Maybe that's because Spierkel has spent the last couple of years making Ingram Micro as lean as possible. It's not that he saw a downturn coming, but Spierkel knows he needed to stay ahead of the game to be in the game for a long time.
"I feel good about where we are as company. We're stronger than we were when the Y2K bubble came. After that, a lot of customers and a lot of business went away. But in the marketplace we're in, we are all smarter and better business people than we were. We're more mature," Spierkel said.
Under Spierkel, Ingram Micro has invested in its own IT infrastructure so that the company is getting more revenue out of less headcount. It also has the tools to make better decisions, on credit and discounts for example, than it did several years ago. The company has become more fiscally conservative under Spierkel, walking away from more unprofitable deals but hoping to retain customers through more value-added services. Thus far, it's worked: Ingram Micro's sales increased 2.5 percent to $25.68 billion through the first three quarters of 2008, but profits are up 4.7 percent to $169.3 million.
One of Spierkel's traits is to frequently hold one-on-one sessions with VARs to better gauge on how well the distributor is performing for customers.
Bob Guilbert, managing director of marketing at EzeCastle Integration, a Boston-based solution provider, was one of those lucky customers to get a sit-down with Spierkel at a recent VentureTech Network event.
"He was actively taking notes and asking questions. He was genuinely interested in our concerns," Guilbert said. "He was open to our feedback and also offered ideas to us as well."