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Tech Data fills a void

The Clearwater company shipped computers and other equipment to help New York firms rebuild.

By JEFF HARRINGTON

© St. Petersburg Times, published September 15, 2001


The Clearwater company shipped computers and other equipment to help New York firms rebuild.

CLEARWATER -- Tech Data Corp., the biggest public company in the Tampa Bay area, has emerged as a major cog in rebuilding New York City's crippled financial center.

As the second-largest computer distributor in the country, Clearwater-based Tech Data has mobilized three of its six distribution centers to ship computers, servers, work stations and other computer equipment to financial powerhouses whose World Trade Center operations were obliterated in Tuesday's terrorist attacks.

The equipment is going into emergency operations for some of the brokerage houses and financial companies hardest hit by the collapse of the Trade Center towers, including Lehman Brothers, Credit Suisse, Morgan Stanley and Bank of New York.

From its South Bend, Ind., warehouse, which handles military contracts, Tech Data is also trucking laptops and PCs to Washington, D.C., for companies affected by the Pentagon blast.

Sales, marketing and credit officers are all working extended hours through the weekend. "We're just trying to help as much as we can, to help the nation recover from this," Tech Data spokesman Chuck Miller said Friday.

Top U.S. computer companies, including IBM and Compaq, did not have enough computers and computer equipment on hand when the New York companies came calling. They told their customers to go to Tech Data.

Demand was relatively light Tuesday, the day of the attacks.

"Most of America was glued to its TV sets," said Tim Curran, Tech Data senior vice president of sales. "On Wednesday and Thursday, as people began to get their arms around the enormity of the rebuilding task, the calls came in."

The company's task was made much tougher by the shutdown of the air travel network. When Lehman Brothers asked for 17 pallets of Compaq computers, or roughly 500 systems, at 6 p.m. Wednesday, a truck driver was on the road from Tech Data's South Bend distribution center by 8 p.m. He drove all night to deliver the computers the next day.

Among other requests: computer equipment for a 10,000-employee operation in temporary headquarters in New York, and a center in New Jersey for 5,000 people eager to get computers installed before the markets reopen Monday. Real estate companies and insurance companies at the site of the tragedies need handheld computers and notebooks.

- Jeff Harrington can be reached at harrington@sptimes.com or (813) 226-3407.

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