A series of three meetings allowed dealers to learn about and offer feedback on the company’s new products and initiatives.
Above: Carsten Bruhn addresses dealers at the beginning of the Ricoh Philadelphia dealer meeting.
We were invited to a one-day meeting hosted by Ricoh USA, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on February 9 at Lincoln Financial Field, the home of the Philadelphia Eagles to learn about Ricoh’s strategic initiatives. Editor-in-chief Scott Cullen and I attended, and our readers are fortunate because you will have two perspectives on this event.
Let’s start by saying this was different. Jim Coriddi, SVP, dealer sales, had alerted us to save the date and indicated it was a one-day dealer meeting and not to be confused with the Convergx Partner Leadership Forum, which was last held in November 2019. This event was held in three locations and provided dealers from different regions of the country to learn about various strategic initiatives and offer feedback on those strategic initiatives. The first occurred in Charlotte, North Carolina, the second in Philadelphia, and the third is scheduled for March 9 in Austin, Texas.
Diversification is Key
The information provided throughout the one-day program supports the message we delivered in the December-January Watchlist issue. Dealer diversification is essential for the well-being of our industry. Ricoh’s efforts to make its dealer partners fully aware of its standing in the industry highlighted areas such as IT services and production print. It also happens to be two areas where Ricoh and its dealers are performing exceedingly well. The upbeat event and the various strategic initiatives indicated Ricoh dealers are in for a good ride in 2023.
The agenda of the Ricoh Dealer Conference was broken out into 5 parts.
- Opening Welcome by Coriddi and President & CEO Carsten Bruhn,
- Three 75-minute sessions, including “New Trends and Customer Opportunities,” “Annuity and New Revenue with Software and Services,” and “Technology Opportunities: Production and Office,”
- A Ricoh Executive Leadership Panel where dealers were able to ask Ricoh executives questions.
From start to finish, each speaker addressed their areas of expertise and did it well. The entire program was filled with a great deal of information. I took 10 pages of notes. That gives you some idea of how much there was to learn.
Coriddi kicked off the meeting by conveying that Ricoh, with its resources, and dealers, with their entrepreneurial expertise, are in this “Together.” During his opening comments, he reported that production print sales experienced accelerated growth in 2022 while the company’s A3 market share was 21%, placing the company in second place in the A3 space, fueled by a 2½ times market growth. Coriddi did not just hit the high notes when he said, “A4 was not a very good story.”
As for the dealers’ performance, they delivered a 29% YOY growth, equaling 2019 revenue.
Bruhn reinforced the message of doing it together. That was interesting and consistent with what he shared with me in an interview two years ago. Bruhn made it clear during that interview that success is not about individuals doing a good job but rather the work of the team. We did not understand his response then, but we do now. He was very happy to tell the dealer audience, “Thank you for your incredible support.” He cited COVID and all the damage it did and how 2022 vs. 2021 demonstrated a strong recovery.
Coriddi returned to the stage after Bruhn and spoke about production, noting that production print revenues were 24% greater than in 2019 and that the aftermarket experienced 36% growth. He also revealed that Ricoh ranks #2 among production print manufacturers.
We broke out into three groups, with each group attending a different session on various strategic initiatives and topics, starting with one before lunch, and followed by two after lunch. We started with the session on Annuity and New Revenue with Software and Services. Bob Lamendola, senior vice president of technology, took the lead in this session, and cited some interesting statistics:
- Current print volume is 20% less than in 2019
- Leases are being stretched out to 7 years.
- Nationally, office capacity was reduced to 50% weekly
Lamendola noted some bright spots, with 24 states reporting a return to working in the office to 80%. Regarding marketing recovery, the best performance segments came from health care, legal, education, retail, and hospitality. During his discussion of IT services, he asked how many dealers in the group of approximately 22 attending this session offered this service. Very few acknowledged that they did. We also learned that Ricoh IT grew by 5.5%, and cybersecurity increased by 15.2%. Growth in intelligent documents was up 17.5%. A list of what things dealers needed to be conversant with included:
1. Video content
2. More information and training
3. More Linkedin training
4. DocuWare Help
5. Keep it simple content
6. User group for DocuWare
Lamendola was followed by Jim Roberts, president of DocuWare, who addressed ECM and digital transformation. ECM is a strategic initiative that more Ricoh dealers seem to be embarking upon, according to Roberts.
Above: Left to right, Jennifer Healy and Lauren Sallata.
Our second session, “New Trends and Customer Opportunities,” was led by Jennifer Healy, senior director dealer and partner marketing strategy and campaign planning and Lauren Sallata, chief marketing officer. Sallata addressed the shift from focusing on technology to delivering customer-centric value—more specifically, innovating together and partnering together in 2023. The Ricoh aim or mission (our words) is finding a way to transform the dealer’s business.
From sales and marketing, the message shifted to solving the customer’s pain points. What the dealers were told is what they can expect to receive from Ricoh to accomplish this is:
- Marketing Tools
The third session, Technology Opportunities: Production and Office began with Brian Balow, national vice president, explaining Ricoh’s strategy, which was filling in the gaps. He referenced the C5300s color cutsheet printer, which is allowing Ricoh to outrun the competition. He also reported that Ricoh is typically either in first or second position in production color market share.
The much-anticipated release of the Ricoh Pro Z75 digital press is Ricoh’s answer to the Indigo press. That will be an interesting faceoff. The claim is that this production print device will be offered to dealers. That I would love to see. Other manufacturers also offer products in this segment although not all are offering these products to their dealers. Konica Minolta has sold their KM 1 to dealers, and to the best of our knowledge, Canon has not sold their i300 to their channel partners.
During the event, we made Balow a promise. The first Ricoh dealer that sells a Pro Z75 digital press, he and the dealer will be on the front cover of our production print issue. As for the rest of his presentation, he was bullish about Ricoh’s performance in entry level production print. He cited the C5300s as one of the major reasons for this success.
Ricoh has made success in production one of the most important areas in their efforts to broaden the penetration of high-volume print. We first learned of this in May 2018 when CJ, Scott, and I visited Ricoh Japan. What they shared with us was that the company had committed 100 billion yen in R&D on production. The C5300s and the Pro Z75 are just two of the products that are a result of that investment and will be critical to the success of the company’s strategic initiatives in production and industrial print.
Ultimately, it is not what we liked but how the dealers felt and there was very little time to ask them questions about the various strategic initiatives discussed throughout the day. We spoke to a few, and the reaction was mixed. From my perspective, I think the dealers would have liked the opportunity to have had more opportunities to speak with Ricoh’s entire senior management team. We observed small groups of dealers gathering around Jim Coriddi and some of the other executives throughout the event. That had to be a plus.
As for the meeting, the concept is easy to discern. Breaking dealers up into three different smaller groups and allowing them to interact with each other and with Ricoh personnel about the company’s strategic initiatives was smart. There were about 66 dealers at this meeting, with 22 in each group. It was well done, and the content was very good.
I want to thank Jennifer Healy for her assistance. With two meetings running back-to-back (Epson and Ricoh), I relied on her to ensure I had all the information I needed to book my travel so I could attend both events and not miss anything.