Acquisitions, notable departures, new hires, and events at the imaging industry’s most dysfunctional company dominated the headlines.
This was a wild and crazy year in the imaging industry. We can’t remember a year when there were as many acquisitions not only of dealers and IT services companies, but software companies with a distinctive footprint in the dealer channel. We also saw notable changes in leadership positions across the imaging industry landscape. Canon, DocuWare, EFI, Kyocera, Sharp, and Xerox were all impacted by changes at or near the top of those organizations.
It would have been nice to see more diversity among the biggest stories of the year even after we expanded our list from 10 to 13 (a baker’s dozen), but it wasn’t to be. Yes, we saw some notable and potentially game-changing product announcements and/or rollouts, such as Kyocera’s entry into the high-speed inkjet production space, Konica Minolta’s Workplace Hub, and Sharp’s Smart Office Suite, but those stories were superseded by the many notable acquisitions and departures and emergence of new leaders in the channel.
Here’s what we consider the 13 most notable stories of 2018.
The On Again Off Again, On Again Off Again Sale of Xerox to Fujifilm and Everything Else Surrounding Xerox – Hands down this was the biggest story of the year. You had drama, intrigue, “good guys” and “bad guys,” the departure of old leadership, the addition of new leadership, and when all was said and done, the year ended with still a lot of mystery about what’s next for Xerox.
Kofax Acquires Nuance – Remember when Nuance was the company doing the acquiring? That changed in November when Kofax, fueled by private equity money, acquired Nuance in what was arguably the biggest software acquisition of the year. The comments of Reynolds C. Bish, CEO of Kofax, place the acquisition in perspective: “Through the acquisition of Nuance’s document imaging division, Kofax will drive customer value by adding key technologies, including cloud compatibility, scan-to-archive, scan-to-workflow, print management and document security, to our end-to-end Intelligent Automation platform. In addition, we will now be able to combine the best capture and print management capabilities available in the market into one product portfolio.”
ECi Buys PrintFleet and Print Audit – There’s still competition in the print management space, but with the acquisitions of PrintFleet and Print Audit, and the past acquisition of FMAudit, ECi has become a print management powerhouse. Add to that some of the other software companies it has acquired that impact the imaging dealer channel during the past decade, it’s clear, worldwide domination is not out of the cards.
Konica Minolta Buys MWA – With this acquisition, Konica Minolta and its All Covered division has entered the ERP business and MWA has an unbelievable opportunity to scale and grow beyond where it is today thanks to access to a greater pool of resources from Konica Minolta and All Covered.
Big Dealers Continue to Grow – We’ve seen this story before. And yes, there may be an organic element to some of this growth, but dealerships such as Dex, FlexPrint, Marco are buying and growing in large part due to acquisitions. And let’s not forget Visual Edge. The Visual Edge network has continued to expand and during the past two years that growth has become one of the imaging industry’s most compelling stories.
Doug Albregts Out, Mike Marusic In at Sharp – We weren’t surprised when we learned that Doug Albregts, president & CEO of Sharp Imaging and Information Company of America (SIICA), would be leaving the company in June. He oversaw the company through challenging times and had a positive impact on SIICA during his tenure. It wasn’t a surprise either when Mike Marusic was appointed President and CEO to succeed Albregts.
Second Lexmark President in Two Years Resigns for Personal Reasons – When Rich Geruson, president, CEO and director of Lexmark, resigned on November 21 for personal reasons, it was déjà vu all over again. In a similarly phrased Lexmark news release, Lexmark President & CEO David Reeder resigned for the same reason in June 2017. Reeder had been named president & CEO in November 2016 while Geruson assumed his leadership position at Lexmark in October 2017. Coincidence or the challenges of working with the company’s new owners?
Guy Gecht Steps Down at EFI, Succeeded by Bill Muir – On July 30 EFI announced that longtime CEO, Guy Gecht, had informed the Company’s Board of Directors that he intended to step down from his operating role at the company. Gecht, who oversaw some significant acquisitions and growth during his time at the helm of the company, was succeeded by Bill Muir as CEO in November.
HP Inc. Acquires U.K. Dealer – Earlier this year HP Inc. announced an agreement to acquire Apogee Corporation, a U.K. based office equipment dealer, which HP described as Europe’s largest independent provider of print, outsourced services, and document and process technology. This acquisition is indicative of HP’s plan to disrupt the $55 billion A3 copier market, and according to HP, builds on its printing strategy to: enhance its A3 and A4 product portfolio; build differentiated solutions and tools to expand its Managed Print Services (MPS); and invest in its direct and indirect go-to-market capabilities. This includes the selective acquisition of office equipment dealers that provide access to increased profit pools from higher margin services. We find this story notable even thought its beyond our shores because based on the previous statement, there’s a distinct possibility that HP may acquire dealers in the U.S. as well.
Ricoh Company Ltd.’s Acquisitions Frenzy –The acquisitions include LAC Corporation, a company with inkjet technology that supports printing on three-dimensional surfaces such as on the sides of cars, trucks, aircraft, tires, and glass bottles. The acquisition is aimed at strengthening Ricoh’s industrial printing business, according to Ricoh. That was followed by the acquisition of MakeLeaps, Inc., a provider of cloud-based billing management software and is aimed at strengthening Ricoh’s digital business. The third and most recent acquisition was that of the industrial print software company ColorGATE Digital Output Solutions GmbH, which will allow Ricoh to combine ColorGATE’s proprietary software technology with Ricoh’s industrial printers, allowing the company to provide solutions covering the entire printing workflow from Pre-Press to Post-Press. Who said Ricoh was in financial trouble?
Oscar Sanchez Named President & CEO of KYOCERA Document Solutions America – Effective September 1, 2018, Oscar Sanchez took over as the new president & CEO of Kyocera Document Solutions America. He previously served as executive vice president of KYOCERA Document Solutions Europe. Meanwhile, it was announced that current KYOCERA Document Solutions America President Yukio Ikeda would remain in the U.S., continuing in an executive role. A notable story, because, well because this is something we haven’t seen before. A statement from Norihiko Ina, president of KYOCERA Document Solutions Corporation, explained the move: “As markets evolve, as our business grows in new ways, we must add new strengths. Mr. Sanchez offers a unique skill set within our company.”
Change in Leadership at Docuware – DocuWare announced that, effective January 1, 2019, company presidents Jürgen Biffar and Thomas Schneck will transition their leadership positions to Dr. Michael Berger, currently the company’s Chief Technology Officer, and Max Ertl, currently the company’s Chief Revenue Officer. According to Biffar, the announcements are about ensuring the company continues its long-term growth.
Canon U.S.A. Names New President & CEO – Earlier this year, Canon U.S.A., Inc. announced that Yuichi Ishizuka, the company’s president & CEO, had taken a new assignment as president and chief executive officer of Canon Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) as of April 1, 2018. Succeeding Ishizuka is Kazuto Ogawa who will take on the role of president and COO. Ogawa joined Canon U.S.A. from Canon China, where he served as executive vice president.
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