From fasteners to bearings, electrical products to aircraft, and everything in between, Florida-based Legacy Components remains one of America’s top-tier supply-chain management service providers.
Working primarily with original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and contract manufacturers, Legacy Components’ services are unlike many other companies in the marketplace. It’s led to Legacy often serving as a filter for its prime contractors, vetting other suppliers.
Establishing and maintaining quality management systems for the distribution of electronic components and aerospace hardware, the company focuses on addressing and solving problems for clients. In truth, it seems that the same cannot be said for every competitor, especially those who do not go through aerospace certifications and quality procedures, the rules Legacy abides by.
To shield customers from having to employ additional vendors with consequent worries about quality, performance, and receiving the wrong products, Legacy works on their behalf. If, say, a massive American multinational such as Boeing needs a new component and Legacy has agreed to an overall low margin, the company will willingly source and provide it for them, eliminating delays or shortages because of terms or conditions.
Peace of mind
“It’s worth it for them to get peace of mind and good quality products, topped by our warranty on anything that leaves our building,” says Bruce Tharpe, Director of Sales with the company since 2015. “So it protects them, keeps their purchasing organized. They don’t have to substitute, and they don’t have to sacrifice their own quality standards to get materials for the lab or engineering spot buys, such as items purchased on eBay or Amazon or some online service you’ve never heard of.
“With some of these other services, you never know what you’re going to get. That’s one of our customized solutions,” he adds. “The Legacy Shield means we screen what our customers receive on their dock, saving time and revenue.”
Founded by President and Chief Executive Officer Kenneth Alvarez in 2011 – whose experience includes facilitating the distribution of electronic components to aerospace, automotive, defense, and mechanical device clients for other businesses – Legacy was formed to concentrate more on the component and aerospace side of the business. Growing to about 18 full-time employees, the company’s strategic Tampa location provides benefits to Legacy and customers alike.
A multitude of resources
“We are basically surrounded by a very lucrative area when it comes to aerospace, for example, and we have access to a multitude of materials,” says Tharpe. Situated close to MacDill Air Force Base, Tampa International Airport, the St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport and the United States Coast Guard (USGC), Legacy has many resources for materials.
Many airlines, companies, organizations, and branches of the military work with Legacy to access inventory. “The company can tap into that inventory, and it’s right around the corner from us in case someone needs it or they have an emergency situation or aircraft on ground.”
And by supporting nearby repair stations with equipment, Legacy can get products repaired, re-certified, tagged and sent back to customers quickly. Driven by customer requirements, Legacy can and does turn this proximity into a real win for its clients – if a customer needs a dedicated dealer for a specific brand, Legacy will go out and take up a relationship with the factory and become authorized on their behalf.
Selling to those customers worldwide allowed by the U.S. Government, Legacy customers in the main are American-based with offices in other countries such as China. Legacy provides different products and services to support those businesses.
One example is Virginia-based VSE Federal Services Group, which helps support the U.S. Military with logistical operations like setting up temporary tent cities and barracks for soldiers; training, maintenance, repair and overhaul.
“We keep everything within the ITAR/NAFTA confines, and we are very careful about that,” says Tharpe. “We check with the export laws, and we do export licenses as well — not every company does those. We assist our companies with export licensing. So that’s one of the unique things about us. A lot of companies would mess with those, but we offer that service for our clients.”
Governed by International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR), Legacy keeps on top of changing situations in different countries, and conducts its business accordingly.
Working toward AS6081
Holding certifications including AS9120, Legacy Components is undergoing an audit, preparing for Stage 1 of AS6081, the next step up from AS, so the company can advance to the next higher standard.
The audit standards, created as a response to the growing number of counterfeit or fraudulent electronic parts in the aerospace supply chain (which poses great risks to safety, reliability and performance) “[provide] uniform requirements, practices and methods to mitigate the risks of purchasing and supplying fraudulent/counterfeit electronic parts,” according to global certification body NQA. For Legacy, AS6081 represents a big step forward for the company and its customers.
“We have been listening a lot to our clients, and this [AS6081] is what they’ve been asking for, and what they need,” comments Tharpe. “So we try to meet their challenges as best we can by finding out what’s needed, rather than just being another company offering the same thing everybody else is doing. We try to find out what’s missing, and direct our business plan that way.”
Writing the book on it
Soon after joining the company, Tharpe restructured the company’s sales methodology, implementing a new trading strategy called ESAM – Electronic Sales and Account Management – a program he wrote which brings a high level of professionalism to how client accounts are managed and directed, and how Legacy services them.
Unlike many competitors, the company is flexible, “not regimented” when comes to customer requests, never saying ‘no stock,’ or ‘no bid,’ focusing instead on being result-oriented.
“Sometimes we have to try new things rather than writing it off or saying ‘no,’” says Tharpe. “We will at least try to see if there is a way we can help solve the challenge.” At Legacy, striving to excel takes on many forms. This includes approaching and negotiating with a manufacturer about sourcing a component that had been obsolete for years, making one last run for the customer based on the contract.
In another instance, material wasn’t ready for production, so Legacy negotiated free training for the customer, and sourced a manufacturer who could supply them with demo models with the same contract and warranty as the production model, even though that wouldn’t be ready for another year.
“They needed it within a few months, and we were able to negotiate that. Normally, these are the types of things that people say ‘no’ to, or ‘we can’t do that,’ but we try to work the problem and find a solution, and we are successful at that,” Tharpe says.
Introduced in 1998, HUBZone refers to a program under the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) aimed at employing women and men in ‘Historically Under-utilized Business Zones’, or HUBZones.
Satisfying several criteria, including having the company’s principal operations located in a HUBZone, Legacy became a ‘qualified HUBZone small business concern’ in 2015. The move involves many responsibilities, from keeping System for Award Management (SAM) and Dynamic Small Business Search (DSBS) records up-to date, to remaining in compliance/updating Program changes, and participating in SBA eligibility monitoring initiatives.
“Basically a HUBZone is a historically underdeveloped area,” says Tharpe. “They’re usually older areas of the city. For example, Tampa has a long history going back to the turn of the twentieth century, and historically it’s been an underdeveloped area, but there’s a lot of history here.” Doing its part to hire locals and stimulate the economy, Legacy’s office is located in a designated HUBZone. “We wanted to add to the Program, help the community, and give back.”
To meet customer demand, Legacy plans to open a new, second location in Houston by the beginning of next year. With a top-flight and motivated sales team, the company finds that the bulk of its business comes from satisfied repeat customers who then refer their customers, and contractors working for them. “It’s great because we get both sides of it: we get their customers and their [customers’] contractors as well – [they] send them our way,” says Tharpe. “If there’s a situation where there’s a roadblock, they’ll say, ‘call Legacy.’”
Praise from customers who are involved in areas such as working with NASA and launch systems at Cape Canaveral, has led to Legacy doing a lot of business with NASA and United Launch Alliance (ULA).
In every case, Legacy’s commitment to clients is unwavering. It is not unusual for the company to receive drawings from engineers facing challenges, and use one of their custom suppliers to perform reverse engineering so that clients can put their own part number on products.
“We have five or six different custom firms that we use that will do custom work for us, like cable harnesses, cable assemblies, and even embedded work as well, where it comes to actual circuit PCBs, and even electromechanical,” comments Tharpe.
“So we are doing more and more custom work, accepting custom drawings from customers. We like to put our heads together and come up with solutions, helping them and – being results driven – not just doing the same thing like everybody else.”
Legacy has clearly nailed a different level of service by being different from everyone else themselves.