymund acquired a majority interest in the Munich, Germany–based Computer 2000, Europe's foremost provider of IT products to resellers. The purchase gave Tech Data direction into the countries of the Middle East, through the company's office in the United Arab Emirates, and into the South American markets of Argentina, Chile, Peru, and Uruguay. In 1999 Raymund acquired Globelle Canada, doubling Tech Data's presence in the country and giving it an office in Israel through an existing subsidiary. That year Tech Data's revenue grew to $11.5 billion from the $7.1 billion of a year earlier. While much of this growth resulted from the German acquisition, U.S. sales also grew 17 percent in 1999.
While expanding Tech Data geographically through various acquisitions, Raymund also delved into new market segments. The company's original base was value-added resellers (VARs), corporate resellers, and franchisees. Raymund added to this base so that by 2004 Tech Data served more than 100,000 customers including application service providers, internet service providers, VARs, corporate resellers, systems integrators, system builders, government resellers, exporters, retailers, direct marketers, catalogers, and Web resellers. Raymund also developed many other specialized programs and business units to serve specialty niches.
Even Tech Data's competitors thought highly of Raymund, as reported by Computer Reseller News. Jerre Stead, the chairman of the Santa Ana, California–based Ingram Micro, said of archrival Raymund, "Steve is a very good leader, a strategic thinker, and he does a great job making sure Tech Data is focusing on infrastructure." Raymund was also known in the vendor community as a person who helped to shape the industry. Dave Boucher, the general manager of the Armonk, New York–based Advanced Fulfillment Initiative (which was part of IBM Corporation), remarked, "One of the guys who is a thinker and who brings an awful lot of intellect to the whole industry is Steve Raymund. He looks beyond day-today and he has a lot of vision. He's steered Tech Data into the success it has realized."
Raymund was described as a methodical executor in his business dealings with other companies. He was mild-mannered, reserved, and "cerebral"—a thinker who carefully selected the words he was about to say. Raymund was an excellent negotiator, as was his father, always looking for the "winwin" situation. A "laser-like" focus in all facets of his life and attention to detail were other well-known Raymund traits. Yet, he realized that facts and figures were not the only important concepts for a successful business. He also relied on intuition to play a critical role in building successful management teams.
Raymund was a member of the board of directors for Jabil Circuit, the electronics manufacturing-services provider, where he served as chairman of the audit committee. He was inducted into the Computer Reseller News's Hall of Fame in 1999, two years after his father was inducted. Raymund was named one of the 25 Most Influential Executives in the PC Industry, as compiled by Computer Reseller News , each year from 1989 through 2004. Raymund was inducted into the Tampa Bay, Florida, Business Hall of Fame in 2000.
Raymund served on the boards of directors of several local organizations, including the Advisory Board for the Partnership for a Drug Free America, a private, nonprofit, nonpartisan coalition, and the Temple Beth-El, a synagogue serving the reformed Jewish community of Florida's Suncoast. Raymund served as chairman of the executive committee of the Global Technology Distribution Council, an IT industry-advocacy organization. He was a member of the All Children's Hospital board of trustees in Saint Petersburg, Florida. During his off-hours, Raymund liked to fly-fish for snook off his dock in Tampa Bay or for bonefish in the Bahamas, and he enjoyed skiing in the mountains of Colorado.
See also entry on Tech Data Corporation in International Directory of Company Histories .
Campbell, Scott, "Steve Raymund," Computer Reseller News , http://www.crn.com/sections/special/hof/hof.asp?ArticleID=11162 .
—William Arthur Atkins