5 minutes with Art Figueroa, VP of Operations at Smith

Art Figueroa, VP of Operations at Smith, manages anti-counterfeiting, security and sustainability. He leads teams focused on automation to build solutions

Hi Art! Please introduce yourself and your role.

“I currently serve as Vice President of Operations and Quality, NA & EMEA at Smith, where I manage our operations, logistics, anticounterfeiting efforts, security, facilities, and corporate sustainability efforts. Day to day, I focus on making sure that a quality product ships to our customers in a timely manner. As part of our ongoing continuous-improvement efforts, I lead various teams that are focused on automation, systems, processes, and training, all in an effort to provide our customers with timely solutions and to help run Smith’s state-of-the-art operations hubs around the world even more efficiently.”

Tell us about your education and career path.

“Over the course of my 18-year career at Smith, I have held several roles, all with increasing levels of responsibility. I previously served as Manager and then Director of Security and Facilities, overseeing our corporate security efforts and global real-estate transactions. Before I joined Smith in 2004, I was in management at Securitas, a security services provider, and at Questia. I received my Bachelor of Arts in political science from the University of Houston.”

Tell us about your career path.

“Over the course of my 18-year career at Smith, I have held several roles. I previously served as Manager and then Director of Security and Facilities, overseeing our corporate security efforts and global real-estate transactions.”

What led you to this industry?

“My interest in this industry is rooted in the dynamic and ever-changing nature of the distribution business model. There are so many factors that influence a supply chain, such as domestic and global economic uncertainty, natural disasters and shortages. I wanted to be part of an organisation that would challenge me and allow me an opportunity to grow professionally. Smith presented the ideal opportunity.”

“I prefer to consider them not as challenges but as opportunities to make something better” - Art Figueroa, Vice President of Operations and Quality, NA & EMEA at Smith

What is Smith?

“Founded in 1984, Smith sources, manages, and distributes the electronic components that go into everything from mobile phones and computers to appliances and automobiles. 

“In 17 cities around the world, our employees communicate in 50 languages and dialects and buy and sell components 24 hours per day. Smith is always moving: helping manufacturers navigate market shifts; customising supply chain solutions; testing components using cutting-edge technology. 

“Smith’s testing and logistics hubs in Houston, Hong Kong, and Amsterdam cover critical areas like quality management, counterfeit prevention, and environmental safety. Smith’s operations, purchasing, and sales worldwide are seamlessly integrated with the company’s global IT infrastructure, offering real-time, global inventory and logistics visibility.”

Tell us about automation in operations.

“Quality control is at the core of Smith’s business, and many of our automation capabilities help maintain a safe and secure supply chain. Our products go through key quality checkpoints even before they’re sourced with our in-house-developed, advanced supplier rating system. Smith’s procurement teams support counterfeit mitigation by comprehensively vetting suppliers on the front end before purchasing products. Once the product arrives at our operations facilities, Smith approaches quality assurance proactively, from visual inspection to destructive and nondestructive testing in our certified labs. Over the past year and a half, we have invested over US$2mn globally in equipment and process automation inside our three state-of-the-art distribution centres.”

What has been your greatest challenge at Smith?

“I prefer to consider them not as challenges but as opportunities to make something better. As an organisation, we are always looking ahead and constantly searching for ways to improve our processes and capabilities. Our goal is to consistently exceed customer expectations.”  

During your time here, what has been your biggest lesson?

“Over the course of my career at Smith, I have learned many lessons, but the biggest lesson is to maintain open and continuous lines of communication across all levels – both internally, within the organisation, and –most importantly – externally, with our customers. Transparency and honesty are critical elements of communication and provide the foundation for successful partnerships.”

How do you see Smith evolving over the next 12 months?

“Smith will continue to evolve with the industry as it grows and innovates to keep meeting our customers’ requirements for their technological products.

“Evolving at Smith typically means investing in our people, places, and processes around the world. We opened our Global Services hub in Houston earlier this month, and, later this year, we will open a warehouse in Singapore. Our expansion into growing markets such as IT asset disposition and sourcing semiconductors for other rapidly innovating industries such as healthcare and automotive sectors have driven us to acquire more distribution space. 

“Our global teams look forward to being a resource for companies during the ongoing semiconductor shortage and beyond.”

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