The Electronic Components Industry Association officially opened its doors on January 1, marking a new era in the industry’s professional representation. ECIA, as it is known, counts electronic components distributors, manufacturers, and manufacturers’ representatives among its members, giving a single voice to those involved in the authorized sale of electronic components. For ECIA president Robin B. Gray Jr., the association’s founding represents a milestone in the industry’s evolution.
“We needed to have one voice speaking for the industry. Before, we had too fragmented a voice. What we really wanted to do was make sure that \\[a single\\] voice was promoting the authorized sale of electronic components,” says Gray, who is also acting vice president of the National Electronics Distributors Association, which merged with the manufacturer group Electronic Components Association to form ECIA.
“Today, our mission and our membership are all about selling electronic components—how we can make it better, more profitable, and more efficient for our members to do that,” Gray adds.
The boards of NEDA and ECA approved a merger of the two groups on September 1, 2010. Gray was named president. ECA’s Bob Willis was named chief technical officer and executive vice president. Murata Electronics’ John Denslinger is the association’s first chairman of the board, Michael Knight of TTI Inc. is chairman-elect, and Arrow Electronics’ Brian McNally is past chairman of the board. With the merger, membership in each group was transferred into ECIA.
The industry’s manufacturers’ representatives group, the Electronics Representatives Association, had been involved in the initial talks to form ECIA, but dropped out of the negotiations before the merger. Some of ERA’s members remained involved, however, ensuring that a manufacturers’ rep category was included in the new association. Today, manufacturers’ reps may be members of both ECIA and ERA.
ECIA counts sales, marketing, anti-counterfeiting, standards, guidelines, and industry statistics among its chief areas of responsibility in helping members do their jobs better. These are issues that apply to all members across the board, Gray explains.
“Now we can say we’re representing the manufacturers, the distributors, and the reps—not just the manufacturers and not just the distributors,” adds Gray, noting that the new association has access to more resources that can help each subset of its membership.
Standards, Integration A Focus For 2011
Gray says ECIA has three primary goals for 2011: consolidating its standards and guidelines efforts, launching a NEDA-developed inventory search Web site, and completing the integration of the two associations (including services, staff, and back-office functions that must be worked out). The group will maintain two offices—NEDA’s Alpharetta, Ga., location and ECA’s office in Washington, D.C.—for at least two years, he adds.
At the top of the list is merging the groups’ standards efforts. ECA has a strong standards program that covers technical issues, including American National Standards Institute and international standards and guidelines, while NEDA is more focused on providing business practice guidelines.
Anti-counterfeiting programs also remain front and center. Gray says ECIA will continue NEDA’s advocacy and advertising campaign about the risks of buying from unauthorized sources of electronic components. Those efforts include working with government agencies and other trade associations, such as the Semiconductor Industry Association (SIA).
There will also be some small changes at this year’s EDS event in Las Vegas. Owned and sponsored by NEDA, ECA, and ERA, EDS historically includes separate membership meetings for each group. This year, ERA will host its annual membership breakfast meeting, but NEDA and ECA will join together for an ECIA member event, to be held Tuesday evening, May 24.