Editor’s note: In this second of a two-part special digital installment, Frank interviews three industry executives and long-time subscribers about The Cannata Report’s 40th Anniversary. The executives include Mike Marusic, president & CEO of Sharp Imaging and Information Company of America (35 years in the industry); Larry White, president of Toshiba America Business Solutions, Imaging and Information Company of America (27 years in the industry); and Phil Buysse, SVP, general manager, office equipment vendor services, US Bank (26 years in the industry). Read Part 1. Frank’s interview with long-time dealer subscribers appears in our May issue.
Cannata: What is the main reason you continued to subscribe for 40 years?
White: I get your take on what is going on with the dealer. I learn about their concerns as well as their key issues. You are giving us an unbiased view of the industry. You are not representing anybody and what they are thinking. It is up to us to decide whether it is right or not. I love the survey and getting an idea of what is going on with our competitors and more in two issues every year. For me, one of the best things you have done is recognizing women. They have made significant strides and you have given them the recognition they deserved for so long.
Marusic: You have evolved in your approach to the business. You have the OEM transitional perspective. You have CJ and you tell us what we should be paying more attention to such as diversity. The important thing is that the perspective you provide keeps evolving. Sometimes we read something that at first, we reject. We continue exploring what you are advocating, and it begins to come across. What I have always enjoyed is the way you combine what is going on in the industry with pictures of dealers we do not really know. It shows us what they look like and where their business interests lie. The pictures show us the evolution of our industry. What you have brought home is that quite a few of these dealers are nice people who often are doing things for others.
Buysse: You give us the opportunity to see and hear what dealers are thinking – you really engage the dealers increasingly and it is great to see that aspect. Most important is the fact the articles in the report are not press releases. You go deep with a lot of commentary. Scott has great insight and his experience with dealers consistently shows.
Cannata: Any thoughts on where our focus should be for the rest of this year?
White: Write more about the evolution of the industry for this year. The pandemic has changed much and will continue to cause change. You can help by focusing on what we can do to be better, be more efficient, and understand the opportunities. Examine diversification in other areas where we can possibly be successful. We do not get enough of that. The one thing the pandemic did for us in a brief period was help us realize that change was coming faster.
[Also], what is going on with the supply chain. We had a call with our dealers two weeks ago and just gave them an update on the business. I did tell them that we are doing everything we can do to repair the broken supply chain. We spent $700K to fly things in that were needed. It is still very difficult. Our Chinese manufacturer had to shut down for a week. I told our dealers that this is why we are going to continue to face these difficulties. That is a message we need your help to convey.
Marusic: That is a tough one. The whole supply chain thing is going to go on for another year. My answer would be that diversification is what needs to be addressed. We need to look at other businesses and how they succeed. How do they do it? Many dealers are focusing on things their outbound sales can deliver. The questions are many. What is the right approach, the selling structure for the new and different products that are available? How do you do it, what else can you be doing? That should be something we are all thinking about.
Buysse: The people aspect is critical, and you should continue to focus on young influencers and women in the industry. All of us need to continue focusing on the people because that is how we are going to win. Thanks for what you have done for us, and I will always remember when we first spoke in 1996. I still drink out of the coffee mug you gave me many years ago. You took us under your wing we were (leasing) generalists and decided to get into the dealer business. You were a large piece that helped us get connected with the dealer marketplace. I have learned from you that dealers have that unbelievable customer relationship. If they continue to cultivate the customer and work with us, we will both do very well.
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