With great work comes even greater responsibility, and Larry White is poised to take Toshiba America Business Solutions (Toshiba) to the next level on both fronts.
White, a 21-year veteran of Toshiba, was promoted to the role of chief revenue officer in early October. He previously held the position of senior vice president of sales for the Americas. He essentially will provide guidance in both roles, with the new job entailing the development of revenue and profit growth strategies while driving customer value through both the organization’s direct and indirect channels.
ENX Magazine chatted by phone with the energetic White to learn more about his new responsibilities and goals in helping Toshiba continue its ascension among the ranks of the imaging industry’s manufacturers, as well as his plans for unifying and growing both the company’s direct branches and its core of dealers going into 2018.
Congratulations on the new opportunity and the great responsibility that comes with being chief revenue officer. What are your thoughts about moving into this new role?
White: I was running the dealer and enterprise accounts side of the business. Bob Greenhalgh, who was running the branch operations, retired at the end of September. Instead of backfilling his position, now I’m in charge of basically all the sales activities—dealers, enterprise, distributors and international. I went from having responsibility for over 90 people to about 2,130. It’s a very exciting opportunity.
Tell us about some of the fundamental differences between your role as VP of sales and the position of CRO.
White: We’ve got wholly-owned branches and independent dealers. My main objective and goal is to work on creating synergies between the two organizations. In the direct side of the business, they have a sales training organization they’ve created to assist in ramping up brand new sales reps and bringing them up to speed. That’s something we didn’t have on the independent dealer side. We’re going to be looking at creating more of a companywide training experience that can support both channels. Another example: When we created the e-BRIDGE CloudConnect, we put the direct branches on that first to test it and see what kind of reporting capabilities they could realize. Once we can roll that out to the dealers, it will help them on the service and reporting side. There’s a lot of synergies between the two sales channels that we can take advantage of that can be a benefit to both.
What did you find most intriguing about assuming this new responsibility, from both the direct and indirect channel point of view?
White: There’s always branch and dealer conflict in the industry, but fortunately we don’t have much of that. We try to handle any issues promptly and fairly. It’s interesting to see how much alike a lot of the branches and our dealer principals are; they’re all doing the exact same thing, trying to profitably grow their business. They’re making sure they get the right people in the right spots in their organization. There’s so much talk in the industry about the organizations being different, but in our case, truly they’re run similarly.
The position of CRO entails a very strategic approach. What are some of the challenges that accompany your new position?
White: When you’ve got 2,130 people under your responsibility, it’s all about making sure everyone is marching to the same tune. You want to make sure that you’re messaging correctly to the field exactly what you’re trying to get accomplished, how you’re going to get there and your timeframe for doing it. A lot of times that can get watered down, so we want to make sure that we have clear messages not only to our direct operations but also to our dealers.
How do you plan on approaching this new opportunity, and what factors do you feel will ultimately provide positive results?
White: I work with some of the best people not only in this industry but in all business—extremely talented people who work hard and want to do the right thing. I’m really blessed along those lines. One of the things we have to do moving forward is to become more efficient in what we do. That’s easy to say, like saying you have to work harder, and our people here work as hard as they possibly can. We want to be as efficient as possible to maximize our results in revenue and on a profitability basis. We also want to continue to invest in this business. You hear talk about slow or no growth and that print volumes are down. Those are facts that face us every day, but still there’s opportunity and we have to take advantage of it. One thing I can say about Toshiba is that it’s a nimble company that is able to react quickly. When you can do that, you can take advantage when there’s some chaotic dynamics occurring in an industry.
What are your expectations for 2018?
White: We hope the economy remains stable. As we move forward, we’re going to be investing in acquisitions; we hope to close on one in the next 30 to 60 days. We’re not going to be acquiring dealers at the pace we were in 2008, we’re going to be very selective in the dealers we acquire and the markets where we acquire them. We’ll also see more growth through opportunities in the solutions part of the business. It’s making sure that we execute strategies there and ensure our business is aligned to support our dealers and our branches in the most efficient manner.