VEC Supply (Virginia Electronic Components), Charlottesville, Va., a distributor of electronic components and services the focuses on the VDV, industrial automation, security, access control and OEM markets, acquired industrial automation specialist Morris Automation Group, Roanoke, Va. Morris Automation will operate as a stand-alone division of VEC and will continue to support the industrial automation marketplace.

In a press release announcing the acquisition, Frank Stalzer, VEC's president, said, “We believe this is an excellent add-on to the VEC business bringing us some new world-class product lines and a strong customer base of industrial accounts. Our goal is to continue to build our business organically and through acquisitions and this latest move brings our number of branch locations to four.”

VEC maintains stocking sales branches in Lynchburg and Roanoke, Va., as well as Raleigh, N.C. In addition, VEC maintains an online distribution business operating under the banner DirectDatacom. The company's line card has some familiar names from the mainstream electrical industry, including Alpha Wire, Arlington Industries, Belden, Brady, Bussmann, Cooper Wiring Devices, Erico and WireXpress.

Stalzer told EM in an e-mail that with the Morris acquisition comes some new product lines, including Idec relays, Micron transformers, Optex sensors, Fuji switches and circuit breakers and Luxor tower lights. Both companies are ABB distributors, and Stalzer says the acquisition makes VEC a “much bigger play with the ABB line.”

He hopes to increase the company's geographic footprint to someday include branches in areas such as northern Virginia, Maryland and the Carolinas. “We will continue to be opportunistic as well, and should an opportunity outside the Southeast region present itself to us, we would seriously look at it,” he said. “We currently do a small amount of our overall business in Italy and Germany and we are also looking at ways to expand our presence in those markets.”

Stalzer is seeing plenty of acquisition activity in his company's three key business segments: datacom, security & industrial automation/OEM. “There is constant M&A activity in all segments primarily due to the fact that all three industries are extremely fragmented,” he said. “While there are a number of large, national distributors supporting those industries, well over 50% of the total available market is served by small, local and regional distributors. Our focus has been primarily on the second- and third-tier customers and we have found there are plenty of potential acquisition candidates in that space throughout the markets we serve.”