Think Global, Act Local

Quick Bio

Debbie Hunter, Anixter

Name: Debbie Hunter

Position: Vice President, Regional Sales

Company: Anixter

Overtime: In her spare time, Hunter enjoys cooking, playing pool, and spending time with her children.

SCN: What is your position, and what does it entail? What are your responsibilities?

DEBBIE HUNTER: I oversee the Anixter global accounts program for companies headquartered in the Great Lakes region. My responsibilities include anticipating and fulfilling the technology needs—including AV and UCC—for some of our largest global customers, and ensuring they receive outstanding support from my team and the channels that serve them.

SCN: How long have you been in this position?

DH: I started in my current role in January 2020, but I have held various roles within Anixter over the last 19 years.

SCN: How has your background prepared you for your role?

DH: Interestingly, I began my career at Anixter within our IT organization. This background has led me to take a very algorithmic approach to problem-solving and strategy, which I have found useful throughout my career in helping customers analyze their challenges. When I moved into our sales organization, I transitioned into an inside sales role at one of our local branches. This experience of providing front-line support to our customers helped me embrace an extremely customer-focused mindset to provide our customers what they need, on time and on budget.

SCN: What are your short- and long-term goals?

DH: Short-term, there is a focus on helping our customers continue to adjust their real estate strategy in response to COVID and its current impact on projects. Many of our customers are focused on trying to complete projects ahead of time in case of future work stoppages. We are also busy working to leverage our expanded and complementary portfolio, now accessible via Liberty AV and Anixter’s merger with Wesco, and expand our AV product offerings and AV-specific services to help our contractor customers increase their capabilities.

Long-term, we are looking at the corporate sector’s collaboration technology needs post-COVID and their back-to-work strategies, which can include, for example, more touchless AV technologies and expanded conferencing solutions for both in-office and home-office requirements.

SCN: What is the greatest challenge you face?

DH: Our customers face a complex environment, trying to scale over a national or international geographic area, either with evolving technologies or high-volume deployments. My greatest challenge is making sure we are prepared to help our customers meet their evolving technology and supply chain needs. We do this by continually looking forward at the impact and utilization of changing products and technologies, and by working with customers to transform their supply chain to enable their pro AV business to scale and deliver over large geographies, consistently and to schedule.

SCN: Where do you see the pro AV market heading?

DH: With my customers, I am seeing increases in low-complexity, high-volume projects that need to be deployed nationally or internationally. This is increasing the demand for a partner who is truly global to provide supply chain visibility, solution and deployment consistency, as well as handle all the challenges that come with large-scale international deployments—from product sourcing and billing currencies to reliable in-country contacts. As Anixter’s global infrastructure has been growing since the 1970s to over 300 locations in more than 50 countries, we are seeing more and more companies turn to us for these large-scale deployments to help them simplify the complex, reduce costs, and keep to schedule.

In tandem with larger projects, we are seeing the rise of the master systems integrator. Customers are expecting integrators and contractors to be able to deploy all of their systems, from AV to security, and the network infrastructure these systems run on. Anixter offers all the solutions these customers demand, along with training and in-house experts to help integrators and contractors move into adjacent technologies to increase their total addressable market.

SCN: Are there new initiatives we are likely to see from Anixter?

DH: Wesco and Anixter will continue to focus on our integration activities that will bring more products, services, and capabilities to benefit our customers for long-term success with our enhanced product portfolio, expanded expertise, and dedicated customer-first approach.

We are constantly reviewing how to help our customers streamline their supply chain by expanding our existing services portfolio and offering our customers even more innovative installation enhancement and project services to simplify and speed AV deployments. This helps our customers drive efficiency, reduce risk, and maximize their profitability and productivity.

Another new way we are helping our customers simplify the complex is with Anixter’s Utility Grade Infrastructure (UTG) program. UTG is an innovative technology platform that builds on standards, going above and beyond to provide guaranteed results across multiple business systems, providing reliable connectivity, power, and security to IP devices. Given pro AV’s migration to IP, UTG can provide reliable infrastructure that is future-ready. Today, UTG can support more PoE devices in a larger area—with applications like Ethernet, video surveillance, wireless LAN, HDBaseT and PoH—than traditional cabling standards. In the coming months, UTG will provide similar results with 1 Gb and 10 Gb AVoIP.

SCN: How can systems contractors better position themselves to profit from products and/or services you have to offer?

DH: Anixter’s expertise in managing global supply chain programs enables us to help our systems contractor customers scale from local to national to global. According to end users, the key drivers are ensuring consistency, managing costs, and meeting timelines—while scaling globally.

Anixter’s approach is to collaborate with our integrator partners and the end user to understand their goals; we then map out a program to help reduce cost, drive efficiency, and maintain consistency. One of the many ways we can help our contractor partners is our pre-provisioning of product. Staging product in stock, ready to ship when needed, and only billing when received improves our contractor partner’s cash-to-cash cycle and reduces their risk, while helping them take on larger projects that otherwise would require too much capital and space.

This benefit is magnified when deploying AV solutions on a global scale, as we can source product in-country or import as needed, stage in our local warehouses, and contractors can work with our in-country teams in the local language, time zone, and currency. At Anixter, we invest in the geographies we support, understanding the local standards, processes, and market needs. In the world of global AV supply chain, there is no substitute for local presence.

Megan A. Dutta

Megan A. Dutta is a pro AV industry journalist, and the former content director for Systems Contractor News (SCN) and Digital Signage Magazine, both Future U.S. publications. Dutta previously served as the marketing communications manager at Peerless-AV, where she led the company’s marketing and communications department. Dutta is the recipient of AVIXA's 2017 Young AV Professional Award and Women in Consumer Technology's 2018 Woman to Watch Award. Dutta is co-founder of Women of Digital Signage, an organization designed to provide a pathway to promote networking, mentoring, and personal growth.