N.F. Smith & Associates

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N.F. Smith & Associates
Privately held
Founded May 7, 1984; 32 years ago (1984-05-07)
  • Robert Ackerley
  • Leland Ackerley
Headquarters Houston, TX, U.S.
Number of locations
13 offices (as of September 2013)
Area served
Number of employees
Website www.smithweb.com

N.F. Smith & Associates is an independent distributor of electronic components headquartered in Houston, Texas.


In 1984, brothers Robert and Leland Ackerley founded Smith & Associates,[1] which is the largest independent distributor of electronic components,[2] offering sourcing and supply chain solutions to customers worldwide in the semiconductor and electronic components industry.

The 1990s saw dramatic growth for the company, with its workforce and footprint growing rapidly alongside of its sales. In 1992, Smith’s annual sales were $30 million; by 1998, they had topped $470 million due to the company’s growing customer base and the expansion of its business into new regions, industries, and service offerings. To support this expanding customer base and to enhance logistical efficiency, the company invested in facilities and moved into a new 60,000 sq. ft. headquarters building in Houston in 1997, followed by the opening of its first major international office in Hong Kong in the same year, which bolstered the company’s growing international business and exposure. Smith established a European presence with the opening of its Amsterdam office in 1999. By the end of the decade, the company’s online presence was established, as well, with the launch of its website and Smith MarketWatch® online market analyses and updates.[3]

In 2000, the company dedicated a 15,000 sq. ft. warehouse to expand its ability to handle OEM and CEM consignment and excess inventories. Additionally, Smith opened offices in Seoul, Silicon Valley, and Guadalajara, followed by office openings in New York in 2003 and Shanghai in 2004. By 2004, global sales exceeded $500 million, a first for any independent electronic component distributor. In 2008, the company expanded its Asian presence by opening an office in Shenzhen, China.[3]

In 2010, the company unveiled an enhanced, in-house, anti-counterfeit laboratory to address growing concerns surrounding counterfeiting and quality issues in the global electronics supply chain, and launched its SmithSecure™ quality framework in concert with the dedicated laboratory expansion.[4][5] The company expanded its footprint by opening offices in Taipei, Singapore, and Denver in 2011, followed by an Austin office in 2013. Smith has grown to thirteen offices worldwide.[3]

Products and sourcing[edit]

Smith & Associates offers sourcing of active, passive, and electromechanical IC components, as well as computer products and peripherals such as HDDs, processors, memory modules, and video cards. Serving customers in a broad range of industries including consumer electronics, enterprise electronics, server hardware, automotive, telecommunications, medical, oil and gas, energy, and aeronautics and defense, the company sources both obsolete and in-production parts to bridge gaps or disruptions in clients’ supply chains and to support uninterrupted production. The company cites its global reach, vendor network, and long-standing staff of commodity experts as key elements underlying its sourcing strategies. Smith is ranked as the largest independent distributor of electronic components, and maintains a network of thousands of suppliers worldwide to support its product sourcing.[6]


Over time, the company has expanded on the shortage sourcing that characterized its earliest business model[7] in order to diversify and offer additional supply chain management options for customers “that address the challenges of inventory sourcing, quality, ownership, management, and disposal.”[8] The company places emphasis on its ability to individually tailor solutions for specific OEM and EMS customers who face global sourcing challenges. Services offered include options such as customizing inventory programs through VMI or EOL models, shortage planning, procuring product compliant with global environmental regulations such as RoHS and WEEE, dispositioning, and managing excess inventory in line with international sustainability standards, arranging reverse logistics, and participating in PPV (Purchase Price Variance) arrangements.[8][9]


Smith’s quality procedures operate under the principle that “effective vendor screening and management not only serve to maintain reliable flow of quality product, but also provide a first line of defense against counterfeit components.”[10] This screening ensures that “all…suppliers are formally selected and continually evaluated” based on quality metrics specified in Smith’s customized Vendor Rating System (VRS). The company’s VRS assigns each supplier a rating and incorporates ongoing evaluations and evidence of qualification. Additional steps in the vendor management process include completion of a vendor application, vendor audits, and management approvals.[10]

Once the company sources components from its approved sources, they are put though a formal visual inspection by degreed quality engineers, IPC-certified technicians, and other inspectors to examine parts from the outer packaging inward.[11] Parts that pass visual inspection may move on to the next level of inspection.

Smith & Associates was one of the first independent distributors to build an in-house, sophisticated, electronic component testing laboratory. The company uses their in-house lab resources to confirm product quality, origin, and conformity. Smith places emphasis on continuously upgrading equipment and expanding capabilities to reflect current developments in quality testing and anti-counterfeiting. The company’s testing resources include decapsulation, chemical testing, x-ray testing, x-ray fluorescence, microscopic inspection, solderability testing, counterfeit IC testing, C-SAM acoustic microscopic inspection, and functionality testing for a range of components.[11] The company’s anti-counterfeit laboratory, located at its Houston headquarters, is accredited under ISO/IEC 17025,[12] as is its Hong Kong laboratory.[13]

Additionally, the company is certified to ISO 9001,[14] ANSI-ESD S.20-20,[15] CCAP-101,[16] and AS9120,[17] and is a member of ISA,[18] C-TPAT,[19] and ERAI.[20]


Since 2011, Smith & Associates has been “committed to work toward becoming a climate neutral, zero waste-to-landfill distributor.”[21] The company’s CycleIT™ asset disposition program is the product of this initiative, providing asset disposition services that “[ensure] that e-waste and scrap material is re-purposed rather than sent to landfills” using EPA-compliant, certified third party recycling.[22]

Smith began placing a heavy corporate emphasis on sustainability in 2008, when an ISO 14001 audit revealed deficiencies in the company’s environmental program. The company used these results as a catalyst to undertake improvements, including switching out lighting, using only 100% recycled packaging for shipments, and focusing on reducing energy consumption.[21]

In 2011, Smith completed a sustainable renovation of its headquarters building, including a 140 kW solar installation and the installation of a cool roof and efficient HVAC system. In addition, the company instituted internal programs for recycling, resource reduction, and sustainability training.[23] On April 8, 2012, Smith was named Overall Winner: Greatest Implementation of Green Building Innovations in the City of Houston’s 2011 Green Office Challenge, the nation’s largest Green Office Challenge for 2011.[24] Smith has recognized sustainability as a core corporate value, and continues to promote these efforts internally.[25] Smith’s headquarters have been certified to ISO 14001[26] since 2005,[3] and the company has been designated an E-Stewards enterprise.[27]


  1. ^ "Smith & Associates 'Executives'". 
  2. ^ Kickham, Victoria Fraza (April 30, 2013). "Top 50 Distributors 2013". Global Purchasing. Retrieved September 16, 2013. 
  3. ^ a b c d "Smith & Associates 'History'". 
  4. ^ "Smith & Associates 'Quality'". 
  5. ^ Hartzell, Matt (December 19, 2012). "Counterfeit parts have real consequences". Computerworld. Retrieved October 8, 2013. 
  6. ^ Welcome to Smith fact sheet
  7. ^ Staff Editor (March 5, 2012). "Smith & Associates Ready to Take on Europe". Evertiq. Retrieved September 16, 2013. 
  8. ^ a b SecureService fact sheet
  9. ^ "Smith & Associates 'Supply Chain Strategies'". 
  10. ^ a b SecureSource fact sheet
  11. ^ a b SecureTest fact sheet
  12. ^ Smith & Associates ISO/IEC 17025 accreditation
  13. ^ Smith & Associates Far East Limited ISO/IEC 17025 accreditation
  14. ^ Smith & Associates ISO 9001 certification
  15. ^ Smith & Associates ANSI-ESD S.20-20 certification
  16. ^ Smith & Associates CCAP-101 certification
    Smith & Associates Far East Limited CCAP-101 certification
  17. ^ Smith & Associates AS9120 certification
  18. ^ Smith & Associates ISA membership certificate
  19. ^ Smith & Associates C-TPAT membership certificate
  20. ^ Smith & Associates ERAI membership certificate
  21. ^ a b Ackerley, Robert (April 25, 2012). "City and Corporate Sustainability Burn Bright in Houston, America's Energy Hub". National Geographic News Watch. Retrieved October 8, 2013. 
  22. ^ "Smith & Associates Announce CycleIT Asset Disposition Program" (Press release). N.F. Smith & Associates, L.P. May 19, 2011. Retrieved October 8, 2013. 
  23. ^ "Smith & Associates Teams with ONTILITY to Undertake Solar and Energy Efficiency Greenovation Project" (Press release). N.F. Smith & Associates, L.P. October 12, 2011. Retrieved September 16, 2013. 
  24. ^ City of Houston. "Houston Mayor Parker Announces Green Office Challenge Winners". ICLEI USA Sustainable Cities and Counties Blog. Retrieved September 16, 2013. 
  25. ^ "Smith & Associates 'Going Green'". 
  26. ^ Smith & Associates ISO 14001 certification
  27. ^ "Smith & Associates 'Certificates and Affiliations'". 

External links[edit]

Official website