CEO Scott Maccabe highlights two decades of innovation and outlines current strategic initiatives that are positioning the company and its dealers for a promising future.
On August 11, 2019, Toshiba America Business Solutions (TABS) will celebrate its 20th anniversary.
If one were to take a trip back in time to that week in 1999, songs like “Beautiful Stranger” by Madonna, “I Want It That Way” by The Backstreet Boys, “I Will Remember You” by Sara McLachlan, “Learn to Fly” by Foo Fighters, and “Livin’ La Vida Loca” by Ricky Martin, were playing on the radio. Austin Powers was lighting up movie screens in “The Spy Who Shagged Me,” a little boy was seeing dead people in “The Sixth Sense,” and Stanley Kubrick was confusing and polarizing audiences with his final film, “Eyes Wide Shut” with Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman.
We’ve come a long way since then as has TABS, a subsidiary of Toshiba Tec Corporation (TTEC), with offices across the U.S. and Latin America. To gain a better understanding of where TABS has been, where it is now, and where it is going, we spoke with TABS CEO Scott Maccabe. He’s been with Toshiba nearly 18 years, six of them leading TABS.
Maccabe has a keen perspective as to how things have changed since TABS’ formative years.
“Twenty years ago, it was like a bit of the old wild west,” he said.
TABS was originally a division of Toshiba America Information Systems. Approaching 1999, Toshiba’s MFP business was growing rapidly and was so different from the PC business that it was determined that TABS should become its own separate legal entity. In August of that year, TABS moved ““ literally across the street ““ from its former parent company.
At that time, TABS sold exclusively through dealers but soon began acquiring dealers in key markets across the country.
TABS’ direct operation, originally known as TOPAC but now referred to as Toshiba Business Solutions or TBS was built through over 50 separate dealers who had been acquired and placed under one umbrella company. According to Maccabe, that posed a challenge because the organization didn’t have any consistent business operating processes and practices, and there was a lack of corporate business structure and acumen.
A focus on implementing operational efficiencies, practices, and processes, as well as an emphasis on continuous improvement has been instrumental into turning what was at first a disorganized organization into the TABS of today.
“We have really developed into a very disciplined organization and have maximized our operating efficiencies and value to the corporation,” stated Maccabe. “We continue to click along in a very efficient way.”
He’s proud too of the solid relationship TABS has with its parent company in Japan, which is different from when Maccabe first came onboard.
“There was an us against them attitude,” he said. “But it’s become a partnership and there is trust to the point where they’ve allowed us to expand and invest and provide value on a global level.”
The executive management team of Toshiba Tec Corporation has told Maccabe that TABS has elevated itself to become a global strategic leader in the corporate structure and is an integral part of Toshiba Tec’s global business strategy planning team.
More than a Distributor
Today, TABS is much more than a distributor of products for a Japanese-based corporation. It has a rich history of product development and a product development organization. Besides developing products for TABS in the United States and Latin America, it develops products for Japan too. TABS even has a development team in Lexington, Kentucky, who collaborate with Japan on new imaging technologies.
Prior to the formation of the development organization, TABS had a design team in place responsible for doing contract work for its parent company in Japan, including developing controllers and connectors for Toshiba systems. The work taking place today offers a glimpse into the future of TABS. Key initiatives revolve around machine learning and predictive failure analytics that are or will be embedded in TABS’ systems and solutions.
In recent years, Maccabe has had to address rumors related to the financial troubles of Toshiba Corporation in Japan. But let’s be clear, Toshiba Corporation is not TABS or Toshiba Tec. The lineage can be confusing to outsiders, so let’s explain. TABS is a subsidiary of Toshiba Tec Corporation, which is independent of Toshiba Corporation.
“We’re a financially stable business and have been for over 55 years,” stated Maccabe. “We continue to reinvest in ourselves and are diversified in that we have other business platforms helping us become more resilient than being tied to just one business platform like print.”
Diversifying beyond print yields another benefit for TABS as the company’s digital signage and thermal barcode printer business are thriving. TABS is outfitting established retailers and logistics operations with its thermal barcode printers and providing high-definition digital signage to notable venues, including STAPLES Center, T-Mobile Arena, Dignity Health Sports Park, and Oracle Arena. A global market share leader in retail point-of-sale (POS) technology and what Maccabe described as retail’s first choice for integrated in-store solutions, Toshiba Global Commerce Solutions (TGCS), the other Toshiba Tec organization Maccabe leads is also flourishing. TGCS works with most of the successful retail brands in the world, including 60% of the top 25 global retailers.
Many of the challenges that TABS is facing of late are challenges common to all OEMs and dealers in the imaging industry””understanding the continued digital transformation evolution and focusing on adjacent products, solutions, and services.
“A key challenge is not only identifying the logical areas to pursue that may be adjacencies that aren’t as disruptive or evolutionary versus transformational,” said Maccabe.
He views barcode label printers as an untapped adjacent market that could yield some significant financial returns for TABS and its dealers. In order to make that happen the organization is adding dedicated sales resources.
It seems to be working. Over the last six months, TABS has won contracts for its barcode label printers valued in the millions of dollars.
The POS market represents another growth opportunity. To better compete in this space, Maccabe has moved product development from the retail company to the print company. It is now developing a line of POS printers that will allow TABS dealers to expand into what he described as an adjacency that makes sense for them. Besides the POS hardware, dealers will find a booming aftermarket opportunity for ribbons and paper.
“Those are logical areas that have less pain per entry that provide opportunity for growth,” said Maccabe. “[Dealers] can go to vertical markets in their own geography and provide those customers with point-of-sale, barcode printers, and digital signage. That makes a lot more sense where we have a set of experiences and value and knowledge to bring to our partners that will ultimately get us to what I hope will be an A-level of productivity.”
Another initiative he hinted at that has potential appeal to TABS dealers is document management and enterprise content management. Toshiba has been evaluating products from worldwide leaders in this space with the aim of bringing them to its dealers.
Any discussion of adjacent opportunities can’t ignore the leadership position TABS has in the MPS space. It was one of the first OEMs to develop an MPS program and that’s something else about the company that hasn’t changed and continues to be a point of differentiation. That business is still going strong although Maccabe contends there’s still room for improvement.
During the past 20 years TABS has engaged in partnerships with a host of companies in the digital imaging space, including Lexmark, HP, and most recently, Brother. The Brother partnership””announced last year””is off to a good start.
“We set expectations appropriately, and they’re of a similar mindset, so it’s actually going quite well,” reported Maccabe.
Meanwhile, TABS remains one of Lexmark’s largest partners.
“We’ll continue to create a mutually valuable relationship,” noted Maccabe.
As far as HP, he said, “It will be interesting to see what transpires with HP, of course.”
TABS has consistently earned high marks in The Cannata Report’s Annual Dealer Survey. Why does Maccabe think dealers feel so positive about the company?
“Simply put, we walk the talk,” he responded. “And to a person, whether it’s at TABS or in Japan, we care about the partnership and the success of our partners, and we’re committed to it. It’s because we listen and have their best interest at heart. We can’t be successful unless they are.”
Maccabe acknowledged not all imaging solution vendors are equal, which is a message he believes dealers need to hear.
“Though we may offer similar products and sets of solutions, we’re not all equal. Being bigger does not necessarily mean better, especially in terms of ensuring success or security,” he opined. “This is a long game for TABS and Toshiba Tec. Our focus consistently is to be the most trusted, reliable, and the most committed to our business partners””our dealer base. That’s one of the fundamental reasons we receive the accolades we do every single year. We believe in building mutual success, not at the expense of one or the other.”
The Next 20
With the 20th anniversary of TABS fast approaching, company-wide celebrations are planned at headquarters as well as TABS locations across the country.
What’s in store for the next 20 years?
Maccabe expects more of the same.
“Our parent , who has been consistently profitable, is committed to investing in many different technologies that support this segment. They are looking at different types of digital transformation technologies and have a 50-year plan to continue to grow. I can assure you that TABS will continue to be a leading solution provider that will cross many different types of technologies.”
Access Related Content
Visit the www.thecannatareport.com. To become a subscriber, visit www.thecannatareport.com/register or contact firstname.lastname@example.org directly. Bulk subscription rates are also available.