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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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9 comments

  1. Vince, very nice our back grounds are similar however I never worked for a direct branch and am starting my 32 year in the business. That’s what happens when you start @ 23 years old! I started in service, actually went to a state sponsered school that paid me $3.50 per hour. They got me a job on completion, and I was a tech working in Apeco, and Minolta copiers. After 3 months I had a review meeting and in this meeting they told me I was great at taking the systems apart, however not so great at putting them back together. Would you be interested in a sales position? Well, it was either that or the Army and I selected Sales!!

    Art


  2. MAN! What a ride!

    To me, there is nothing like good copier nostalgia…Makes/Models come and go I remember The CanonCLC 1,CLC500/550 Fuji Xerox A Color 635/935…These (I Hope) will never be fogotten…Editing boards! These were CHOICE FUN! I wish these old favorites and current/recent moels could be made to last 20-25years…Maby you should write an e-book,an autobiography…The 3M II Secretary Alpha Model 368 Copier sounds just like a Xerox 914…Very SCARY! OUCH!

    Now,I have a question to ask you…Why COPIERS?!?

    Daira


    • Daria,

      Why Copiers?

      Just lucky I guess…. LMAO!!!!

      It has been an interesting ride. This industry is definitely NOT for everyone. But fortunately it has been good to me!

      Best Regards,
      Vince


      • WHAT IS IT ABOUT THE COPIER INDUSTRY THAT IT IS NOT FOR EVERYONE? (OR ANYONE FOR THAT MATTER)?
        I KNOW THAT THEY (COPIERS) ARE ALMOST AT THE BOTTOM OF THE I.T. “FOOD CHAIN…THEY ARE CONSIDERED BORING, THEY ARE OVERKITTED WITH FEATURES, ADJUSTMENTS, AND CONFIGURATIONS THAT ONLY A “COPIER-HOON” WOULD WANT TO USE (BARELY A FRACTION OF A PERCENT) OPERATOR MANUALS THAT ALSO LOOK/FEEL LIKE ENGINEER’S MANUALS THAT NOWADAYS YOU HAVE TO DOWNLOAD, 200-300PAGES…YUCK!
        BEEPING NOISES, ADMIN FUNCTIONS THAT NOBODY (VIRTUALLY) CAN BE BOTHERED TO CONFIGURE TO SUIT THE OPERATING ENVIRONMENT IT IS TO GO IN…OFFICE?UNIVERSITY? CASUAL WALK UP OPERATING ENVIRONMENTS? E.G. LIBRARIES…AND SO ON…
        FACTORY DEFAULTS CAN BE A TOTAL DISASTER…

        AND THE MOST DISTURBING/INSIDIOUS ISSUE FACING COPIER-USERS TODAY…

        INDENTITY THEFT/COPIER HARD DRIVES…


  3. BRING ON THE O’LE…

    GARBAGE COMPACTOR!


  4. JUST CLICKED YOUR 3M DIPLOMA…LOOKS LIKE AN HISTORICAL DOCUMENT!

    SHOULD BE ARCHIVED AND PRESERVED FOR FUTURE GENERATIONS.

    …AND THE LANIER/RICOH MERGER “ICE BERG AND TITANIC”…

    *CHOICE FUNNY!*

    P.S.
    WHO WAS THE “COPIER-COMEDIAN” WHO CREATED IT?


    • While I did not draw it, I “re purposed and re labeled” it…LOL

      That is the extent of my artistic capabilities.

      Vince


  5. I, too, worked on the 368 copier. I did not have the wooden tongs, though. My career with 3M, 1980 – 1986, began in McLean, VA. Our group supported downtown D.C. I was also trained on our best machine, the 787. For a tech, I made good money and my job was great (company Ford F-150 van), until Lanier bought our business in Florida. The eleven techs in the state were eventually replaced by Lanier people. Business is business. That’s for your blog.
    Luther Hollums



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