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INGRAM MICRO CUTTING 120 JOBS HERE

Computer wholesaler Ingram Micro will cut about 120 jobs at its Amherst office by year-end as it outsources back-office work overseas, officials said Monday.

The move is part of a reorganization that leaves the office as the company's largest site in North America -- with about 1,200 jobs -- and its center for U.S. sales.

"The Buffalo (area) office is picking up some important functions," said Brian Wiser, senior vice president for marketing. "One location acts as our primary sales and customer-facing location."

Companywide, Ingram Micro is cutting 550 jobs, half of them at its headquarters site in Santa Ana, Calif. The rest come from its Canada sales center in Toronto; Amherst, and from other facilities around North America.

In addition to becoming the sole U.S. sales center, a role previously shared with Santa Ana, the Amherst office at 1759 Wehrle Drive will also host a "solutions center" to open in about two weeks, Wiser said. The center allows Ingram Micro customers to develop technology systems and demonstrate them to end users.

"Buffalo made the most sense," Wiser said of the decision to base sales here. "When you factor in cost and productivity, it was a natural choice."

Although it's shrinking, the company's move doesn't amount to an economic vote against Western New York, officials said.

"I don't think it has anything to do with the area," said Charles Webb, the executive director of the Erie County Industrial Development Agency. "It has more to do with their business."

The wholesaler of computers and other technology gear has been slimming its work force in Amherst and nationwide since the technology bubble burst in 2001. It withdrew from the newer of its two buildings on Wehrle Drive in 2003 and shrank the site from its previous 1,700-job total during tech's heyday.

Worldwide, Ingram Micro will employ about 13,000 people once the cuts are complete. The company, based in Orange County about 25 miles from Los Angeles, bills itself as the world's largest technology distributor, with sales of $25 billion last year, up 12.6 percent. Its profits of $220 million were up 47 percent.

Workers affected by the cut will stay on for several months to make a smooth transition for the company and customers, Wiser said. They will receive severance bonuses and outplacement help. The jobs to be outsourced include support functions in the areas of finance, customer service, technical support and inside sales.

The company expects the reorganization to cost $26 million, $18 million after taxes. Workers will conduct training in the U.S. and overseas with the outsource provider.

After initial costs, Ingram Micro expects to save $25 million a year by outsourcing the work, which will be performed in India or the Philippines, Wiser said. Two contractors whom the company wouldn't name are vying for the tasks, with a provider to be chosen by May 1.

News Business Reporter David Robinson contributed to this story.
e-mail: fwilliams@buffnews.com