leadership

Leadership

Robert Ackerley

Co-Founder & Director

Bob Ackerley has been a devotee of the unconventional and grassroots ever since he and his brother Lee founded Smith in 1984.

Smith began at a dining room table with two phone lines (and barely any other furniture in the house), as the Ackerley brothers and their wives braved reaching out to some of the biggest names in the young electronics industry. This startup took root fast due to the Ackerleys’ deep tech knowledge and market intuition (and a few bold and crazy decisions). Now Smith is a global company with 500 employees, 16 offices, and a consistent top ranking among distributors.

Before founding Smith, Bob earned his B.S. in chemical engineering from MIT and worked as an engineer with Texas Eastern Corporation from 1980-84. But he knew he was made for something more than a conventional career path – and he chased that vision.

“The world’s full of too much possibility to follow the expected path,” he said. “No matter how small you start, if you plant something innovative and help it grow, the results will be worth the hard work.”

He applies that philosophy to supporting future generations as Vice Chairman of the Board of Trustees at Graceland University and a supporter of the Sustainability Initiative at MIT’s Sloan School of Management. Bob is also the owner of Rio Grande Organics, the largest organic pecan farm in the United States.

His passion for sustainability, technology, and developing homegrown IT solutions keeps Smith and his other enterprises always fresh. Always growing.

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Leland Ackerley

Co-Founder & Director

It’s all about keeping people happy.

In 1984, Lee was working in sales for a New York electronics distributor after attending Princeton University. His skill at sales fit right in there, but he soon realized he could make better use of his knowledge of the fledgling distribution industry. So he and his brother made a leap, quitting their jobs to start making calls out of Bob’s small Houston home. They connected with the biggest manufacturers in tech, buying and selling parts and building relationships that would last decades.

Smith is now a global family of 500, with 16 offices working closely together, even separated by time zones and oceans. And Lee hasn’t stopped reaching out to new partners, markets, and locales; there are plans for further expansion into South America and the Middle East.

“Relationships are what make the difference in an industry like this one,” said Lee. “Everything is constantly changing – except for our business relationships and our integrity.”

“We have three constituencies in business: our customers, our vendors, and our employees,” Lee continued. “If we are keeping all of them happy with Smith, then we are probably going to do pretty well.”

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Marc Barnhill

Chief Trading Officer

It’s no surprise that Marc, who leads the company’s sales, business development, and marketing efforts worldwide, has been dubbed the “guidance counselor” of Smith.

“I think of my function here as a resource allocator – to give the maximum support and tools to every sales or purchasing manager, and, in turn, to every trader so they can achieve their highest potential here,” Marc said.

Marc joined Smith as a buyer in 1990 and has since held a number of management roles, including establishing the distributor sales division in 1992 and managing the company’s top sales team. He was promoted to Vice President of Trading in 1996 and to his current role in 2007. Prior to joining Smith, Marc was a manager at Grace Equipment Company.

He received his BA from Francis Marion University in South Carolina.
“After being here more than half of my life, and looking back on all that we have accomplished, I am still so enthusiastic about Smith’s future,” Marc said. “The next 10 years are going to be the best 10 years.”

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Kirk Wehby

Chief Operating Officer

“I’m inspired by results; I like to see things get done,” Kirk said of his role leading Smith’s global operations, quality, logistics, security, and facilities.

“We support our customers with excellent quality and reliability,” Kirk said.

“That has been our focus and continues to be our focus, be it by obtaining the highest certifications or by improving processes.”

Prior to his role as Smith’s COO, Kirk served as CEO of solar-tech provider and consultant ONTILITY since 2012, and, previously, as Vice President of Global Operations for Smith (2008-2012) and Director of Operations and Supply Chain for Cardone Industries (1997-2008), where he managed startup and integration of manufacturing operations in Belgium and Mexico.

Kirk received a BS from Oral Roberts University and his MBA from Westchester University of Pennsylvania.

When he’s not leading Smith’s operations, Kirk says he’s “usually in some sort of, or at some sort of, sporting event with one of my kids. I enjoy it.”

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Matt Hartzell

Chief Administrative Officer

Matt Hartzell heads up the company’s administrative functions worldwide, overseeing Smith’s legal, accounting, human resources, and IT departments.

Currently, he’s working with our accounting, human resources, and IT departments on developing programs and software that allow our talented traders and operations employees to get requested parts and components in our customers’ hands quicker and more efficiently.

It’s with two tried-and-true strengths that he gets the job done. “I think the skills of listening and patience are underrated, and I try to bring those because that’s how problems get solved,” Matt said.

Matt joined Smith as General Counsel in 1998 and served as COO from 2008 to 2014. Before joining Smith, Matt was a shareholder with Hirsch and Westheimer, P.C. He received his BA from St. John’s College in Annapolis, Maryland, and his JD from the University of Houston Law Center. Matt is also on the board of directors of Allegiance Bancshares, Inc. in Houston.

When he’s not at Smith, Matt pushes himself on the open road.

“There’s a point during any bike ride where you’ve expended yourself and you’re continuing on,” Matt said. “It’s an inner challenge to go past where you think you can go.”

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Mark Bollinger

Chief Globalization Officer

Dynamic. Engaging. Rewarding. That’s how Mark Bollinger describes his role of overseeing the administration of Smith’s international offices.

“I’m inspired by persistence – pushing through challenges, perfecting an approach, always making the next phone call,” said Mark, who is currently spearheading development of a global training platform that will benefit all departments at Smith.

Before taking on this role, Mark served as Smith’s Vice President of Marketing and, previously, helped build Smith’s business development team.

Prior to joining Smith, Mark was with the Federal Communications Commission (1993-2000), where he managed the wireless telecommunications spectrum auction program. He received his BA from William Jewell College and his JD from the University of Missouri – Kansas City School of Law.

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Todd Burke

President, Americas

Todd Burke’s business mantra boils down to one word: trust.

“I develop Smith’s relationships through trust,” he explained. “With the confidence our customers have in us, we can be problem solvers that help them achieve their goals.”

Currently, Todd supports Smith’s five Americas-based trading offices in developing their focus on growing relationships and supply chain strategies with Smith’s key accounts in the region, while working closely with his EMEA and APAC counterparts.

Prior to his role of President, Americas, Todd served as Smith’s Vice President of Business Development and was instrumental in engaging executives and growing business with Smith’s strategic accounts. Todd has held a variety of sales and management roles during his 23-year career with Smith.

Todd received his Bachelor of Science in industrial distribution from Texas A&M and his MBA in marketing from Christian Brothers University.

When he’s not in the office, Todd is all about being with his family – whether it’s on the beach, at church, or on the sidelines coaching his sons’ youth baseball and basketball teams.

“There are so many things kids learn through sports that help them grow into successful adults,” Todd said. “Attitude and effort, being accountable, being a good teammate, and persevering through adversity, just a name a few.”

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Choon Byun

President – APAC

Becoming the industry leader in Asia – that’s Choon’s top priority as the president of our Asia-Pacific offices.

His method? To both lead and support, and, at the crux of it, to motivate. “You have to have a clear idea of what you want to accomplish and have unwavering focus to get there,” he said.

Choon Byun’s path to his current role is one that has taken him around the globe. Choon joined Smith in Houston as a purchasing agent in 1997, and then moved to sales before transferring to Hong Kong in 1998.

In 2000, he relocated to Seoul, Korea, where he opened a new office and served as Managing Director. Choon opened Smith’s Shanghai office in 2004 and was appointed Vice President, Northeast Asia in 2005. He was named President, Asia-Pacific in 2012.

Choon graduated from the University of Colorado, Boulder with a BA in economics and psychology.

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Margo Evans

Vice President of Marketing

Margo lives by the Golden Rule in her role overseeing communication and branding efforts for Smith’s domestic and international offices: “I try to be professional, responsive, and empathetic, and I’m never afraid to jump in and help – no matter what the task at hand might be.”

And it is with this mindset that Margo is currently leading the redesign and expansion of our SmithWeb site.

Margo was appointed to this position, which she describes as “creative and interactive,” in 2016, eight years after first signing on with Smith as the Marketing Manager. She was promoted from that role to Marketing Director in 2013. Prior to joining Smith, Margo worked as Marketing Administrator at Dresser, Inc.

She holds a BA in advertising from The University of Texas at Austin and her master’s in business administration from Sam Houston State University. Margo is a member of the American Marketing Association and the Business Marketing Association.

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Art Figueroa

Vice President Operations and Quality, NA & EU

Challenging. Methodical. Fulfilling. That’s how Art describes his role of managing Smith’s global distribution logistics, reverse logistics, anti-counterfeiting efforts, and corporate sustainability.

Currently, Art is focused on process improvement as it pertains to running our state-of-the-art operations hubs even more efficiently.

But it’s all in a day’s work for Art.

“Ultimately, at the end of the day, my goal is to walk out the door and be able to say ‘I gave it all I had, my team gave it all they had, and we gave it all for Smith,’” Art said.

Previously, he served as Director of Security and Facilities, overseeing the development of Smith’s quality management systems. Before joining Smith in 2004, Art was in management at Securitas, a security services provider, and at Questia. He received his BA in political science from the University of Houston in 1994 and is a member of TAPA AMERICAS.

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Renato Souza

Vice President, Latin America

Growth, guidance, and a keen focus on the future are the key elements that inspire and drive Renato in his role as Smith’s Vice President, Latin America.

Renato is working to continually expand our Latin American presence. His current top priority is driving collaboration and teamwork between this region and all of Smith’s other global locations to achieve the ultimate level of customer support and service around the world.

“We want Smith to become the trusted strategic partner to every OEM and CEM customer in all major electronics clusters in Latin America,” Renato said.

Born in São Paulo, Brazil, Renato is fluent in Portuguese, English, and Spanish. He received his bachelor’s degree in business administration from the University of Colorado, Boulder, and his MBA from the University of South Carolina.

Outside of the office, Renato enjoys going to the beach and going skiing with his wife and two children.

“Two things inspire me the most: knowing that my family is happy and that they are proud of my career and achievements,” Renato said, “and that our employees are happy and can provide a better future for their loved ones.”

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Jennifer Kabbara

Trader Development Manager

Enthusiasm for the task at hand – that’s what Jennifer says inspires her. “It is always okay to look like you are trying hard and putting in effort,” she said.

As Trader Development Manager, Jennifer puts 25 years of experience and inspiration into action. Her goal is to give Smith a competitive advantage by continuing to look for ways to maximize Smith’s offering.

“One of the simplest ways to do that is by ensuring that Smith has the most diverse trading force in the industry,” Jennifer said.

Beyond that, she is focused on making sure that Smith’s traders continue to lead the industry with critical market information and are out in front of new engagement tools that customers want to use.

Jennifer has been with Smith since 1994, immediately after her graduation from Texas A&M University. She started as an international sales rep before being promoted first to Training Manager and then to Trading Floor Manager a few years later. She was named the Director of Trading Operations in 2004 before stepping into her current role in 2007.

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Ken Neusaenger

Director of Sales Development

Driving Smith’s ecommerce presence forward and building franchise relationships are currently Ken’s biggest projects as Director of Sales Development.

And those are just the latest undertakings in a decades-long proven track record with Smith.

Ken has worn many hats since he joined the company in 1994, directly after graduating with his BBA in management from Texas A&M University.

“Even though we’ve grown to be a very large company, the entrepreneurial spirit is still as strong today at Smith as it was when we first opened our doors.” Ken said. “Your hard work directly affects your success here.”

He says his role at Smith boils down to three words: work, attitude, and results – a philosophy he also takes with him to his Texas ranch when he’s not in the office.

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Thuy Tran

General Counsel

An asset to Smith’s legal department since 2000, Thuy Tran serves as the company’s General Counsel, ensuring that all departments are fully efficient and compliant.

“I help to move Smith forward, and give insight into potential risks and opportunities,” Thuy said. “No one day is the same as the others.”

She started at Smith as Associate General Counsel before being promoted to her current role in 2008. Prior to joining Smith, she was an associate at McLeod, Alexander, Powel & Apffel, P.C. in Galveston, Texas.

Thuy received her BA from the University of Houston and her JD from South Texas College of Law.

In a challenging position that requires constantly mastering new areas of law, Thuy says she derives inspiration from her Smith coworkers: “Their constant drive to be better pushes me to be better.”

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Sean Trinh

Vice President of Finance / Treasurer

As a fixture at Smith for more than 25 years, Sean Trinh helps Smith’s global expansion reach new countries and manages special projects for the executive team.

“There are always new opportunities and fresh ideas to work with,” Sean said.
He joined Smith in 1989 as Controller and served as Vice President of Information Technology from 2000 to 2007. Sean received his BS in accounting from McGill University, with a minor in management information systems, and earned an MBA in finance from Concordia University.

When he’s not facilitating Smith’s global reach, Sean likes to travel, enjoy French and Japanese cuisine, and spend time with family.

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Phyllis Tsu

Chief Information Officer

“The new technologies coming out every day really inspire me,” Phyllis said. “The team here at Smith never stops learning and evolving.”

It’s with that mindset that Phyllis is currently working with her team on further leveraging new technologies to improve Smith’s sales strength. She is also working to improve our sourcing capabilities and sales opportunities through our trading platform and many other systems.

“The only way to keep competitive is to learn and change,” Phyllis said. “The semiconductor distribution market is volatile – we need to use our systems and tools to process huge amount of information, identify opportunities fast, and help our business team make decisions that contribute to our top and bottom lines.”

Phyllis also oversees Smith’s proprietary trading system, ERP and related applications, IT infrastructure, IT information security, and customized IT solutions for internal and external use.

She joined Smith in 1999 and was appointed CIO in 2010. Prior to joining Smith, Phyllis gained extensive system management and development experience across multiple industries with both U.S.- and China-based companies. She earned her bachelor’s degree in computer science from Nanjing University of Posts and Telecommunications in Nanjing, China.

When she’s not streamlining Smith’s technological systems, Phyllis tackles a different challenge: yoga and Pilates.

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Cleat Kimbrough

Vice President, EMEA

Clean Kimbrough takes the long view and then hones in on the details when expanding Smith’s European footprint.

“I try to see the bigger picture and where we need to be in three to five years,” he said. “Then I take it one day at a time.”

It’s with this approach that he’s tackling his latest goal: positioning our European sales team as leaders in the commodities market – a process that builds on success after success.

“Building things inspires me,” he said. “I like to see the process from start to finish, whether it is a small home project or putting together a process at work.”

When he’s not helping to build up Smith’s European presence, Cleat enjoys taking in the sights while jogging through the small, scenic village near his home and watching baseball.

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Mike Weaber

Interim Chief Financial Officer

Mike Weaber is the interim Chief Financial Officer at Smith, offering nearly forty years of fiscal expertise.

When it comes to helping Smith achieve its goals, Mike has a winning mindset that has served him well over the years: “I always focus solutions on what is best for the founders and the company.”

Before joining Smith in 2011, Mike had a distinguished career with the Bayer Group, where he held a variety of international and domestic finance positions, from Finance Manager in Germany in 1979 to Senior Vice President of Finance, Controlling and Administration in 2004. He holds his Bachelor of Arts from Kenyon College and an Executive MBA from Carnegie Mellon University.

In his free time, you can find Mike on the golf course and helping his wife with her career as an artist, wiring and hanging her paintings.

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Layla Wright

Vice President of Global Purchasing

Layla finds inspiration in contributing to growth and development – be it of a person, a department, or an organization.

“I like cultivating an environment – in an organization and with people individually – where everyone is always on the lookout for change, but never afraid to adapt to it,” Layla said. “If you can develop to the point of being always prepared but never fearful, a lot of good comes from that.”

That quality of facilitating growth is never more apparent than here at Smith, where she leads our global procurement efforts, builds strategies to expand our world-class supply base to proactively offer customers more diverse options, and oversees both short- and long-term vendor management to develop more agile sourcing capabilities and responses.

Prior to joining Smith, the Texas A&M attendee worked in materials purchasing and inventory management in the oil and gas sector.

Outside of Smith, Layla enjoys reading and traveling – and anything to do with water.

“I love the Zen aspect of water, particularly the ocean,” said Layla. “You look out, and it’s seemingly endless; sensory overload and deprivation all at once.”

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Todd Snow

Vice President, Global Purchasing

For over 20 years, Todd has found inspiration in the quote, “Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.”

“I’m a big believer that you can create your own destiny by being ready for any challenges that are presented to you,” said Todd.

Co-leading Smith’s global purchasing activities, Todd is currently focusing on supplier development, Smith’s global PPV program, and franchise expansion.

“Smith’s Purchasing team has performed well over the past several years as shortage conditions existed in the industry,” Todd said. “As the market becomes more balanced, our global purchasing efforts will mirror those of our sales force so that we can continue to win customers.”

Prior to joining Smith in 2016, Todd spent nearly 20 years in franchise distribution, where he held management roles in sales, sourcing, and product marketing.

Todd lives in Montreal, Quebec with his wife and their two sons. He is a true sports fan who loves hockey, professional football, and golf.

“I’m a lousy golfer, and I swing like a lumberjack,” Todd said. “But I’m always a good playing partner to have along for some comedic relief.”

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Kent Pang

Vice President of Asia

For Kent, working hard and working smart are just as important as working together.

“I always want to set good targets for my team,” Kent said. “I share all pertinent information with them, cooperate with different offices, and watch for all potential issues that could arise so we can stay ahead of the curve.”

His current goal is to increase the number of traders who rank among the best in the company globally.

“Helping others to grow their business inspires me the most,” Kent said.

Kent grew up in Hong Kong and graduated from the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology with a degree in marketing. His first job after graduation was with Smith.

In his free time, Kent plays soccer and goes fishing.

“Sailing out and enjoying the sea breeze is very calming,” Kent said.

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Minji Hong

Vice President of Asia

Minji is not afraid of a challenge. In fact, she welcomes it.

“I’m happy to work on solving any problem and making it better,” Minji said. “Any kind of difficulty can be the next challenge we overcome.”

Currently, she is spearheading an effort to increase the productivity of our newest offices and working to help propel our top traders in these offices to be some of the best in the business.

It takes a lot of focus, attention to detail, and persistence, she says, but she finds inspiration to think outside the box all around her.

“When I see a coworker achieve something that I thought was impossible or hard to do, it encourages me to try a new way of doing things without fear,” she said.

Minji grew up in Kwangju, in the southern part of South Korea, and moved to Seoul for college. She joined Smith as a sales representative shortly after graduating with a degree in history. In her free time, Minji enjoys traveling with family.

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Mike Weaber

Interim Chief Financial Officer

Mike Weaber is the interim Chief Financial Officer at Smith, offering nearly forty years of fiscal expertise.

When it comes to helping Smith achieve its goals, Mike has a winning mindset that has served him well over the years: “I always focus solutions on what is best for the founders and the company.”

Before joining Smith in 2011, Mike had a distinguished career with the Bayer Group, where he held a variety of international and domestic finance positions, from Finance Manager in Germany in 1979 to Senior Vice President of Finance, Controlling and Administration in 2004. He holds his Bachelor of Arts from Kenyon College and an Executive MBA from Carnegie Mellon University.

In his free time, you can find Mike on the golf course and helping his wife with her career as an artist, wiring and hanging her paintings.

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Mike Pursley

Vice President, Global Purchasing

Nonstop and always on – that’s how Mike Pursley describes Smith’s global procurement division.

“For the past eight years, I led the PPV program for Smith worldwide, and I expect to see the same success from our global procurement team’s focused efforts,” Mike said.

Mike recognizes that a strong team is key to both the division’s overarching goals and its immediate initiatives, which include targeting cost savings and bottom line profitability with key vendors and partners.

“You’re only as good as your people,” Mike said. “You must surround yourself with the best. As such, our goal is to build the most efficient global procurement team in the industry.”

Mike earned his bachelor’s degree in business administration and marketing in 1992 from Texas A&M University, a school he still holds dear. Outside of the office, Mike and his family can be found cheering on the Aggies football team year after year.

His love of sports doesn’t end there. Mike is also an avid golfer and enjoys watching his three sons play football and baseball.

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