By Andy Slawetsky, Industry Analysts Inc. – Konica Minoltaheld a dealer summit in Carlsbad CA Oct. 8 – 10. The event was smaller than a typical conference, with about 50 dealers in attendance, there to find out What’s Happenin’ with KM.
I enjoy these smaller events as you get the opportunity to spend more quality time with people.
The arrival day was light and thankfully didn’t include sessions as they sometimes do. When I get all the way across the country, I need some recovery time and it was a treat not to have to jump right in.
That evening, we took a short bus ride to the dinner where President and CEO Rick Taylor welcomed us with some words before dinner. It was a nice, casual evening and it was great hanging out with old and new friends.
Under the theme “Igniting Connectivity,” the next morning began with Rick taking the stage to layout the day’s events, before getting into company updates.
Rather than hide from it, Rick addressed KM’s sales figures, telling dealers “this was the worst half we’ve had in 10 years.” While KM had record profit and revenue last year, they missed their plan the first half of (April – Sept.).
He took responsibility and discussed the changes he’s implemented to get them back on track. Name a company that hasn’t had a hiccup in the last few years. Most of you reading this probably weren’t even aware they missed their numbers. Personally, I thought it was cool that he didn’t dance around it, but rather, he pretty much faced-up to it right off the bat.
Rick went on to tell dealers that unlike most other brands dealing with tariff issues, KM will not be raising prices on hardware. This could begin to give KM dealers some better margins as competitors prices increase.
Rick then spoke about yet another amazing charity he supports; The Blue Angels Foundation, who raises money for Wounded Veterans, building transition houses for troops coming home with physical and mental issues. He told listeners they were going to raise $1.4+ million at the dealer conference and golf tournamenttied to the event. He does this kind of thing all the time!
Next, SVP Mark Simmons took the stage, talking to attendees about transformation and the impact it’s had on KM and their partners.
After Mark, the stage was reset for a panel hosted by KM’s Laura Blackmer discussing their IT strategy and how it’s gone for their dealers.
Joining Laura were KM’s Kay Fernandez, Chelsea Bode from Pearson-Kelly Technology, Stephanie Keating from Advanced Imaging Solutions, All Covered’s president Todd Croteau and Mike Murray from Integrated Business Solutions of Hawaii.
Stephanie told listeners that the majority of their MNS customers are net new, eventually pulling printers and copiers into the mix. In just a year and a half they have signed 42 customers to contracts and recently just bagged an account providing $42,000 in monthly MNS services. And All Covered was there with her to help make it happen.
Chelsey went on to talk about selling phone services. “After a tough start…things got really good and selling phone services has been great. No one likes their phones now,” she said.
After the panel, Kevin Kern and Dino Pagliarello took the stage to talk about production print and label printers, among other things. “I like to measure things in Liters and Meters,” Kevin exclaimed.
They then talked about the new 18,000 square foot Customer Engagement Center in Ramsey, which sounds amazing. I need to go see that!
KM was just getting ready for a big show at Printing United and Muratec execs Jim D’Emidio and David Clearman were on hand at the Summit to talk label presses.
Sam Errigo finished the first sessions with a discussion about Workplace Hub, an edge server solution that ties into Konica Minolta’s Future Office strategy as well as an update on FORZA, the vendor agnostic ERP solution built on SAP Business One.
Next came several dealer awards (click here for the full list of winners) for categories such as Top Managed IT Dealer, Solutions Revenue Growth among many others.
The Blue Angels Foundation then spoke to us, giving an update on how much things have grown for them since Rick got involved with their charity, both due to his financial generosity as well as because of the advice and guidance he’s provided.
They then presented him with an award he was clearly not expecting, making Rick the first non Blue Angles person to receive such an award. It was quite a moment and Rick couldn’t even talk, tearing up from the unexpected recognition. I don’t think anyone has ever seen him unable to speak before!
After lunch, dealers sat through a variety of breakout sessions including “speed dating,” where they went table to table chatting with different people from KM and All Covered about all sorts of different topics.
This meeting may not have been the biggest KM meeting I’ve attended, but it was certainly a “who’s who” of some of the biggest names in this industry. Brad Knepper from ACP, Barry Clark from Perry PROTECH, Doug Pitassi from POA, Steve Gau from Marco, Dan Cooper from Novatech…look at my pictures, you’ll see!
With dealers like this in the house, it became clear that this summit was as much of a charity event as it was a conference. Just outside the breakout sessions, the Blue Angels team set up their table, collecting $1,000 donations for a chance to win an SUV that was auctioned off the next morning.
It wasn’t a true shakedown; with their donation, dealers received a very generous hardware credit from KM. By the end of the night, the blue blinking lapel buttons signifying a donor were to be seen everywhere. Again, you can see them in my photos.
The second day began with a presentation of FORZA SAP Business One and after a light morning, those dealers who stayed hit the links to participate in the fundraising Blue Angels Golf Tournament.
While KM held their big dealer conference earlier this year, they are making a point to stay close to their dealers with smaller events like these, generally tied to charitable events. With most of these dealers selling multiple brands, Rick is smart to stay close to these dealers.
I can’t say enough about the charitable nature of this company. Covering their news over the years, I’ve seen so many videos, tweets and press releases about different organizations they support. Charities like the Kidney Foundation, Toys for Tots, Foodbanks, the Blue Angels Foundation and of course the one that’s close to my heart, The Jillian Fund. A lot of companies in this industry are incredibly generous, but KM may arguably do the most giving back to society of them all. It’s just awesome.
It was a quick trip out to CA, but it was well worth it and I greatly appreciate KM allowing me to come cover it.
SOURCE Industry Analysts Inc.