World Micro CEO Dan Ellsworth, left, signed an agreement to build a new distribution hub in Penang during a June 25 meeting with Redza Rafiq of Malaysia's Northern Corridor Implementation Authority in Los Angeles.

A Roswell-based electronics distributor has opened a new warehouse in Malaysia to better serve its growing customer base in Southeast Asia.

World Micro Inc. connects manufacturers with the parts they need, particularly those that are out of date or hard to find. The company sells anything from touchscreens and motherboards to more specialized components used in airplanes and medical devices.

Malaysia, an aggressive player in a region that accounts for tens of billions of dollars in electronics annually, makes up 15-20 percent of World Micro’s sales, said Dan Ellsworth, World Micro’s CEO.

The new warehouse in the city of Penang is smaller than the 30,000-square-foot building that houses its metro Atlanta headquarters, but its mission is similar.

World Micro purchases parts or brings them in on consignment, housing them at the facility until it can find a buyer through its extensive databases of suppliers and parts.

“We’re supply chain experts. Really what we try to do is solve different supply chain issues,” said Mr. Ellsworth.

Malaysia made sense for the new facility because of the prevalence of contract manufacturers that have flocked there to take advantage of a generous tax structure and a skilled but inexpensive labor force, he said.

The country is intentional about targeting foreign investment, particularly from the U.S., said Mr. Ellsworth, who met with Mustapa Mohamed, Malaysia’s minister of international trade and industry, during a roundtable in Atlanta last September. 

He added that the electronics industry makes up the majority of economic activity in Penang, a city of 1.5 million people.

Perhaps the best proof of the city’s advantages is the effort Mr. Ellsworth put into getting there to open the facility in June. Door to door, he notched 34 hours of travel time.

World Micro, which employs 75 people in Atlanta, plans to hire seven employees initially at the 18,000-square-foot hub.

In addition to storing and selling parts, the facility will serve as a training center to teach Malaysians how to detect counterfeit parts. Each part that comes into a World Micro warehouse undergoes a 72-point inspection to verify its authenticity.

“The No. 1 initiative at this company is to be the best in the world at detecting counterfeit parts, because we simply can’t afford to let things get through,” particularly when devices like heart monitors are involved, Mr. Ellsworth said.

He hopes the training initiatives will add value to the local economy while building World Micro’s brand name in the area.

The company is considering opening its next hub in Hungary in 2012.

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As managing editor of Global Atlanta, Trevor has spent 15+ years reporting on Atlanta’s ties with the world. An avid traveler, he has undertaken trips to 30+ countries to uncover stories on the perils...