2010 Hall Of Fame : Adam Carroll, President, New Age Electronics
A balanced business style brings accolades.January 2010 By Nancy Klosek
Adam Carroll pilots an all-weather cabin-class plane for business and pleasure. The skills required to captain his aircraft—lightning-quick reactions and turn-on-a-dime instincts—are the same that have served him through a 30-year career in consumer electronics, catapulting him from his beginnings in retail to the ownership of New Age Electronics, which he sold last year to the $7.6 billion SYNNEX Corp.
Case in point: When New Age was formed in Carson, Calif., in 1988 with Sharp fax machines and Packard Bell computers as its sole lines, the fax machine entered hyper-growth mode, becoming the darling of the SOHO movement. Soon, the average selling price plummeted from $1,000 to $200 almost overnight.
"We had to reinvent our company and figure out how to become more relevant but keep our model intact, which was all about low cost and providing services to customers that they wanted, as opposed to building a big architecture and competing against those kinds of companies that had lots of overhead and services," he said. "We could offer a much more lower-cost solution built simply on what the customer needed. With that, we were able to attract new vendors and product lines and start to build out New Age as a company with a different business model."
Carroll was in an ideal position to leverage the many friendships he'd made in prior years, having worked at CE distributor Zemex Electronics and at Entertainment Marketing, where he got his computer sales experience. Zemex sold an eclectic product mix ranging from electronics to air conditioners to VHS and Betamax machines.
During that period, he worked for Zemex from his Arizona dorm room, cold-calling potential customers out of the phone book. He even sold a few containers of 2541X Zenith TVs to Price Club. "The owners of Zemex had never heard of Price Club," Carroll said. "Needless to say, the phone rang from the local distributor when the product showed up on the Club floor, and they were not happy about the great price available to members. That's how I got the bug of CE distribution."
Carroll lived everywhere from Laredo, Texas, where he managed Zemex's satellite office, to Miami, Connecticut, Denver and San Francisco, where he served as the branch manager in each of those cities. "I had the opportunity to work in all these markets and develop relationships with the various factory and independent representative organizations and customers, many who are still in the business today," he said.