Despite the severe economic downturn, Avnet has been able to maintain employment at its Chandler logistics center by consolidating other operations there, said Jim Smith, president of Avnet Logistics.
Speaking at a meeting of the Chandler Chamber of Commerce on Thursday morning, Smith said Avnet, an electronics distribution company, has moved portions of other companies it has acquired in California and Texas to the Chandler center, 60 S. McKemy Ave.
Although employment has slipped at the Chandler operations, which also includes a computer global solutions center at 6700 W. Morelos Place, it has not fallen as far as it would have otherwise in the weak economy, he said.
"Employment at both of our centers here has dropped during the downturn, but we see it stabilizing," Smith said. "While we're not truly hiring, we are replacing (employees who leave). There was a time when we stopped replacing, but the business is stabilizing."
He said the fact that the company is closing other operations and consolidating them in the East Valley is "a tribute to Chandler."
Avnet currently employs nearly 500 people at the logistics center and nearly 300 at the computer center, he said.
While employment is down about 10 percent from its peak in Chandler, the company anticipates adding those positions back in the next three to nine months as more operations are moved from other locations, said Avnet spokeswoman Michelle Gorel.
The logistics center, which is devoted to assembly, warehousing and distribution of electronic components, opened 21 years ago. The computer center, which builds and ships customized computer systems, opened in July 2008.
Smith said Avnet has the capacity to handle nearly twice its current business at the Chandler logistics center if market conditions warrant.
Among operations that have been moved to Chandler are warehouses, value-added centers and shipping centers in Livermore, Fremont and Milpitas, Calif., and Grapevine, Texas, he said.
"If you ever wondered why California is going broke, we're one of (the reasons)," Smith said.
The company is moving operations to Chandler because of scale and technology advantages, education level of employees and lower costs, he said.
But Smith doesn't see much future expansion based on business conditions. In that regard he said he's not optimistic, although Smith emphasized that his stance was only a personal opinion, not an official position of the company.
While computer sales have stabilized, he said markets for electronics components are "challenged."
The most robust sectors are aerospace/defense, medical and security equipment, he said.
Automotive, consumer electronics, industrial equipment and telecommunications remain in the doldrums.
Semiconductor sales range from bad to good, depending on the sector, he said.