An Interview with Johan Smit
President of Electronics 123
by Marvin Mallon
This month’s spotlight is on
Electronics 123 whose headquarters is in Columbiana — a town of
about 6,000 population located 78 miles
southeast of Cleveland on the eastern
edge of Ohio. President and CEO, Johan
Smit, founded this privately owned,
Internet-based company in 1997. He first
worked as a chartered accountant in
South Africa, which is the equivalent of a
CPA in America. He then started a mail
order business in South Africa in 1993
that he ran with his family until he
moved to the USA with his American
wife in 1996. He started his present
business in the basement of his home.
He became an American citizen
in 2004 and now has three children
ages one, three, and six.
Johan says that there is nothing
easy about starting a business in
America. Nevertheless, he believes
that there are virtually unlimited possibilities for an entrepreneur. It is such a
huge market compared to where
he started in South Africa. However,
the competition is fierce and requires
one to be on his toes every moment.
Marvin: Johan, how large is your facility
and how many employees do you have?
Johan: The company moved into a
3,000 square foot storefront at the
end of 2004, but the business is growing fast and will need to take up more
of the building by the end of this year.
We presently have four employees.
turers of Halloween props use many
of these. We also have a range of
low-cost microcontroller programmers
that are popular with hobbyists. We’ve
added numerous products from
Velleman in the past two years such as
Velleman soldering stations, oscilloscopes, multimeters, kits, tools, etc.
MM: What is your principal business?
JS: My company is a distributor of
more than 2,000 line items including
components, kits, tools, books, and
MM: Is there a newly developed
product ready for release?
JS: We are introducing a range of digital video recorders (DVRs) customized
for different applications such as door
phone cams, taxi cams, vehicle black
boxes, and slow motion capture, etc.
MM: What are your most popular
products? Who are your customers for
JS: We sell many camera modules
with digital outputs that are used in
robotic applications. Our 20-second
voice recorder/play back modules sell
well. These often end up in museum
displays. Our low cost PIR modules
are also very popular. Small manufac-
MM: Finally, please describe the day-to-day operation of your business.
JS: The business has grown steadily
through a combination of hard work, perseverance, technological innovation, and
great customer service. We receive many
positive comments on our sophisticated
website featuring real-time inventory
stock levels. We feature a customer center that shows order status, tracking info,
can reprint invoices and sales orders, and
show order history and can submit trouble tickets. We are proud of the fact that
in-stock items are shipped the same day
if the order is submitted by 3pm EST.
There is also no shipping charge when
the back ordered part of an order ships.
The business runs very efficiently,
using all of the latest technologies
for business processes and back-end
systems. The company uses a
fully integrated computer system to
process, fulfill, and ship orders. The
business also ships a substantial
number of international orders. NV