2022 Elite Dealers: Forging the Path to a Brighter Future

There are those who would lead you to believe that our industry—and really, the business community as a whole—is a victim of circumstances.

Four million Americans flock from job to job each month in search of greater pay, autonomy and personalized working conditions (read: work from home). Pay scales have exploded amid the national conversation surrounding $15-an-hour minimum wage. Inflation has billowed the cost of goods and doing business. Interest rates continue to scale upward.

Perhaps most damaging is supply chain shortages, a confluence of circumstances rolled into one. Each link in the chain has its own drop-down menu of obstacles, and if we were to express it with a Venn diagram, the intersecting point (or common denominator) would be the pandemic. It’s at the core of every talking point mentioned above, and while the affliction itself is no longer a daily focus, the aftermath certainly remains from a business standpoint. Optimistic projections have the backlogs dwindling by mid-2023; of course, many pundits predicted the tide to recede this year.

The inability to source equipment, by all anecdotal accounts, seems to have stimulated the industry’s merger and acquisition machine, considering the sharp uptick in deals during the past two years. For many, the circumstances have created a fish-or-cut-bait mentality, in which aligning with larger, more fortified organizations brimming with MSP capabilities can allow a dealer to better serve end-users as opposed to buying or building the competencies from scratch.

For those entities that remained independent, and particularly for those that pushed forward as a single-line carrier of certain manufacturers, the ability to renew contracts and employ used/refurbished gear has been severely tested. But are dealers a victim of circumstances? Not at all.

Consider the words of author George Bernard Shaw, who once observed, “People are always blaming their circumstances for what they are. I don’t believe in circumstances. The people who get on in this world are the people who get up and look for the circumstances they want, and if they can’t find them, make them.”

Truth of the matter is, the modern dealer weaned itself off the MFP teat long before March 2020. There are simply too many tools and a veritable cornucopia of products, services and solutions that are available to the office dealer. With every peer group meeting, dealers share their experiences in peddling office-relevant technologies that have grown their share within their existing base. Net-new is always highly desirable, but even a behemoth such as Marco believes it’s unlocked the formula to more than double its revenue and eclipse the one billion mark in sales—all without adding a single new client (mind you, it helps to have an existing base of 32,000 customers). But even working within the confines of the typical $10 million dealership, the ability to scale exists.

Certainly, the industry’s circumstances have visited all 123 Elite Dealers in the pages that follow. Many, if not most, have needed to broach the subject of supply chain delays and enhance their customer management skills—not just in terms of logistics, but in being able to provide assurance and confidence in their client base. It’s as much a people business as it is technology, and this year’s core of Elite Dealers has invested hundreds of hours to not only manage the circumstances, but to ferret out new and exciting ways to emphasize their value proposition. It calls for a heavy dosage of innovation—hell, one of the honorees added “innovation” to its name in place of “imaging” simply because moving the modern office forward calls for reimagining what it takes to become a true one-stop shop.

The profiles that follow are a roadmap to that end. Here are just a few examples of the qualities that helped earn these honorees their spot on the list:

Industry awards and recognitions. Don’t just take our word that these dealers have game. Industry awards from manufacturers denote excellence in sales and service competence. Other magazines including CRN and Inc. quantify excellence within a given discipline or consistent growth. And partner-of-the-year designations highlight a dealer’s commitment to scaling products and solutions above all other vendor providers.

Finding new tools. Inbound and outbound marketing campaigns are a litmus test for creativity, and dealers have found a multitude of ways to educate and inform clients and prospects through webinars, seminars, literature and hosted events. Establishing the dealership’s reputation as a thought leader has a trickle-down effect that can spur word-of-mouth referrals and testimonials.

Creating an enjoyable work environment. A pat on the back is always appreciated, but Elite Dealers go well beyond. In addition to competitive salaries, benefits and other aspects of the compensation package, dealers are always devising reward programs and incentives to drive team members to attain greater heights. Concerts, sporting events, team-building activities, office cookouts and holiday parties are all meant to foster a warm, family-like atmosphere that makes it enjoyable for employees to come to work.

If your dealer’s name isn’t on the list, make it a point to apply for the 2023 Elite Dealer program. In the meantime, congratulations to all our honorees, and take a few minutes to learn their stories.

Erik Cagle
About the Author
Erik Cagle is the editorial director of ENX Magazine. He is an author, writer and editor who spent 18 years covering the commercial printing industry.