Epson America’s InkBoldly dealer conference came full circle during the Feb. 6-7 dealer conference in Huntington Beach, California. While it wasn’t the first major manufacturer conference to be held following the pandemic—Kyocera, Sharp, Konica Minolta and Brother, among others, have opened their doors to reseller partners during the last 12 months—InkBoldly was the final gathering in March of 2022 before the pandemic shutdown.
The return of InkBoldly, in a sense, signals the resumption of business as we knew it. Whether it is really “as we knew it” remains to be seen, but Epson—like many of its competitors—has pivoted its technology to address the wide range of working environments that have emerged from COVID.
The OEM is doubling down on the promotion of its simple, smart and clean PrecisionCore Heat-Free technology, and the unveiling of its new WorkForce Enterprise AM-Series A3 line of multifunction printers. Epson didn’t need to trade away any assets to acquire the big man, Shaquille O’Neal, to power its offensive assault and aid its marketing efforts.
The question remains, was InkBoldly a slam dunk for the nearly 250 attendees that converged on the Paséa Hotel and Spa? We checked in with a sampling of dealers to collect their views and takeaways from InkBoldly.
“The event was very successful and insightful,” noted Tim Renegar, president of Kelly Office Solutions in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. “I really enjoyed the overview of ink’s market share in printers, wide-format, production print and office A4 and A3. From those statistics, you can see why Epson is excited regarding the future of ink and their products.”
Renegar added that he believes the new units “hit the mark” where the older units didn’t, primarily due to the reduced footprint and the increased productivity when using finishing. “The excitement and passion among the Epson employees are truly awesome and genuine,” he added. “Ink has and will continue to make inroads into the existing copier A3/A4 market, and Epson seems poised to take advantage of it. The venue was very good and the intimacy of the smaller group gave us more time to network and actually talk with Epson and get things done.”
Tim Stanley, CEO of Total Document Solutions (TDSiT) of Lowell, Arkansas, was struck by Epson’s proclamation that “we are not a copier company; we are a printer company.” Stanley felt its timing was perfect.
“The financial overview of how and why they will be successful seems extremely viable,” he said. “TDSiT is excited to bring the best technology to our great clients and Epson will be on every proposal as a lead option.”
In Epson, Todd Deluca—president and CEO of Boston Business Technology in Plymouth, Massachusetts—sees a quality organization with a sound strategy that disrupts the copier and printer space. “Their strategy of simple, smart and clean products really separates them from the competition and offers customers a real choice in technology,” Deluca noted. “The meeting enabled us to tell customers that story and explain how the technology works to deliver on that slogan.
“We are thrilled to represent Epson and our customers are thrilled about their new products.”
One of the more appreciable qualities of Epson, in the estimation of Kevin Van Kannel, president of Ann Arbor, Michigan-based UTEC, is the manufacturer’s grasp on its own strengths and shortcomings. But it’s Epson’s commitment to breaking through with ink and its desire to settle for nothing less than a complete success that has Van Kannel in its corner.
“I think that determination is going to carry them through,” he said. “As I’ve told other dealers, Epson is learning on the fly with this technology and I think they’ve made improvements with the interface, which is simpler and easier to use.”
The inkjet versus toner proposition, according to Van Kannel, has garnered much focus from a sustainability standpoint. He used the example of the number of consumables that go into generating 300,000 copies via toner-based output, and the parts that need to be replaced—the transfer unit, fuser, developer, etc. These spent assets can fill a box that is destined for the landfill.
“All those materials get changed out every 300,000 copies,” he said. “But all that waste can be replaced by that little [Epson] inkhead. When you share that story with a customer, and talk about waste and the environment, it absolutely resonates with customers. It makes sense to them and rings true.”