Above, from left to right: The executive team welcomes Laura Blackmer to the Konica Minolta family: Kevin Kern, SVP, business intelligence services and product planning; Terry Dixon, president, direct channel; Laura Blackmer, SVP, dealer sales; Rick Taylor, president and CEO; Kay Du Fernandez, SVP, marketing; Mike Mathe, SVP, international sales, and Sam Errigo, EVP, sales and business development. Konica Minolta distributed a press release announcing Blackmer's appointment along with this photo, which features the executive team standing behind a collection of the 10 total Frank awards. The Awards represent a total of seven wins for Konica Minolta, and three specifically for Blackmer during her tenure at Sharp since 2014, when The Cannata Report updated and redesigned our awards from plaques into statuettes and rebranded them as the Franks. (Note: All awards are determined solely by dealers only via our Annual Dealer Survey.)
After weeks of speculation and being sworn to secrecy, Laura’s next destination can be revealed.
[caption id="attachment_46691" align="alignleft" width="780"] Laura Blackmer (2nd from left) now SVP, dealer sales, Konica Minolta – flanked by (from left to right) CJ Cannata, EVP/publisher; Carol Cannata SVP, client services and events; and Frank Cannata, CEO and editor-at-large, all of The Cannata Report – accepts our inaugural "Best Female Executive" Frank Award while in her former role at Sharp during The Cannata Report's 30th Anniversary Awards & Charities Dinner.[/caption]
There was some mystery surrounding Sharp Electronic’s Senior Vice President, Sales Laura Blackmer’s, departure from the company when word first began circulating a month ago. There were some who believed that she had been terminated. Nothing could have been further from the truth.
Laura left to become senior vice president of dealer sales for Konica Minolta. I believe, although I cannot confirm, that places her on the Konica Minolta “org chart” reporting directly to Sam Errigo, EVP sales and business development.
We had a private conversation with Laura after we heard that she was leaving Sharp. She told us that she was excited about her new opportunity and was looking forward to getting back to work. We can understand why Laura was asked to honor her employment agreement and not reveal where she was going until well after the dealer meeting.
We saw Sam at Atlantic Tomorrows Office holiday party at Planet Hollywood in New York City on Friday evening Dec. 8. We had a long conversation about the executive team of his company and how well they work together.
There is no question that Laura is joining an organization that appears to be led by a cohesive team of talented executives. She will fit well in that group and we believe add much in the way of organizational strength to her new employer.
Sharp was essentially led by a triumvirate of executives—Doug Albregts, Mike Marusic, and Laura. When you communicated with one of them it was assumed they were speaking for the leadership. Doug made this very clear to me on more than one occasion.
During her nearly five years at Sharp we queried dealers about Laura and the impact she was making. Consistently the industry’s leading dealers said, “She is the best!”
When we learned that Laura had left Sharp we reached out to four dealers who are among the leaders within Sharp’s distribution channel, including Les Olson Company, Smile Business Products, Centric Business Systems, and Des Plaines Office Equipment (DPOE).
I would like to lead off with what Troy Olson President of Les Olson Company had to say:
Certainly this is difficult loss for Sharp.
"Laura is the consummate professional. She understands the importance of building relationships with the dealers through the entire organization. She helped continue to build a great culture at Sharp after coming on board, that Doug had started. We will miss her dearly, but hopefully will still get to interact with her. I will always be a fan!"
Les Olson Company is Sharp’s largest and exclusive dealer for the state of Utah. The two are so intertwined that when you think of Sharp, Les Olson Company always comes to mind. When Laura first joined Sharp I asked Troy how Laura was doing. “She is doing well,” he responded, “I am on the dealer council and she keeps us on task.”
The next is Joe Reeves president of Smile Business Products:
“Laura Blackmer brought to Sharp change and a renewed vigor. She established herself as a respectable leader with candor and determination, accomplishing things for our channel that in the past were seen as not possible. I will miss her and wish her all the best."
Reeves is another important player for Sharp and was responsible for obtaining the California State Contract which is a big win for both Smile and Sharp.
We also heard from Rick Bastinelli of Centric Business Systems, another key Sharp dealer in the Mid-Atlantic region.
"Laura did a terrific job at Sharp! When she joined Sharp she was not familiar with the BTA channel, it was new territory. She quickly adapted, became a student of the distribution channel and brought programs to Sharp that foster simpler pricing programs and stronger relations with the dealer community. She will be missed at Sharp however change is constant and both Sharp and Laura will continue to enjoy future success.""
The last, but far from the least of the four to share their impressions of Laura is Chip Micelli, president of DPOE. I often refer to Chip as “Mister Acerbic.”
"I have worked with Laura over the years both in the capacity of a dealer and as a member of the Sharp Dealer Advisory Board. Laura has always been a true professional. She came to Sharp with an open mind, learning everything she could about the copier industry and being very “hands on” with frequent visits to dealerships.
"Our Sharp Dealer Advisory Board membership has always appreciated Laura’s eagerness to learn more about what Sharp needed to do to make things better. She has been a strong and positive voice in our industry.
"I hope Laura will stay in this industry. She has taken it by storm, and we are stronger for her contributions."
Chip is a leader in the world of MPS and his fellow Sharp dealers have learned how the master has done it. Consistent with the other three we quoted these are plain and simple very good people whom Sharp is fortunate to have representing them in their respective areas.
There is not a whole heck of a lot more I can say about Laura. When CJ first broached the subject of an issue addressing the leading women in our industry, the first one that came to mind was Laura, quickly followed by Sue Wilson (Toshiba), and Kay Fernandez (Konica Minolta).
Both Sue and Kay worked with Rick Taylor at Toshiba and Kay followed him to Konica Minolta. Sue (as single parent) was raising two young daughters in Southern California and was not about to leave Toshiba. I know Rick quite well and he has had his sights set on Laura from the moment he first met her.
Sharp Imaging and Information Management President & CEO Doug Albregts addressed Laura’s departure from Sharp twice at their recent dealer meeting in Phoenix. I tip my hat to Doug and the way he announced to the dealer audience that Laura was leaving. He made it very clear that he was very sorry that she had left the company. He also made it known that her replacement, John Sheehan, was partially trained by Laura. Doug brought Laura in from outside the industry to lead Sharp’s dealer organization. That is a great credit to him.
What kind of impact will Laura make at Konica Minolta? She is a very strong leader and an independent thinker. That leads me to believe that she will make a significant contribution to her new employer.
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