An Interview with Steve Strull, CEO and President of Air Electro Inc.

Air Electro Inc. is a veteran-founded family-owned company that has been proving interconnect solutions for over 65 years.  The company was founded in 1952 by Marine Veteran William Strull, and then passed down to his son Steve in the 90’s.  The company will eventually transition to his sons, Spencer, Ben and Sam, and remain part of the Strull family legacy for years to come.

Today, we sit down with Steve Strul, the President and CEO of Air Electro, to ask him 10 questions about the company and its future.

Air Electro Owner and President Steve StrullConnector Corner: Who is/were the founder or founders?

Steve Strull: “Air Electro was founded by my father, United States Marine Corps Veteran William Strull in 1952.

Connector Corner: Can you give us a brief description of what Air Electro is?

Steve Strull: “It’s my family company.” (With a warm smile). “It’s a third-generation family-owned manufacturer and distributor of electrical connectors, contacts and accessories.

Connector Corner: How has your company changed since it was first established? 

Steve Strull: “Air Electro was first established as a supplier of surplus aircraft parts in the Fifties, and now is a specialist in the distribution and manufacturing of connectors, contacts and accessories, providing products to the top aerospace & defense, industrial, space exploration, IToT, power & energy, and transportation in both America and around the world. With our drive to expand into markets previously unrealized for the technology we provide, we aren’t as singularly focused anymore. Our customer and partnership base spans industries we had never originally intended to be in and has opened us up to countless new and exciting opportunities in our changing world. Plus, we have evolved to better understand the breadth of applications that our solutions are suited for and it is very exciting to imagine and strategize where we are going next.

Connector Corner: What achievements in your company are you most proud of?

Steve Strull:It is really special to me to know that my father, myself, and my three sons have all had a hand in growing this organization. Having a successful family business and knowing that we have built a reputation as one of the most highly respected companies in our industry is certainly something to be proud of. Additionally, we are helping develop designs that support some of the biggest programs in the mil/aero field (i.e. 737,787,JSF) and contributing to technology that betters the lives of civilians and military around the world.

Connector Corner: What hurdles or challenges has your company overcame?

Steve Strull: “Our industry has seen regular consolidation amongst our competitors in the connector space.  Smaller distributors get rolled up into larger ones and customers drive vendor reduction programs. We’ve learned to differentiate ourselves from the national “catalog” distributors by offering unique solutions, service, quality control and products to solve some of our customers’ daily challenges.

Connector Corner: How has your business changed over the years and what differentiates your company from others?

Steve Strull: “Air Electro has evolved and grown organically along with strategic acquisitions. We’ve evolved from an aircraft parts supplier selling surplus to becoming a specialized value-added solution for some of the largest connector manufacturers in the industry and our shared customers. This differentiates us in our capabilities to not only distribute but to manufacture and design specialized custom products.  We have included new automation processes to our manufacturing flow which has greatly opened up our resources to place a greater focus on internal systems and processes, in addition to empowering a marketing effort that has completely transformed our digital presence, as well as preparing us for our upcoming e-commerce launch.”

Connector Corner: What have you learned over the years about the electronics marketplace and more specifically, the channel?

Steve Strull: “Long term agreements, formal contracts, vendor managed inventory and ecommerce have all become a more common way of doing business.

Connector Corner: What still puzzles you?

Steve Strull: “Many of the customers in our industry have had a certain way of doing business for so long that as the industry changes and advances, sometimes it can be difficult to communicate to the customer environmental and cost savings options as well as offering new product suggestions. At Air Electro we empower our entire team to find creative ways to provide the best possible solutions to our customer base.”

Connector Corner: How do you see distribution’s position in the electronics marketplace in 5 years?

Steve Strull: “We will continue to see consolidation but the need for distribution in the supply chain will remain strong. More reliance on the distributor to provide a complete and comprehensive supply chain solution to our customers will be a more common reality.”

Connector Corner: In general, do you see the present industry business climate as challenging, uncertain or optimistic and why?

Steve Strull: “I see it as challenging and I’m optimistic for the future based on current and new programs in the Existing and new industry opportunities. I am particularly excited about Space exploration and Automation!”

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