Archive for December, 2011

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Looking back on 25 years in the Industry

December 30, 2011

Maybe I am feeling a little nostalgic. The New Year fast approaches, and I have been writing this blog for 3 years. As I look back over a long an interesting career, I got to thinking about just how long I have been in this industry and all of the different jobs I have held. I have been a Trainee, a Service Tech, Troubleshooter, Field Service Manager, Salesman, Systems Engineer, Solutions Manager, and now an Executive.

I started working for 3M BPSI in Manhattan, NY in 1978, my first real job out of high school. I had a walking territory in the midtown and uptown of the East Side of NYC. Since I didn’t use a car, I didn’t get a Car allowance, but I did get $75.00 every quarter for shoes (LOL). I was originally trained to repair microfilm machines but in December of 1979 I was trained on 3M’s Secretary II Alpha Model 368 Copier. Believe it or not, I still have my diploma. That was the first copy machine that I was trained on. It came with a pair of large wooden tongs and you needed to have an empty solid metal waste basket next to it, because sometimes the paper would get stuck under the “toaster oven” like heater and catch fire. You were instructed to use the wooden tongs to remove the paper (while it is on fire) and put it in the empty, solid, metal waste can to “safely burn out”. Now consider that I use to service equipment in NYC 30 floors up and higher! Can you imagine OSHA being OK with a copy machine where the paper occasionally caught fire! Those were the good old days LOL.

I took about a 10 year break from the industry when I left in 1980 for school and travel, and returned in 1989 as a trainee copy service technician (in the Boston area) first on Mita copiers, and then Canon. While working at this large regional dealership I became a Troubleshooter, and then Field Manager, managing a dozen technicians who serviced the high volume Canon equipment (50ppm and up). In the early and mid 90’s the digital copier came on the scene. My Dealership sent two managers to Novell CNE school (back then Novell had 60% of the Server Market). The Service manager decided to go himself and took one Field Service Manager with him, I was a Field Service Manager but not the one chosen for Novell School. But it was apparent to me that these digital copy machines would drastically change our industry, so I paid for the Novell CNE training out of my own pocket (my then wife was NOT happy about that). when I finished all the classes and associated test to earn my CNE (Novell Certified Network Engineer) both of the managers who were CNE’s gave their notice within two weeks of each other. Leaving me as the only CNE on staff. After financial arrangements were worked out to cover my out of pocket costs I was made a part of the Connectivity Team, and in six months I was manager of the team. I managed that team for several years, and almost took a job with eCopy but decided to stay at NECS. After maxing out my earning potential managing the Systems Support team I decided to go over to “the dark side” (LOL), I became one of three Color Sales Specialists. At this time my dealership was a single line Canon dealer. The CLC was in the sunset of its domination and the ImageRUNNER C3200  had just been released. My first year I sold a little over 3/4 of a million dollars @ 36 profit margin.My favorite deals were selling a New IRC 3200 with a used CLC1150 that package would meet all of my customers needs. The CLC5000’s were still a very viable product in the Print for Pay market.

Then Canon released the infamous C3100 & C6800 hybrid B&W/Color devices that changed things again. I was sitting in a sales meeting when the Director of Sales started chiding the sales force for NOT selling these C3100’s and C6800’s on their own (without the color specialists). I caught him as we left the meeting and said, “so my job is going away?”, he looked at me sideways and said “why do you say that?”. I laughed and asked him if he was just in the same meeting I was. After thinking about what he said in the meeting he said to me, I can see how you might think that, but assured me he would make room for me as a down the street rep. Not really what I had in mind.

Shortly after that Sales meeting I got a call from a Major Account Rep who left the Dealership and went to work for Ricoh Business Systems (RBS) now Ricoh Business Solutions. He told me that they were reconstituting their “Solutions Team” and were looking for someone like me to run the team. After 3 long and intense interviews I was offered and accepted the job of Solutions Manager for RBS-Boston (The New England Market Place). I was later told that in a cost cutting measure Ricoh had disbanded their previous Solutions Team, and were surprised when their sales tanked (DUH!). I took about a year to get the chemistry right between the Solutions Team and the Sales force. But once we did we were a formidable force. The second year I was their RBS-Boston hit our triple crown numbers. We were the only branch out of 13 US branches to do it that year, and RBS-Boston had never done it before in the history of that branch. I was a part of a great management team! The branch awarded me an MVP trophy that year. I still have it in my office today.

The Lanier \ Ricoh merger was announced towards the end of that year. We went down to a joint (Ricoh \ Lanier) year end meeting. I was psyched for that meeting! Why not, we were the only branch to knock it out of the park that year. We were strutting around when we got there, when I was told that they would be changing the structure of the branches. I naively said “to match how RBS-Boston is set up?” No, not exactly….. They moved my team into the Service department… I thought WTF? Do you have any idea what we do? or what it took to accomplish what we’ve done? Apparently not. This is when I lost respect for Ricoh’s management because they don’t respect results. They are more concerned about all the branches being the same (= mediocre). How can you work for a company that asks you to accomplish difficult goals and when you do it they change everything that you work so hard to put in place. I can’t and choose not to work for them anymore. I was offered the job of Vice President for the Dealership I worked for back in ’89.

I have been back with NECS for over 4 years, and when you add that to my previous 16 1/2 years I have worked for NECS for a little over 20 years now. So please indulge me in this short stroll down memory lane. This industry has been very good to me. I have had the opportunity to meet and work with some great people. I know that not everyone is cut out for it, and many people burn out after a few years. But for those of us who call it “our industry”, it has shaped us as much as we have shaped it.

What will 2012 bring? I have no crystal ball. But making it through the Tsunami and double dip recession of 2011 still standing tall, I have great expectations for 2012. I hope that it will be good to you too! Happy New Year! Bring on 2012!

That’s my $0,02
Vince McHugh
vince.mchugh@yahoo.com

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2012 will see more consolidation of the “copier” Industry

December 27, 2011

While the purchase of Oce by Canon, and Ikon by Ricoh are old news, both of these organizations have continued to be players in the industry. But it looks like that will change in 2012. The word on the street is the Ikon name will cease to exist in April 2012, and Canons recent move to “delist Oce” forebodes the same for the Oce name http://www.canon.com/news/2011/dec22e.html

While the number of choices for companies narrow even further in 2012, the basic choice remains the same when it comes to who will you buy an MFD from? And even more important who will service and support that MFD after the sale? The second question is best answered BEFORE the first question!  Because a cheap initial price will soon be forgotten in the face of poor service and support. It is quality service and support AFTER THE SALE that brings the real value to the deal. Is a few dollars less a month worth the head aches and complaints from your staff & coworkers for the next 3 to 5 years. I know that Purchasing Agents like to boil it down to a like for like comparison and then negotiate the cheapest price possible. And in some cases you may even be comparing the same manufacturer’s MFDs from two different vendors. What will you use to differentiate one Dealer from another? Here are a couple of things to consider:

1) How long has this Dealer been servicing the equipment they sell?

2) What is the average experience of their technicians on the equipment you are buying?

3) How long have they been selling and servicing in your area?

4) What kind of reputation do they have for Service & Support after the sale?
Anyone can provide  3 references, so talk to other companies in your area,
or check the BBB to  see what their rating is.

5) Do they have local System Engineers on staff? How many? Or does the same copier tech who
changes the heat roller do the systems work? Are you comfortable with that?

When you go out to buy a car, do you look for the cheapest car you can find? And then take it to the cheapest repair shop to maintain it? Generally not, especially if you are spending your own hard earned money, you want VALUE for your dollar! Why then does “common sense” go out the window when we are buying something for our company? When we buy a Car, or a TV, or a Suit we don’t look for the cheapest, we look for the best value, and I will pay a little more for it because it will last, and when I find a vendor,merchant, or car mechanic that gives me good service after the sale, I go back there again and again. And I tell other people to go there as well, because they gave me a good value, and good service after the sale.

So what are your 3 main choices in 2012 when it comes to buying an MFD (Copier)?

  1. The Direct Sales Arm of the Manufacturer, the  _BS Branch (CBS, RBS, TABS, KMBS)
  2. The Large Regional Dealers
  3. The Mom & Pop Dealer – small, local, shop with a couple of techs.

If you are a very small office with one small piece of equipment you might consider the small Mom & Pop dealer. You needs will not likely tax their limited resources. But If you have multiple MFDs or multiple offices you are really down to two choices, the _BS Branch or a Large Regional Dealer. The Branch will say “We are the Manufacturer, why would you want to deal with anyone else”. CBS, RBS, TABS, and KMBS have never manufactured anything. They are just another sales channel and are treated no different than any other Sales Channel by the actual manufacturer (Canon, Ricoh, Toshiba, Konica Minolta). But even if the _BS Branch was “The Manufacturer”, what does that mean to you? You still need to answer the question How good is their service & support (after the sale) going to be? Past performance is the best indicator of future results. If you have a large regional dealership that has been in business for 30 to 40 years they have survived and thrived on good service & support. So do your due diligence and look for the best value in 2012. Because the sweet taste of the cheapest price will soon sour when poor service and support cause you head aches not just in 2012 but 2013, 2014, 2015, and beyond. I like to tell potential customers up front that we won’t be the “cheapest” company that they look at, and if that is what they want, “the cheapest”, they shouldn’t be looking at us. We will be competitive, and we will provide the best value for their dollars. But good service & support cost a little more. So you decide in 2012 what you want “The Cheapest Initial price” or “The Best Value for your money”. I already know what I will pick!

That’s my $0.02
Vince McHugh
vince.mchugh@yahoo.com

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Merry Christmas!

December 22, 2011

And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed. (And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.) And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:) To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child. And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.
And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men. And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us. And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger. And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child. And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds. But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart. And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them.

Luke 2:1 – 20

I wish you and your family a Merry Christmas, and a very prosperous and Happy New Year! If 2011 was not all you wanted it to be, ask yourself what will you do differently in 2012? Because one practical definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over, but expecting different results.

Vince McHugh

vince.mchugh@yahoo.com

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Fiery Color Substitution saves the day!

December 10, 2011

In the early days of connecting copiers as network printers a Fiery rip (print engine) was a hands down must for anyone serious about printing. I know of one deal where a dealer sold 50 Konica Minolta MFDs to a manufacturing company and they had so much trouble with the early version of the stock embedded print engine that the dealer had to retro fit all the Konica Minolta with Fierys after the sale. The customer was so gun shy that each dealer who placed equipment on the next round of bidding was forced to supply MFDs with Fiery rips. It was only after demonstrating that the new Canon embedded print engine would print all of their documents from all of their applications that we won the bid without having to place Fierys on every Canon.

Don’t think for a minute that I am not a fan of the Fiery Rip, I think Fiery Rips are amazing and can do what nothing else can do quite as well. But the cost significantly more than the standard OEM embedded print engines, The key to successfully placing a Fiery is finding the problem that only the Fiery can solve, and then sell the value. Customers will sometime squawk about having to spend more, but value doesn’t mean the cheapest option, it means the best available for the money. Fiery is often the best value.

So when do I lead with a Fiery? Of course for Graphic Artists, a Mac house, a Print for Pay business, or CRD (Central Reproduction Departments) are all no brainers. But what about a law firm or any customer that DEMANDS critical color matching? We recently put a Canon C7065 with a Fiery A-1 rip in a Law Firm that had recently purchased a Xerox in another city with no Fiery. I spoke to the IT manager who ws involved in the Xerox purchase and he said that he didn’t think much of the Fiery because “they could only affect Pantone colors” (which is not true).  My salesman set up a training session so we could address any concerns about color. The customer handed me their standard corporate color specification sheet. On it were their three main colors, as well as about a half dozen secondary colors. Each color had a Pantone Color, as well as both an RGB formula, and a CMYK formula. Now most people know that Fiery has the best color management optins on the planet. The Graphics Arts package has amazing tools, but what about the standard A-1? Well there is “Spot On” which has always allowed us to edit the Pantone Colors to match them to what the customer thinks they should be. But what about the RGB or CMYK colors? What you may not know is “Spot On” does more than just Pantone editing, Now you can substitute any RBG or CMYK color and change it to any CMYK color you think it should be.

I took their standard color sheet and punched in their nine RGB colors and substituted the CMYK formulas listed next to them, and the colors came out dead on. This worked extremely well except for their “Caseware” documents, the red was still off. Why? Because it was a jpeg image of their 3 primary colors and NOT the actual RGB formula. While the image was RGB color it was NOT the same formula as was on their sheet. It just looked similar. Does that mean we can’t substitute those colors, because they are an image? Not at all, the problem is we don’t know what the formula for THAT THREE COLOR IMAGE IS. But the Fiery’s Graphic Arts package lets us inspect the document to see what the RGB formula is, and once we know that we can apply the CMYK formula that they demand. So that is what I did, I used the Fiery GA package to figure out what RGB colors the Fiery saw the 3 Color JPEG as and then used the “Spot On” color substitution to map those RGB colors to their CMYK corporate standard colors.

Too many sales people shy away from Fiery Rips because they are more expensive. But I have used the Fiery Color Management to win deal after deal. And that will beat the cheapest price more often than not (as long as it is presented correctly). Who among us goes out to by the cheapest TV, or Suit, or Computer we can find? No! we don’t buy the cheapest, we look for value! Why should buying a color MFD be any different.

That’s My $0.02
Vince McHugh
vince.mchugh@yahoo.com