Gimme Five – Mark Burr-Lonnon

He grew up in Portsmouth, attending both Portsmouth Grammar School and the University of Portsmouth, where he took a degree in business studies, and is a keen follower of Portsmouth FC. Now he lives in Texas and follows Indy Car racing.

His career in the electronics industry started in sales with STC Electronic Services before spending seven years in sales and marketing at Arrow Electronics. He was then sales director for Avnet Electronics and global distribution manager for Philips Components. He has also been CEO for the Americas at Yageo and vice-president of supplier marketing at TTI.

1. Mouser has been growing faster than many others in electronics distribution – what’s the secret?

We focus a lot more of our attention on the web and that continues to drive our business. Some 75 per cent of new customers come from the web. We also focus on helping the design engineer and bringing out new products as quickly as possible.

We have also done a lot of branding work. A couple of years ago, most people wouldn’t have heard of Mouser in Europe and Asia, so we have spent a lot of time getting the name out there. We have also put a lot of attention on being local and have offices in most of the major countries doing technical support and front line customer service, and we are building up a marketing team in Europe so we can have the right messages for the market place in Europe rather than doing that from the US, which doesn’t work in Europe very well.

2. You make use of mobile technologies for access to your catalogue, but is this a serious business channel or just a gimmick?

It has become more of a serious channel. When it was purely IPhones and Androids it was a bit, but now with the tablets people don’t take their laptops with them and so they are using them like computers and buying components on them. People are seriously buying on them where they weren’t on phones. They also use them a lot for browsing.

We still do the paper catalogue and it is useful in a lot of places in the world, but most want to look at them online. They use tablets a lot.

3. What are the main concerns facing design engineers today?

They want to get the newest products as quickly as possible. They want to know what the latest technology is and if they are going to need to redesign, and how easy the parts are to get. They also like to deal with one company rather than multiple companies.

They like to be anonymous and take the information from the web. They don’t want people to visit them. They just want to place the order and not get bothered.

4. You grew up as a Portsmouth fan but now live in Texas. How different is sport treated in the USA compared with the UK?

The biggest difference with sport in the US is the college system. People in Europe don’t see how big the college teams are. In Europe, it is all around the professional teams – even Portsmouth are professional, if only just. In the US, you get thousands watching the college games.

Some people don’t like all the money involved in the professional game over there. They feel they are earning too much so they prefer the college side.

What they call soccer is getting better. There is still an influx of players from Europe but a lot come from Mexico and South America, and the Americans themselves are playing it more. They are now competitive at World Cup level. They have reached a pretty good level. And the women’s soccer team is bigger than the men’s, and gets quite a following.

But I think cricket is still more interesting than baseball. There are pockets where cricket is played but [American] football, basketball and baseball are the big ones.

5. Mouser likes to have leading edge products in its catalogue. How do you select them?

We work very closely with the manufacturers. The leading edge products tend to be on the semiconductor side and there is a big focus to get the latest parts as soon as they come out. We also look out for new franchises. The semiconductor people also keep us in touch with the development tool people that they work with.

It is all about speed to market. This is our core focus. We don’t do volume, which gets in the way. Our prime focus is the newest parts and technologies, so we are going to be quicker.


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