Carol, CJ, and I attended the Copier Dealers Association’s (CDA’s) Owners Meeting in Cincinnati, Ohio, July 19-23. It was our fifth independent dealer group event this year. We have one more to go, and I’m happy to say we enjoyed them all. This does not include the Sharp dealer meeting or the TD Synnex and Xerox partner events which will be followed by Toshiba’s and Ricoh’s dealer gatherings later this year.
What Makes CDA Special
For me, CDA is special. Paul Shields, the founder of Copytronix and its long-term president, invited me to speak at the CDA meeting on October 6, 1982. In the following 41 years, I developed many relationships with the dealers in this group. I will always be grateful to and deeply appreciative of what CDA has meant to The Cannata Report.
We began publishing a newsletter in January 1982, and Paul became a charter subscriber and renewed his subscription every year until he passed away. His son Bob picked it up and continued to be a faithful reader until he, too, passed away. During Bob’s term as president, he personally invited us to present or attend CDA, every year.
What was most gratifying for me was to see and experience an organization that has fulfilled Paul Shield’s vision. In the 1970s, when Japanese copier manufacturers began selling in the United States, they concentrated on the dealer channel rather than sell direct. It served them well. This was contrary to what the American copier manufacturers were doing.
The National Office Machine Dealers Association (NOMDA) show was by far the biggest industry event of the year in the1980s. The only problem was that NOMDA was primarily an organization for typewriter dealers. The convention, on the other hand, was a showcase for the Japanese copier manufacturers, and they used it to build their distribution. As a result, NOMDA was the place for us to be. Naturally, the copier dealers flocked to it even though its educational agenda was geared toward typewriter dealers.
It was Paul Shields who kept complaining to NOMDA executives that they needed to provide seminars for the copier deales as well as the typewriter dealers. Paul also understood that the only way copier dealers could benefit from belonging to an independent dealer group was to form their own.
Paul, Jim Fuchs of Fuch’s Copy in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and Elliot Bloom of Blooms Photo in Springfield, Massachusetts, helped Paul found CDA, with Jim functioning as treasurer and Elliott as administrator. Their website does not indicate any history of the group, and that is sad. Based on our records, CDA came into existence circa 1977-1978.
What the organization can take pride in is that if Paul were alive and attended the meeting, he would have been proud of where it is today. As I said to the members during the meeting, they have fulfilled the vision of Paul Shields. It is a dealer organization that can share best business practices, provide unique copier dealer education, and discuss any issues occurring during the year with other members.
Most important, it is a forum to address common problems and develop solutions to ease them through the many challenges that copier dealers have had to contend with, particularly when taking on new products and services.
Gary Harouff of Advanced Imaging Solutions is the current CDA president, and he will serve two years and pass it on to the next president. I informed Gary that the agenda was excellent. I can say this because with this group, we are welcome to sit through the entire meeting and contribute as best we can. We are welcome to question speakers and contribute where we can when asked.
When I congratulated Gary, he was quick to point out that Chris Taylor of Fisher’s Technology, the prior president was very innovative during his term. “I learned a great deal from him, and I am doing my best to continue improving the agenda and present the best possible content,” said Gary.
We always feel welcomed by all the independent dealer groups, save one. For this one group, you are asked to leave as soon as you are finished presenting. We do not sell them anything, and for us it is an opportunity to gain experience of what is on their minds and the major concerns they are dealing with. They pick up our expenses, and we appreciate that. In addition, we were the first media organization that focused totally on dealers, starting in 1979 when the analytical firms in the business thought, “copier dealers wore white socks and gold chains.”
These analytical journalists also made it a practice to express at various times, “Dealers cannot sell plain paper copiers, they cannot sell console copiers, sell facsimile machines, connect digital copiers to a server let alone provide IT services or sell production print.”
Even the leading business publications of that era wrote that dealers could not sustain themselves against mega dealers such as Alco Standard. In fact, Paul Shields invited me to speak to address the group on this subject along with a writer from The Wall Street Journal who was conveying that message. The Wall Street Journal writer did not think too much of my opinions or how little we thought of his as well as his colleagues who truly had little knowledge about office technology dealers. None of the things he stated that would happen to dealers ever came close to happening. On the contrary, office technology dealers came to benefit when one of the mega dealers acquired a local competitor.
Highlights from This Year’s CDA Meeting
The current meeting kicked off with a presentation on MSP’s (Managed Service Providers’) Sales Strategies for Success by Ben Altman and MSP’s Financials’ Josh Peterson. We were invited to attend the entire meeting and learned a great deal. For that, CJ and I are incredibly grateful to CDA. CJ delivered his presentation on “Diversification as the Key to Sustainability,” and the following day Todd Johnson and John Hey presented their findings of the dealers who fill out their surveys. There was much more.
Gary has already invited us back for next year as has American Coop. BPCA and ICDA. We are looking forward to it. In addition, ICDA has informed me that they are taking a table at our Annual Awards & Charities Gala on November 2, 2023. Many dealers from CDA as well as some from the other groups will be attending as well.
Teasing Our Women Influencers Issue
CJ also chose this meeting to release the 2023 Women Influencers 10th Anniversary issue. The three women on the cover include Chelsey Bode of Pearson-Kelly Technology, Melissa Confalone of Fraser Advanced Information Systems, and Liz Sumner of SumnerOne. All three are CDA members.
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