The company’s 2019 dealer meeting was a welcome departure from previous ConvergX meetings.
Top video: Ricoh dealers and The Cannata Report’s CJ Cannata share their impressions about the new format for Ricoh ConvergX. Above photo: Suzanne Payer took over from Jim Coriddi as event emcee and impressed dealers and analysts with her poise and charisma.
Scott Cullen did an excellent job of highlighting the most important aspects of Ricoh ConvergX 2019. We urge you to read it. With that already published, we elected to focus on three of the presenters in the General Session. We do not mean to imply that the other speakers were not important, they were and ConvergX 2019 was a better event because of them.
Ricoh ConvergX 2019 was not more of the same. It started with invites going out to what they defined as “Strategic Partners.” The dealers responded, in a big way, as there were over 500 guests, including all of Ricoh’s major channel partners. We estimate that those attending represented 80% of Ricoh’s channel revenue.
It was a major departure from previous ConvergX meetings. In the past, it was a long General Session that had different speakers address financial updates, new hardware, new software, and technology developments, followed by an invitation to see the new machines at the product fair. ConvergX 2019 was defined by the Product & Services Expo, a seminar schedule that addressed key areas of the business and a General Session that showed off new faces from Ricoh.
It started with a new emcee, a chore generally handled by Jim Coriddi, vice president, dealer division. Suzanne Payer, vice president, channel, field, and marketing communications (pictured above), who was promoted to that position in January of this year, did a credible job with a tough audience. No question, dealers liked the change.
Each speaker tied into a single message and reinforced it by looking at the business from different perspectives. The image they projected was a company with a different approach to the business and came all together with a video of Ricoh, Inc. President & CEO Jake Yamashita.
Last year, Yamashita made an indelible impression upon the dealer audience. He is the first, in my experience, to relay a message that was right to the point, In 2018, Ricoh addressed its financial problems, secured their future by significant investments in R&D, and sold their SMB MIF to dealers.
Usually, the Japanese CEO does his bit, says thank you and then leaves never to be seen again. Last year was different. Yamashita hung in and attended the gala. He even joined dealers for cocktails and sent a compelling message to those dealers, “Ricoh dealers are important to me.”
Joji Tokunaga, president & CEO of Ricoh Americas, picked it up from there at ConvergX 2019. Make no mistake, he worked the room just as his boss did the previous year. He also sat in at the press lunch and watched a lively discussion between the press/analysts and Ricoh.
One got the sense that Ricoh had the game plan and a piece of that was for Coriddi to address the challenges of 2019. The big one was the sale of Ricoh’s two largest dedicated dealers in Ohio. The impact of that loss was more than $87 million in purchases per year. He pointed out that a significant part of that revenue loss (MT Business) was low-margin school placements. Nonetheless, it was a big loss and put Ricoh in a deep hole.
Coriddi acknowledged that Ricoh did not completely replace that lost business but has made great progress with a higher margin. He also feels the company has partners in place that will help exceed what was delivered by them. Coriddi supported that statement by saying the dealer business for FY-19 was 5% better than the prior year. In the SMB space dealers experienced an equipment growth of 110%. On the production side (specifically addressing the 9200 – 7220 series), Ricoh saw an increase of 21%.
There were dealers new to Ricoh at the meeting such as Perry ProTech from Lima, Ohio. We were informed they had taken on Ricoh three years ago. From neighboring Wisconsin, there was Gordon Flesch Company. Those are two significant dealers who welcomed the opportunity that Ricoh offered them. In a follow-up conversation, Coriddi noted, “While there is much mutual benefit to replace the dealers lost in specific Ohio markets, both Perry ProTech and Gordon Flesch Company also cover other markets that make sense.”
Tokunaga delivered a broad presentation on the state of the imaging market addressing tariffs against China and Brexit in the United Kingdom. Both of these situations have created a lot of uncertainty.
He reinforced Yamashita’s message from ConvergX 2018 when he stated, “You are our trusted partners and your voice matters,” adding, “the power of Ricoh’s portfolio is our people.”
This was further clarified to mean it’s the combination of our technology, partnership, and people that define the Ricoh portfolio. The other key points in his message were:
It is the way we are embedded in our customer’s businesses so that we are positioned to listen and respond faster than any else.
Ricoh is stronger together with our RFG dealer partners – collaborating to deliver customer value.
Ricoh is profitable and well-positioned for the future and our dealer partners have been a major part of that success.
We conclude with our observations and comments that emanated from Steve Burger, head of engineering, vice president technology marketing. Having spent five years with Ricoh in Japan he described where Ricoh technology is going and what dealers can anticipate. He began by addressing what he referred to as a market transformation and the Ricoh approach to utilize the technology. He used the term “Dynamic Workplace Intelligence” to define where this technology will lead the company and its dealers in the coming months and years.
From practical developments such as a toner gauge to describing the MFP as an “edge device” that processes data near the edge of the network, he then shifted to a more marketing focus, addressing the importance of changing to a subscription-based business model. He also reinforced the importance of cloud migration now and adapting the Ricoh Dealer Playbook.
Burger continued to cover a wide gamut of technology from DocuWare content management to showing customers a new way to address their problems with an emphasis on device management, security, voice commands in the office, as well as protecting and managing content. Burger made clear it was all about empowering the office.
Heather Loisel, chief marketing officer and Gavin Jordan-Smith, senior vice president, commercial and industrial printing business are both new to the company. (Please see the coverage of Ricoh at PRINTING United in our December-January issue when it launches later next week.). They did a first-rate job and covered the rest of the business spectrum.
Another presenter was Dennis Dispenziere, vice president, business transformation and senior vice president of operations, who rounded out the Ricoh executives who addressed the audience.
Since our visit with Ricoh, Inc. in Japan in May 2018, we grow increasingly convinced that this company has chosen a direction that is providing positive results for them and their dealers. It began by selling off their SMB MIF to 21 Ricoh dealers. When we visited Japan we were told the company was investing 100 Billion Yen in imaging and production and industrial print. We saw the results of the production and industrial print investments at PRINTING United in October 2019.
We heard the message in Japan, and once again in the U.S. that Ricoh was in a deep hole. It appears that they have dug their way out and are on strong footing to take the company to a new level.
Allow me to state my overall impression of this meeting. It was the right message, delivered at the right time, to the best possible audience. We certainly look forward to ConvergX 2020 to see how far they have come back.