Sharp Throws Down the Growth Gauntlet at National Dealer Meeting

A look under the hood of Sharp’s new production press

Is there such a thing as trying to do too much? Sharp Imaging and Information Company of America used its April 18-21 national dealer meeting at Wynn Las Vegas to roll out a presentation of “hold my beer” proportions. One would imagine that during the development phase of Sharp’s agenda, Yoda peered over President and CEO Mike Marusic’s shoulder, admonishing, “Do or do not, there is no try.”

Forgive the irreverent hot take. The wide-ranging agenda Sharp laid out for approximately 800 dealer and reseller partners, media and various other stakeholders more than exceeded expectations. Marusic and Co. simply sought to deliver an experience that was long on product and service opportunities, yet short in rhetoric.

Sharp President and CEO Mike Marusic

“We have so much to share with you; it really demonstrates what we’ve been talking about the last two or three years,” Marusic told the crowd in his opening address. “It’s the puzzle pieces to make you more successful and putting all of those pieces together.”

As the backdrop flashed many of the disciplines available to the dealer community—MPS, managed IT, cybersecurity, production print, AI and ecommerce, to name a few—Marusic conceded that while Sharp is a player in many segments, but tempered it with the realities of business. In going down a road, it is the ability to execute on them that should drive the dealer’s decision-making.

“The challenge is, what to invest in, where to put your focus,” he said. “Nobody can be good at all of them. It takes money to invest, and people to focus on it. Everyone saw during the supply chain crisis, chasing new directions while trying to maintain your business can stretch your company thin. … Choices need to be made about where to place your money, where to invest…where to place your chips.”

The latest Sharp technologies on display in the product showcase

The theme of “Where Opportunity Meets Execution” underscored Marusic’s belief that the company is “all in” on the categories it showcased. The crown jewel centerpiece was the 100-plus ppm digital production unit—long a hole in the OEMs product line—that was secretly developed with the aid of an unnamed technology partner. Marusic took a stealth approach, with only a select number of Sharp team members aware of, and working on, the project.

The 120-ppm production press makes its debut with a sample printed calendar

The behemoth printer (it really needs a fun title, like the Sharp Genesis) will come in a color 120-ppm version, backed by a Fiery DFE, that can print up to six colors in one pass, including CMYK, gold, silver, bright pink, textured and clear toners. Two monochromes are also on tap, driven by the Fiery NX One Print Server, cranking out 136 and 125 ppm, respectively. During a media tour of the product showcase, Frank Cannata—the dean of the press corps—had the honor of slicing through the drape that obscured the monster model, drawing much applause following a series of gasps. Alas, the new release won’t be available until early 2024, which gives Sharp (and its would-be resellers) time to set up a training and support infrastructure.

John Sheehan, Sharp’s senior vice president of B2B channel sales

One of the most poignant lines was delivered by John Sheehan, senior vice president of B2B channel sales, during the two-and-a-half hour business session on the first full day. He summed up the experience by saying, “All I want you to leave with is, Sharp is your long-term partner for growth.” One thing was clear: the OEM laid out several growth options:

  • A little downstream from the 100-page production print range was an update of the Pro Series light production models, due out later this year, which cover the 70/75 ppm color/b&w and 80/80 ppm color/b&w range. These models are ideal in central reprographics departments (CRDs) or in-plant print operations, with resolutions up to 2,400×2,400 dpi.
  • More immediate is the upcoming refresh of Sharp’s A4 MFP and printer offerings. Aimed at small- to medium-sized businesses, they slot well with law firms and education environments. The enhanced MX models boast many of the feature sets enjoyed in the A3 realm (sans the 11×17” tray).
  • An agreement with ConnectWise to bolster IT and security, with the initial rollout being a managed print security service that provides visibility into print security of Sharp MFPs and printers via integration with ConnectWise’s Security Information and Event Management (SIEM).
  • Four new economical AQUOUS BOARD interactive displays in four sizes (55”, 65”, 75” and 86”), as well as the PN-LC mid-range series of displays.
  • Sharp merged its Synappx Go and Meeting applications under the Synappx Go flag, with new features including full-screen mode and QR code content-sharing support. On tap is the Synappx Manage app, which enables IT admins to remotely manage multiple devices from a single portal.

These and other technologies were on display in the product showcase, along with a litany of Sharp’s partners. When not touring booths, attendees had the opportunity to enjoy an extensive roster of breakout sessions, touching on popular topics including selling AV solutions, selling into the education vertical with Dynabooks, demand generation tactics, marketing tools, security, and finding/maintaining quality sales reps.

Entertainment during the first evening’s dinner, in pure Las Vegas fashion
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.