Fueling Growth: The Next Hidden Gem is Just Around the Corner

The Sharp dealer meeting earlier this month in Las Vegas created a lot of buzz around the smart office/future office platform, and other manufacturers like Konica Minolta have gone down this path. In fact, the smart office has kind of pushed the humble MFP onto the backburner, but how long it will take the dealer community to proliferate next-generation technologies among their customer base is entirely another issue.

But that doesn’t mean we can’t get excited about the possibilities offered under the hidden gems umbrella. And you won’t need a metal detector to unearth these treasures.

So we’ll close out the October state of the industry look at hidden gems by asking our dealer amigos what technologies they are following with an eye toward possibly adding them to their product and service portfolio.

500-Foot Perspective

Lee Flood, Pearson-Kelly Technology

Pearson-Kelly Technology of Springfield, Missouri, is fortunate to have a visionary leader in Chelsey Bode, who is always on the lookout for a technology that can not only give her sales reps another talking point, but also provide clients with a solution that enable them to do business more effectively. According to Lee Flood, director of sales, a Pearson-Kelly rep returned from a presentation recently with an idea that turned more than a few heads.


While Flood didn’t rush to have the Pearson-Kelly website updated with this offering, he’s keeping an open mind to the possibility. After all, there are already organizations that offer this service.

So where could it fit? Certainly, the education space might see an application. Businesses with extremely austere security measures in place may be enticed. Personal use has expanded considerably. Also, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) projects that the number of commercial drones in the skies could triple by 2023. FAA and state laws governing their use will also factor into the equation.

“We’re keeping an eye on it as drones become more and more a part of everything that we do,” Flood said. “We’re watching that to see if it fits in here and how. Can we offer it as a service to customers, and will it be something that’s going to bring value to them? At the end of the day, it’s all about our clients.”

Digital Meets Paper

While not a brand-new technology, there has been interest generated around clickable paper, which is offered by Ricoh. The technology connects print and digital with cloud-based intelligent image recognition software. According to Ricoh, marketers can create multiple hotspots on a page, sign, poster, vehicle wrap and other printed materials. Each hotspot links to one or multiple sources, transporting readers from two-dimensional printed content to multi-channel digital content.

Dr. Dawn Abbuhl, Repeat Business Systems

Dr. Dawn Abbuhl, president of Repeat Business Systems in Albany, New York, loves the idea of using a QR code on a business card that, when scanned, can take users to contact information, videos and other content that’s been stored on the landing page.

“We’ve been trying to have a little bit of a wow factor, which allows people to think we’re more technologically forward, and that putting their money with us is going to give them access to technologies that other companies might not even think of,” she said. “It’s a good talking point and valuable as well.”

Weaving Profits

Bob Ferland, president of Axion Business Technologies of Cranston, Rhode Island, notes that being part of the Visual Edge Technology network—in addition to the seven acquisitions it has done over the past three years—has opened the door to having insight into all the major manufacturers and their up-and-coming technologies. He’s intrigued by some of the retina scanning and eye/facial recognition tools being offered by Konica Minolta and some of its technology partners.

Bob Ferland, Axion

“Things like commercial building perimeter security, it’s so far removed from copiers, but I’m thinking it’s another product we can sell,” he said. “We can put another specialist out there and it’s a great way to offer this to our existing clients and prospects.

“Our old way of thinking was we’ll stick to our knitting with copiers and printers. But there’s cool stuff out there. We’re relying on manufacturers to show us the next big thing.”

Jason Habbal, Vision Office Systems

At Vision Office Systems of Charlotte, North Carolina, the dealer is looking to grow into conference room displays and Sharp’s AQUOS BOARD. Figuring out the aftermarket revenue aspect is the biggest stumbling block to Jason Habbal, vice president of sales, but placement opportunities for health care and faith-based nonprofits offers room for growth.

“Medical facilities now use these boards in the patient rooms to show and draw on x-rays, rather than printing them out and showing them to you,” he said. “We implemented them in a couple of locations. I think we’re going to expand that focus in the near future.”

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.