A diverse group of dealers offers honest and constructive assessments of last month’s event.
Konica Minolta held its 2019 dealer meeting in Newport Beach, CA, March 4-5. The theme of the conference was “Limitless.” The Cannata Report had a full contingent””CJ, Scott, and me””in attendance. Our April print issue features Scott’s comprehensive recap of the event. To complement that feature, I surveyed six dealers about their impressions of the meeting.
Those who responded, included a mix of dealers at different stages in their careers although most are leading the largest if not one of the largest dealerships in their respective markets, including at least one dealership with private equity backing.
The dealers speak
The comments we received were enlightening, however, keep in mind that these are still the opinions of a small, albeit representative group.
At any dealer event, there are four basic elements: General Session, Breakout Sessions/Seminars, Technology Exhibition/Product Fair, and Advanced Information. The General Session was divided into two segments and included 16 key Konica Minolta senior executives. Overall the dealers we queried thought Konica Minolta did a good job with the General Session. “The message that when nothing is new it is time to act was very thought provoking,” one dealer told us.
Others opined, “A fun experience” and “The first half was dry but the second was most informative and relevant.” Another added, “I thought it was much too long, but I liked the Q&A with all the executives.”
Two other dealers observed, “A little vague, but aren’t they all?” and “We didn’t get detailed information regarding content until the last minute.”
Dealers also rated the seminars as good with a couple of exceptions. As one dealer noted, “Hard to answer, some I rated a 5 (excellent), and some I thought were poor. Some presenters were just reading off a teleprompter.”
Another dealer had a more favorable review of the seminars. “A good variety of content to choose from regardless of your role in the dealership.”
The technology on display received a positive rating from everyone who participated in our survey. It ranged from, “Konica Minolta puts on one of the best tech fairs and this one was no exception” to “It was a clear view of KM’s vision based on the displayed technology.”
Overall, I felt the entire meeting was well-structured and that Konica Minolta delivered a strong message to its dealers. There was a great deal of energy being exhibited on the stage during the General Session and that tends to engage an audience, and that is exactly what it did for me. The best compliment any journalist can pay is that the presentations were informative. We learned a great deal about what Konica Minolta was doing and planning to do. My opinions were confirmed by every dealer we surveyed, including one who described the meeting as “well done, strategic, and exciting.”
If I have any criticism of the event, it was when KMBS President & CEO Rick Taylor singled out Toshiba, noting, “Toshiba stockholders demand that Toshiba sell off Toshiba Tec.” Even though this occurred during an industry overview, where Taylor succinctly summarized the current state of the imaging industry, deprecating the competition””although not as bad as what we’ve heard at past Konica Minolta events””still detracts and distracts from the overall message.
He invited the audience to search for this information about Toshiba online. I did just that and discovered four separate articles, including one with the headline that claimed exactly what Taylor said: “Stockholders demand Toshiba sell off Toshiba Tec.” In each instance, the story was attributed to a single source, a Hong Kong activist fund, Argyle Street Management.
Argyle, founded in 2002, has 53 employees and claims to manage approximately $1 billion (U.S.). Located in Hong Kong, Argyle has offices in Thailand, Indonesia, and the Philippines (counted in the total number of 53 employees). In no way can you consider them a shareholder of any consequence.
The grievance promulgated by Argyle was that Toshiba should divest non-core businesses (such as Toshiba TEC). This was in a letter to Toshiba CEO Nobuaki Kurumatani and sent to Reuters.
This is only my opinion, but as far as Konica Minolta dealers are concerned, this information was of no consequence.