Mitchell, William E. 1944–

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William E. Mitchell

President and chief executive officer, Arrow Electronics

Nationality: American.

Born: March 13, 1944, in Los Angeles, California.

Education: Princeton University, BS, 1966; University of Michigan, MS, 1967.

Family: Son of John Stewart Mitchell and Helen Fine; married Jan Marie Scheyer; children: three.

Career: Exxon Corporation, 19691972, analyst; 19721973, department manager; Raychem Corporation, 19731976, operations manager; Raychem International, 19771985, regional manager; 19851988, vice president and general manager; Raychem Corporation, 19881991, senior vice president, industrial group; 19911993, senior vice president, electronics group; Nashua Corporation, 19931994, president and chief operating officer; 19941995, president and chief executive officer; Sequel, 19951999, chairman, president, and chief executive officer; Solectron Corporation, 19992002, executive vice president, president of the Solectron Global Services division; Arrow Electronics, 2003, president and chief executive officer.

Address: Arrow Electronics, 50 Marcus Drive, Melville, New York 11747;

William E. Mitchell was elected president and chief executive officer for Arrow Electronics in 2003 after spending 30 years in the electronics industry. After graduating from Princeton University and the University of Michigan, Mitchell worked for Exxon Corporation for four years. He joined Raychem Corporation in 1973 and worked in a variety of capacities in finance, manufacturing, international sales, and marketing. From 1993 to 2002 he served as president and chief executive officer of Nashua Corporation; chairman, president, and chief executive officer at Sequel; and executive vice president for Solectron Corporation. He also served as president of Solectron Global Services, which he built into a $1.2 billion business. His reputation in managing electronic services led to his appointment with Arrow.


Mitchell was born in Los Angeles. As a talented student, he enrolled at Princeton University, where he studied engineering and graduated in 1966 with a bachelor of science degree. He then enrolled in graduate school at the University of Michigan, where he was named as a National Science Foundation Fellow and earned a master of science degree in engineering in 1967. Mitchell began his professional career in 1969 as an analyst at Exxon Corporation's office in New York City. In 1972 he accepted a position as department manager for Exxon in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.


Raychem Corporation was one of the first pioneers in Silicon Valley in California. The company was formed in 1957 when its founder, Paul M. Cook, then an engineer at the Stanford Research Institute, began conducting experiments in his garage. He tested the effects of radiation chemistry on plastics (the name Raychem is a shortened form of "radiation chemistry") and discovered a method for heat-shrinking plastic. This process is used to heat-shrink plastic in packages for meat products and for enclosing coaxial telephone cable.

Raychem had grown into a major force in the technology sector by 1973. Mitchell returned to his native California that year to join Raychem at its headquarters in Menlo Park as an operations manager for the company's energy division. He served in manufacturing operations until his promotion to the position of regional manager for Raychem International in 1977. As regional manager for the international group of the company from 1977 to 1985, his position focused on North and South America.

Raychem grew at an average of 25 percent per year during its first 25 years in business, but growth began to slow in the 1980s. After the company invested more money into its research and development section, profits began to decline. In 1985 the company was forced to lay off more than five hundred employees. Nevertheless, Mitchell earned a promotion during that year based on his work with the international group; he became vice president and general manager of Raychem International.

In 1988 Mitchell was promoted to senior vice president in charge of the industrial group, and during a series of organizational changes by Raychem in 1991, he was named senior vice president in charge of the electronics group. "Bill Mitchell has done an excellent job of restoring growth and profitability to our industrial divisions," said Raychem Chief Executive Officer Robert Saldich in 1991. "His experience in bringing Raychem products to a diverse group of industrial customers will enable us to take a fresh look at our electronics sector as it continues to shift from primarily defense business to a more commercial business" (Business Wire, March 26, 1991).


Mitchell remained at Raychem as senior vice president until August 1993, when he was appointed president and chief operating officer of Nashua Corporation, based in Nashua, New Hampshire. Mitchell was also named a director of the company. Nashua offered a wide array of products and services, including coated-paper products, computer products, office supplies, and photofinishing services. The company praised Mitchell's experience when he joined the company. "Bill's leadership abilities will enable Nashua to build on its past successes and aggressively pursue the opportunities offered through our technologies and capabilities," the company's chief executive officer, Charles E. Clough, said of Mitchell (Union Leader, August 13, 1993).

Nashua gained some notoriety during Mitchell's time with the company. Nashua sponsored a private school at a local plant in Albany, New York, which was designed to connect education with industry by maintaining a heavy focus on industry within its curriculum. "I think it's an exciting concept," Mitchell said when he visited the school in 1994 (Times Union, July 12, 1994). The school was known as the Learning Space and was open to children ages 5 through 13. Nashua also received a Certificate of Environmental Achievement from the Environmental Protection Agency in 1994 for participating in a pollution-prevention initiative known as the 33/50 Program, which was designed to reduce certain high-priority toxic chemicals by 33 percent in 1992 and by 50 percent in 1995. "This award demonstrates Nashua's commitment to reducing pollution and preserving our environment," Mitchell said when he received the award on behalf of the company. "Nashua continues to recognize the important role that corporations can play in environmental protection" (Business Wire, August 22, 1994).

Mitchell replaced Clough as the company's chief executive officer in 1994. Under Mitchell's leadership prior to his appointment as CEO, Nashua sold its computer-products division, known as Nashua Precision Technologies, and established a commercial-products group, which was designed to streamline the organization. "We have laid a foundation that will guide Nashua's profitable growth in the future as a customer-oriented, market-driven, innovative company with outstanding marketing, service, technical and manufacturing capabilities," Mitchell said in 1994. "Today, Nashua is better positioned to capitalize on its global market opportunities" (Business Wire, July 25, 1994).

Mitchell's plan failed. Nashua Precision Technologies became known as Cerion and saw its sales double between 1994 and 1995. During the same time period, Nashua Corporation saw its market value and stock price plummet, and many blamed Mitchell for the company's problems. According to an article in the Boston Globe, Mitchell "croaked sales by trying to force a plethora of niche products through a single sales force," referring to the company's new commercial-products group (May 8, 1996). Mitchell left the company in 1995 under pressure from Nashua's board of directors.


Mitchell was recruited in 1995 to become chairman, president, and chief executive officer of Sequel, a privately held company based in California. At the time, Sequel focused its primary business on repair and maintenance of computer disk drives. He was responsible for the company's international operations, including those in the United Kingdom, Malaysia, and Penang. In his four years with the company, he converted its focus to computer-services outsourcing.

Mitchell's experience with computer outsourcing proved to be valuable when he was hired in 1999 as executive vice president of Solectron Corporation, which provided customized electronics-manufacturing solutions to original-equipment manufacturers. The company created a new division, Solectron Global Services, and made Mitchell its president. Solectron Global Services offered a full range of services for the product lines of Solectron's client manufacturers, which allowed the manufacturers to focus their attention on the development of new products.

Solectron grew significantly between 1999 and 2002, acquiring a number of companies as it increased its business. Under Mitchell's direction, Solectron Global Services became a $1.2 billion business, and Mitchell was responsible for the division's management, strategic development, and new-business-development opportunities. He was involved in 11 of Solectron's acquisitions during his time with the company.


Mitchell's success at Solectron gained the attention of Arrow Electronics, one of Solectron's competitors. Arrow wanted to improve its relationship with electronicsmanufacturing-services (EMS) providers, and Mitchell's experience led Arrow to elect him as its president and chief executive officer in January 2003. Analysts said that the move was strategic on the part of Arrow. "I've watched Mitchell grow the services business at Solectron," said an analyst with Merrill Lynch. "It has become the fastest growth unit for the last couple of years. With Arrow's push into the services business to raise gross profit margins, Mitchell's appointment is a strategic move" (Electronic Buyer's News, January 20, 2003).

When he was hired, Mitchell said that the pace of the position at Arrow attracted him. One of his first challenges was to work toward improving the relationship between EMS providers and distributors, which were often tense due to a high level of competition. Regarding EMS providers and distributors, Mitchell said, "I think they have complementary skill sets and operate in different parts of the supply chain. We will continue to build the relationship" (Electronic Buyer's News, January 20, 2003). Mitchell spent much of his first year with the company working to make it operate more efficiently. He also focused the company's attention on Asia, where he spent a considerable amount of time while he was employed at Solectron. Mitchell also served on the board of directors for Rogers, a manufacturer and marketer of specialty polymer and electronics materials.

See also entries on Arrow Electronics, Inc., Exxon Corporation, Nashua Corporation, Raychem Corporation, and Solectron Corporation in International Directory of Company Histories.

sources for further information

Bailey, Steve, and Steven Syre, "A Battle for Survival," Boston Globe, May 8, 1996.

Dalton, Richard J., Jr., and Mark Harrington, "Hoping to Take Arrow's Business Up," Newsday, January 18, 2003.

"Mitchell Is Appointed Nashua Corp. President," Union Leader, August 13, 1993.

"Nashua Appoints William E. Mitchell as Chief Executive Officer," Business Wire, July 25, 1994.

"Nashua Corporation Receives EPA Award," Business Wire, August 22, 1994.

Nelis, Karen, "On-Site School Gives Students Industrial-Strength Edge," Times Union, July 12, 1994.

"Raychem Announces Organizational Changes," Business Wire, March 26, 1991.

Schrage, Michael, "Raychem Finds Hi-Tech Niche," Washington Post, October 6, 1985.

Sullivan, Laurie, "Arrow Electronics Lands One-Two Punch," Electronic Buyer's News, January 20, 2003, p. 1.

Matthew C. Cordon

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Mitchell, William E. 1944–

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