The latest LEAD event offered positive updates on the company’s financial performance, a preview of new products, and the announcement of a surprising new partnership.
Toshiba America Business Solutions (TABS) held their dealer conference in Las Vegas, September 4-7 at the Bellagio Hotel. The event was attended by more than 1,700 people, including dealers, partners and end-user customers as well as Toshiba personnel, press and analysts who came to learn about the company’s latest initiatives and products, as well as a financial update.
TABS has a strong people culture and it is clear that employees enjoy working with each other and share a great deal of mutual respect for one another. That atmosphere was on full display during a farewell party for Sue Wilson, vice president of operations, who recently retired from the company.
Above: Left to right: Carol Cannata with Larry White celebrate Sue Wilson’s retirement.
Sue was on the cover of our first Woman Influencer issue five years ago and represents the best Toshiba has to offer. In her years of running the supply chain for TABS, dealers knew if they needed anything quickly Sue would get it done. It was a nice party and a great way to say thank you and wish her well.
Above: The always gracious Scott Maccabe poses for a photo after the opening day general session with Frank Cannata.
TABS CEO Scott Maccabe kicked off the first day general session, dedicated to TABS dealers. The second day of the event is oriented towards end users. Maccabe is one of the most credible executives in our industry and presented a complete picture of the company’s financial condition and prospects.
It was a far different picture from last year’s LEAD when Toshiba Corporation was in tough shape following a plan to divest assets to compensate for the parent company’s rather significant debt. The selling of the medical division, to Canon Inc. for $5.9 billion was a critical piece for helping return Toshiba to financial stability and profitability.
There is always some misunderstanding of the difference between Toshiba Corporation and Toshiba TEC. They are separate companies and traded on different stock exchanges. Toshiba Corporation owns 51% of Toshiba TEC. During LEAD we learned that Toshiba Corp. had increased its ownership of Toshiba TEC. The parent is doing this because Toshiba TEC is a profitable company and an asset that can aid in the continuing improvement of Toshiba’s health.
Maccabe told the audience that business was good and was being fueled by MFP sales, which rose by 8% over the previous year. Similarly, color sales were up by 8% and A4 up by 70%. This represents TABS business in the U.S., Canada, and Latin America. This growth reflects an improved product line that introduced at least 16 new products in the prior year.
Above: Joe Contreras offers press and analysts a pre-show update on TABS’ latest product developments.
Joe Contreras, vice president product and solutions marketing, presented the product overview for the coming year. In all, there were 26 new copiers and printers. If there was anything surprising in Contreras’s presentation was that there were new Toshiba branded A4 models among the new products. Those could improve TABS performance in 2019.
Contreras made a compelling presentation on Elevate, the technology introduced at LEAD 2017 that enables the interface on TABS MFPs to be custom designed for each individual customer. One of the strengths of this offering is that ads can also be displayed on the screen in addition to machine functions and apps. This capability was widely discussed during our Japan trip earlier in the year. OEMs such as Toshiba are looking to broaden the capability of their MFPs and see customization and added capabilities as critical to future success.
Above: Bill Melo astounds and amazes the LEAD audience as he announces TABS new A4 partnership with Brother.
Bill Melo, chief marketing executive, made an announcement that still has us scratching our heads. Toshiba has established an A4 partnership with Brother. We heard several reasons, such as, this gives us a lower cost of entry into the A4 MFP. However, we don’t buy it and to us it says something is not quite right with the Lexmark relationship. Time will tell what this new partnership is all about.
While Toshiba has enjoyed success with the concept of combining dealer and end user activity into LEAD, I continue to believe you lose an edge with the channel when doing this. There are Toshiba dealers who like the format and bring end user customers but there are dealers who downplay its significance. To me, it is more than a tossup.
There were approximately 400 customers who attended the second day. From what we heard in the past, TABS writes a fair amount of business at the show. TABS has also reported the number of end users that its dealers bring each year continues to increase.
We always value the experience of attending these events as we have an opportunity not only to talk to the leading executives with the OEM, but vendors such as ACDI, Clover Imaging Group, Lexmark International, Psigen, and others who participate in the product fairs. Many are client/partners of The Cannata Report and we value the opportunity to spend time with them.
All we can say is Toshiba’s LEAD events work for us and we look forward to attending the 2019 show. You can always count on learning something new and having a very pleasant two-day experience at Toshiba LEAD.
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