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Avnet on May 23 appointed Rick Hamada, president of Avnet Technology Solutions, the distributor’s premier unit, as chief operating officer, handing him tactical control and freeing CEO Roy Vallee to focus on strategy.

Effective July 2, Hamada, a 23-year veteran of the Phoenix-based company, will assume day-to-day responsibility for the logistical operations of Avnet Technology Solutions and Avnet Electronics Marketing, a role Vallee has played in addition to his own since he was appointed CEO in 1998. Vallee had been COO from 1992 to 1998.

Company officials said the move allows Vallee to concentrate on Avnet’s strategic initiatives, including business development and acquisitions.

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Under Hamada’s four-year command, Avnet Technology Solutions—Avnet Computer Marketing before 2003—grew to $5 billion in annual sales and began to position itself as a value-added distributor, packaging integration and assembly of hardware, software and services for resellers.

The company is focused, Hamada said, on three trends it hopes to capitalize on in coming quarters: providing end-to-end solutions, a move to industry standards, and globalization. The company expects to balance a deficit between content and revenue derived from North America versus the rest of the world, he said. Currently more than 70 percent of Avnet’s content and revenue originate in North America.

Hamada, who began his career at Avnet as a technical specialist and worked for many years in field sales, said his time in front of customers would continue to guide his decisions.

“What it really comes down to is hundreds of thousands of moments of truth and what I can do to help partners,” Hamada told The Channel Insider. “Those early days out in front of customers, knowing I am making commitments on behalf of a very big machine; knowing if I don’t come through on those commitments, I lose credibility and I lose market share. You never forget those key lessons learned on the front lines, no matter what level I eventually get to.”

Editor’s Note: This story was updated to include comments from new Avnet COO Rick Hamada.