Back in 1972 when Neil Young sang, “Old man, look at my life, I’m a lot like you were,” he wasn’t singing about young influencers in today’s imaging channel but he could have been. After all, many of them are much like the senior members of the channel when they were starting out.
In this issue, we profile 10 young influencers””all 40 years of age and under””from various segments of the industry who are making significant contributions to the imaging channel. Some of these individuals have been in the industry for more than a decade, others only a couple of years. Yet, a common thread unites them all””they are young, driven, and standouts in their own organizations and the channel.
Director of Solutions & Services
Years in industry: 15
Three words that best describe Sarah: Honest, outgoing, persistent
Favorite Book: To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
Favorite Band: Dave Matthews Band
Favorite Movie: The Horse Whisperer
Hobbies: Horseback riding
Unique Skill: Anything that needs to be done around the barn or horses””digging holes for fences, cleaning stalls, stacking hay bales, etc.
Sarah Custer never stops thinking about moving to the next level in her career. In her 15 years at Supplies Network””more than that if you count working summers and weekends while in high school””she’s been traveling a career path that leads nowhere but up.
In the interest of full disclosure, her father is Barney Kister, Supplies Network’s senior vice president of MPS sales, and one of the company’s founders. But let’s not hear any talk of nepotism.
“The big learning curve for me, and I appreciate it more now, was that from early on he expected the very best from me,” recalled Custer.
She remembers driving into work with him that first time and being told, “Don’t screw up because I’ll fire you fast if you make me look bad.”
She started by entering fax orders, then becoming a sales assistant and a sales rep before settling into her current role as director of solutions and services. Throughout, Custer’s bar has always been set higher than everyone else’s.
“Barney would be patting the guy next to me on the back, “˜Great, you met your goal,'” Custer reminisced. “I’d be at 110% of goal and it’s, “˜Why weren’t you at 125%?’ That high standard set me up to be successful.”
Custer enjoys interacting with people, whether it’s her own team, customers, vendors, or business partners. “I’m an off the chart extravert and love meeting with people, finding out what they do and what their businesses are like,” she said.
The most challenging part of her job is time management. “I wish I had more hours in my day,” she acknowledged. “Before I had kids, I’d work 12-hour days because I love what I do. These days, it’s trying to get everything done on time so I can see my kids before they go to sleep.”
There’s a saying scrawled on the whiteboard in her office that reads, “Ruthless prioritization,” which inspires her to tackle the most critical tasks for that day first.
Even though she loves her current position, she can’t resist thinking about what’s next.
“I’ve done that my entire career,” Custer said. “I get to that next level and then, I’m looking for the next thing. Fifteen years ago, I had no idea what managed print services was and never thought I’d be director of an entire department. Who knows what I’ll be doing in 15 years? It could be a completely new division we haven’t even thought of yet.”
For Custer the secret to a successful career is the willingness to work hard.
“What you’re doing at that moment might not be the most glamorous thing, but it might mean something to somebody in their business,” said Custer. “Those who truly work hard and are willing to roll up their sleeves will be successful in this industry.” By Scott Cullen
* * * * *
Business Development Manager
Years in industry: 10 years full time; 16 years total
Three words that best describe Andrew: Very hard worker
Favorite Band: Mumford and Sons
Last Concert: Mumford and Sons
Hobby: Playing guitar
Favorite Book: Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand
Favorite Pastime: Spending as much time as possible with his wife and kids as possible
Mergers are often disruptive, but the 2007 merger between Advanced Office Services (AOS) and Image Plus was mostly smooth because of Andrew Dixon. Despite his youth, Dixon was ultimately responsible for identifying business processes to be adopted by the new organization.
“You really have to keep your eyes open,” Dixon said. “It’s much easier to acquire [than to merge] because you have to minimize the risk of dropping customers as much as possible [when integrating two businesses].” Dixon also reined in the two service departments after discovering both organizations were doing too much network work in-field and dealing with operational, as opposed to break-fix, issues. “We [were] fixing first and billing later,” recalled Dixon who realized that the two dealerships were not charging for some of the additional services they were providing.
Dixon’s solution was a Help Desk for customers to contact when having difficulty printing or scanning. This improved call-avoidance and response time while allowing the dealership to bill for services they weren’t previously compensated for. Additionally, Dixon currently oversees a small team that assists sales and serves as a liaison between sales and administration, assisting with prospecting, marketing, internal sales backup, and ensuring seamless customer experiences.
Dixon’s team touches administration, sales, and service, and he considers them a microcosm of the company””key personnel he describes as “more than the sum of their parts.” It takes time to manage that team while handling projects colleagues ask him for help with. “I call myself the small end of the funnel,” said Dixon. “Everything runs through it. But, that keeps me in tune with where the company’s going and what needs attention. I just wish I had more time to focus on areas that require special attention.”
Dixon finds the biggest issue facing dealerships like Advanced Office is the ongoing struggle to stand out in a commoditized market. “Customers seem to be locked in this struggle to drive prices down through commoditization, while at the same time they are desperate to find something other than price to help them make a decision,” stated Dixon. “Our and the industry’s challenge is that copiers and solutions are not emotional products like cars. We need to help customers find the differences they are looking for. We need to stand out and resist what people are saying about the industry being commoditized. It’s being driven that way, but it’s not. Ask somebody who uses a KYOCERA versus a Ricoh. It’s night and day.”
Perhaps the biggest lesson Dixon has learned over the years has to do with balancing the customer’s needs with the dealership’s. “Ultimately, when approaching a problem or business our litmus test is, is it good for the customer and is it good for us? Everybody has to win.” By CJ Cannata
* * * * *
Vice President of Sales and Marketing
Years in Industry: 6
Three words that describe Nick: Passionate, hard working, and outgoing
Favorite Band: Metallica
Favorite Book: The Hobbit
Favorite Sports Team: Denver Broncos
Favorite Hobbies: Playing golf and hiking
Unique Skill: Can hit a golf ball 350 yards in any direction
With a marketing degree from Northern Arizona University, Nick Leko was looking at a broad range of industries to begin a career from working at a private golf course to selling financial solutions. However, a chance meeting with Gary Willert, CEO of LMI Solutions, put Leko on the workplace technology path. Willert encouraged Leko to consider LMI and meet with some of the company’s executives. After meeting those executives in the interview process, researching LMI and the imaging industry, and encouragement from Willert, Leko was sold.
“I wanted to be with a company I could grow with and be part of something special,” said Leko. “I had no idea about the industry at all, but the people [at LMI] had such passion and excitement.”
Leko became one of LMI’s first employees in its management trainee program. Over six months, Leko spent several weeks working in each of LMI’s departments””shipping, accounting, purchasing, customer services, R&D, manufacturing, and sales. He developed a great respect for LMI as a company, the quality of its products, and its employees. The experience gave him a solid foundation to speak intelligently about LMI and its offerings, as well as a roadmap to know exactly who to call when he was looking to resolve issues.
After the program ended, Leko was most drawn to sales and began working as an internal sales representative. However, success wasn’t easily attained. It took another six months for him to establish himself.
“I’d go home and study about our dealers, our MPS, collection agents, competitors, leasing companies, everything to better understand our industry,” said Leko. “I spent hours recording myself on webinars to try to improve. I didn’t want to fail.”
Driven by his competitive nature, Leko started landing deals and exceeding his quotas. He was soon promoted to director of business development for the West Coast, then expanded his role to the Rocky Mountains region, and eventually to all territories west of the Mississippi River. Last June, LMI promoted Leko to vice president of sales and marketing, charged with guiding and developing his sales team.
“At LMI, we are constantly striving to do the right thing for our customers,” said Leko. “We aim to professionally persistent, have phenomenal follow-up and look to help our dealers be successful.
Like most sales leaders across the industry, one of Leko’s main challenges is hiring passionate and persistent talent. He seeks inexperienced candidates who have a strong work ethic and an ability to connect so LMI can help develop and mentor them.
“Don’t be intimidated,” said Leko. “Put in the research, learn and study about the industry. Make sure you have the right mindset and commitment to achieve what you want to accomplish. As long as the attitude is there and you have an open mind, good results will come.” By Sharon Esker
* * * * *
SVP and COO
Years in industry: 15
Three words that best describe Priscilla: Grounded, nurturing, optimisitic
Favorite Band: Eagles
Favorite Solo Artist: Rod Stewart
Favorite Television Series: Law & Order
Favorite Movie: The Godfather Series (especially Part II) and An Officer and a Gentleman
Hobbies: Anything to do with the home or being a mom”“especially on a softball field or a basketball court
As senior vice president and chief operating officer, Priscilla Lopez looks to make sure everyone feels like they are part of Dahill’s team, not simply an isolated part of the organization. “One of the things I enjoy most is to ensure my colleagues are proud of what they do [regardless of their position],” said Lopez. “I want to make sure that everyone feels important and part of the process.”
Lopez emphasizes continued education not only for Dahill’s employees but also for herself. She’s always open to learning from others. Lopez also focuses on working with employees who perhaps didn’t finish their formal education.
“There’s always room for improvement,” said Lopez, who encourages others to think about how to improve performance in their current position. “I’m not the smartest,” Lopez said modestly. “If I’m wrong, I’ll admit it and take suggestions.”
One of Lopez’s key accomplishments was creating a Customer Services Group (CSG). The group’s objective is to ensure customers are aware Dahill is truly managing their existing business. Lopez founded the CSG after conducting a study to determine true revenue origins, concluding that 20% of Dahill’s clients were responsible for 80% of Dahill’s revenue. Then, she looked at customer service, discovering that the process was the same for all clients.
“All clients are important, but we may not have been doing a great job providing better levels of services to top-tier clients,” said Lopez. “[Now], if customers need additional TLC, we can provide it. We are bringing in more large customers than ever before and providing them with an elevated level of customer service.”
Lopez’s openness and emphasis on education is also vital to keeping and developing talent, and she is the preeminent example. “I didn’t necessarily just say I was going to be the CFO in five years,” Lopez said. “I just trusted in Dahill, the people, my development, and the learning””and today, wow, I can’t believe I’m even here.”
Lopez was officially promoted to COO last November, but has served as Dahill’s finance lead since 2009 when the then CFO resigned.
“He had a lot of trust in my ability and threw a lot at me,” Lopez said. “I would just truck along. Replacing him was never a thought. I just continued to absorb how to improve our processes.”
When Brad Rollins became Dahill’s president in 2009, he did not appoint a new CFO immediately. Instead, he looked internally for trusted advisors and found Lopez. With her eyes to the future, Lopez is confronting industry realities. “[This business] is no longer about copiers or MFPs and their capabilities,” Lopez said. “As time goes on and people don’t print as much, they may be printing in different ways or [looking for] different types of solutions [and services]. In the past, for example, we might have sold an MFP and added scanning functions as add-ons, but now, we’re getting more involved in helping customers actually solving business problems.” By CJ Cannata
* * * * *
Strategy Manager, Solutions & Professional Services
Toshiba America Business Solutions
Years in industry: 13
Three words that best describe Maegan: Passionate, positive, focused
Favorite Book: The Art of War for Women: Sun Tzu’s Ultimate Guide for Winning Without Confrontation by Chin-Ning Chu
Favorite Band: Sublime
Favorite Movie: Pursuit of Happiness
Hobbies: Cooking, dancing, yoga
Unique Skill: Getting her hands dirty in creating an edible garden.
Don’t stamp that “millennial” label on Maegan Lujan, who dismisses the clichés that classify her generation. Instead, she defines her generation as one that has lived with technology and uses it to be hyper-productive.
After leaving home at a young age and joining the workforce during an economic downturn, she’s learned to do more with less. “That tone was set in every company [I worked for] and is ingrained in my professional DNA,” noted Lujan.
She recently celebrated her third year with Toshiba where she’s responsible for defining the product and program strategy for Toshiba’s digital signage and software portfolio, including managing third-party vendors. Program development is another task. In addition, she helps develop go-to-market strategies, helps shape product offerings, and engages with Toshiba’s dealers, TBS branches, and partners.
“I enjoy solving problems and connecting the voice of our customers to our product strategy,” observed Lujan.
A voracious reader, her biggest source for knowledge has always been books. “I read to learn pretty much exclusively,” she said.
She’s currently reading “30 Things to Do When You Turn 30″ by Chris Taylor,” an appropriate selection since she just turned 30. One lesson learned is the importance of taking the experiences of others and learning from those and adapting them in a way that best matches your personality.
“Understanding at 30 years old, you can make an impact and finding out ultimately where your true passion is and how to follow that true passion,” explained Lujan. “For me, it’s in business.”
Even though Lujan wasn’t afforded the luxury of a formal education, that hasn’t inhibited her success. She’s acquired a wealth of knowledge at every step of her career path and proven herself in every role.
“Learning opportunities come in different forms, and I learned from within the industry and interacting with customers,” observed Lujan. “It’s about always being teachable and leveraging the knowledge of others. If you can learn from their experiences, their failures and successes, you’re already several years ahead.”
Her latest self-improvement project is gaining a better understanding of other areas of the business such as operations, finance, and management.
“Ultimately, it’s understanding how decisions are made,” she explained. “Certain decisions may affect how we go to market and our sales and marketing strategy.”
When not working or reading, Lujan enjoys traveling, dancing, yoga, and her vegetable and fruit garden. “It’s rewarding to me,” she said. “It blends art and science.”
Her advice to young people reflects her background. “The learning doesn’t stop just because you’re out of school,” Lujan said. “Ask questions and understand that there’s a teachable moment in every experience. Have pride in what you do. Learn how to market yourself because at the end of the day you are the CEO of your own brand.”By Scott Cullen
* * * * *
Director of Education Services
Years in industry: 13
Three words that describe Danielle: Ambitious, genuine, collaborative
Favorite Musician: Willie Nelson
Hobbies: Playing tennis, reading, waterskiing, and scuba diving
Most Recently Read: Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance by Angela Duckworth
Recommended Leadership Read: Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap…. And Others Don’t by Jim Collins
After graduating from Bentley University with a degree in computer information systems in 2003, Danielle Maldonado began working as a help desk engineer for The Telluride Group, a small Boston-based managed services provider. But, four months into her job handling end-user issues, Telluride was scooped up by mindSHIFT, which has now grown into one of our industry’s largest IT outsourcing and cloud services providers.
While most employees may shudder just thinking about being acquired by a burgeoning company, Maldonado took the opportunity to grow along with mindSHIFT. In 2007, as the company expanded its offices to New York, she transferred to a project management role to oversee and manage the onboarding of the company’s new clients by providing the tools and creating connectivity to manage clients remotely, fine-tuning clients’ IT infrastructure, and completing projects such as infrastructure upgrades for existing clients.
As mindSHIFT expanded, so did Maldonado’s responsibilities. Working with some of mindSHIFT’s largest clients, she continued to prove herself and broadened her responsibilities to her current role as director of education services. Today, Maldonado leads 50 people on mindSHIFT’s project management, project engineering, and account management teams. She also spearheads the company’s summer internship program that brings in 40 interns for training and assistance in meeting mindSHIFT’s numerous deadlines, most notably in the education vertical.
“We are looking for some IT knowledge and hands-on experience,” said Maldonado. “We want people who are ambitious and humble, can communicate well and be a team player, especially since our business is so customer-services oriented.”
Maldonado embodies all of these traits. Her days begin with checking outages and following up on client requests, but it’s meeting with team members and conducting team meetings that she enjoys most.
“I think you have to take advantage of being around people with different perspectives,” said Maldonado. “If everyone has the same views, you’re not able to branch out to find new ways to promote things, new initiatives or ways to improve.”
Maldonado encourages her team members to devote time to improve not only for the benefit of the company but also for their own through educational opportunities, reading, and bi-weekly Kaizen ““ the Japanese practice of continuous improvement ““ meetings to stay in check with progress on the team’s goals. For Maldonado, her proudest accomplishments are the growth and success of her team members.
When it comes to advice for those looking to succeed in our industry, she offers words that have served her well in her 13-year career.
“Continuously striving and having a growth mindset is important,” said Maldonado. “When you don’t accomplish something, you can’t view failure as failure. You can view it as an opportunity. You can’t be afraid to take that risk even though it may not work out.” By Sharon Esker
* * * * *
Vice President of Marketing
Years in industry: 15
Three words that describe Lori: Strategic, communicator, leader
Favorite Band: The Beatles
Favorite Hobbies: Spending time with her husband and two daughters (7 and 3 years old), yoga, and travel
Favorite Sports Team: New England Patriots
When Lori Mattingly joined Wells Fargo’s marketing department in 2003, she had a laser focus.
“I wanted to find a career path, someplace where I could grow,” said Mattingly. “Once I was fortunate to start with Wells Fargo, it was clear the company understands the importance of its team members. One of its core values is they treat their team members as their biggest competitive advantage. I think that factored in helping me grow in my career and be effective as a marketer.”
With a marketing degree from the University of Northern Iowa, Mattingly was drawn to marketing because of its constantly changing dynamic. When she began in Wells Fargo’s marketing department, marketing included blast faxes, promo items, and lots of paper””flyers, brochures, and print advertising.
While Mattingly says these marketing tools remain effective, she is proud to be part of the evolution of Wells Fargo’s strategic, integrated marketing plan. Today, she is one of the driving forces behind the company’s cohesive integrated marketing strategy for targeted emails, marketing videos, and social media platforms, including LinkedIn and Twitter. To keep up with the latest in marketing, Mattingly reads, takes advantages of webinars, listens to and follows other companies’ efforts, and collaborates with her team.
“I’m always willing to jump in on a new project and raise my hand to volunteer for things that put me outside of my comfort zone,” said Mattingly. “That’s helped me broaden my business knowledge.”
Most recently, Mattingly helped create Wells Fargo’s dealer communication strategy for its acquisition of GE Capital’s commercial distribution finance and vendor finance businesses, totaling $27.4 billion of assets. Citing Wells Fargo’s commitment to its clients, Mattingly spearheaded a marketing and communication team through the acquisition to ensure all customers received email marketing campaigns, to verify invoice information, and to deliver marketing information in invoices and electronically. Her team also developed FAQs and scripts for Wells Fargo’s sales team to call on dealers to help them understand the acquisition’s impact on their businesses and their end customers.
“It was really a top-to-bottom effort to insure that we had a positive impact out in the market from the acquisition,” said Mattingly. “We wanted to make sure our customers understood how bringing these two brands and companies together would offer the best-in-class customer experience.”
Given her marketing background, her advice to those looking to succeed in the industry is not surprising.
“Insure that your personal brand is personal, positive, and impactful,” said Mattingly. “If you can find a position in something you’re passionate about and competent in, and it’s relevant to the business you’re supporting, there’s that sweet spot that will insure you have a successful career.” By Sharon Esker
* * * * *
Director of Product
Years in industry: 2
Three words that best describe Casey: Curious, methodical, patient
Favorite Recent Read: The Big Pivot by Andrew Winston
Favorite Musician: Justin Jay
Favorite Movie: Layer Cake
Hobbies: Snowboarding, backpacking, camping, music festivals
Unique Skill: Rock masonry. That’s my backup plan if this whole “Internet” thing turns out to be a fad.
Casey O’Hara met Jordan Darragh, president of PrintReleaf, while working at his first job out of college for a digital marketing agency in 2012. Darragh was formulating the concept for PrintReleaf, and O’Hara worked with Darragh to create the original prototype for the software. A couple of years later, Darragh offered him a position as director of product with the still-fledgling company.
Working for a small company allows O’Hara to wear plenty of hats. He oversees all aspects of the software, including marketing, design, planning, and building software features. Recently, he’s been overseeing integrations with third-party DCAs (data collection agents) such as FMaudit and PrintFleet. O’Hara also oversees PrintReleaf’s infrastructure and developer operations, and he manages its servers, as well as researches and analyzes paper consumption.
That’s a lot of responsibility for one person, but O’Hara places it into perspective.
“That’s a common challenge with any startup””doing more with less,” he said. “It’s challenging but forces me to constantly learn new things.”
Lately, O’Hara has been spending his free time learning about carbon, paper consumption, reforestation, and renewable energy.
The best thing about working in the software/print industry for O’Hara is the constant evolution and innovation.
“It’s an industry that embraces technology,” O’Hara said. “I’ve learned more about office print and commercial print in the last couple of years than I ever thought I would.”
He considers Darragh his biggest influence. “I’ve learned a ton from him about time management and managing client relationships,” said O’Hara. “I have adapted my management [style] from him.”
O’Hara describes his personal management style as optimistic. He says one of the best lessons he’s learned is never pointing the finger. “When things go wrong, and they most certainly always do, it’s better to rally together and fix it,” he said.
When not working, he’s out listening to live music. He also enjoys skiing, hiking, and camping. “The best thing about living and working in Denver is I can enjoy the best of both worlds””the city and the mountains,” said. O’Hara.
His advice for other young professionals entering the industry is shaped by an interview he read a few years ago with the CIO of a design firm who spoke about being a “T-shaped person.”
“Imagine a T-shape with a vertical stroke of the T representing your depth of knowledge or your expertise or the variety of disciplines you offer,” explained O’Hara. “Most people come out of school “I”- shaped. If you studied accounting or computer science that’s your “I”””your experience. My advice is to work on becoming a T-shaped person. If you’re a software developer, read about advertising and marketing or cooking and painting in your free time. T-shaped people bring experience and expertise, and they are the most valuable employees.” By Scott Cullen
* * * * *
Public Relations Specialist/Top 100 Summit Coordinator
Years in Industry: 11
Fun Facts about Angela
Three words that best describe Angela: bubbly, creative, motivated
Recent Read: The Choice by Nicholas Sparks
Best Concert: Def Leppard
Favorite Movie: Mystery Science Theatre 3000
Hobbies: Fitness and nutrition, experimenting in the kitchen
Unique Skill: Negotiating.
When Angie Onstine began working at Print Audit 11 years ago, social media was still a new concept to most of her co-workers. Not to her. She was one of the first of her friends to dive into social media, and thanks to Onstine, within a year of her arrival at Print Audit, the company was Tweeting and posting on Facebook.
“It’s getting people excited about social media, understanding it, and using it,” she explained. “I would hear, “˜That’s not how we do things or we don’t need social media.’ We do. Times are evolving, and this is a digital world.”
Onstine’s first role at Print Audit was assistant to its president, John Macinnis. She didn’t remain in that position for long. Impressed by her work ethic and outgoing and engaging personality, Macinnis created a public relations position for her. She’s since added event planning to her résumé and is responsible for much of the planning for Print Audit’s Top 100 Summit, now in its second year.
“I’ve loved event planning from as far back as I can remember,” she beamed. “It’s a passion.”
Onstine also serves as the company’s social director, organizing activities within the company such as office potlucks, office mini-golf tournaments, and the company’s annual Christmas and pool parties.
Her role at Print Audit provides her with an opportunity to meet people, something she truly enjoys. Thanks to social media and the Top 100 Summit, she’s constantly making new connections.
“I’m a talker, that’s what I love to do, meeting new people and spreading the word about Print Audit,” stated Onstine. “I eat, sleep, and breathe social media.”
Macinnis has been a terrific mentor. “He taught me my dreams are not so far out of reach and to never take no for an answer,” said Onstine. “I can’t be more thankful and hope to be as successful as him some day.”
If there’s one area where she’d like to improve it’s how to delegate better. “I need to learn I can’t do everything,” she said. “I am stubborn in that sense where I will just push through and do it.”
After a recent health scare last December, she began focusing on fitness and has since become a Beachbody coach. “It’s something I can do for myself while helping others,” she explained. “It’s life-changing and that consumes my life, along with my seven-year-old daughter.”
Her advice for young people entering this business reflects her enthusiasm for the print industry.
“Go for it because we’re constantly evolving and finding new ways around print and how to better improve that for everyone,” said Onstine. “Print is not dying. It’s just changing. There’s something to challenge you every day, and it’s not a stagnant industry.” By Scott Cullen
* * * * *
Director of Solution Sales EO Johnson
Years in industry: 17
Industry Segment: Dealer Channel
Three Words that Best Describe Dan: Genuine, resourceful, determined
Favorite Musical Genre: Heavy metal
Hobby: Playing drums and guitar
Prized Possession: Collection of 9 guitars
Favorite Pastime: Athletic activities and camping with his kids
Over a decade ago, EO Johnson (EOJ) moved in the direction of offering software and consultative selling, becoming a renowned early adopter in this realm. Behind this shift for EOJ was Dan Rickert, who helped steer EOJ in that direction back in 2003 and 2004 when the channel was not widely accepting.
“Many dealers [back then] were still dealing with connected copiers and office color versus production color,” Rickert said. “We were starting to dabble in software and other things that touched the copy machine but were really part of the network.”
Rickert championed EOJ’s software pursuits because the dealership was already getting involved with connecting equipment to networks and advancing the use of copiers as printers. But he did his homework by attending a two-year tech college to learn about electronics””including networks, computers, and the backbone of software””and taking the initiative to learn on his own. With a talent for communicating with clients, Rickert came to firmly understand their challenges could not be addressed by traditional office products without software partners. So, he gathered field intelligence and conferred with EOJ’s
President and COO Roger King (then VP of sales) and owner Mary Jo Johnson who gave Rickert substantial latitude to develop solutions.
“It was really turning our organization from selling to listening to what some of the real problems that business organizations were having and what we could bring in to solve them, instead of speaking to things like how fast a copier runs or price per page,” Rickert said.
While readily affirming EOJ experienced roadblocks along the way, the dealership worked through different software vendors to build a solid backbone of support. “One things I’m most proud of is our drive to keep pushing through and overcoming a lot of the challenges we experienced because I knew the strategy was going to be successful””and that it was going to matter,” affirmed Rickert.
From Rickert’s view, the channel’s biggest challenge continues to be remaining viable as technologies progress.
“I’ve seen a number of dealerships [maintain the] historical way of approaching [the market], and that has almost made them irrelevant in today’s business conversation,” Rickert said. “Just five years ago, it was common to deal with purchasing agents or facilities management. Today’s buyer is usually a technology/IT professional. The industry has to adapt to the customers’ changing dynamic.”
Above all, Rickert underscores the importance of a dealer’s ability becoming a trusted advisor.
“You have to have something to advise on by elevating what you can bring to the table,” Rickert stipulates. “[Dealers] must be educated to understand that.” Unsurprisingly, Rickert is constantly looking to continue his own education. As taught by his mentor Roger King, “If you’re going to do something, do it all the way,” Rickert said. “Integrity truly is what you do when no one’s watching.” By CJ Cannata