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Feature

Anixter Canada

Peter Levoy, vp of marketing


July 1, 2006  


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CNS: Can you give me a brief history of Anixter in Canada and where you stand now in terms of warehouse space, office locations and employees?

Levoy: The Anixter brothers purchased Turmac Industries in 1968. At the time, our head office was based in Lachine Que.

A milestone for us occurred in 1998 when we achieved $100 million in sales. Around the same time we relocated our head office to Mississauga in an effort to better compete in the Canadian market. Today, we have 17 Canadian locations, 600,00 square feet of warehouse space and about 560 employees.

Our core competencies continue to be our technical abilities in wire and cable, voice and data solutions, although we are always looking for future technology and market opportunities.

CNS: Do you see any marked differences in Canadian and U.S. buying habits when it comes to structured cabling purchases? If so, what are they?

Levoy: There are a few differences. Certainly, when it comes to the latest trends, the U.S. tends to adopt new technology much earlier than Canada. In some cases, it’s a couple of years.

As an example, if you take a technology like the 10GBASE-T. Organizations there are up and running as opposed to here where we are only just starting to hit our stride.

In terms of other differences, the U.S. is primarily a plenum market when it comes to cabling where in Canada we are more FT-4 than we are FT-6 in terms of volume.

CNS: Worldwide, Anixter distributes 325,000 products from over 4,000 suppliers. What technologies have you implemented in your warehouses to expedite the distribution process?

Levoy: We have a cutting-edge new warehouse management system that is RF-based. It allows us to go paperless and provides excellent tracking capabilities as well as accountability, which is key. If you can do away with the mountain of paper that drives every business that helps a great deal.

CNS: In announcing record first quarter sales of US$1.7 billion in April, Robert Grubbs, your president and CEO, said several factors contributed to the growth including the data centre market. Moving forward, what role do you see Anixter playing in this space?

Levoy: I see our role currently as a consultative one where we provide education on this very complex subject. There is a lot of uncertainty around such technologies as thermal management, power distribution, video surveillance, access control, 10GigE, Power Over Ethernet and others as they relate to data centres.

For example, we currently offer a program called Data Centre University. It’s free and the curriculum is designed to create awareness and provide general solutions for current and future data centre infrastructure issues.

The goal is to help organizations understand the issues that they are encountering and perhaps plot a course of action to rectify them.

CNS: As our cover story in this issue shows, the wireless sector is absolutely booming. What are your customers telling you when it comes to implementing the technology?

Levoy: There has been major strides made in this area and certainly the issues of reliability and security are less of a concern. The technology continues to improve and the market is becoming increasingly knowledgeable. In addition, there are a lot more opportunities for enterprise wireless solutions as applications continue to converge.

A large percentage of our wireless sales are actually related to physical security, which is quite interesting. Two years ago that would be unheard of. It’s helping drive a lot of our wireless sales.