Under the leadership of David Polimeni, the Sarasota, Florida-based dealership strives to conduct business the Rite way.
Above: David Polimeni, president of Rite Technology and current BTA president.
It’s rare when a former customer acquires their office technology vendor. It’s even rarer when that customer is a church minister. That happened in 2017 when David Polimeni, the dealership’s sales manager, acquired Rite Technology from its former owner. At the time, Polimeni had been with the Sarasota, Florida-based dealership since 2007 after a career change when he left his ministerial position to work for his church’s office technology provider as a sales rep.
Polimeni took an unconventional path for sure. As things turned out, the transition to sales wasn’t difficult. His willingness to learn was a huge asset in his career development, and he credits BTA with providing the opportunity to learn about the industry. His commitment to BTA over the years has been strong, and today he serves as the organization’s president.
Polimeni credits a spiritual awakening at age 14 during a tumultuous time for his family as instrumental in his career journey. “Something welled up inside my heart that life wasn’t supposed to be that way and that somehow, I was going to be a part of other people living life to its fullest,” he recalled. “I didn’t know what that meant at 14, and it just went on the shelf. It wasn’t until some years later that I leaned into that.” At 19, he went to school to become a minister and followed that path for nearly 14 years.
The decision to switch careers was driven by a need to better provide for his family and a passion for business. That passion was displayed during Polimeni’s high school years when he turned a hobby—performance modifications to late-model Mustangs—into a business. “I knew I wanted to sell technology, but the last thing I ever thought to do was sell copiers,” he said.
As fate would have it, Rite Technology was in the right place at the right time, helping Polimeni’s church clean up another office technology provider’s fraudulent business practices. “Many churches get taken advantage of, and mine was one of them,” said Polimeni. That’s how he became acquainted with the office technology industry and the companies doing it wrong and right.
Polimeni originally viewed his new sales position as a résumé builder, but he excelled at it and was eventually promoted to sales manager, which led to becoming the owner. But that almost didn’t happen. Before buying Rite Technology, Polimeni had accepted a position with another company. He negotiated a six-month transition with the new organization so he wouldn’t leave Rite Technology’s owner in a pinch. At the same time, he asked her if she would be interested in selling the company to him. The timing was near perfect as the owner was planning on stepping back and negotiating to sell to a Florida-based mega dealer. Fortunately, she wasn’t keen on having the new owner dismantle everything she and her ex-husband had built from their garage, and she sold half the company to Polimeni in 2014. He acquired the remainder of the dealership in 2020 and is now sole owner.
Rite Technology’s headquarters in Sarasota, Florida.
Rite Technology is a long-time Sharp dealer and Polimeni has nothing but praise for the OEM. “The strength of the relationship with Sharp carried us through the pandemic in a positive way,” he said. Sharp also provides Rite Technology with some professional AV products sold through the dealership’s conference room division, launched in 2021. That division has a robust product offering that extends beyond the Sharp AV products.
Rite Technology’s meeting and demo rooms provide a comfortable and inviting environment for clients and employees.
The AV business has had a positive effect on Rite Technology’s bottom line. “We had the best year ever in 2022, and much of the credit goes to the pro AV business,” reported Polimeni. “It’s opened doors, and we’re selling copiers where we couldn’t get appointments before.” (Editor’s note: For more about Rite Technology’s experience selling pro-AV products, read the Diversification Row column in The Cannata Report’s March 2023 diversification issue.)
Even though business is on the upswing, there is always room for improvement, and one area that Polimeni would like to see do better is with ECM software. Here, its vendor is Square 9. The dealership also sells Sharp Dynabooks. “I bought 10 for my sales team,” he said. “If we’re going to sell them, we sure as heck have to use them. They’re awesome. One client was dead set on Samsung. They let us drop one off, played with it for a few days, and sent us an order for 140.”
Polimeni sees plenty of other opportunities for his dealership to diversify, such as access control, physical security, and telephony, but he offers a caveat. “Telephony is an easy bolt-on, but for me, it always starts with the human capital. Like most of my peers, we are tremendously understaffed. As it is, we finished 2022 50% above the benchmark for employee-to-revenue. I won’t stress my team with a new line of business, even telephony, until we’ve added the right person.” Once the proper staffing is in place, Polimeni plans to expand into telephony, physical security, and access control in 2023.
At the moment, managed IT is not an option. “Again, it’s the human capital,” emphasized Polimeni. “I won’t dilute my company, my team, or our brand by putting a shingle out, saying I do something that I don’t have the talent to deliver. Some of my friends don’t have any problem with that, but I struggle with sleeping at night as it is. I can’t do that. I’d probably never sleep. The other side of what we’re talking about is that it’s rich with opportunity.”
When asked if his ministerial background is an asset when dealing with employees and customers, Polimeni said, “If anything, it hurts because I probably lean in where I shouldn’t—in a place of care. It’s tough to take that hat off. I would consider myself an overly empathetic person, meaning when somebody’s going through a challenge, I can’t look the other way. More often than not, in business, it can be a detriment.” He added that his team and clients might have different opinions.
Polimeni believes strongly in charitable endeavors, and one of the charitable endeavors he’s supported in the past is The Jillian Fund. Here he poses on a Harley Davidson that was auctioned off in 2021.
Asked about Rite Technology’s culture, Polimeni said, “My team would say that it’s a very friendly and family-oriented environment. Our team loves being together. Normally, I take all of our employees and their spouses, and sometimes their families, away for a weekend every year. This year, I turned our Christmas party into an overnight on the beach in Clearwater. This was a one-night affair and a fantastic time together. It’s not like a dinner where everybody scurries home when the lights come on. From that perspective, the culture’s amazing.”
However, this kind of culture can create a challenge. “It’s pretty tough to scale a company as a friendly family environment,” opined Polimeni. “With our size, it’s often attested to be a glass ceiling, which is one of the breakpoints that’s pretty tough to get past. Most of my peers would say, ‘You’re not going to get to the next level with the same people that got you to this level.’ I talked to you about my background; my soul is tied to business as people.”
An initiative for 2023 revolves around fine-tuning the company’s culture. The foundation for this initiative is the book, The 6 Types of Working Genius: A Better Way to Understand Your Gifts, Your Frustrations, and Your Team by Patrick M. Lecioni and Ray Porter. According to the authors, there are three stages of work, ideation, activation, and implementation. “And in those three stages of work, there are six geniuses,” explained Polimeni. “Lecioni and his team have over tens of thousands of individuals they’ve worked with. They feel confident that the model is such that everyone possesses two geniuses, possesses two competencies, and possesses two frustrations. When you know who your geniuses are and what your frustrations are, you can shape the way you work and whom you work with, project-wise.”
Another book influencing Polimeni is Good Authority: How to Become the Leader Your Team is Waiting For by Jonathan Raymond. He picked up on similar messaging at the Executive Connection Summit (ECS) in Scottsdale, Arizona, in January.
“Individuals want more, and most can’t arrive there on their own,” he explained. “With the heart that I have for people, I have not pushed them as much as I should have in the past. John Reardon said it beautifully during his presentation at ECS, ‘If you attach to their hopes and dreams, that’s what matters.’ What I’m looking to bolt onto the family aspect are individual, personal accomplishments. Who hasn’t bought their first home yet? And how can I come alongside them and attach to that dream with them? I’m excited about ’23 for many reasons, but that’s a big one.”
Benefitting from BTA
Mention BTA, and Polimeni’s eyes light up. “Having not grown up in the industry, BTA has been an absolute lifeline. The friendships that I’ve developed as a part of that organization, and coming from a ministry background, volunteering is deep in my soul. You give back, you help people because people helped you. It’s easy for me to lean into that, and it’s enriching and a joy to give back to the industry.”
Polimeni joined BTA in 2012 to take a solutions sales class only available to BTA members. “I had no idea what BTA was.” After 11 years of membership, attending multiple BTA events, and serving on the Southeast Regional Board, then the national board, he’s enjoying his first year as president. And he’s excited about what’s next for BTA.
“I can’t say too much, but I can tell you that there are some great changes, some advancements, and some things that we as an organization need to improve and bring advancement to a 96-year-old organization that has served most of our families in this industry incredibly well. It truly is a time to evolve the organization.”