We were invited to the CDA meeting on March 16 & 17, at The Cloister in Sea Island, Georgia. A few months prior we suggested a speaker from HP would make a good addition to the program. Dawn Abbuhl, president of this venerable group agreed and asked me to extend the invitation and act as moderator for the presenter.
We were fortunate that Ken Thibault, director Americas Managed Print Services, HP Inc., who serves as head of the dealer program for the A3 MFP line acquired from Samsung, was available. He is very familiar with many of the dealers and his team has been out in the field and visiting with them.
In fact, two of the dealers at the meeting have already signed up for the program and reported that key personnel from their respective organizations were in Boise for training. In preparation for the launch of the Samsung A3 MFP Ken’s team has been aggressively visiting with key dealers all over the U.S. for close to six months. The launch date is scheduled for the end of March.
The rules of these independent dealer organizations such as CDA are what is said, presented or shared at these meetings is not for publication. The same rules apply for both BPCA and SDG. Armed with questions from CDA members Ken gave a presentation that responded to their areas of concern.
Of greatest significance for the dealers and for HP is that this opportunity provided a foundation for a relationship between the two organizations. In a prior conversation, Ken spoke at length about HP’s commitment to this latest initiative. CJ and I have met with several of the members of Ken’s group and we found them to be fully conversant with the history of HP and dealers. That is a good thing and they are doing what they can to effectively promote their value proposition and support those that buy into the HP/Samsung A3 story.
Because of the legal constraints of the deal, HP is still prohibited from discussing any part of the agreement between these two industry giants. This condition is expected to continue until September. At that point, we assume that both parties can be fully transparent with their respective channel partners.
As in all such situations there is a great deal of speculation as to exactly what will happen. There is not much to add here except we would advise any Samsung dealer to consider any comments, suggestions or opinions expressed to them about the role Samsung will play in the future distribution of their print products highly speculative.
In terms of the ramifications of this alliance/partnership/acquisition we can only believe that the joining of the print technology of Samsung and HP will result in a formidable line of products. The challenge is to overcome the dealer hangover from Edgeline and those old enough to remember the Mopier. In both cases HP failed to build a relationship with the channel and terminated both programs.
The HP personnel charged with this latest attempt fully understand that failure a third time is not an option. The senior corporate executives are aware exactly what they are asking Ken’s group to do. Based on the numbers available for promotion and support, HP is expecting this investment to pay rather large dividends.
These next few months will be very telling and potentially offer a major challenge to the manufacturers in the world of print. Frankly, we think those same manufacturers are prepared to meet this possible threat to their distribution. If all that we believe does indeed take place for HP in the channel, it will only make it better for the independent dealer channel. That does not mean that if a dealer stands on the sidelines and does nothing to either join or counter what appears to be a reasonable competitive threat they will profit.
I will conclude by passing on some advice given to CJ by a dealer, “Don’t be afraid to make a ‘f#$%*’ decision.”
I leave it to you to figure out who those words of wisdom came from.
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