Dealers Make Significant Contributions to the Channel During the Past 35 Years
As The Cannata Report celebrates its 35th anniversary, we thought it would be a compelling history lesson to celebrate 35 dealers who have made a mark on the dealer channel, and by extension, the imaging/copier industry. Some of these individuals started out selling copiers out of the backs of their station wagons, or initially sold calculators and typewriters. Others sold supplies, while still others began as service techs. All were active when we first started publishing in 1982, and many have since retired, passed, or moved on to other endeavors, while many are still going strong 35 years later.
To settle on these 35 dealers, we assembled a panel of industry elders who have worked closely within or with the dealer channel in some capacity over the years. We also solicited feedback from readers of The Cannata Report. The final list is the result of that input, along with a lively discussion by the team at The Cannata Report. Much of the commentary used to describe our 35 icons was culled from the comments of our panelists and our readers.
Our selections by no means minimize the contributions of the hundreds of other dealers who have been active in our industry during this time, as many of those individuals have also displayed the entrepreneurial spirt that represents the common thread across successful dealers in this industry.
As with any list of this nature, there is bound to be debate about who’s included and who’s not, and we’re okay with that. We encourage it. Keep in mind, however, that lists like these are fluid and new icons will begin to emerge over the next five years as we approach our 40th anniversary.
But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. For now, let’s focus on the icons of the past 35 years. For those of you who have been around for as long as we have or longer, some of these names will elicit fond memories. For our newer readers, this is an opportunity to introduce you to some of the iconic figures of the past who blazed trails and set standards of excellence that are still in practice today.
Editor’s note: The “Years Active” for some of our icons could not always be confirmed and represent the best estimates of our editorial staff and those who provided the recommendations.
Florio Abbate | Saxon Business Systems | Years Active: 1970s to present
Florio Abbate built a wonderful company and probably made as much money as anybody did selling it. He started his career with Saxon Industries as a product manager, paying his dues for what was a difficult company to work for. He would later acquire a Saxon branch when the company hit the skids and built it into one of the better dealerships in the country. He also had a reputation for helping other dealers. When Larry Weiss of Atlantic Tomorrow’s Office, wanted to get his son into the business, but didn’t want him to begin working in his company, Florio offered him a job. Meanwhile, Florio is still going strong today as president of Saxon Business Systems.
What they said about Florio:
“A tough, successful dealer who worked hard and hired well.”
Bryan Ammons | Standard Office Systems | Years Active: 1973 to present
Bryan Ammons started out working in a Standard Office Systems (SOS) warehouse doing different types of odd jobs. His commitment to the company and his entrepreneurial skills and spirit allowed him to grow and subsequently purchase SOS nearly 30 years ago with the daughter of the company’s original owner.”¯Since then, Bryan has established himself as a true leader, navigating his dealership to significant growth in the $30-million range and establishing SOS as one of the leading office technology companies in the Southeast. He has also been active in dealer groups, and his contributions to those efforts have helped many of his peers in the industry become successful as well.
What they said about Bryan:
“He started early and never had the formal education others [in the industry] had, but took advantage of all the educational opportunities offered by the dealer groups and everything else to be the leader he is today.”
“He slowly and steadily built a solid business. He’s a low-key guy who’s well respected by other dealers.”
Rick Bastinelli | Centric Business Systems | Years Active: 1980s to present
Rick Bastinelli is one of those dealers who started small and has grown his business into a $50-plus million dealership operating acrpss three states. Rick is a highly involved Sharp and Ricoh dealer who truly devotes himself to the industry, and it is far from unusual for other dealers to reach out to Rick for some guidance and direction.
What they said about Rick:
“One of the best!”
“He’s an icon and someone everybody respects.”
Earl Benson | Acme Business Products/Alco | Years Active: 1979″“1990s
There aren’t too many dealers – maybe none at all – who got their start delivering bread to grocery stores and restaurants before entering and enjoying success within the copier industry, making Earl Benson truly one of a kind. Earl had a keen knowledge of the industry, was a strong leader, and sat on many dealer councils. A “very serious dealer,” as one of his peers described him, he would go on to become Ricoh’s largest dealer in the South, enjoying unparalleled penetration in the Macon, Georgia, market and beyond. He even had the foresight to create a successful leasing business. Earl would eventually sell his dealership to Alco Office Products.
What they said about Earl:
“There was no fooling around with Earl.”
“He was very good and built a very profitable business.”
“He always had a great reputation.”
Jerry Blaine | LDI Color Toolbox | Years Active: 1970s to present
A long-time visionary in digital and color, Jerry Blaine has proven himself adept at competing in the tough New York Metropolitan market. After working on the manufacturer side of the business, Jerry joined Leslie Supply, already a successful enterprise, and was instrumental in helping it reach new heights. One of the things that has set Jerry apart from other dealers is his dealership’s focus on education, as illustrated by the many seminars his dealership offers out of his New York showroom, some of which have been co-sponsored by his business partners, including Canon and Nuance.
What they said about Jerry:
“He was always an outstanding salesperson and “˜crackerjack’ with enterprise accounts.”
Herb Chambers | A-Copy | Years Active: 1970s”“1990s
A technology-driven, customer-focused Canon dealer, based in Hartford, Connecticut, Herb Chambers was one of the first dealers who started his career in service before selling supplies and then used copiers. He would eventually then grow his modest company into a mega-dealership and was extremely savvy in building his brand. He was astute enough to secure a 100-mile non-compete contract with Canon, which was instrumental in expanding A-Copy’s reach well beyond the Hartford town lines and into the Boston market. “Herb was an amazing guy,” recalled one of our contributors. “He was short and had a desk on a raised platform so he could look down on you when you were on other side of desk.” When speaking to former A-Copy salespeople, the secret to Chambers’ success, as well as A-Copy’s, was that the first sales call of the day was always at five minutes to eight, while the last one was five minutes past five.
Chambers also had an uncanny knack for knowing his customers and when driving around with his reps, he knew exactly what was in each building in that territory. He made sure his reps knew that as well. He was also adept at managing his debt, which was key to running a successful dealership. In addition, he demanded a level of professionalism from his salespeople””they were always well dressed and presented themselves extremely well. He was also known to own the largest yacht in New England.
What they said about Herb:
“Herb was born brilliant and had an innate sense of what you had to do to be successful in selling. Whatever he chose to sell, he would be successful.”
“For his time, Herb was the best in the country.”
“Talk about the “˜Great American success story.’ Herb started his business out of his car with the first machine and would later sell his company for $16 million””in those days that was a lot of money.”
Barry Clark | Perry ProTECH | Years Active: 1996 to present
After a successful career outside the industry working for Roadway, Barry Clark was able to follow that up by running what’s become one of the country’s largest dealerships for the past 20 years. He’s mainly done that through acquisitions. Barry remains an active presence in the industry today, while Perry ProTECH is the industry’s poster child for a successful ESOP (employee stock ownership plan)””one of very few in our industry. Barry also had the foresight to create a cyber-security unit within Perry ProTECH, staffed by former sheriff department deputies, which has allowed the company to diversify and secure a ton of business in this segment.
What they said about Barry:
“Barry made it his business to learn business and learn it well, and he has become of the most effective managers in our industry.”
Chip Crunk | RJ Young Co. | Years Active: 1987 to present
In 1987, after graduating from the University of Mississippi, Chip Crunk took over as President of RJ Young Co., a dealership founded in the 1950s by his father John Crunk. Since succeeding his father, Chip has excelled at guiding and growing his company, expanding the dealership throughout the mid-South. Under Chip’s guidance, RJ Young has grown from a $20-million dealership to more than $100 million.
What they said about Chip:
“All along, Chip and his team have set new standards for service and customer satisfaction.”
“Chip has set an example within his company for developing people and creating a team of talented and dedicated individuals.”
Kevin DeYoung | Qualpath, Danka, AmeriTrend Corp. | Years Active: 1986 to present
Kevin DeYoung started a small fax dealership in Florida almost 40 years ago.”¯His business model was to attack and win state contracts throughout the Southeast.”¯He moved into copiers, telephone systems, and IT services well before most other dealers and before selling his dealership to Danka.”¯He ran Danka Latin America for several years prior to starting Qualpath.”¯The foundation for Qualpath was built on an MPS strategy and Kevin has been one of only a handful of innovative dealers who have achieved success in MPS out of the box. On top of all that, Kevin is currently president of the Managed Print Services Association (MPSA).
What they said about Kevin:
“This humble man””who would chide anyone using the word “˜icon’ to describe him””is nothing less than a pioneer. He saw the “˜services’ transition coming long before it arrived, and rather than dip a toe into that unforgiving ocean, he dove in head first. His keen understanding of customers’ pain surrounding finance and technology allowed him to look out at the future of our industry and position his company profitably in the midst of a trend of profit run-off. In my mind, there are few in our industry more iconic than Kevin DeYoung.”
Dan Doyle Sr. | Danka Business Systems, DEX Imaging | Years Active: 1970s to present
An early visionary, particularly of mega-dealer distribution as the founder of Danka Business Systems in 1977, Dan Doyle Sr. implemented innovative strategies that revolutionized how dealers do business today. Later, he was directly involved in the acquisitions of InfoTech and Kodak Office Imaging. Dan Sr. could easily write a book on marketing. He’s still active today as Chairman of DEX Imaging, a company whose day-to-day operations are run by his son Dan Doyle, Jr. Dan Sr. has had a long career in the industry working for companies like 3M and Royal Business Machines where he was national sales manager.
He was also one of the first dealers to have a rolling demo unit, retrofitting an RV to take to customer sites and showcase the latest machines.
What they said about Dan Sr.:
“He was a dealer who thought out of box and was innovative.”
“Dan knew how to add sizzle to selling copiers. He just knows how to do it.”
Alan & Lois Elkin | Advance Business Systems | Years Active: 1970s to present
Lois and her husband Alan were true pioneers in the office equipment industry.”¯Almost 50 years ago, they started their business in a small shop in Baltimore, Maryland.”¯From there, they would go on to develop a profitable office equipment and leasing company based on customer support and excellent service.”¯The Elkins would often wear a button that said, “We’re number two.” When asked why they were number two, they would quickly answer, “Our customers are number one.” A long-time member of CDA, one of our contributors, said, “I love Lois. I used to run into her at CDA meetings. She was an early riser like me.”
One thing Alan did that was ahead of his time was promoting his business through television commercials in the Baltimore market leveraging himself as the company’s official spokesperson. Those commercials conveyed the message that the company would always be responsive to its customers.
What they said about Alan and Lois:
“Anybody that’s been in the business knows the Elkins. Lois ran the inside of the business and did a great job, and was a real driver of the business.”
“When I was a branch manager in Baltimore in ’67, Alan was on the streets selling. He was a tough competitor. He pushed hard, and he had the funny commercials on the radio.”
“You can’t ask for better people to be associated with.”
Gordon Flesch | Gordon Flesch Company | Years Active: 1956″“1990s
As one of the original 3M copier dealers, Gordon Flesch was a true pioneer, taking a huge risk on a new technology, while simultaneously figuring out how to be successful selling it. A former typewriter salesmen, Gordon started his company in 1956 and it is still going strong today. Indeed, the company he founded remains a shining example of a family-owned business that has evolved and continues regularly to thrive and innovate, particularly in an industry where family-owned businesses are not always able to sustain such a strong rate of success in succeeding generations.
What they said about Gordon:
“From a longevity standpoint, Gordon created one of most sustainable business models in the industry.”
Frank Fonteyn | Kennedy Business Equipment | Years Active: 1970s”“1990s
Frank Fonteyn and his dealership were big advocates of the early electrostatic Toshiba units. He also sold Minolta machines. After several years in the office technology industry as a dealer in San Jose, California, and as a NOMDA (National Office Machine Dealers Association, now the Business Technology Association) volunteer, Frank officially joined the staff of NOMDA, and then later BTA, in 1990.
Fonteyn served as director of sales and marketing and also as executive director for BTA. He worked extraordinarily hard toward transitioning an organization that went kicking and screaming into the information age of these modern times. Ultimately, he was a tremendous and tireless volunteer who gave a lot of himself to that industry organization. He was also well known, beloved and highly regarded for his sense of humor and his general love of people.
What they said about Frank:
“Fonteyn has always been known by all who know him as a particularly affable individual whose life’s work and passion for the industry helped to further elevate the dealer channel.”
“My favorite quote of Frank’s goes back to the NOMDA days: “˜You can’t lead a horse to water, but you can always buy a NOMDA dealer a drink.’ He was a great guy.”
Hallie Gibbs | Modern Business Systems | Years Active: 1970s”“2000s
One of the first mega-dealerships with employee ownership, Gibbs was known and well-regarded for sharing his knowledge and wealth with his employees. Gibbs’ dealership’s revenues soared to more than $110 million in the 1990s (at the time, Modern Business Systems was Savin and Ricoh’s largest dealer), while his operations extended to over seven states. He worked with his two brothers, and each had their own attributes, however, Hallie was the sales driver and the one responsible for driving the branches. One of our contributors recalled that two of the first two Alco Standard companies that competed against each other were in Owensburg, Kentucky, and Gibbs, after selling to Alco and owning one of those companies, purchased a billboard directly across from his competitor, telling him that he did it because, “I just want to keep an eye on you.”
What they said about Halle:
“I knew him well, he moved a lot of RPC 1s and RPC 2s.”
Sandra Hall | H&H Document Management Solutions, Inc. | Years Active: 1972 to present
Hall was among the first women to own and run a dealership when she took over as president of H&H in Post Falls, Idaho, in the late 1980s. Her roots in sales trace back to Denver, Colorado, in the 1970s when her then husband was selling postage meters for Pitney Bowes. She was a stay-at-home mom then, but when Pitney Bowes got into the copier business, her husband expanded into copiers and opened a Pitney Bowes copier dealership. By default, she became his customer support person. “I started doing installations, training, and this is dating me, at the time, there was a revolutionary new product called CPT, which was one of the first word processors with a screen,” Sandra told The Cannata Report in 2014.
Back then, Hall was responsible for selling those products and she’d often travel to customer sites training users. After she and her husband separated, they split up the business and Sandra took on the word processors, which eventually led her down the path of selling copiers. “The reason for my success is understanding the relationship with the people who work for you,” she said. “You can’t manage the way a man does. You can be as forceful, but you must be more diplomatic and soon you will establish some kind of understanding of how you think, what your goals are, how you evaluate situations, and they’ll feel that they are respected.” Never one to think she knew it all, Sandra was always more than willing to listen to her fellow dealers, listen to their problems, hear what they say, and understand that at some point there will come a time when those insights would turn out to be an asset.
What they said about Sandra:
“One of the most successful women to run a dealership in the Southwest. A very dedicated owner.”
John Hey | DC Hey Company/IKON Office Solutions Minnesota/Strategic Business Associates | Years active: 1973 to present
John is considered one of the leading champions of the independent dealer channel. After becoming owner of DC Hey Company in 1985, a dealership started by his father and a partner, John was responsible for growing the business from $5 million to over $170 million in sales with more than 1,250 employees and a huge building with freeway access. In 1996, he sold the business to Alco, where he remained as president. In 2000, John left Alco when the company evolved into IKON Office Solutions. He then co-founded Strategic Business Associates, a consulting practice that provides dealers with management training, financial benchmarking, strategic planning, compensation, sales, and acquisitions. Hey was also the chairman of the Sharp Dealer Advisory Council during tough times. The knowledge he has acquired over the years has been a tremendous help to his clients, and John continues with his mission of helping dealers work toward achieving greater operating income. The one thing about Hey that impressed one of our contributors was that he made sure that his office was the same size as everyone else in the company, “That embodied his management style.”
What they said about John:
“A good man. He’s been very successful, does a great job, and helps a lot of dealers with his formulas.”
Tom Johnson | Global Imaging, Alco Standard/IKON, Danka | Years Active: 1970s”“2007
“The Johnson Model.” Need we say more? Okay, as one of our contributors pointed out, that model existed before Johnson embraced it and evangelized it. Still, when one says “The Johnson Model,” every dealer in the industry knows exactly what you mean. While at Global Imaging Systems, Johnson formed fragmented dealerships into viable mega-organizations. Besides creating what’s become known as “The Johnson Model” for running a profitable dealership, Johnson was responsible in his various roles over the years for the acquisitions of dozens and dozens of dealerships along with integrating those businesses into existing organizations. As one industry veteran told us, “Tom is one of the greatest visionaries in our industry.”¯The Global business model has outlived both Danka and IKON.” Indeed, Johnson allowed the dealers he purchased to run completely independently and as entrepreneurs, while the Global Corporate support group provided finance, HR, and legal support to those dealerships.
Ultimately, the business model that Johnson created allowed him to rank his dealerships, pushing each one to achieve greater profitability.
What they said about Tom:
“He treated people well and was always willing to help others. There aren’t many like him.”
Kal Kardous | Years Active: 1988″“2008 | Charlotte Copy Data, Inc.
Kal built a dominant business from very little and became an icon in his local market before selling his dealership to Sharp in 2008. He was known as a pragmatic leader with a great sense of humor and was self-deprecating when it came to his Syrian accent. He was famous for his radio commercials in which he served as the company spokesperson, ending every commercial, “Our accent is on service.”
What they said about Tom:
“One of the greatest and smartest characters in our business.”
John Kuchta | SolutionOne | Years Active: 1980s to present
Known by all as a thoughtful, forward-thinking individual, John Kuchta is president and owner of SolutionOne, headquartered in Lincoln, Nebraska. Kuchta served as the 1983″“84 national president of NOMDA, later BTA. He is thought to be the youngest person to assume the position in the association’s 90-year history. He was also named BTA’s 1998 Volunteer of the Year.”¯John may not be at the helm of one of the largest dealerships in the country, but that hasn’t stopped him from making an impact in the channel as one of the industry’s most active dealers. Besides claiming the mantle of youngest BTA president, he has been a champion of the Fair Dealership Practices Act in Congress””something for which his fellow dealers owe him a debt of gratitude.
What they said about John:
“John has put his time in every day, runs a nice business, and is highly regarded and respected by the people who do business with him.”
Jim Loffler | Loffler Companies | Years Active: 1986 to present
For the past 21 years, Jim Loffler has built a terrific dealership, one that despite its size (nearly 400 employees), still has a small business, family feel. No wonder why Loffler Companies is considered one of the top 100 places to work in Minnesota. And for six consecutive years, Loffler has been acknowledged as an Inc. 5000 Fastest Growing Privately Held Companies in America. Jim has also been recognized outside the industry, twice achieving Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Finalist status.
What they said about Jim:
“Jim Loffler has built a fantastic company. He is currently the president of the Canon Dealer Advisory Council””what a thankless job””and has represented the dealers well.”
John Lowery | Applied Imaging, Hovinga Business Systems | Years Active: 1976 to present
The founder and president of Applied Imaging in Grand Rapids, Michigan, since 1987, Lowery leads a technology-driven dealership that has achieved superior growth, all while creating a terrific culture. Lowery’s dealership invests a great deal of time and effort into developing a culture of service, client focus, communication, respect, family, learning, improvement, and teamwork, a focus one might expect to see in a Fortune 1000 company. Under his guidance, Applied Imaging has taken branding to a whole new level through its managed services offerings (PrintSmart), its document management offerings (NetSmart), and its outsourced enterprise printing (BizSmart).
In 2016, John’s accomplishments in the local business community were recognized when he received the Ernst and Young LLP 2016 Entrepreneur of the Year for the Michigan/Northeast Ohio region. A treasured member of the dealer community, Lowery continues to give back to the industry, as well as his community. He has been competing against manufacturer branches for years now, and with the culture he’s built at Applied, many of his customers are now trying to emulate that culture.
What they said about John:
“John has put his time in every day, runs a nice business, and is highly regarded and respected by the people who do business with him.”
Lou Marino | Advanced Business Systems | Years Active: 1970s to present
Another one of those pioneers who started his business out of the back of his car. Described by one of our contributors as “one of the sweetest people you’ll ever meet.” Lou started as a Minolta dealer with his dealership Advanced Business Systems, which would later be acquired by Global in 2003. As one of our contributors noted, “Lou and his family ran a terrific dealership and was always a proud Minolta ambassador and certainly played a major role in the early successes of Minolta.” Marino has also been described as man of great humility and appreciation for all that he was achieving. He often spoke about his Italian roots and how his family came to America with nothing and how grateful he was for the sacrifices his family made so he could have the opportunity to live the American Dream.
Another contributor recalled that Marino was a big baseball fan who used to coach 10 to 12 year old pitchers in the San Fernando Valley, including John Elway. He was also a huge supporter of the deaf community and felt that baseball was the greatest game for deaf people. Later on, Mario would form a partnership with someone who ran a baseball camp for deaf children.
What they said about Lou:
“Lou was a leader and had a tremendous ability to find great people, keep great people, and make average people great. People wanted to work for Lou because of Lou!”
“He and I hit it off because our backgrounds were very similar””sons of Italy who were and are very proud of where we came from””and this was our bond, even today.”
Jerry Mathwig | Metro Sales | Years Active: 1960s to present
Jerry started Metro Sales in 1969 as a small supply company and grew it into one of the largest Ricoh dealerships in the country through acquisition and hard work. He is also one of the industry’s most successful CEOs who started his career as a technician. He’s been described by his peers in the industry as an institution, as well as a caring owner with a staff devoted to him and Metro Sales. One reader remembers when Jerry first went into business, selling an 11 x 17 Royal copier before taking on the RPC 1’s, 2’s, and 3’s. Jerry has always been determined to do the best possible for his people and his suppliers. When Ricoh was slow to come to market with Segment 4 machines, Jerry turned to Konica Minolta to fill that gap.
He would eventually schedule a visit to Ricoh Japan, bringing along his financial statements, showing that he paid Konica Minolta $3 million for Segment 4 machines the previous year, as evidence Ricoh needed to bring out a machine in this segment. Not many dealers would have done that.
What they said about Jerry:
“He’s a high-integrity guy who built a great business.”
“One of hardest working people I ever knew in this business.”
Chip Miceli | Des Plaines Office Equipment (DPOE) | Years Active: 1970s to present
Anyone who knows Chip Miceli knows that he is dedicated not only to transforming his dealership into one of the most progressive in the industry, but also to helping his fellow dealers, whether it is through serving as a panelist at an industry event or submitting articles for publication in industry magazines. He also serves on the Sharp Advisory Board and has served on the board of International Business Products Inc. (IBPI). Since 1988, Chip and his brother Victor, have provided the second generation of company leadership at DPOE. Started in 1955 by their father, who sold used desks and chairs from his garage, the now Sharp-authorized dealership has three locations in the Chicago area.
What they said about Chip:
“Chip is one of those dealers who is constantly out there learning through his attendance and participation in industry events.”
Terry Newsom | Pacific Office Automation (POA) | Years Active: 1976 to present
Newsom was one of the first dealer principals to begin his career on the service side of the aisle, moving up the career ladder to service manager prior to starting POA more than 40 years ago. The business model behind POA has set a huge example for the industry in its approach to growth. Indeed, Newsom has been instrumental, along with POA President Doug Pitassi, in POA’s exponential growth, which has extended well beyond its initial Portland, Oregon, location.
Today, POA continues to maintain the hiring, sales, service, advancement, and growth processes that have allowed it to become a nearly $300 million dealership. While Newsom has proven himself as a huge success, not every one of his moves was a winning one. As one of our contributors pointed out, “He once had an idea to open typewriter retail stores in the largest malls in Portland and Seattle. At the time, we didn’t know if it was a good idea or a bad one””it turned out to be a bad one, but Terry survived.”
What they said about Terry:
“A lot of the credit for POA’s success can be attributed to Terry Newsom’s guidance and leadership.”
Les Olson | Les Olson Company | Years Active: 1956″“1980s
There are dealerships, then there are dealerships, then there’s the Les Olson Company, the largest Sharp dealership in the country. Olson saw an opportunity and left his job in Salt Lake City to build a business that could be a legacy for his family. The company Olson founded dominates the Salt Lake City market in terms of market share and is now being run by the third generation with the fourth generation following on their heels. It takes someone special to build a sustainable business, and the emphasis on service put in place by Olson 50 years ago still drives the company today and is a fitting testament to this industry icon. Olson started another one of those rare family owned dealerships that continues to thrive from one generation to the next.
What they said about Les:
“He had a great work ethic that he passed on to his children and with the understanding they have a caretaker responsibility and as rite of passage, so to speak, they have an obligation to give 10% of their annual bonus back to company so it can continue to grow. That personifies Les Olson and his company.”
Worth Probst | Colorbus, Inc. | Years Active: 1980s”“1995
An early color visionary, Probst, the founder and CEO of Colorbus, Inc. from 1988″“1995, wrote front ends to drive the color business. How many other dealers across the industry can you name had the talent and foresight to do that? He would later go on to serve as CEO of the internet company Imaging Portals from 2004″“2009. He had a Xerox background originally began his career with University Office Equipment (UOC), which he started with a couple of other partners selling RPC 1s and 2s. He would eventually become a large Canon dealer and was one of the first dealers in the industry to see promise in the early Canon color products. Probst was also one of the very first dealers to embrace EFI’s Fiery controllers.
What they said about Worth:
“He was pioneer in many ways along with Leslie/LDI in selling product and getting Canon established from a dealer perspective as a great producer of color products.”
Thomas Russo Sr. | Delaware Office Equipment | Years Active: 1970s”“2000s
As the former owner and president of Delaware Office Equipment, a dealership he established in 1991 in Wilmington, Delaware, Thomas Russo Sr. also served as the 1985″“86 national president of the NOMDA, known today as the Business Technology Association (BTA). Now retired from the industry, in 2016, Thomas became the first inductee into the BTA Hall of Fame. Taking his passion for the history of the industry to a new level, Thomas founded the Thomas A. Russo Museum of Business History and Technology (MBHT) in 2001, recognized by historians and collectors around the world for a collection unique both in scope and content, with more than 2,000 artifacts representative of the evolution of the industry, including some items dating back to the 1700s.
What they said about Thomas:
“Thomas has distinguished himself like no other independent office technology dealer with his Business History and Technology Museum.”
Lou Scantland | DOCUmation | Years Active: 1960s to present
Lou started at 3M company in 1961, then moved to Phoenix, Arizona, to started Uni Copy, along with his partners. Once they secured the Motorola account, the dealership grew rapidly. He was the first dealer to go out and build a dealership, sell it, and repeat the process many times over. He was a master of building businesses and then flipping them, and Lou would later work on acquisitions for Dan Doyle Sr. at Danka. He’s still in the business and is currently chairman of DOCUmation, a dealership based in San Antonio, Texas. He’s also one of the most charitable dealers in the country.
What they said about Lou:
“He was one of the all-time greats.”
“Dedicated, socially active, quiet, but a strong man with a great market presence. When faced with family challenges, he succeeded in life and business.”
Steve Schloss | Leslie Supply | Years Active: 1970s”“1990s
Steve started out as a copier salesman for APECO, before going into business for himself and building it into one of the most successful Canon dealerships in the country through his vision, hard work, and dedication. Along with Jerry Blaine, he was a true visionary who had the temperament, insightfulness, and willingness to work with his manufacturers early on. Although now retired, he remains a financial backer of LDI.
What they said about Steve:
“I bought a company from him once. He’s a straight shooter.”
Paul Schulman | Carr Business Systems, Global Imaging Systems | Years Active: 1980s”“2010
Paul took a business that was left to him by his father and expanded it tremendously. The business he inherited at a young age started out selling office chairs before adding copiers to the mix. “What an incredible job he did at a young age,” noted one contributor. His vision and hard work, but most of all his to ability to keep his employees happy, were tantamount to his success.
After selling his company, he joined Global Imaging Systems in 2005, eventually serving as president before he left the company in 2010 to start his own private investment firm. During his tenure at Carr Business Systems, Paul was very active in the dealer community, earning a reputation for helping many of his peers.
What they said about Paul:
“He took over the business from his dad, and the business was not all that successful. Paul jumped in with both feet and did an outstanding job before selling to Global.”
Paul Shields | Copytronics | Years Active: 1960s”“2000s
As dealer who spent more than 50 years in the industry, for a number of years, Paul ran Apeco, where he was national sales manager. A textbook “˜Type A’ personality, he had an interesting way of motivating people, as one of our contributors who was fired and rehired by him a couple of times, once within the same conversation. He was one of the original founders of CDA (Copier Dealers Association), and many dealers owe much to Paul. He’s also one of the few recipients of The Cannata Report’s Lifetime Achievement Award.
What they said about Paul:
“Paul was one of these people who always tried to help other people.”
Barry Simon | Datamax, Inc. | Years Active: 1970s to present
Barry Simon has spent well over three decades in the industry and continues to move his company forward. Lauded as an innovative thinker, he has actively served on many dealer advisory councils, and his input has been critical to the many manufacturers his dealership represents. He’s also active in CDA and is highly respected by his peers, suppliers, and customers.
What they said about Barry:
“Barry Simon is a rare breed. He’s as classy as they come and a consummate professional. When you speak to Barry, you know you’re getting someone as genuine as OEM supplies!”¯He’s fair, but challenging””never willing to settle for the “˜easy answer,’ and always looking for ways to get more from everyone around him. I’ve seen his organization up-close, and the respect for Barry’s leadership is palpable.”¯His energy level and knowledge of the industry suggests he could be a pillar for all of us for a long time.”
Barry Taylor | Taylor Made Copy Systems, Taylor Made Digital Systems, Taylor Made Water Systems, Taylor Made Business Systems | Years Active: 1960s”“2013
The late Barry Taylor founded Taylor Made Copy Systems in 1972 with his partner Lou Gernhardt and a small loan after leaving APECO. Taylor Made Copy Systems then grew into one of the largest dealerships in the country with nine locations, revenues of more than $50 million, and more than 2,500 employees when Barry sold it in 1989. At one time, Taylor Made represented four different brands. In 1990, he and his wife co-founded the Taylor Foundation to help children living in Northern California who were suffering from life-threatening illnesses. Taylor had what one contributor called, “interesting meetings.” “You know the phrase, “˜Hold court?’ Somehow Barry figured out how to make holding court productive and successful.”
What they said about Barry:
“He devoted his life to the needy and the sick, setting a philanthropic example for the industry.”
“A true maverick, Barry Taylor had an exceptional marketing mind and was one of the most “˜giving’ of copier dealers.”
Larry Weiss | Atlantic, Tomorrow’s Office | Years Active: 1980s to present
Larry grew his dealership through hard work and acquisition in one of the most competitive markets in the world. He possesses an overwhelming commitment to being a leader in every aspect of the business and has earned a solid reputation for the very compassionate way he takes care of his employees. Larry continues to be a huge presence at dealer meetings and other dealer events, and he also has a knack for telling it exactly how it is in colorful language that would even make the playwright David Mamet blush.
What they said about Larry:
“His major achievement is taking his company through the worst economic environment we ever had and doubling it.”
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We had an excellent response to our call for nominations of dealer icons with nearly 100 dealers suggested. Here are the other worthy finalists who also made significant contributions to our industry and were considered for this list.
Lee Archer, Keith Allison, James Ayres, Dennis Berman, Jim Ciampaglia, Gary Clancy, Jerry Coscia, John Crunk, Bill Curren, Larry DeFoor, Tom Deverall, Jim Edwards, Gil Exler, John Eckstrom, Charlie Fernandez, Bill Fraser, Tom Frederick, John Furniak, Jack Finnell, Joe Ginascoli, John Heiser, Charlie Hollis, Ronelle Ingram, David Johnson, Jim Kenney, Brian King, Mike Koether, Jim Koppert, Riley Lockridge, Greg Martin, Dusty Milner, Bob O’Brien, Jim Olson, Jim Orrichio, Tony Pater, Dave Quint, Ben Ragusa, Tim Renegar, Bill Robinson, Ben Russert, Jack Russell, Jim Scarf, Jim Schwab, David Scibetta, Peter Shoemaker, Brent Simone, John Stuart, Larry Stutes, Qasim Tarin, Earl Tarver, Eric Von Grimmenstein.
Ian Crocket; Jim D’Emidio; Dan Doyle Sr.; Bob Goldberg, Brent Hoskins, Bob Ingoglia, Mario Lenci, Bob Magrino, Ed Mclaughlin, Bob Sostilio, Mike Stramaglio, our Board, and our readers.