By Andy Slawetsky – Ricoh held their ConvergX dealer meeting at the Bellagio Hotel in Las Vegas June 25 – 28, where over 1,200 people gathered to find out What’s Happenin’with the imaging giant.
A lot has changed with Ricoh since their last ConvergX in Oct. 2016 and the firm spent a great deal of the show discussing their move to the future. Over that period, Ricoh scuttled their direct sales operation, turning Ricoh customers over to a handful of very happy dealers; their CEO left and was finally replaced; they took a $1.72 billion impairment losstied to a “slump” in North America and they closed their India sales operation. Talk about a company in transition!
After a great welcome reception the opening night that included members of classic rock legends like Journey and others, the event began the next morning with a mostly new crew of Ricoh executives standing in front of their dealers.
This was the first major Ricoh event where new president and CEO Joji Tokunaga would be running the show, taking over the US operation in April. Jake Yamashita, president and CEO of Ricoh Ltd. In Japan made the trip over and was highly visible throughout the event, speaking during the second day and participating in the awards ceremony at the show’s completion.
Other familiar key executives are still in place as VP Jim Coriddi continues to run the dealer division and Steve Berger still works for the Ricoh global operation out of Japan. Steve flew in for the meeting as well and provided a techy update on Ricoh’s future, discussing everything from sustainability to the SOP user interface on the MFPs, which now has over 1,000 downloads/uses per week. New to the US executive team since the last Ricoh ConvergX is marketing SVP Glenn Laverty from Ricoh Canada., who I had a chance to interview last year.
Throughout the meeting, the executive team stressed the continuity Ricoh has with their leadership team, which boasts 140 years of not just combined industry experience, but Ricoh experience. Jim Coriddi alone officially accounts for 35 of those years, a fact that was celebrated during the final dinner with his sons on stage by his side. The new management carries the same culture forward that Ricoh has had for years.
The Ricoh team did not dance around the financial difficulties they’ve had over the last couple of years. Mr. Yamashita spoke about it during his speech during the second day’s general session, essentially telling attendees that hard decisions have had to be made and that Ricoh will be healthier going forward. He then discussed Ricoh’s global Ignite growth strategy, something we would hear about quite a bit during the event.
The Ignite growth strategy is a three-phase program with the first phase, Phase 0 consisting of enhancing operations, evolving MFPs and securing their customer base. The next phase, Phase 1 is a move to expand the customer base through the growth into peripheral printing areas (display printing and applied printing). The third phase, Phase 2 is to add “Ricoh-orientated” value to their customer base and to connect the front lines. Ricoh is looking to create new markets and to grow print wherever they can, in office, commercial print and industrial markets.
During the second day, Milner was recognized with the prestigious Renaissance Awardand Dusty Milner came up on stage to accept. Congrats to Milner!
— Industry Analysts (@aslawetsky) June 27, 2018
Later that day, we had an analyst luncheon where Jim and Glenn spoke about the changes and the renewed enthusiasm going forward. They took questions at the end on topics ranging from What’s Happenin’ with MindShift, Ricoh’s managed services group as well as questions about production print, dealer satisfaction and more.
Jim told analysts “the smart money is on Ricoh.” He talked about what an exciting time this is for Ricoh. “We’re in a position we’ve never been in before…all these things we’ve done are all coming full circle now.”
According to Jim, Ricoh is investing “big-time,” doing everything they can to help support their dealers. And with all their eggs in the dealer basket now that the branches are gone, they had better.
Jim discussed how they’re helping support dealers, including moves like the hiring of vertical market specialists that come from outside the industry. In many cases, these specialists have been picked off from their own customers to build and improve their knowledge in these verticals. A great move, although not unique to Ricoh.
They’ve addressed and continue to develop the solutions support that had been an issue with dealers in the past. Things have improved considerably and Jim used this example to highlight how closely they’re now working with their dealers. When dealers have a pain point, the new Ricoh will fix it.
While Jim acknowledged that things aren’t all perfect right now, he stressed the go forward plan and the painful changes that have been made will carry Ricoh into the future as a leader in the print industry.
Glenn’s presentation talked more about Ignite and how they’ve completed the first phase, which Glenn called the resurgence. There are “cornerstones” to Ricoh’s growth strategy; environmental sustainability, human behavior and the changing role of print. According to Glenn, “Ricoh is looking into human behavior change (like with Millenials) and figuring that into our game plan.” They’re evolving the office around the next generation’s work habits.
The product fair was an enormous room and unlike the previous show, which was a bit cramped, this one was wide open. It may have actually been a bit too big for the number of booths, but it was nice to be able to walk around and see everything right in front of you.
Tons of vendors were on hand, including companies like GreatAmerica for leasing, DocuWare for ECM and content management, ecoprintQ and PaperCut for print management, EFI for production print, ESP for power protection and plenty more.
Traffic was a bit light on the product floor as the fair ran at the same time as the breakout sessions, which were very well attended. Ricoh might want to figure out a way to get more people in that room to create more of a buzz at future shows. Perhaps they could have the breakout sessions in the product fair, as was the case at past shows. I’m sure they’ll figure it out. In any case, it’s a testament to how well attended the breakout sessions were.
There were some new products on the floor, including some future color A3, future A4 and the new Ricoh Pro C7200 serieswith fifth color options, which just came out shortly after the show.
So what was the dealer’s take on all of this? The dealers are surprisingly upbeat. The hardware and technology has always been there. With all the negative press surrounding Ricoh’s finances, it’s tough not to think Ricoh is struggling, but from where the dealers sit, they’re seeing very positive changes.
The number one complaint at the last Ricoh ConvergX I heard from dealers was the competition from Ricoh branches and how they were undercutting them everywhere they turned. Boom; Ricoh closes the branches. Problem solved. Even Ricoh dealers that were initially angry with Ricoh for not transferring the MIF to them are now thrilled that the branches are gone now that they’ve seen the bigger picture.
When I asked what they thought of Ricoh’s financial health, one dealer told me “every now and then you have to wipe the crap off your balance sheets. It happens to everyone, it’s not a big deal, I’m not concerned.”
Not all dealers were completely sold on Ricoh’s messaging. The show seemed scaled back. They didn’t seem to spend as much on the product fair as they used to and I heard grumblings over the fact that Ricoh didn’t have a program and entertainment for the second night, allowing dealers to have a night on their own instead. While this may have seemed like a good way to save some money, dealers have certain expectations when they come to a Ricoh show and any change like this will be met with complaints.
With the tough financial times Ricoh is going through, it’s not a surprise the ConvergX budget may have been cut a bit, but overall, it was a very nice event with great entertainment the first and last nights, an excellent keynote speaker and very nice facilities at the Bellagio hotel – one of the best in Las Vegas for a show like this in my opinion. While they may have spent less than on past shows, it was still a VERY nice event.
Let’s face it, if you’re a Ricoh brand dealer you’ve been through some crap over the years. There have been ups and downs, changes in leadership, changes in programs, products and services and changes in the market in general. Ricoh dealers are fiercely loyal and by now, they’ve learned to roll with the bad times, knowing they will always come out of it.
Ricoh has some of the biggest dealers in the US and this market is critical to their global program and to their ultimate success. With no branches left, the distribution is now completely focused on the dealer channel and Ricoh is doing everything in their power to improve these relationships and work as a partner with the dealers, more than just as an OEM, which was the case in the past. They need their dealers now more than ever.
The final night finished with an awards banquet. Congratulations to all the winners! You can see them all at the end of the photos area on this page.
Overall, it was great to find out What’s Happenin’at Ricoh. Ricoh has clearly looked at the future and is undergoing changes they believe will make them stronger going forward. This evolution has been painful at times, but it’s necessary and will only serve to make them healthier and stronger.
I greatly appreciate the invitation to this event and it was great to see you all!