Bell Micro Expands Integration Facility

The value-added distributor plans to attract larger customers and cope with growth in build-to-order business. Improved site is expected to boost overall revenue, services and productivity.

In an effort to better serve its growing customer base, value-added distributor Bell Micro recently expanded its integration center in Acton, Mass.

The manufacturing floor space was increased to 40,000 sq. ft, from its original 25,000 sq.ft., said Bob Sturgeon, vice president of operations and CIO of the San Jose, Calif.-based distributor and custom manufacturer. The plant, which is ISO 9001:2000 certified, delivers more space for co-located warehousing, staging and production, he noted, and mirrors the company’s success at its San Jose integration center.

“The decision was formed probably a little over a year ago when we saw back-to-back growth of 25-plus percent each year,” said Sturgeon. “With two years of that kind of growth we had maxed out the capacity at our Acton facility.”

Clients, which range from Fortune 500 conglomerates to small and midsize companies, tap Bell Micro for integration solutions ranging from design to deployment. The expanded Acton site will help Bell Micro in its efforts to successfully woo a handful of additional large, steady clients, Sturgeon said. “We’re courting three to five ‘elephants,’ those customers that will give us a stable design and a good run-rate if we service them sufficiently,” he said. “We expect half a dozen major new customers in the next year or two.”

Previously, the Acton team was unable to operate a second shift, due to the physical limitations of the leased site. Now, Bell Micro can operate additional shifts if needed to meet clients’ unexpected production needs, said Sturgeon. The company also is standardizing on operations, training and other facets of its business between both San Jose and Acton plants, a move that will reduce costs, improve processes and further enhance customer service, he said.

“With clients’ permission, we can certainly load-balance between the factories,” said Sturgeon. “We have cookie-cutter training for people at both factories. It’s a key part of our quality management, and it also lets us be more efficient than we have in the past.”

Bell Micro has been supporting the manufacturing efforts of many companies, including Nortel, Compellent and Silver Peak Systems Inc. And clients seem to support the expansion and the value-added distributor’s ongoing improvement efforts. Compellent, for example, relies on Bell Micro to provide its customized system controllers, said John Guider, COO and co-founder of the Eden Prairie, Minn.-based storage area network (SAN) solutions provider. The two companies have been partners since Compellent was founded in 2004, he added.

“As Compellent continues to scale and grow beyond 1,000 customers, we believe Bell Micro’s Acton expansion will help the company keep up with our growth and build-to-order virtual manufacturing model,” Guider said. “The Acton expansion includes about two- to three-times the previous floor space dedicated to Compellent and additional integration resources. As a result, we’ll be able to reduce product shipment lead times to customers to as little as one day.”

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