Presented by LMI Solutions
Every year dealers who complete our annual survey vote for their MFP Manufacturer of the Year. Last year, Ricoh was the resounding winner of this honor. When I contacted the company about receiving this award, I asked whom Ricoh would like to present the award at our Awards and Charities Dinner. With little hesitation, Ricoh recommended Dawn Abbuhl, President of Repeat Business Systems. Incredibly, it was the first time we welcomed a woman to present an award to one of our manufacturer winners.
Repeat Business Systems, founded in 1987, is a leader in office technology servicing New York’s Albany Capital District Region and Tech Valley. Repeat Business Systems is locally owned and operated with a national reputation for excellence. The company is an authorized dealer for Ricoh, Sharp and Konica Minolta products. It provides sales, service and supplies for color and black and white multifunction and stand-alone copiers, fax machines, scanners and printers for offices large and small. In addition, they offer network services, workflow analysis and consultation in order to increase efficiency. We’d also like to note the company has a proven record of providing cost savings to its customers. With more than 25 years of experience under its belt, Repeat Business Systems has 54 employees and brings in an annual revenue of $10 million. Along with her husband John, Abbuhl has built an independent dealership that is one of the more successful operations in the Capitol Region.
“Dawn Abbuhl is one of those individuals who generates a positive energy in everything she does,” said Jim Coriddi, Vice President of Dealer Division at Ricoh. “She is an American success story who has gone from selling fax machines with her husband out of their garage to running a $10 million-plus business as a growing and progressive, dedicated Ricoh dealership. Dawn is extremely involved on multiple boards, charities and associations. We are very fortunate to have Repeat as a dedicated Ricoh dealership, and Dawn as a contributing part of the Ricoh National Dealer Council.”
Repeat Business Systems uses a consultative approach for prospective and existing clients. The company’s primary objective is to ensure the customer is maximizing every phase of a document’s life cycle — from input to archive to retrieval to the best possible combination of hardware, software and workflow technology. As the company states on its website, Repeat Business Systems strives to exceed its customers’ expectations.
One important facet of Repeat Business Systems’ service commitment is its benchmarking system that provides data on service effectiveness of the equipment the company sells. If a customer calls to gather any type of information or to address a service issue, one of the company’s principals will contact that client within 24 hours. In the spirit of true transparency, the principals’ email addresses are publicly listed on the company’s website.
While Repeat Business Systems particularly organic growth, acquisitions also play an important role. In the past six years, the company has acquired seven companies. This acquisition strategy remains in place and is one of the company’s linchpins in striving to reach its aggressive short-term objective of $20 million in revenue.
Repeat Business Systems is very active in its community. The company has provided over 100 donations to local organizations. Repeat Business Systems is also a member of the Copier Dealer Association (CDA), which Abbuhl freely admits has significantly helped in transitioning her business from a hardware to a services orientation. In recognition of her commitment to the organization, the CDA’s Board of Directors recently informed its members that Abbuhl will serve as the new CDA President in 2016. She will follow John Lowery, who began his two-year term in March of this year.
Abbuhl is also highly involved in the community. In addition to her role at Repeat Business Systems, Abbuhl works as a child psychologist with the Access Therapy Group and sits on the boards of several community organizations. Abbuhl also has a family of her own.
Abbuhl’s and her company’s community service has not gone unnoticed, buoying their reputations not only in our industry but across others as well. Most recently, Abbuhl was featured in April as one of the mentors at the Bizwomen Mentoring Monday event. She joined several other women leaders across various fields to share business advice with about 130 attendees.
As every dealer knows, running a competitive business, especially as an MFP solutions provider, is very challenging and even taxing.
“It really builds your energy,” said Abbuhl of her work. “When you know you are doing the right thing, it gives you back a lot more energy than it actually takes.”
For Abbuhl, doing the right thing also means guiding others as they build their careers in our industry. As an example, she offered an anecdote about a call she received about a woman seeking some career advice. This woman also specifically wanted to meet Abbuhl.
“The second I met her, I wanted her to work for me,” Abbuhl said. “She is now one of our top technology consultants.”
Abbuhl takes an altruistic tact in her personal and business decisions, believing that doing right by others comes back around. However, Abbuhl is quick to clarify that payback is not her driving reason in helping others.
“If you go into a relationship to get something out of it, you’ve already lost,” Abbuhl said. “Go into to it to do something nice, and help someone out.”
When the topic of what advice she would offer to someone starting in our industry today, Abbuhl was forthright, encouraging ambition.
“Act like a big company from day one,” Abbuhl said. “Set your company up as if it were a multiple million-dollar corporation.”
That was exactly the same advice I received back in 1979 when I created Marketing Research Consultants LLC. I can tell you that it certainly worked for me. And it is clearly working for Repeat Business Systems and Dawn Abbuhl.