Natural disasters have profoundly negative consequences—most obvious are immediate human effects. Less obvious, but highly significant, is the impact on industry. Thailand, home to the manufacturing plants of many leading technology brands, is also home to annual monsoons. In late 2011, the monsoon season was like no other in recent memory. With weeks of torrential rains, levees broke, flooding vast expanses that included the major hard drive manufacturing plants of Western Digital.
Corrosive and polluted waters swamped facilities, destroying equipment; a New York Times article by Thomas Fuller (Nov. 6, 2011) reported, “Workers… salvaged what they could from the top floors of the complex. The ground floor resembled an aquarium and the loading bays were home to jumping fish.”
The immediate shortfall caused severe pain on a global scale. It was particularly difficult for one long-time MicroAge client that had just ordered 15,500 hard drives. The client, a digital content provider, relies on Western Digital hard drives as a key component of its business. The good news was that MicroAge had fulfilled 11,500 drives prior to the downpour. The bad news? With the entire production facility now under water these 4,000 hard drives had to be found elsewhere, and found fast.
Knowing the urgency of the order and how critical these drives would be to the client’s business operations, MicroAge’s Chris Robinette and David Knowles began a relentless search to fulfill the order’s remainder. As Chris says, “Almost overnight, product was constrained everywhere…Distributors restricted inventory, retail outlets limited purchases. There was no way we could get 4,000 units to the client to meet its deadlines using traditional resources. So we got creative. We searched for and found a company in the Netherlands that recertifies Western Digital hard drives—it had 2,000 recertified units available. With the client’s buy-in, we got those 2,000 hard drives to the United States right away. By leveraging our long-standing industry relationships, we procured another 500 pieces stateside. In total, we delivered 2,500 units of the remaining 4,000 piece balance.”
After locating those 2,500 hard drives, Chris and David were then asked to increase the remaining quantity left to be found. David comments, “We are happy to say that as of today, an additional 3,000 hard drives have been delivered to the client, whose business continues to operate despite the global hard drive shortage.”
Chris and David’s ability to locate such constrained product speaks to MicroAge’s flexibility and genuine commitment to do whatever it takes to meet client requirements. When getting product was almost impossible, Chris and David creatively pulled together resources to ensure their client’s business was minimally impacted.