W. Donald Bell
Entrepreneur in Microelectronics
Inducted in 2000
Montgomery native W. D. “Don” Bell is the founder of Bell Microproducts Inc., a thriving value-added electronics distribution company with a broad range of products including semiconductors, computer products, and services. Well-respected among his Silicon Valley, California, peers, Mr. Bell has gained a reputation for being an innovative strategist and leading expert on creative high tech marketing (of everything from semiconductors to multi-user computer systems) and for having an impeccable technical mind.
In its 11 years of life, Bell Microproducts has rocketed to a rank of sixth largest of its kind worldwide, with sales that exceeded 1 billion dollars in 1999. The company is the largest Americas distributor of computer storage and peripheral products and manufactures its own proprietary product line of RAID, NAS, SAN, and other storage systems. In an industry growing and changing more rapidly than any other in history, only a keen understanding of the evolution of technology enables an entrepreneur to achieve the kind of success that Mr. Bell has achieved.
Three decades of experience in the electronics industry led Mr. Bell to this exceptional level of insight. A synopsis of his management positions, since earning a bachelor of science degree in electrical engineering at The University of Alabama in 1961, is filledwith varied and impressive achievements. At Autonetics (Division of North American Aviation, Rockwell), Mr. Bell held engineering positions in the flightand environmental testing of the Minuteman missile and in the company’s inertial guidance systems group. He was also a full-time instructor of the engineering principles and applications of inertial navigation systems. At Texas Instruments, Mr. Bell worked with Hughes Aircraft on several programs including the design of the infrared guidance system of the TOW anti-tank missile used successfully in Operation Desert Storm. He was also a contributor to the development of secure and commercial communications satellites such as the Early Bird.
Mr. Bell was a founder and vice president of Silicon General, a manufacturer of linear integrated circuits. The firm was noted for innovation in analog circuits. Later Mr. Bell was president and CEO of another publicly held integrated-circuit manu-facturer, Electronic Arrays. Blazing trails in ASIC technology and numerous memory and microprocessor products, early successes resulted in its sale to NEC of Japan, which today (as NEC Microelectronics) is a partner of Bell Microproducts.
Mr. Bell has been the executive vice president of sales and marketing with American Microsystems Inc. and also executive vice president of the memory and microprocessor group. AMI developed advanced technologies such as VMOS, CMOS, ASIC products, and specialized memory products. Before launching Bell Microproducts to stellar heights in 1988, Mr. Bell was with Ducommun Inc. in several capacities, including president and COO, and managed its fiveelectronics and fiveaerospace companies. Ducommun was a key contractor for the space shuttle program, manufacturing the vehicle’s large external fuel tank and parts of its control panel.
Bell Microproducts boasts an overall compounded annual growth rate of 53 percent for the past fiveyears. The company has 27 locations throughout the Americas and focuses on demand creation and “added value.” On October 18, 1999, Bell Microproducts was named the Best Managed Company in its industry by Electronic Buyer News, an industry publication. This was the first award of this type awarded by the publication.
Honored as a Distinguished Engineering Fellow by The University of Alabama, Mr. Bell serves on the UA Engineering Leadership Board and established the Walter D. Bell Scholarship with the UA College of Engineering. He has been a board member of the San Jose Symphony, Control Data Systems, Sand Hill Capital, the Miramount Mental Health Institute, as well as the National Electronic Distributors Association and the Silicon Valley Capital Club. Mr. Bell resides in Woodside, California, with his wife, Lynne. They are the parents of five childen.