The Week in Imaging’s 2012 Elite Dealers

It’s my pleasure for the second consecutive year to present The Week in Imaging’s Elite Dealer Awards. This award honors the best and the brightest in the dealer community. The dealers being honored each week starting today and throughout the month of October aren’t necessarily the biggest dealers in the business although some are and many are doing well from a financial perspective. However, may are still enjoying growth, offer innovative marketing and sales programs, are deeply involved within their community, have a strong work culture, treat their employees well and have shown a willingness to do what it takes to remain relevant in an ever-changing market by adapting new technologies, services, and solutions. Indeed, it’s not any one thing that makes an Elite Dealer, it’s a combination. And now let’s meet the Elite Dealer Class of 2012.

Kelley Imaging Systems

Kent, WA

Year Founded: 1974

Number of Employees: 45

Approximate Yearly Revenues: $10-$13 million

This Year’s Most Significant Accomplishment: The acquisition of Axonus Technology Group, a local provider of IT solutions.

Primary Hardware Vendors and Solutions & Services Offerings: Toshiba, Xerox, HP, KIP, Muratec and Lexmark. Sharp, OKI, Docuware, ReRite, Paper Cut, Adobe Lean Print

Kelley Imaging Systems Headquarters

What’s the deal with Kelley Imaging Systems? They’ve been rocking the sales and after doing $10 million in 2011, they’re on a pace to hit $13 million in 2012, which translates into 30 percent growth. When you see numbers like that it makes you ask, what recession? Or maybe it’s just that Kelley seems to be recession proof, especially with the performance in three key growth areas, managed print services, managed network services, and major accounts.

Kelley Imaging Systems distinguishes itself from competitors by offering what their customers characterize as “better than great service.” Their belief about service – whether customer or equipment – is that it should be personalized and highly specific for each customer situation. Moreover, Kelley is committed to doing right by the customers, no matter what. That’s easy to say, but not always an easy thing to do. Kelley does it.

What we truly like about Kelley is that they go above and beyond to make sure customers know they are valued year-round, not just when it’s time to sign or renew a contract. For example, Kelley presents every customer with a Service Checklist after a service call is completed. The checklist is a detailed summary explaining what services and/or updates the technician performed while on site, ensuring the lines of communication and understanding between the provider and customer always remain open. Kelley also has numerous customer appreciation and retention strategies. For example, once follow up appointments have concluded, Kelley writes personalized thank-you cards and mails them to customers.

“We feel this sentiment is more appreciated than a simple e-mail thank you and that it helps reaffirm the connection between Kelley and outstanding print/copier solutions and quality,” says Eric Manion, president.

Kelley Imaging Systems also has an innovative strategy for ensuring that they stay positively positioned in their customers’ minds. Specialized software allows them to input all their clients’ (and prospects’) information, and categorize them according to the type of client they are, where they are in the sales cycle, and their purchasing habits. The software also allows Kelley to create customized marketing campaigns that are setup to correspond with specific client categories, with automated processes to govern which clients receive each marketing piece and at what frequency and on what schedule. “By automating these processes, we feel confident that new and existing customers always receive ample, appropriately themed, and perfectly timed marketing messages,” notes Manion.

Kelley Imaging Systems has spent countless hours to become a market-leading MPS provider, and now delivers managed network services to their customers, which in part have been helped by their acquisition of Axonus Technology Group. Since many of their customers already viewed them as a one-stop shop for all their printing and copying needs and have been extremely happy with their existing relationship, it’s easy to understand why they are excited to learn that Kelley can now be their one-stop shop for all their IT infrastructure optimization and output needs.

The industry has changed significantly over the last five years and new customer acquisition is more difficult than ever. “Applications and solutions are what are most appealing to businesses so Kelley has had to focus on educating our sales force and training them specifically on solution selling, so we can keep our current customers happy with constantly evolving solution offerings as well as distinguish ourselves from the competitors who aren’t selling sophisticated solutions,” states Manion. “Additionally, we’ve made an effort to have pre-sales technical people on as many sales calls as possible to insure our solutions are going to work in the customer’s environment.”

The acquisition of Axonus Technology Group has had a huge impact on expanding Kelley’s customer base while generating new revenue and most importantly, enabling Kelley to bring their existing managed service solutions and offerings to their customers much more quickly and effectively. Having a full NOC and help desk managing more than 1,000 seats has given Kelley instant credibility with their prospective and current customers as well. In addition to acquiring Axonus, Kelley also started a mailing division in 2011 and is now an authorized Pitney Bowes dealership.

These new business segments are opening up more doors and positioning Kelley for future growth and profitability. In addition they have invested heavily in marketing systems to stay in contact with their customers and prospects. We admire the way Kelley focuses on communicating more with their customers to enhance their relationships and have even added non-selling client managers to make sure they are consistently providing great customer service that simultaneously fosters new business opportunities.

What else would you expect from an Elite Dealer?

Copy Products

Upper Darby, PA

Year Founded: 1978

Number of Employees: 21

Approximate Yearly Revenues: $5 million

This Year’s Significant Accomplishment: Rolling out their MPS program at a large private university.

Primary Hardware Vendors and Solutions & Services Offerings: Copystar, Konica Minolta, Xerox, MPS

For big and small dealerships alike, managed print services has become a boon to their business and that’s especially true at Copy Products in Upper Darby, PA, where that portion of their business has been growing at 25 percent. The dealership does a nice job of presenting ongoing reviews to clients of their MPS programs while providing auto responses to all contacts regarding service and supplies.

What sets Copy Products apart from many of their competitors in their market is that personal touch, and personal contact on every client call is the way they do business. An employee answers all incoming phone calls while their service manager screens service calls prior to dispatch, which has lead to a 20 percent close rate before dispatching. That’s how a smaller dealer remains competitive.

As a traditional copier dealer Copy Products realizes that changing from a box-selling organization to one that sells solutions is not an easy one. While other dealers talk a good game about how they’ve made that transition, the reality is somewhere in between. President Ed Cameron acknowledges that his dealership is still transitioning and that the toughest hurdle, overcoming the reluctance of sales reps to adopt a performance compensation plan is now behind him.

While the challenge has been lessened, the focus on building its managed print services business remains as strong as ever. It’s a business segment that will continue to ensure that Copy Products is able to compete successfully in an increasingly competitive and challenging business environment.


Cincinnati, OH

Year Founded: 1985

Number of Employees: 150

Approximate Yearly Revenues: $30-$40 Million

This Year’s Most Significant Accomplishment: Taking the steps necessary to become a hybrid dealer.

Primary Hardware Vendors and Solutions & Services Offerings: Konica Minolta, Lexmark, Muratec, HP, Oki Data, Fujitsu, Kodak, Panasonic, OnBase, OpenText, Kofax, Equitrac, FileBound, EMC2, EFI, Planetpress Suite, Printshop Mail

We’ve seen ProSource among our Elite Dealers before and it’s not surprising to see them back again. With their Professional Services business growing at a 300 percent clip over the past three years and Managed Print Services at 400 percent, no wonder revenues remain in the $30-$40 million range.

We’ve always been impressed by the company’s TotalPro Experience, the dealership’s pledge of excellence to their customers. It’s what keeps customers coming back. The cornerstone of the TotalPro Experience is a proactive approach to customer service versus reactive customer service and is backed by the TotalPro Guarantee. “We guarantee 100 percent satisfaction,” says ProSource President Ben Russert. “If the customer is not totally satisfied with their TotalPro Experience, they let us know and we will make it right.”

Russert implemented the TotalPro Experience and assigned one of the company’s executives to drive customer retention as vice president of the TotalPro Experience. This program includes executive-level visits to ProSource’s top 200+ customers on a yearly basis to give the executive feedback on the customer experience. An Escalation Process ensures if any customer has an issue with ProSource it is presented to the ProSource escalation team and a manager of the responsible area accepts the issue within the hour and develops a plan of action. Once this escalation is completed, the vice president of theTotalPro Experience then makes a courtesy visit with the customer to insure ProSource has met the customer’s expectations. He then reports this information back to the executive team and the company managers. Now that’s unique in this business.

We also appreciate the way ProSource has launched ‘green’ initiatives to reduce their carbon footprint and increase their natural resource sustainability. The dealership has partnered with their vendors to offer customers ‘green’ receptacles to help recycle spent toner bottles and print drums. Along with this effort, they expanded their electronic document solution product suites to support customer’s efforts to reduce their paper consumption as part of their ‘green’ initiatives.

Another standout marketing initiative is the Tech Expo that takes place at Paul Brown Stadium prior to the start of the Cincinnati Bengals football season. The event, promoted as a tailgate, provides customers, prospects, and general businesses the opportunity to learn of the breadth of ProSource products and services in a casual, festive atmosphere. ProSource staff along with representatives from the dealership’s vendors are available for one-on-one conversations with customers and the event is enhanced by appearances by a Bengals broadcaster, Who Dey (the Bengals mascot) and the Ben-Gal cheerleaders. Insider tours of the stadium are conducted and guests lunch on stadium fare.

Also effective is the ProSource Blitz, a semi-annual event that customers and staff look forward to, and from what Russert says, competitors dread. “The Blitz is a week-long jolt of sales energy, when vendors offer special pricing and send their reps to ride along on calls,” explains Russert. “The atmosphere is electric and draws the entire staff into the frenzy. There’s always a theme played out to the hilt and spiffs to go around, not just for the sales staff but for admin and service, too. The sales goal is often lofty, and this year the goal was exceeded by 20 percent.”

The biggest challenge facing ProSource recently was not having a complete document solutions team. They overcame this by acquiring a local solutions company named docuVision in January 2011. This acquisition has provided them with solutions sales representatives and engineers to complete their document solutions organization.

ProSource takes their charitable activities seriously and has a “Casual for a Cause” program where employees can donate $5 to wear jeans on Fridays. That money is then matched by ProSource and donated to a different charity of the month. In addition, ProSource holds an annual toy drive to collect toys and games for children at St. Joseph Orphanage as well as a Freestore Foodbank food drive every November to collect money and nonperishable donations.

Understanding that you don’t survive in this industry by standing still, ProSource has taken the initiative to become a hybrid dealer and offer more products to its customers by focusing on a five-prong approach. The first will ensure market share and profit/customer growth by focusing on managing service performance, driving customer retention, and selling a full line of products, especially with top customers. The second is to drive profit improvement to support growth via reducing expenses, leveraging their vendors, and identifying additional incremental revenue opportunities. Next is to better meet customer needs by the use of software solutions, professional services, and managed print. The fourth focus leverages the ProSource organization and technologies to grow opportunities in vertical and new business markets. The final part of its  strategy will enhance the dealership’s capability to win over the competition by having the best people and systems to deliver unparalleled quality every day.

It’s a five-prong approach that’s making a difference and we expect will continue to make a difference as it elevates ProSource once again to Elite Dealer status.

Advanced Copy Technologies, Inc.

Cromwell, CT

Year Founded: 1974

Number of Employees: 32

Approximate Yearly Revenues: $5-$10 million

This Year’s Most Significant Accomplishment: Releasing new and unique programs after four years of development to differentiate Advanced Copy Technologies from competitors.

Primary Hardware Vendors & Solutions & Services Offerings: Lanier, Kyocera, Riso, Xerox, MPS, Asset Optimization, Document Management, electronic workflow

In order to compete with better funded competitors, smaller dealers need to be willing to roll with the flow and offer many of the same services and solutions. That’s what Advanced Copy Technologies is doing. They’ve developed several programs that few if any competitors are offering. Those include a Printer Optimization program and an Asset Optimization program, which saves clients money by ensuring proper deployment of existing assets. The dealership also provides live monitoring of all devices with smart phones or iPads, something that IT managers love. At the same time Advanced is enjoying strong sales of color MFPs.

President Greg Gondek says that aside from having the best service in their market with an average response time of under three hours for service calls, Advanced’s reputation for honesty and never compromising their integrity are reasons why customers continue to do business with the dealership. “Our customer retention is extremely high and since we bucked the industry trends of cutbacks and actually expanded during the past two years we have enjoyed a large percentage of our sales as net new accounts,” reports Gondek.

The big challenge that Advanced faced and overcame was changing the culture of their sales organization to match their long-term business plans. It’s paying off with big wins such as being the highest priced of six bidders for a large school account, yet still getting the business. “Our approach and solutions along with a long-term plan to properly manage assets and change their culture won this account,” notes Gondek. “Our initial presentation actually eliminated all competition before the other proposals were even considered because our solution was the only one that focused on their problems. The other vendors were just trying to low-ball the boxes and service.”

Over the years Advanced has been the model corporate citizen, supporting the community and various charities. If you visit their Web page you’ll see a grant program with an application button for donating equipment and services to needy non-profits. Advanced also partners with the Middlesex United Way and donates 3 percent of their Lanier sales proceeds back to the United Way. They’re also a sponsor of the New Britain Rock Cats minor league team and donate game tickets to schools and all youth groups. You’ll also find the company sponsoring and supporting several charity programs on an annual basis such as the Reach Foundation and UCONN Medical Center Neag Cancer Foundation.

Advanced has done a superior job of building its expertise levels in IT and Software solutions to the highest levels within their marketplace. It’s an achievement the entire company is proud of. “Our ongoing training and strategic partnerships with our software and hardware providers to collaborate and share resources are going to be the best assurances that independent dealers like us will not only survive but thrive in the future,” concludes Gondek.

Meritech Inc

Cleveland, OH

Year Founded: 1978

Number of Employees: 85

Approximate Yearly Revenues: $20-million

This Year’s Significant Accomplishment: Evolving its down-the-street sales team to a true solutions-based sales force.

Primary Hardware Vendors and Solutions & Services Offerings: Kyocera Konica Minolta Muratec Dell HP Panasonic Kip, Managed IT Services, MPS, Document Solutions, Fax Server Solutions, Web Design

The Meritech Team

Never underestimate the value of a family run dealership that wins customers with the personal touch. Whether they are calling to talk to a customer support representative, ordering supplies or placing a service call, Meritech always has someone available to support their customers.

That’s been standard operating procedure at Meritech since 1978.

We like the e-mail blast campaigns focusing on the solutions that Meritech uses for reaching out to  customers and informing them about the wide variety of fully managed services they offer. It seems to be working well with managed IT services growing at a 200 percent rate over the last three years.

Hiring is a daunting challenge within the independent dealer community and that’s been one of the biggest challenges Meritech has encountered as they look to hire the right person for the right position. “With the way technology has grown in the past few years, it was a challenge keeping up with how the business evolved and keeping everyone evolving with it,” acknowledges Dennis Bednar, president.

One of Meritech’s big wins this past year was a five-year contract at Metro Health Hospital, leading to the placement of more than 800 devices with a print server, print shop, and rules-based print software.

We also honor Meritech for their corporate citizenship. Meritech employees give back every chance they get through time and donations. This year was a special year because Meritech, with the cooperation of the Make-A-Wish Foundation, was able to make the day of Ethan, a five-year-old Wish Child at Progressive Field. Ethan loves baseball and cherished the opportunity to throw out the first pitch. Another worthy cause was Mission Possible, which supports the building of homes for families along with infrastructure and support programs in the Dominican Republic through donations. Meritech also supports the Cleveland Food Bank throughout the year with ongoing collections.

Asked what he’s doing to ensure his dealership’s long-term profitability, Bednar says, “The biggest thing is selling outside of the box and basing all of our solutions around managed services and leveraging those technologies to move our products consistently.”

Selling and thinking outside the box has always been a key attribute of an Elite Dealer and that’s another reason we’re honoring Meritech this year as an Elite Dealer.

ASI Business Solutions

Dallas, TX

Year Founded: 1989

Number of Employees: 49

Approximate Yearly Revenues: $10-$15-million

This Year’s Significant Accomplishment: Transitioning the organization into a ‘Managed Services Provider’ model.

Primary Hardware Vendors and Solutions & Services Offerings: Lanier (Ricoh), Lexmark, Hewlett-Packard (HP), FP Mailing Solutions, MBM, Document Management, Managed Network Solutions

When ASI says they empower organizations to better capture, manage, store and distribute their critical business information via secure streamlined workflows they mean business. And they continue to find new and diverse ways to make that happen. What’s also impressive about ASI is that they’ve been able to make a successful transition into managed network solutions and position themselves as a single-source provider for customer’s IT services needs. It’s no surprise then that two of the fastest growing areas of their business are managed network services and MPS.

Beyond becoming a one-stop office technology provider to their customers, ASI differentiates themselves via their culture. “At ASI, we challenge ourselves to ‘Cross the Line’, that is to surpass mediocrity and deliver excellence,” says Randy Allen, vice president, marketing. “ASI employees accomplish this in four distinct ways:

  1. Choose to Commit – With the intent to deliver and succeed in serving ourcustomers.
  2. Work Hard – Knowing that there are no silver bullets, ASI employees put forth real effort and pay attention to the fundamentals every day, striving to exceed customer expectations.
  3. Focus – Eliminating any distractions which stand in the way of delivering excellence.
  4. Bounce Back – Our employees understand that by learning from mistakes (though we strive to minimize them!) we will fail forward and become better providers and partners to our customers.”

A highlight for customers and prospects is ASI’s open house marketing event. An invitation-only event, ASI provides food, beverages and hands out great door prizes such as Apple iPads and gift cards for fine dining at area restaurants. “We work hard to orchestrate an atmosphere encouraging interaction between non-customers and customers—there is nothing like a good customer testimonial!” exclaims Allen. “Additionally, this event allows us the opportunity to showcase our facility and provide insight into the latest technology offerings in a non-threatening fashion. Most importantly, the event allows us to say thank you to our customers for their business.”

We also love ASI’s Testimonial Wall, which is prominently displayed in the ASI facility and is now an important component of the ASI tour. The ASI Testimonial Wall reinforces to prospects via third-party (current ASI customers) proof that ASI delivers on its promises.

The biggest challenge ASI faced over the past five years has been the continued commoditization of its traditional office product and maintenance offerings. “With commoditization came increased pressure on hardware margins and an increasingly competitive cost-per-page (i.e. the race to zero),” says Allen. “But rather than giving into these forces, ASI focused internally on being more efficient at what we do, and externally on bringing greater value to our customers. By taking a consultative approach – MDOM (Measure, Design, Optimize and Manage), ASI assesses the customer’s business, technical and physical environments and is able to provide a comprehensive deliverable complete with actionable items for their consideration.”

The company’s biggest accomplishment this past year was transitioning the  organization into a managed services provider model. “While this is an ongoing investment in resources, technology and people, we feel it is the best way to ensure we remain a competitive, healthy organization and bring ongoing value to our customers,” states Allen.

Success in cross-selling represents ASI’s biggest win of the past year. “Having customers use ASI to fulfill their gamut of office technology needs: MFPs, MPS, managed network services, document management solutions, and mailing solutions are a testimony to the value we can bring within each of our customers’ environments,” notes Allen.

Always focused on future profitability and growth ASI continues to participate in dealer groups, aligning themselves with leading manufacturers and evolving their dealership’s offerings to proactively satisfy the needs of our customers, while continuing to invest in their people and cultivate a culture which brings value to employees and customers, ensure long-term growth and profitability.

Now that’s what we call an Elite Dealer!

Budget Document Technology

Lewiston, ME

Year Founded: 1989

Number of Employees: 21

Approximate Yearly Revenues: $4.3-million

This Year’s Most Significant Accomplishment: Acquiring a toner cartridge supply company that has contributed significantly to the dealership’s growth.

Primary Hardware Vendors and Solutions & Services Providers: Konica Minolta, Kyocera, Lexmark, MPS, HP Service Provider, SmartSearch, PaperCut, Equitrac

After ending fiscal year 2009 with total revenues of $2.8-million, Budget Document Technology was able to raise that figure to $4.3 million in 2011 for a dollar growth of $1.5 million or 54 percent over a three-year period. That’s significant growth for a smaller dealership in a rural market.

Looking to bolster their repair supplies and services business, the dealership purchased what was primarily a toner cartridge supply company that had about $800,000 in annual sales at the time of acquisition. The addition of printer supplies to the mix had a big impact on Budget’s growth and was particularly timely as they were converting accounts to MPS to secure long-term contracts. During this time, MFP hardware sales have increased by 32 percent and overall maintenance with MPS included has increased by 32 percent as well. Those numbers should serve as encouragement to all small dealers.

These initiatives have led to a new addition to Budget’s facility that will add another 5,000-square feet of space bringing their main facility to just under 10,000-square feet total.

Customers appreciate doing business with Budget because they are independent and customers can reach ownership quickly if needed. “Decisions can be made quickly to respond to requests or market changes,” says Thomas G. Ouellette, president.

It also helps that Budget takes a consultative sales approach. “We feel we know our product and what we don’t know we research,” states Ouellette. “We have solved applications and we have executed challenging complete solutions. We have looked at how to deliver customer service more efficiently and over the last couple of years we have provided clients with complete online ordering capabilities for supply and service needs. Plus we have some really good people who represent us.”

With the acquisition of the toner company, Budget was inspired to refresh their Website. This year-long project has resulted in a more interactive site. Monthly e-newsletters and print marketing with newspaper and postcards along with some television advertising have been instrumental in building the Budget brand. “Marketing methods will always change, but it is staying consistent with timeliness that really gets the message out,” notes Ouellette.

Quarterly lunch and learns on document imaging provide another opportunity to touch clients and expose them to new technologies and solutions.

Buying another company can be a challenge, especially for a dealership that has never played the acquisition game before. “There is the pressure of serving those new customers and being able to assist them in the same way or better than before,” acknowledges Ouellette. “There is a lot of back-end operational setup to do, there are new employees to learn what their role has been and can be going forward. There is the message to get to clients of what you bring to the table.”

Someway, somehow, Budget was able to overcome all of those challenges and continues to reap the rewards of the acquisition.

Over the past year Budget has enjoyed some significant sales dollar wise, including a six-figure takedown. But the one they’re most proud of is a sale that involved many factors and was focused on selling a solution. “It took a client who was using a couple of different vendors and who wanted to simplify with consistency and utilize technology for document imaging,” recalls Ouellette. “The transaction actually had three pieces to it—MFP and printer hardware, MPS, and document imaging. We provided them consistency in hardware, reducing the printer fleet from 82 units with 60 different toner types to 39 printers with 10 toner types by upgrading a portion of the fleet and utilizing some of the current fleet.”

In addition, Budget provided MFPs that were all of the same series, resulting in devices that use one set of toner and a common control panel. For the document imaging piece, SmartSearch was the solution. “We had to integrate with the client’s manufacturing industry specific accounting/back-end software with workflow processes,” notes Ouellette. “The hardware and software piece brought an upfront sale of over $90k and the monthly MPS portion meant a revenue stream of approximately $1,500 per month.”

We applaud Budget for the financial support they provide to various organizations through donations and advertising support. But the neatest of all is for the last few years they’ve allowed a local high school marching band to use their delivery truck so they can transport their band equipment for away events.

The company also does a nice job of taking care of its employees and looking at ways to better incent them. For example, they’re in the final stages of designing a new rewards program for their service staff to reward not only performance but to encourage ongoing knowledge. The educational component is critical for every dealership and Budget is a familiar face at BTA events and sponsored educational seminars.

We don’t think it’s a wild assumption that Budget will continue to build on its recent successes and grow even more. Listening to Ouellette outline the company’s future initiatives underscores potential opportunities for future success.

“We see ourselves involved in a greater number of multi-unit or cross-platform sales such as the one described earlier involving hardware, MPS, and software. Software and applications seem to be picking up interest and we feel we are poised for this. We think production units can be a growth area for our dealership, but we want to focus on production in institutional or medium and large businesses, not necessarily the print for pay market. We feel confident with what we have been doing, where we are going, and we also believe that this commitment will help maintain and attract talented employees by providing a great environment.”

4 the Office

Pittston, PA

Year Founded: 2007

Number of Employees: 5

Approximate Yearly Revenues: $1-$3-Million

This Year’s Significant Accomplishment: Obtaining a complete product line from office supplies and equipment to software solutions and service to become a one-source vendor.

Primary Hardware Vendors and Solutions & Services Offerings: Kyocera Dealer, HP, PaperCut, SP Richards Dealer (Office Supplies), Printsmart (PrintFleet), MPS

If good things come in small packages, maybe you can say the same thing about a smaller dealer who has taken the necessary steps to expand their business to become a one-source vendor for their customers by offering everything from office technology to software solutions to service, to office supplies. Not many of our Elite Dealers do all of those things, which is one of the reasons why we feel that 4 the Office, a division of Northeast Print Supplies & Equipment, is worthy of Elite Dealer status.

Why do customers choose 4 the Office? “We don’t just sell copiers, printers and office supplies, we sell solutions to help businesses run more efficient and reduce costs,” says Carmen Pitarra, 4 the Office’s president. “The solutions we offer are from some of the most respected names in the industry and our vendors have a proven track record of supporting their dealers. The best thing about doing business with us is we deliver what we promise.”


The past three years haven’t been too bad to the dealership with growth up 50 percent in copiers, MFP’s, printers, print management, and software solutions. Clearly, they are delivering on what they promise.

4 the Office has spent a tremendous amount of time upgrading and optimizing its Website, which has led to greater success in increasing their placement in the large search engines. “This has produced a consistent stream of leads for our dealership,” says Pitarra. “The number of hits and unique visitors has more than doubled compared to one year ago.”

Incidentally, that was all done in house, which has saved the dealership tens of thousands of dollars. Some of the other market strategies that are working for them include customizing their product brochures to target specific vertical markets and capitalizing on the success of those products with other local businesses. “Our most successful approach has been to provide a specific solution or better way, not just a price,” adds Pitarra. “We do this by spending personal time with each and every customer or prospect and truly learning their business or industry.

It’s not easy for any dealership to manage growth and 4 the Office is no exception as they’ve experienced double-digit growth since their inception. “But we have been very careful not to overextend or over-staff ourselves,” explains Pitarra. “We have created a variety of programs such as financial incentives and cross-training programs for all employees which have helped us provide excellent service to our customers while keeping staff counts down.”

Pitarra admits that because the dealership is currently so small it took a tremendous amount of time to obtain a complete product line from office supplies and equipment to software solutions and service to become a one-source vendor, which is why he describes this as the dealership’s most significant accomplishment. “We finally have all the tools in place to grow our business and remain profitable in the years to come.”

This year’s big win wasn’t so much the biggest deal, but the lesson learned and what Pitarra says many other dealers should be wary of as they move forward into managed print services.

“A local manufacturer was in a one-year print management contract from a competitor, this competitor had been outsourcing both the service and the software monitoring with a third party. We patiently sat and waited for the expiration date (which was nearly one year because we came across it just after they signed it); we stayed in constant contact with the customer and quickly took it over the last Friday of the month prior to expiration. The main reason for them leaving was the whole program was inefficient in their opinion because there were too many parties involved in the management of their account.”

He continues, “The lesson we learned was this created and will continue to create a great opportunity for us because we sell and service customers. Dealers need to adapt, you cannot place your firm’s long-standing reputation in the hands of 2nd, 3rd, or 4th parties without expecting a few bumps in the road or having another come in to take over your account. That customer is now in the process of upgrading approximately 35 printers with our organization. Additionally, they will be replacing approximately 10 MFP’s in the very near future and intend on obtaining a quote from us when necessary.”

Looking towards the future, 4 the Office is aggressively pursuing additional software and hardware solutions to separate themselves from the average dealer and further position themselves as a one-source vendor who offers the most up-to-date products and solutions in their area. If recent history is any indication, they’re not going to have much trouble accomplishing that.

Vision Office Systems

Charlotte, NC

Year Founded: 1997

Number of Employees: 30

Approximate Yearly Revenues: $5-million

This Year’s Significant Accomplishment: Hiring more people while other companies were downsizing.

Primary Hardware Vendors and Solutions & Services Offerings: Savin, Canon, HP, Samsung, Kyocera, Square9 Smart Search, Drivve, MPS

It’s been a good year for Vision Office Systems fueled by legal and healthcare industry clients and their need for compliant solutions and products. Also driving that growth is being aligned with vendors such as Savin, Canon, Kyocera, Samsung, Square9, and Drivve among others, all of whom provide Vision with a menu of products and solutions to meet the needs of those key vertical markets.

But just because they’ve selected a nice mix of vendors and they’re meeting the needs of those two markets isn’t reason enough to honor Vision as an Elite Dealer. They do a nice job too of leveraging the local angle, which gives them an advantage over direct branches. “People like to know that what they spend with a company is being put back locally and creating jobs,” says Jason Habbal, vice president.

We truly do admire a small dealer that continues to hire in a down economy.

Satisfied customers breed new customers and Vision has done an excellent job of leveraging word of mouth and customer testimonials in building their dealership since 1997. “There’s no better way to gain a new client than have a current client tell them about you,” says Jason. “That goes farther than any advertising or marketing that can be done.”

Even small dealers are moving into managed print services and discovering that it’s not an easy thing to do, yet they understand that’s got to be done in order to remain relevant. “Our biggest challenge in the last few years has been implementing a managed print strategy that actually works for us,” acknowledges Jason. “If you talk to 10 people you get 10 different strategies. It was important for us to find what worked for us. Now moving into managed IT services we have to again, find a strategy that works for.”

A big win during the past year was an MPS deal worth some 800,000 prints a month. “That’s a huge revenue source for us,” exclaims Jason.

Just as so many of our other Elite Dealers support local and national charitable organizations and give back to their community so does Vision. They support a local mental health agency that provides services for children who cannot be cared for as well as local outreach programs through various church’s in the area.

Whether you’re a $5-million dealership or a $50-million dealership, you’ve got to be a services-led company in the 21st century. Vision continues to work towards that goal and we applaud them for it. “From copiers, to managed print, to managed IT services, our goal is to pass this business down from generation to generation for years to come,” concludes Jason.

That’s a great goal and one that illustrates the spirit of entrepreneurship among this year’s Elite Dealers.

­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­Image Matters

Knoxville, TN

Year Founded: 1999

No. of Employees: 36

Approximate Yearly Revenues: $5-$10-million

This Year’s Significant Accomplishment: The evolution and development of a world-class, next-generation sales team.

Primary Hardware Vendors and Solutions & Services Offerings: Konica Minolta, Sharp, Muratec, MPS, Commercial Print and Copy Retail Services

Image Matters’ headquarters

For all the years we’ve been presenting the Elite Dealer awards and all our travels to various manufacturer dealer meetings, it still amazes us that we are still discovering dealerships that haven’t been on our radar previously. Case in point is Image Matters a Knoxville, TN-based office technology dealership that also has a nice little commercial print and copy retail services business as well.

There are a few things that impress us about Image Matters, and we love their name by the way, but topping the list is the way Imagelink, their branded managed print services program, has grown at a rate of 648 percent per year during the past three years. In this day and age a dealer has got to be in the MPS game and with numbers like that this is a dealership that seems to be winning more than their fair share of business.

Customers choose Image Matters because they’re a young, energetic, tech savvy organization that still understands the strength in personal service and relationships. “We use the technology to help us, not to replace the local personal service that our clients have become accustomed to,” says JD Sullivan, one of the company’s owners.

Driving through Knoxville on any given day you’re bound to hear the company’s name on drive time radio, especially sports radio where Image Matters has become synonymous. “In Knoxville, TN, sports radio is above all else,” says Sullivan who has found this advertising a great way to build the Image Matters brand. Add to that 10 company tech vehicles with rolling billboards that keep the Image Matters name front and center as they travel through the community each and every day.

Despite the economy downturn the dealership’s biggest challenge has been managing the explosive growth of managed print, especially the expense of the technology to support it, the manpower and training to service it effectively, and the proper plan to motivate the entire Image Matters organization to sell Imagelink, every call, every time. Whatever Sullivan and co-owner Bob Lovelace are doing they’re doing well when one considers the aforementioned MPS growth within their customer base.

This year’s big wins include three 100+ unit Imagelink MPS accounts along with more than 1,000 new devices under Imagelink MPS agreements.

We also applaud Image Matters for the way they support their community. Donations raised for casual Friday are used to provide Christmas for entire families, who must spend the holiday in the hospital. And co-owner Lovelace is an active board member for The Cystic Fibrosis Foundation while Sullivan is an active board member of The Compassion Coalition. In addition there’s a heavy focus throughout the dealership on community and school growth and support.

Since their founding in 1999, the dealership has maintained a keen eye on the future. “Our long- term keys to success are to focus on what we do best, and not be concerned by what competitors and market trends are focusing on,” notes Sullivan. “Image Matters is not a ‘me-too’ organization, we know how to do what we do well.  As opposed to emulating others, we will continue to target our greatest strengths and expand our offerings as our clients ask us to do so.”

We weren’t familiar with Image Matters before we received their Elite Dealer nomination, but now that we are, we are honored to acknowledge them as a 2012 Elite Dealer and will be keeping a close eye on them in the future.

Edwards Business Systems, Inc. and Virginia Business Systems, Inc. and

Bethlehem, PA

Year Founded: 1954

No. of Employees: 158

Approximate Yearly Revenues: $30-35-Million

This Year’s Significant Accomplishment: Continued growth and profitability.

Primary Hardware Vendors and Solutions & Services Offerings: Konica Minolta, Hewlett Packard, Ricoh, Muratec, EFI, PlanetPress Suite, PlanetShop Mail, Equitrac, Print Audit, PCS Director, Image Director, DigiDoc, Smart Search

Edwards’ Headquarters

It’s nice to see Edwards Business Systems (EBS) and Virginia Business Systems (VBS) back among this year’s Elite Dealers. We seem to acknowledge them perennially, but that’s only natural because they continue to make a compelling case for their inclusion year in and year out.

Edwards Business Systems, headquartered in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, is represented in Harrisburg, Lancaster, Pocono Region, Pottstown, Reading and Scranton, Pennsylvania.   Virginia Business Systems, headquartered in Richmond, is represented in Charlottesville, Lynchburg, New River Valley, Roanoke, Shenandoah Valley and Tidewater, Virginia.

EBS and VBS continue to impress us with their growth, particularly in the areas of managed print services, solution software, and production print—three segments of the business that have been growing at a 30 percent pace during the past three years.

We know that EBS and VBS provide great service but as their management contends, “It can never be ONLY ‘great service’.  It has to be an effective combination of responsive, dedicated service, committed solutions, quality hardware and the coordinated teams to deliver all of this.”

EBS/VBS staff is divided into three core groups – service/implementation, administration and sale/marketing – all of which work together as a team to move the business of their clients forward.  “Our clients appreciate this because they know that we are selling a value proposition versus selling a product,” states Ray Fuentes, president of EBS. “We put the client’s needs first.  We focus on selling process improvement, security and compliance, cost of ownership and sustainability.  Once we determine what processes need to be improved then we’ll craft a solution.”

We also like their tagline, Fast Forward Document Solutions,” which Fuentes says is more than just a tagline.

The three fastest growing areas of the business are also their three most innovative marketing programs and strategies. Print+ is EBS’/VBS’s private-labeled brand of MPS and offers services that include not only prints and output devices, but also various management plans for collection, accounting, security, and sustainability. “These solutions allow our clients to achieve cost effectiveness, green environmental goals, and network integration,” reports James Dotter, president of VBS.

We also like the way that EBS and VBS have dedicated solutions teams that develop and offer application software for document management and many other solutions. Plus, they offer specialized teams of professional service and support necessary to evaluate, implement, and manage successful software solutions for their clients.

Many dealers are moving into production print and EBS and VBS are no exception. They are an exception in that they have been extremely successful at it. “Our production print initiatives bring the industry’s most formidable equipment to the market along with the application and software support and services necessary to deliver Fast Forward Document Solutions to our clients,” says Fuentes.

EBS/VBS offers specialty solutions in hardware, software and technical connectivity for high-volume digital printing, production workflow applications, color profile management, variable data printing, and digital marketing programs. Plans are offered under a variety of pricing and service programs to meet a client’s goals, needs, and budget, which has been instrumental in growing this portion of the business.

The big win of the past year was a contract with Misericordia University in Dallas, PA, worth more than $1-million.  “This contract was awarded in direct response to our innovative marketing programs in MPS under our brand Print+, our Solution Software services and support, and our production print initiatives,” states Fuentes.  “The search was highly competitive, but our programs and service reputation bested not only the competition, but also the incumbent – Xerox.  We were extremely proud of the team effort by of our employees to be selected by this client.”

EBS and VBS are committed to making the communities in which they operate successful, vibrant, and caring.  Each office undertakes different initiatives to fulfill this mission. We don’t have room to list the many initiatives EBS and VBS participate in, however, the diversity of these initiatives is impressive and there’s no doubt in our minds that they are having a positive impact.

“EBS and VBS believe in strong communities,” says Dotter. “When a community is healthy and caring, employees want to live there, work there and raise their families there. We are proud to be part of these communities.”

Edwards and Virginia Business Systems are proud to be one of the country’s largest family-owned, independent office equipment dealers. Their customers and The Week in Imaging aren’t the only ones that recognize just how special they are. Both organizations continue to be recognized by their vendors for excellence in sales and service.

“EBS and VBS are in our third generation of management and ownership, continuing the family commitment of meeting and exceeding the needs of our clients,” says James Edwards, chairman.  “Fast Forward Document Solutions is more than a slogan, it’s a commitment.”

It’s that kind of commitment that makes EBS/VBS an Elite Dealer once again.

FlexPrint, Inc.

Scottsdale, AZ

Year Founded: 2005

Number of Employees: 120

Approximate Yearly Revenues: 2011 – $25-million; 2012 Estimates – $30-35-million

This Year’s Most Significant Accomplishment: Making the Inc. 500|5000 for the third consecutive year through organic growth.

Primary Hardware Vendors and Solutions & Services Offerings: Ricoh/Lanier, Sharp, Hewlett Packard, Lexmark, Kyocera, Managed Technology Programs

Frank Gaspari, FlexPrint’s CEO

For as long as we’ve been familiar with FlexPrint we’ve been enamored with their Managed Technology Programs, programs that set them apart from the average office technology dealership. To recap, FlexPrint’s Managed Technology programs are tailored to each customer’s specific business requirements and allow people, processes, and technologies to work together seamlessly. “These tailored programs are designed to provide a comprehensive approach which combines document and information technology strategies that include support, service, maintenance, supplies, and most importantly, executive reviews that enhance productivity and efficiencies – all in one customized package based on client needs,” explains FlexPrint President Frank Gaspari. “Our programs are designed, not as an outsourced model, but as a ‘Needs Source’ model that grows with the customer and evolves with their changing business needs.”

FlexPrint’s reputation for superior service has spread like wildfire, and its managed print business has been growing exponentially thanks in large part to recommendations from satisfied customers. These recommendations have expanded FlexPrint’s footprint nationwide – allowing the company to provide an unusual experience from coast to coast. You don’t see too many independent dealers doing that do you?

Customers appreciate FlexPrint’s Quarterly Executive Partnership Reviews “These reviews provide ongoing visibility that truly enables our customers to better manage their IT infrastructure,” explains Gaspari. “We believe this visibility and accountability is the cornerstone of a real managed technology services program. Providing equipment along with service and supplies is only the baseline for these solutions. True managed technology providers are viewed as partners, not vendors, if they meet these commitments. FlexPrint is a partner.”

Gaspari is quick to point out that FlexPrint’s hard working and dedicated employees have always been the catalyst to the company’s dynamic growth. An internal marketing program has been created with FlexPrint investing in another company-wide incentive program that further promotes Exceptional Customer Service and strengthens the company culture that FlexPrint has nurtured since its beginnings in 2005. This year 20 FlexPrint employees will be recognized and rewarded for their drive and focus on creating and maintaining a unique customer experience. To become one of FlexPrint’s ‘FAB20’, every employee has the opportunity to openly recognize and nominate another team member’s outstanding performance. The top 20 nominated employees at the end of the year will be rewarded with ‘no car payments for one year.’

Employee nominations have been extended to FlexPrint’s customers as well, which certainly ups the customer service ante. The new C.A.R.E. Program (Customers Appreciate Responsive Employees) allows customers to easily recognize an employee’s exceptional service and influence the results of this year’s ‘FAB20’ Drive. You can view that at

One of the biggest challenges FlexPrint faced in 2012 was caused by exponential growth. FlexPrint’s most valuable assets, its employees, continually stepped up to the plate and performed various multiple tasks outside of their norm to ensure that customers were receiving exceptional service. To alleviate some of the internal pressures, increase the support to FlexPrint’s existing customers, and provide a ‘Wow’ factor to new customers, FlexPrint created and implemented a dedicated “Client Integration Team” (CIT). The CIT Team consists of a devoted project manager, dedicated team of technicians, and customer service managers.

The sole focus of FlexPrint’s CIT is to implement and roll out new MPS engagements to ensure a positive and seamless on board” experience. They assist with change management at customer locations nationally and perform end-user interviews and follow-up surveys to make sure each user is comfortable with the new arrangement.

“The dedicated technicians that belong to our CIT ensures that every imaging asset is operating properly, cleaned, tagged, and entered into FlexPrint’s asset management program, at the beginning of every partnership,” states Gaspari. “We have received positive feedback from our new customers about our on-boarding process. First impressions mean everything, and this is one investment that we have made to insure that happens.”

Meanwhile, the accolades keep rolling in. Besides the aforementioned Inc. acknowledgment, FlexPrint has been selected by Forbes magazine as “Arizona Best in Business” recognition and is listed as one of the “100 Best Arizona Companies of the Decade.” They’ve also won the 2012 Perfect Image Award for “Most Outstanding Managed Print Services Program” for the second consecutive year and were selected as one of the Phoenix Business Journal’s “Best Places To Work” for the fourth consecutive year.

But that’s not all, the dealership closed a couple of big deals this year with Fortune 1000 companies, which is not all that unusual for this Elite Dealer. “Being able to provide an unusual experience with exceptional customer service and transparent data driven results enterprise wide have been key factors in forming national relationships,” states Gaspari.

Because of dynamic growth, FlexPrint needed to expand internally. Moving from three Arizona locations into a larger headquarters will improve internal communications and help FlexPrint continue to deliver exceptional customer service to its growing customer base. The new space is designed to streamline communication and integration of services among various departments, and coincides with FlexPrint’s recent opening of a new regional office in Chicago, IL and the expansion of additional managed technology services.

As the Elite Dealer Class of 2012 goes, FlexPrint is without a doubt one of the pacesetters and a dealership that we expect will be a permanent fixture in the Elite Dealer awards for years to come.

Bay Copy

Rockland, MA

Year Founded: 1972

Number of Employees: 31

Approximate Yearly Revenues: $5+ million

This Year’s Most Significant Accomplishment: Winning a major MPS contract with South Shore Savings Bank

Primary Hardware Vendors and Solutions & Services Offerings: Konica Minolta, Lexmark, Muratec, MPS, Office Supplies

Bay Copy’s CEO Ray Belanger

We’ve seen Bay Copy here before and it’s no surprise to find this small Rockland, MA dealership back again. For a small dealership in the tough Boston market they continue to hang in and for the past three years saw revenues rise by 12 percent. Overall, we continue to be impressed by Bay Copy’s ability to increase sales over the previous year, in large part because of the expansion of its Office Products and Print Management Divisions, and the addition of the Lexmark line. To keep pace with its growing MPS business, Bay Copy has added a dedicated account representative and promoted two senior team members to assist with the new work.

Bay Copy recently celebrated a rare milestone in business—its 40th anniversary. Originally founded by Ray Belanger Sr. in 1972 under the name Bay State Business Products, Ray Belanger (current CEO) has been with the company for 30 years and at the helm for the last two decades. At a ceremony in June, Bay Copy was honored by the CEO of the South Shore Chamber of Commerce, and the State Representative for this district, for the company’s contribution to the Massachusetts economy. Kudos again to a small but Elite dealer. 

Bay Copy is now in its fourth year as a Business Solutions Dealer (BSD) for Lexmark International and was the first company in Massachusetts named as a BSD, joining an elite group of dealers across the United States. The affiliation with Lexmark has assisted Bay Copy as it broadens its reach in the managed print services market. Additionally, the company is an authorized service provider for Hewlett-Packard (HP), and this is a strong growth area for the business. Lately Bay Copy has expanded its work in the office security arena, helping companies understand how to secure confidential data on their copier and MFP hard drives.

We also salute Bay Copy and its CEO Ray Belanger for community leadership. Belanger is the treasurer of the South Shore Chamber of Commerce, a 2000+ member organization which is one of the largest and most respected Chambers in the Country. Bay Copy has also taken a leadership role in being part of the President’s Club for South Shore Hospital, which, only a few miles south of Boston, emerges as a leading healthcare facility in the state.

We also admire Bay Copy for its ongoing PR and marketing efforts as Belanger continues to author articles for industry magazines and blogs, and is a go-to source by industry writers looking for a dealer perspective.

Through his membership in The Presidents’ Circle of the South Shore Hospital, Belanger makes a difference in the availability of healthcare on the South Shore via monetary and community support of South Shore Hospital. Presidents’ Circle members are business donors who pledge a minimum of $25,000 to the South Shore Hospital. Members are business principals who appreciate and exemplify the role of philanthropic action in shaping the quality of life for all residents of their community. Participation in The Presidents’ Circle enables successful members of the business community to learn about the evolving operations of South Shore hospital from the perspective of its administrators and medical professionals.

Another big win this year was a 47-unit sale, including 35 Lexmark MFPs along with 12 Konica Minolta units. This is for a healthcare organization and Bay Copy won the business from a competitor who had placed equipment previously at the site.

Bay Copy may not be the biggest dealer in the Boston market, but they are an Elite one and sometimes that makes all the difference.

Centric Business Systems

Owings Mills, MD

Year Founded: 1990

Number of Employees: 145

Approximate Yearly Revenues: $30-$35 million

This Year’s Most Significant Accomplishment: Ending its fiscal year on 12/31/11 with a 30 percent increase in revenues during a very challenging period for both the industry and the economy.

Primary Hardware Vendors and Solutions & Services Offerings: Sharp, Ricoh, Kyocera, and software to transition companies to digital workflow, to control output costs, to control usage and to provide rules based authorization as well as fax server solutions and print for pay solutions such as Digital Storefront.

Centric’s Executive Team (L to R) Scott Schnabel, Jerry Baroncelli, Loralea Sanderson, Rick Bastinelli.

If you’re going to grow your business a good approach is to grow it on several fronts and that’s exactly how Centric is doing it. Over the past three years they’ve grown 5.7 percent from acquisition, 3.5 percent from geographic expansion, 4 percent by moving into production print, and 10 percent from managed print services while growing their core business a total of 6.8 percent. While those individual figures may seem modest to some, keep in mind that growth, especially the type of growth that Centric has been engaging in requires some serious capital investments. Clearly, President Rick Bastinelli understands what needs to be done to ensure his business’s future.

Customers enjoy doing business with Centric because they are reliable and provide the technology required to enhance their business processes and improve their bottom line. They also offer customers a strong value proposition. “As a $30+ million company, Centric has the resources and capacity to offer a full range of hardware, software, support and managed service solutions from trained and qualified professionals,” states Bastinelli. “Plus, we offer the advantages of a locally managed regional company that is responsive and committed to the local communities we serve.”

Indeed, customers like the great service that Centric provides because they offer a guaranteed four-hour response time and because each tech calls every customer within two hours to clear or confirm the call. Plus they use MWAi, GPS, MS Mapping, and PDF’s to manage their fleet of technicians for maximum efficiency. Centric also bonuses its tech’s on the BEI Services’ concept of total call effectiveness to minimize down time.

If necessary, a loaner is offered to any customer down for more than one day at no charge. Centric also provides customers with a single-source solution for all document output and state- of-the-art reporting capabilities that allow customers to streamline operations and cut cost. In addition, Centric’s CustomerFIRST philosophy ensures that every customer is supported after the sale when any issues arise.

An innovative marketing program and service offering is the Centric Help Desk located in their high-tech Call Center. “This program allows all customers to receive immediate service and support,” explains Bastinelli. “A Centric Help Desk technician can remotely access a customer’s network for real-time support sessions over the Web (via WebEX). It also enables us to view and remotely control a customer’s application in order to analyze and resolve issues.”

This latest service greatly reduces downtime for the customers.

“At Centric we have adopted a company culture based on commitment to customer satisfaction,” explains Bastinelli. “We named this our CustomerFIRST program and it consists of three major principles: responsiveness, communication and ownership. We have built incentive programs on our CustomerFIRST philosophy that include employee awards, monetary gifts and trips. These programs have been very successful because our employees are motivated by them and they benefit our customers with outstanding service.”

As Centric grows so has the need for more space and over the last year they’ve built a new 39,000-square foot corporate headquarters on six acres in Owings Mills, MD. “We’re proud that the building is Gold LEED certified and loaded with technology,” beams Bastinelli. “The building conveys a message that we, as an organization are concerned with the environment and able to provide green solutions to our clients.”

The building also reflects Centric’s commitment to serving their customers with responsiveness through technology, creating a healthy work environment for employees, and reflects their commitment to sustainability. Validating those efforts, the Baltimore Metro chapter of the Associated Builders & Contractors awarded the Centric building the 2012 Excellence Award in the New Project category.

Last year’s big win was a school system with 675 MFPs generating 156,000,000 documents per year. The transaction generated $3+ million in hardware revenue.

Centric has a number of interesting strategies in place to ensure long-term growth.
“Most companies are trying to do more with less,” says Bastinelli. “Our strategy is to do less with more. We understand the industry trends and realize that page counts are declining; therefore we will experience less future revenue per customer. To offset this shift we are focused on generating more customers. Our strategy is to acquire, expand with branches in new geographies, and expand into other product offerings such as production and wide format.”

Centric also plans to offset the declines in document production by increasing their revenues in software and support solutions while providing solutions to transition to digital workflow, manage and distribute documents via the cloud, mobile printing solutions and professional services. At the same time they are preparing to expand into managed network services.

“This exciting opportunity is a major project for 2013,” states Bastinelli. “We do not want to be the pioneers, but as the BTA channel experiences more success in this area we want to be positioned to move quickly and grow our business. We have already hired two network-certified engineers who are staffing our help desk and ready to take on this challenge and opportunity.”

Centric never fails to impress us year in and year out, and this year is no exception as we recognize them once again as an Elite Dealer. 

Thermocopy of Tennessee, Inc.

Knoxville, TN

Year Founded: 1964

Number of Employees: 63

Approximate Yearly Revenues: $10-$15 million

This Year’s Most Significant Accomplishment: Negotiating a third consecutive 5-year CPC contract with Covenant Health System, resulting in the installation of 600 pieces of equipment and a contract worth approximately $3 million.

Primary Hardware Vendors & Solutions & Services Offerings: Ricoh, Canon, Kyocera, Lexmark, M-Files, Ademeiro, Ricoh CHamps, Papercut, Equitrac, Nuance

Pictured are Mark DeNicola (left) and Steve Sumner (right) outside Thermocopy’s Knoxville location.

Any company enjoying an average annual increase of 250 percent for managed services and 180 percent for professional services must be doing something right. That’s what Thermocopy of Tennessee is doing.

Customers appreciate their integrated approach to office document management by looking at the “who, what, when, where, and how” of document production, and providing better, faster, easier and more economical solutions. Indeed, Thermocopy distinguishes itself in the region by offering software solutions (through Centriworks, a division of Thermocopy) that maximize the use of office technology while increasing productivity and ease of use. And might we add that clients continue to rely on Thermocopy because of their ability to deliver consistent superior service and support.

“This is due in part to our training programs and employee tenure (Service – 9+ years, sales – 7+ years),” states S.R. Summer, president.

Not only do customers recognize the dealership for their outstanding sales and service, so do their manufacturers. Thermocopy is recognized by their community as one of the premier companies in the area with a long tradition of giving back to the community, not only through cash donations but through thousands of volunteer hours. Plus Thermocopy is recognized by the East Tennessee business community as one of the best companies to work for.

We’re impressed by external programs such as Thermocopy University, a formal program available at no charge to customers and consisting of instructor-lead workshops and seminars. “This program provides training that a customer would traditionally not receive as part of an initial key operator session,” explains Summer.

Thermocopy’s “Productivity Possibilities” seminars are instructor-lead and are open to the general business community. The seminars focus on new technology available to the business community and educate those who want to learn about technical advances that help increase productivity in their organization. The technology discussed is non-specific to Thermocopy products. Internal programs include the prerequisite training on the equipment and programs that the dealership provides to their service technicians and sales professionals through their in-house trainer and sales managers.

“We also provide the time, materials, and training for our employees to obtain the certifications we feel necessary for them to do their jobs correctly,” adds Summer. “Obtaining the certifications demonstrates their ability and the company’s ability to support clients in the most efficient, competent, and professional manner.”

Also impressive is the MPS component that’s been added to Thermocopy’s Printworks+ program. This has resulted in the addition of over 1,500 pieces of equipment, 2.5mm prints per month, and an average in 2011 of $33,000 per month in additional revenue.

The dealership is also adept at providing a software component to their equipment sales that integrates with the panel of the MFPs they sell. This software converts documents as they are scanned to the user’s choice of editable PDF’s and Word documents, Excel spreadsheets and fillable-form PDF’s.

“The differentiator is the conversion occurs as the documents are being scanned,” says Summer. “This is proprietary to the equipment that we sell. This software, with its capability to convert documents as scanned can be a real differentiator if required as part of an RFP. It also will create an additional hurdle for our competitors to overcome when the lease is upgraded.”

There are always challenges to overcome in business and Thermocopy’s is one that many dealers’ face—reconciling the traditional hardware 30-, 60-, 90-day sales cycle with the longer sales cycle associated with the consultative sale. Thermocopy has initiated numerous steps to overcome this challenge, including implementing monetary and award incentives for account executives that provide an additional bonus program that awards overachieving sales goals over quarters instead of months; linking MPS and software integration unit (not dollar) sales to “President’s Club” achievement criteria; managing earlier lease upgrades (the sweet spot seems to be 8 months to a year out); providing education to their account executives so they fully understand the program and its benefits to the client, to the account executive and the company and so they understand to whom they need to be presenting the program; requiring mock presentations to be conducted on a regular basis to sales management with checklist requirements and presentation skill grading; managing pro-actively thru sales manager assists and follow-ups.

One of Thermocopy’s commitments to the community and an element of their mission statement is to be an environmentally responsible business partner. “The hurdles for fulfilling that commitment were much lower in 1995 when the mission statement was developed, so we embarked on both internal and external programs to fulfill our responsibilities per today’s standards,” reports Summer.

The internal program is named and branded “Thermocopy Greenworks”. First implemented on January 1, 2008, the program tracks Thermcopy’s efforts on a Website This site is available to employees and clients to let them see the progress of the program and how the company is affecting the environment in a more positive way. Tips and links explain how to dispose and where to dispose of toner bottles, cartridges, etc. They also have their award-winning Printworks program that includes an environmental assessment of the client’s printing practices and a program to help them “Go Green and Save Green” with best environmental set-up practices like duplex features on all installed equipment, default duplex printing, and toner centric printers.

As the result of the difficulty in trying to find resources to help their internal green efforts they’ve developed a resource to assist east Tennessee businesses in their own green efforts—the Website Thermocopy has forged a partnership with the largest media outlets in Tennessee to publicize the site. Partners include Lamar Advertising (outdoor), Citadel Broadcasting (radio), and the Knoxville News-Sentinel (daily paper and monthly Business Journal). They also created, developed and co-sponsored a contest by the Knoxville Business Journal titled “Business in the Green”. This effort has awarded over a $30,000 in prizes to be used by businesses to help further their internal sustainability efforts.

Whether it’s environmental initiatives, growing their services business, or just plain being one of the best places to work in their market, Thermocopy exemplifies all the key qualities of an Elite Dealer and we congratulate them on achieving that distinction once again.

Woodhull, LLC

Springboro, OH

Year Founded: 2000

Number of Employees: 55

Approximate Yearly Revenues: $10 million

This Year’s Most Significant Accomplishment: Inaugural winner of The Renaissance Award by Ricoh.

Primary Hardware Vendors and Solutions & Services Offerings: Ricoh, MPS, @Remote, SmartSearch, DiGiDoc

As is often the case with our Elite Dealer honorees, they’re also highly regarded by their manufacturers. That’s certainly the case with Woodhull, LLC, the first-ever winner of Ricoh’s

Renaissance Award presented to the dealer who “embodies sales professionalism and acumen, service excellence, customer service superiority, a cutting edge business model and a strong dedicated partnership with Ricoh.” We’ve been familiar with Woodhull for years and as a perennial Elite Dealer, we wholeheartedly agree with Ricoh on this one.

While that was a significant accomplishment so was adding 900-square feet of warehouse space to accommodate increased inventory. Looks like somebody is growing! So is Woodhull’s MPS and solutions revenue, which has risen by more than 200 percent over the past three years.

This year’s big win was placing over 300 MFPs, representing more than $1-million dollars in hardware with the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital and Medical Center.

Woodhull continues to recognize that customers want to do business with a company they can trust. Letters and e-mails from customers validate that what they’re doing from a service perspective is best in class, noting how they appreciate the professionalism that comes across from Woodhull’s sales representatives, service techs, warehouse/delivery, and customer care associates alike.

“We make sure that all our employees are well-trained and knowledgeable about all parts of our company so that our customers feel confident in doing business with Woodhull,” reports President Susan Woodhull.

It’s been a busy 18 months at Woodhull as they continued to build their service fleet by adding more vehicles in 2011, once again wrapping them with their newly designed marketing message for greater visibility. Meanwhile, they’re building their service department by training all technicians to be fluent in connectivity. As a result customers receive seamless installation and ongoing training for their new MFPs. And with all sales reps equipped with iPads, they now have instant availability to sales and marketing materials, displaying to customers that Woodhull has a keen awareness and understanding of their document solution needs.

We love too the way Woodhull supports their community, especially how they’ve designated a “Non-Profit of the Year” and have asked all employees to make a difference by volunteering or participating in that non-profit in some small way throughout the year. Woodhull also sponsors the Muse Machine annual production and the annual CET/Think TV (PBS) auction.

Looking towards the future Woodhull is employing strategies to ensure their long-term growth and profitability.  For one they’re upgrading their business software for better efficiency and cutting-edge customer service. “Woodhull is continually tweaking our services-lead business model which includes MPS and Solutions selling,” says Susan.

In order to better assist with this task, Woodhull has engaged Photizo Group to perform the POWRR Assessment and MPS Provider Certification. The assessment and certification process consists of four phases and upon securing a passing score, a sample of the provider’s customer base is surveyed to determine if they would be willing to recommend Woodhull in five key areas. It’s not easy putting one’s business on the line, but this is just another example of the extra mile Woodhull is willing to go to ensure they will continue to be relevant in a rapidly changing industry and why they continue to improve with age.

Sandhills Office Systems

Rockingham, NC

Year Founded: 1987

Number of Employees: 28

Approximate Yearly Revenues: $4-$5 million

This Year’s Significant Accomplishment: A record-breaking year in sales last year while growing at nearly 30 percent over 2011.

Primary Hardware Vendors and Solutions & Services Offerings: Kyocera, Sharp, MPS, Document Storage

It’s the personal touch that customers love about Sandhills Office Systems and the reason they continue to come back for more. “We take the time to listen instead of talk,” says Laverne Schultz, president. “SOS built our business on integrity and trying to take care of our customers as if they are family. We strive to get a customer to do business with us and keep them as part of our family for life.”

It seems to be working and while SOS has plenty of SMB customers, they’re finding some of the biggest growth of late is coming from medical, educational and government markets. It turns out that one of the dealership’s biggest wins this year was the local branch of a large national hospital.

“Once our solution was in place we have been involved with the company on a regional basis covering parts of North and South Carolina because they liked what we did for the local hospital here,” notes Schultz. “We have placed several units in other facilities and clinics because of the job we did locally.”

It’s the simple things that often count and Schultz notes that SOS has gone back to the basics of saying “thank you” to their customers. “That is two words you can never say too many times,” she says. “Our representatives call or e-mail the customers they have seen that day on the same day to let them know how much we appreciate their time and business.”

Schultz feels lucky that the company has been able to grow during difficult economic times.

One of the biggest challenges the dealership faces from that growth is ensuring that this is controlled growth and making sure SOS has people and programs in place for the future.

Indeed, SOS enjoyed a record-breaking sales year last year. “I have friends in the business that tell me things are slow while we are continuing with our growth pattern and are actually up in 2012 almost 30 percent over 2011,” reports Schultz.

SOS remains involved in the communities they live and work in. Some employees serve on the local Chamber of Commerce boards and the company is active in local United Way campaigns. SOS is also a supporter of the Boy Scouts of America, serving on the local district as well as the council executive board. SOS also sponsors many local charity events annually to help with special needs children and other great causes.

Focusing on the future, SOS is preparing for a changing marketplace by becoming more educated on the ways to partner with other businesses that can bring added value to their customers. “We understand the days of selling a box have pretty much passed us by,” acknowledges Schultz. “The customer is now more educated on what they want in their offices as the Internet has changed the way people buy. It is up to us to build on the knowledge the customer has and make sure they truly understand things. We are more consultants than ever before.”

Not only are they consultants, they’re an Elite Dealer as well.

Word Processing Services, Inc.

Hagerstown, MD

Year Founded: 1973

Number of Employees: 61

Approximate Yearly Revenues: $11 Million

This Year’s Most Significant Accomplishment: The sales team embracing the company’s total product offering.

Primary Hardware Vendors Represented and Solutions and Services Offerings: Savin, Konica Minolta, Muratec, Fujitsu, KIP, HP, MPS, Managed Network Services (N-Able), DocuWare, Adamero, Business Process Optimization, VoIP, Hosted Exchange, Network/IT Support.

With a name like “Word Processing Services” one might not think that this dealership is a managed print services powerhouse. But they are. In 2010 they were named MPS Vendor of the Year by the Managed Print Services Association. Now they’re moving into managed network services thanks to N-Able software, and also do a super job providing customers with document management. Add to that VoIP, hosted exchange, and network/IT support and what you have here is no ordinary office technology dealer.

Growth in some of these segments has been astronomical. For example, WPS’s Network/IT business has increased by more than 1,000 percent in the past three years and 300 percent in the past 12 months. And while they may sound disappointed that their traditional office equipment revenue has increased by only 16 percent over the last three years, that’s a figure that most dealers would die for. The recent addition of VoIP and document management has also impacted the business, growing to $250,000 in new revenues this fiscal year.

Quality service and support has always been the foundation of WPS as in most good dealerships.

“In addition to our service, our customers enjoy the flexibility and willingness that we provide to meet their specific requirements,” says Joe Dellaposta, vice president of operations. “Nothing in our business is cookie-cutter, we constantly make changes and provide special services to our clients daily.”

We like that management empowers employees (who have an average tenure of more than a decade) to make decisions to expedite customer issue resolution. “In the event that a customer needs to speak to an owner, they enjoy the ability to talk directly with myself or one of my sisters at any time,” says Dellaposta. “All of these factors, combined with the breadth of technological services/solutions that we are able to provide, allow us to build strong and deep customer relationships.”

What’s also impressive about Word Processing Services is that they employ two business process analysts who work with customers and support the sales team in helping to identify broken processes and help customers improve efficiencies and save lost revenues. “Our philosophy is that if you throw a bunch of technology on top of a broken process you simply end up with a more expensive broken process,” opines Dellaposta.

By combining network services with their proposals, WPS avoids many of the tech issues that they normally encounter while also generating new revenue streams. In addition, customers continually buy more services/products that they use to get from other vendors (data backup, hosted solutions, computer hardware, telephony, Web design, etc.).

The biggest challenge the dealership faced during the past year was developing a competent and solid network services offering and getting their sales team to understand it. “We created our own Network Operating Center with help desk, 24/7 support and more,” explains Dellaposta. “This was not only expensive, but it was challenging in regard to hiring the right people, pricing the different service levels, and getting our sales people to believe in the services and promote them.”

It seems to be working and their sales team has embraced the total product offering. As a result, they are seeing some customers purchase things on a routine basis as opposed to simply upgrading office equipment once every 3-5 years. “Even our most tenured sales person, who is only several years from retirement, has closed deals this year that included document management, network services, computer hardware, and even a VoIP telephone system,” reports Dellaposta. “Most importantly, our traditional office equipment products have not suffered as a result of these extra products. The majority of our sales people are selling more hardware this year than they did last year in addition to these other products.”

Another asset you’ll find at WPS is an Account Review/Product Specialist team that is responsible for performing ongoing account reviews, ongoing training, and tele-prospecting for new clients. This team works hand-in-hand with the dealership’s outside sales people so that no current customers will be neglected as the outside rep is chasing down deals.

“We have found that an additional set of eyes on an account can uncover new potential opportunities,” states Dellaposta. “This is where a lot of our solution sales have originated. In addition, it protects us because our customers develop relationships with more than one representative. In the rare event that a representative leaves, we as a company don’t risk losing that relationship with the customer and aren’t forced to try and rebuild it with a new rep.”

The biggest win of the past year was upgrading a healthcare system, the dealership’s first real MPS deal from 4.5 years ago. The customer used a pre-bid contract that enabled them to upgrade with WPS six months early without having to go to bid. The new 5-year contract includes 387 units worth more than $1.1-million in hardware revenue with the total MPS program generating more than 5.5-million pages per year.

Not content to rest on their laurels, WPS continues to employ strategies that will allow them to remain a viable force far into the future. “We have always believed in doing one thing—working very hard at doing it better than anyone else,” states Dellaposta. “We have never been a furniture or office supply dealership. Over the last two decades we have willingly been forced to become a technology provider as opposed to a copier dealership. While today we sell many products and provide many services, we still believe that we must dedicate ourselves to business technology and focus on that one role which will enable us to be a very good service provider which in turn will make us a valuable business partner to our clients.”

Zoom Imaging Solutions, Inc.

Roseville, CA

Year Founded: 1987

Number of Employees: 130

Approximate Yearly Revenues: $25+ million

This Year’s Significant Accomplishment: Increasing revenue by 7 percent to exceed $25 million.

Primary Hardware Vendors and Solutions & Services Offerings: Toshiba, KIP, Lexmark, Fujitsu, Drivve, Preo, PaperCut, docSTAR, eCopy, Re-Rite, INTACT, Adobe LeanPrint, LMI

Zoom headquarters in Roseville, CA

Customer retention is always a priority with any dealership, but adding net new customers is the icing on the cake and for Zoom during the past year there was a lot of icing. Indeed, more than 60 percent of all unit sales for Zoom were net new meters last year. That shouldn’t be a surprise coming from one of Toshiba’s best dealers.

Customers have always appreciated doing business with Zoom because they are a responsive organization that gets to know them as well as Zoom knows the technology they sell. “We will always try to go that extra mile in order to make sure our customers are completely satisfied,” says Gary Johnson, Zoom’s president. “We also provide the personal service of a small mom and pop operation, but have the same resources available as a large national corporation.”

What’s impressive about Zoom is that their customers are more likely to recommend them to their peers than are the customers of Apple, Costco or Trader Joe’s because of their overall NPS score. Zoom’s total monthly NPS Score average from March 2011 – April 2012 is 86.7. 2. That’s significant and worth bragging about in our estimation.

Zoom is doing a nice job as well leveraging new solutions such as Adobe’s LeanPrint in collaboration with Toshiba. LeanPrint is a desktop print optimization software that reduces paper and toner consumption by optimizing the page layout.

Zoom has proven itself adept at meeting some of the toughest challenges and nowhere is that better illustrated in how they’ve met the challenge of the leasing companies declining more customers. They’ve done that by handling more rentals than they’ve done in the past. It may not be the way they prefer to do it, but it’s certainly helped them retain customers and win new business.

Zoom is a model corporate citizen and actively participates with the Arden Arcade Rotary Club and Foundation. In March of 2012 they assisted in raising almost $60,000 to benefit both the Arden Arcade Foundation, which supports various charities in the Sacramento area, including the Children’s Receiving Home, and the Sheriff’s Community Impact Program (SCIP) through their annual Texas Hold’em Poker Tournament. Zoom’s Fresno office assisted with the Manco Abbott “We CAN Help” Food Drive in February 2012. The goal was to collect 20,000 pounds of canned good. Zoom’s own Gene Murphy and wife Kimberly participated in the “Can-structures” creation and assisted with collecting donations.

In addition Zoom is an active advertiser and donator to various local athletic programs and current customers when they ask for assistance, whether it be a “Tee Sponsor” for a Golf Tournament or special signage at a high school soccer game.

We also like the way Johnson and company are positioning Zoom for future growth and profitability by expanding marketing efforts via the Web and social media while continuing to focus on net new meters and new business.

All of these characteristics are hallmarks of an Elite Dealer.

Integrated Office Technology (IOTEC)

Santa Fe Springs, CA

Year Founded: 1991

Number of Employees: 65

Approximate Yearly Revenues: $15-$20 million

This Year’s Significant Accomplishment: Moving into the Segment 5-6 arena with Konica Minolta.

Primary Hardware Vendors and Solutions & Services Offerings: Toshiba, Konica Minolta, HP, Doc Records Re-Rite, Drivve

Meet an office technology dealership that’s enjoying some solid growth thanks largely to Konica Minolta technology, which is growing at a 15 percent clip and their PrintWorks managed print services program, also growing at a 15 percent pace.

IOTEC has a 20+ year history of helping customers succeed by understanding their document management needs and then delivering to them the systems and services that increase efficiency while reducing cost and improving document workflow. The dealership’s straightforward and honest approach to marketing copiers has earned them national awards for copier service, support, and customer retention. Indeed, customers appreciate the personal service and IOTEC’s expertise in helping them change their work environment for the better.

In addition to being honored as an Elite Dealer by The Week in Imaging, IOTEC has won multiple Pro Masters Service Awards from Toshiba and in 2008 was the Business Technology Association Dealer of the Year. Clearly, they’re doing something right and well.

IOTEC now uses FMAudit for automated meter reads, Website ordering, and placing of service calls. They also do a nice job touching customers and prospects with open houses. However, the biggest challenge of late was moving into the Segment 5 & 6 marketplace. To do this, IOTEC hired a dedicated team to focus on these segments while also setting up a telemarketing division to handle lease returns.

Meanwhile business continues on an upward path with numerous large take-down deals between $250,000 and $500,000.

We also appreciate, as do the communities they serve, the way IOTEC gives back. They donate to various catholic schools in their market and raise money for cystic fibrosis and Big Brothers.

With an eye to the future IOTEC is focused on long-term growth and profitability, working with customers to meet their needs and remaining flexible while providing an ever-expanding line of products, solutions, and services.

The bottom line here is IOTEC is a traditional dealer that is making all the right moves, and that’s why we honor them as a 2012 Elite Dealer.

RJ Young

Nashville, TN

Year Founded: 1955

Number of Employees: 400

Approximate Yearly Revenues: Annual Revenue – 2011 = $78,000,000; Past three year average has been $70,903,600

This Year’s Significant Accomplishment: Achieving record company total revenue with double- digit growth and double-digit NOI.

Primary Hardware Vendors and Solutions & Services Offerings: Canon, Ricoh, Lexmark, HP, Oce’, Muratec, Riso, Contex, Intec, document management, workflow, MPS, and facilities management of copy centers.

RJ Young’s Chip Crunk

When it comes to perennial Elite Dealers you’re likely to find RJ Young at the head of our class. One of the larger dealers in the industry, the numbers above validate just how successful they’ve been. Need more proof? How about doubling total revenue from MPS from $2.8 million to $5.8 million in 2011? Want more?  Printer equipment revenue alone grew from $815,278 to $1,952,703 and production and business color grew at 8 percent during the same time frame with a total revenue value of $23,046,542, including equipment, service, and supplies.

But there’s more, in 2011 professional services revenue grew to $2.1 million for a 113 percent increase year over year. “For the three year period we have seen growth in MPS at 241 percent, color at 36 percent, and professional services at 100 percent,” reports Chip Crunk, owner. “Today, these three areas represent $30.8 million in revenues and 40 percent of our total revenue.”

Customers like doing business with RJ Young because they are a dealership that is large enough to leverage their size with their manufacturers and suppliers to support customers at a high level for a total solution approach while at the same time taking the personalized approach to the customers. “We really get to know our customers and truly customize our solutions with hardware and software to their particular needs,” notes Crunk. “We refrain from taking the ‘cookie cutter’ approach and therefore show tremendous flexibility and creativity with our approach to the customer.”

In 2011 the focus was on positioning RJ Young as a technology solutions provider. “Our strategy is to inform, educate, and engage business leaders about the technology available,” says Crunk.

Effective tactics for doing this were an advertising program based on workflow and a lunch and learn series that boasted 377 attendees and culminated n $1-million in sales. Both of these programs have been successful and the dealership continues to build on them this year. Another effective marketing program was the Workflow Campaign, which increased Website visits and searches.

It’s not surprising that RJ Young has successfully moved away from the ‘box selling’ mentality of the past to an internal focus on being a true solutions provider. That focus can be seen throughout the entire company and its culture. One of the critical areas for development was a successful model for RJ Young’s MPS program and its related strategies and personnel.

For a company that’s used to big wins, perhaps the biggest of the past year was Proplex in Chattanooga, TN—a $444,500 deal. “This was a very comprehensive sale that involved both hardware and software with multiple locations,” states Crunk. “The sales has been recognized by Canon and written up in a white paper and we continue to use it in our lunch and learns as an example of collaboration between the manufacturer (Canon) and our dealership to present a comprehensive solution to the customer.”

A solid corporate citizen, RJ Young supports Habitat for Humanity, Make a Wish Foundation, American Heart Association, and also sponsors the annual Pumpkin Run at St. Lukes Community House.

With such a long history of success, it’s no surprise that RJ Young continues to develop strategies that have them well positioned for future success.

“We are always looking at what is the next thing for the industry and our customers,” states Crunk. “We’re also constantly looking at how to take cost out of the business without sacrificing the high quality in deliverables. There are a lot of changes taking place in the industry as it morphs into more of a service industry and less dependent on equipment.”

Whichever way the industry morphs, you can bet that this Elite Dealer will be morphing right along with it.

Stargel Office Solutions

Houston, Texas

Year Founded: 1987

Number of Employees: 90

Approximate Yearly Revenues: $20-$25 million

This Year’s Significant Accomplishments: Launching the Star Managed Services Division in January of 2011 and incorporating and launching an MNS offering in this division in late 2011, early 2012.

Primary Hardware Vendors and Solutions & Services Offerings: Toshiba, Lexmark, HP, Oce’, Kip, MBM, Docuware, Drivve, ReRite, eCopy

Somebody’s growing and that somebody is Stargel Office Solutions who have seen their managed print services business grow by 35 percent over the last three years while managed network services has grown by a whopping 100 percent, and professional services by 30 percent.

After celebrating 25 years in business, Stargel’s customers continue to count on them because of their knowledge, integrity, and sterling reputation. “We offer flexible programs to meet our customer’s needs and always strive for an outstanding ‘experience’ when they interact with any of our departments,” says Jack Stargel, president.

What Stargel offers is what every good dealership should—sales reps that show integrity and knowledge, knowledgeable and polite service techs, and customer service and accounting employees that work diligently to help customers with any outstanding questions or concerns.

What impresses us about Stargel is the way they are constantly trying to find ways to elevate their service to the next level. “We provide a 90-minute response time for our “Customer for Life” program that pays our customers for every minute we are late up to 100 percent of their bill for that month,” reports Stargel.

Asked about the biggest challenge the dealership has faced of late, Stargel replies, “Our biggest challenge was how to penetrate our own customer base with new and innovative offerings. We struggled with training our core reps with how to present and close our MPS and MNS offerings.”

To meet that challenge Stargel launched a new division with its own P&L and employees. “Our Star Managed Services department incorporates our MPS, MNS, Software and Professional Services and is on track to bill close to $3 million dollars in 2012,” boasts Stargel.

That’s what we call meeting a challenge!

It’s been a good year overall for Stargel and contributing to that positive outlook is a big deal from earlier this year when the dealership landed an International company. By July 1 they’d already billed them for $1.9 million in hardware yet have only implemented about 40 percent of the company’s entire fleet.

A valued member of the community Stargel consistently donates equipment and services to Salvation Army and Boys Scouts of America and donates money and sponsors events with Texas Children’s Hospital in excess of $35,000 a year. In addition Stargel’s sales department volunteers time during the holidays to work with a local charity to pass out gifts to underprivileged children and families. Plus Stargel’s accounting department collects over $2,000 a year in new toys for the Marines’ Toys for Tots program.

If you know Jack Stargel you know he’s looking towards the future and reports the company continues to invest in training and infrastructure to make sure the dealership can successfully compete against both traditional hardware dealers and VAR’s trying to compete in the office technology space. Investments in the Star Managed Services division and a new partnership to help promote a Managed Services approach to our sales also position Stargel for future success.

But here in the present Stargel is once again deserving of Elite Dealer status.

Copiers Northwest

Seattle, WA

Year Founded: 1986

Number of Employees: 210

Approximate Yearly Revenues: $42-million

This Year’s Significant Accomplishment: The recent launch of BluZEBRA Technologies, a new division focusing on managed network services, cloud computing, hosted exchange, business process optimization and other non-hardware related services.

Primary Hardware Vendors and Solutions & Services Offerings: Canon, Sharp, HP, Lexmark, Kip, Océ, Xante, PrintSmart, Managed Print Services, Managed Network Services, Cloud Computing, Hosted Exchange, Nuance, Kofax, Sagemcom, LaserFiche, Captaris

Mark and Gregg Petrie, co-owners of Copiers Northwest

Here’s a fairly big dealer who is enjoying growth from managed print services and managed network services.

Clients appreciate that while the name is ‘Copiers Northwest,’ they can offer them so much more than just copiers. “We can be a one-stop shop for their business needs ranging from hardware and software to outsourced IT and business process optimization,” says Mark Petrie, co-owner. “We address changing business needs such as mobile printing and help them define their technology road map. They don’t pigeon hole us to a product or a brand and we don’t have to force their needs to fit our offerings.”

As a PROs Elite 100 dealership, Copiers Northwest has the unique opportunity to engage an industry defining third party to validate their service standards to their clients. “When engaged in an opportunity, the client contacts PROs Elite who will confirm the validity of our ‘our service is the best’ claim and educates the client on what it takes to become and remain one of the Elite 100,” notes Gregg Petrie, co-owner. “They also offer the client the ability to contact them any time to lobby on their behalf if the client feels we are not living up to the PROs Elite standard.”

While many dealerships were affected last year by the tsunami in Japan, Copiers Northwest experienced less of an impact. “It had all the ingredients to potentially cripple an organization with so many pieces and parts being manufactured over there,” recalls Mark. “Fortunately for us we have been diversifying our offerings in order to be true consultants. While we normally prefer to keep inventory levels lower, we placed orders early on from manufacturers who didn’t have plants and factories in the affected areas so that we were able to deliver offerings that weren’t backordered indefinitely. Being able to have product in stock was a big advantage to our clients.”

What’s also impressed us about Copiers Northwest was the launch of BluZEBRA Technologies, a new division focused on managed network services, cloud computing, hosted exchange, business process optimization and other non-hardware related services. “As business needs evolve, so must our offerings and expertise,” states Gregg. “We’ve transitioned into the HaaS and SaaS mode of thinking to the benefit of our clients.”

Sometimes the biggest wins are the most unexpected and Copiers Northwest had one of those lately. “Walking into what our rep thought was going to be a single machine placement became a much larger conversation when the rep began to ask all the right questions of a larger architecture firm,” explains Mark. “As she revealed pain points and offered solutions, she was able to guide them through an exercise where identifying issues and applying software could ease interdepartmental frustration and ease labor costs due to those frustrations, maximizing employee efficiencies. The company was so impressed and grateful, they continued the conversation to include outsourcing IT and hardware at all locations.”

On the charitable front one can’t help but laude Copiers Northwest for their support of the Northwest Kidney Foundation. “With one owner as the proud recipient of the other owner’s wife’s kidney, Copiers Northwest is proud to support Northwest Kidney Foundation and recently attended their annual breakfast, complete with photos taken with Sidney the Kidney,” beams Gregg. “It was an inspirational morning and one we are proud to sponsor every year.”

The dealership is also heavily involved with Evergreen Hospital and Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, two well-respected and highly innovative locally based organizations.

As a dealership that’s been a model of success within the office technology dealer community they couldn’t be where they are today without thinking about the next steps essential to growth and profitability. “A lot of work that begin a couple years ago is coming to fruition today with the resources being committed to a strong infrastructure, a culture of entrepreneurship among our employees, the diversification of our product offerings, and the creation of our BluZEBRA Technologies division,” states Mark. “Not content to remain complacent in a changing market, we are confident we started the strong march to remaining relevant in not only today’s, but tomorrow’s business world as well.”

We agree and congratulate Copiers Northwest on their selection as a 2012 Elite Dealer.

Stratix Systems

Wyomissing, PA

Year Founded: 1970

Number of Employees: 75

Approximate Yearly Revenues: $10-15 Million

This Year’s Significant Accomplishment: Enhancing its IT & Network Services expertise and offerings

Primary Hardware Vendors & Solutions & Services Offerings: IT & Managed Network Services (Microsoft, Dell, Kaseya, Datto, Cisco, WatchGuard and Symantec); ECM (Microsoft [SharePoint], PlanetPress, NSi AutoStore, Colligo, KnowledgeLake, Fujitsu); Print/Imaging (Ricoh, Riso, Samsung, PrintFleet, Equitrac)

Brent Simone, president of Stratix

What can you say about an office technology dealership that offers more than just traditional office technology? When you look at Stratix’s solutions and services offerings, including its branded managed print program, Stratix Proactive MPS, what you see is a dealership riding well ahead of the curve.

Although the printing/imaging side of the business remains the company’s bread and butter, Stratix Systems has aggressively expanded and developed its capabilities in IT and managed network services as well as electronic content management. As a result, these are the two areas have grown the fastest for Stratix Systems over the past three years.

“Service excellence has always been Stratix Systems’ hallmark, however, top-notch service would mean nothing without being able to deliver the best of both worlds—a single-source vendor with the presence and responsiveness of a local company, backed by the strength and resources of the world’s foremost technology leaders,” says Brent Simone, president. “All of which speaks to Stratix Systems’ founding principles—client service, technical excellence, and innovation.”

Stratix Systems’ IT and MNS, ECM and print/imaging solutions—while independent and distinct are complimentary and cohesive as well—and have ushered in the next step of its evolution, progressing from “strategic document solutions” to the more apt “strategic technology solutions.”

In the spirit of the company’s three core ideals—client service, technical excellence and innovation—Stratix will continue to focus on and invest in its people, best practices and technology in order to create and deliver scalable, cost-effective solutions that work. Also, having recognized the uniqueness of certain markets, Stratix is focusing on sales efforts and marketing strategies on the verticalization of its technology solutions for AEC, education, financial, healthcare, legal, local government entities, manufacturing, poly-subs, and NPOs.

Stratix is adept at recognizing and meeting challenges as illustrated by the realization that it needed to change the culture of a core sales team that was used to traditional hardware sales. The company’s new approach involves understanding business processes and how things work behind the scenes, and not just selling a 45-ppm machine. According to Simone, much of this was overcome by extensive product and service training and professional development along with creating tools and providing resources that make it easier for the sales representatives to sell.

Another challenge met was changing the mindset of its client base—getting them to overcome the notion that there’s more to the company than just copiers, especially as Stratix Systems has evolved into a true business technology and managed services provider. Much of this was overcome by careful and strategic marketing initiatives as mentioned earlier.

Looking back at Stratix Systems’ major accomplishment of moving into IT and MNS—key products and services required to assess, create, integrate, support and managed clients’ information technology environments, the company bolstered its staff in these areas. On staff now are three full-time network/systems engineers with various IT certifications that include Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer (MCSE), Microsoft Certified Professional (MCP), Microsoft Certified Technical Specialist (MCTS), WatchGuard Certified Systems Professional, and CompTIA A+ Certified. Additionally, the company works with a supplemental certified IT consultant for a handful of clients who have highly-specialized solutions in place.

Stratix also expanded its IT Services partner portfolio to include Microsoft, Dell, Cisco, avast!, Datto, Kaseya, Symantec, and WatchGuard. In addition, Stratix’ IT Services team assists clients on a per project basis, augmenting their existing IT staff or as their full-time IT vendor.

As they plan for the future expect Stratix to further differentiate itself by pursuing further industry-leading certifications—on both an individual- and company-level, refreshing product and service offerings for more up-to-date technologies and client value, developing solutions based on emerging technologies such as cloud computing and storage services, expanding IT and ECM teams, resources and capabilities, and remaining steadfast in the ideals and methods that have achieved a 96 percent client retention rate. Add to that a dash of organic growth while developing its existing client base and considering strategic acquisition opportunities in key markets.

That’s why we celebrate Stratix’s selection as an Elite Dealer.


Middletown, CT

Year Founded: 1992

Number of Employees: 160

Approximate Yearly Revenues: $30+ Million

This Year’s Significant Accomplishment: Expanding the scope of the organization’s MPS offerings to include several new software solutions that will allow clients to gain even greater efficiencies, allowing Flo-Tech to provide greater value and gain tremendous insights into their business needs and support their strategic initiatives.

Primary Hardware Vendors and Solutions & Services Offerings: Canon, HP, Xerox, Lexmark, Dell; MPS, Document Management, Document Capture and Routing, Rules-Based Printing, Mobile Printing

Flo-Tech CEO Leo Bonetti

What don’t we love about Flo-Tech? This is a dealership with a long history of innovation, success, and the foresight to seek out new opportunities to grow the business. Just take a look at what’s happening with their contracted MPS business. Flo-Tech currently has close to 30,000 devices under contract and now manages 1.5 billion pages. “Contributing to that is the significant growth we have seen in our MFP/copier placements,” adds CEO Leo Bonetti.

In the past three years Flo-Tech has been recognized by Canon as one of their top 30 independent dealers based on year-to-year revenue growth (234% in 2010) and received Canon’s Outstanding Partner Award for outstanding revenue growth in 2011. This year continues in that direction with significant growth projected in both revenue and placements. On the printer side, Flo-Tech continues to be recognized as one of HP’s Elite partners, and this year was recognized as an HP Managed Print Advanced Specialist, one of only about 70 nationwide.

“This program has become more selective then their previous Elite program,” reports Bonetti. “HP defines partners that have earned the HP Managed Print Advanced Specialist designation as partners who “possess expertise in providing simple to complex managed print services solutions, as well as print-related software solutions, have extensive industry experience and qualifications that have been validated by HP.”

Great service is one of many reasons clients like doing business with Flo-Tech, including their ability to provide nationwide service and support. Add to that 4-6 hour average response time and a 95 percent first-time fix rate and it’s easy to see why. This success can be attributed to various factors, including extensive technician training and certifications (In 2011 alone technicians went through 2000+ hours of training ), technician experience with an average technician tenure of 14 years, an automated parts inventory management system and dedicated parts inventory analysts, and FieldConnect, which enables real-time communication with technicians in the field.

We are also impressed by Flo-Tech’s integrated platform (Alert Management Software, Flo-Tech Connect, Service nHand), which provides extensive information on each service event before technician arrives on-site.

Another thing we like about Flo-Tech is their in-bound lead-generation program that includes additional investments in Search Engine Optimization (SEO), social media, content development, and lead nurturing. “The goal of this program is to drive more qualified traffic to our Website and convert that traffic by delivering relevant, high-value content at all stages of the sales funnel – awareness, education, evaluation, and decision making,” notes Bonetti. “It will also provide us a vehicle for a more structured ‘stay in touch program’ for those prospects that may be an opportunity further down the road.”

As part of that initiative Flo-Tech recently launched a new blog. Several employees throughout the company are contributors. Guest bloggers, including clients will also provide content. “With this initiative we have also undertaken several video projects and will soon have our own YouTube channel featuring one-on-one interviews with Flo-Tech department heads and myself,” says Bonnetti. “Topics range from why a customer would implement MPS, to issues and trends our client CIO’s are talking about, to Flo-Tech’s vision and direction. We also have several video projects that are tied in with direct prospecting campaigns.”

Another success are dimensional campaigns that have helped generate significant new business over the past several years. These campaigns continue to generate 100 percent open rates and get Flo-Tech reps in front of C-level decision makers.

The challenge across the industry, as well as for Flo-Tech continues be declining page volumes. To make up for those declining pages Flo-Tech has continued to focus on growing the value they provide clients, allowing the dealership to grow wallet share and capture copier pages in existing accounts along with new printer placements, especially color devices. While overall pages are declining, color pages are continuing to trend up. As a result of this focus, Flo-Tech closed several large copier and printer deals in 2011 adding both net new pages and unit placements.

This year Flo-Tech expanded the scope of its MPS offerings to include several new software solutions that will allow clients to gain even great efficiencies and allow Flo-Tech to provide greater value and gain insights into their business needs and help support their strategic initiatives. These solutions include document management, document capture and routing, and rules-based printing as another way to help clients reduce costs and use their devices more efficiently as well as a solution for mobile printing. “With the explosion in use of smartphones and tablet devices, mobile printing has become a higher priority item for many businesses and should be included as part of an overall print strategy and mobile device deployment,” states Bonetti. “These software bundles include the software, implementation and planning services, installation and training and on-going software support.”

While Flo-Tech has been working with some of these solutions and other third-party software solution providers, focusing on these selected core offerings will enable them to develop expertise in these key areas that they think will bring the most the value to clients. “From our SMB clients to our large/enterprise major accounts, these solutions are all scalable to meet their varying needs,” notes Bonetti.

Flo-Tech has had several million-dollar plus wins this year, including two large law firms and a large regional financial holding company. These deals included hardware, software, service and supplies through an MPS agreement.

If we had more space we’d talk about Flo-Tech’s commitment and charitable support to national and regional organizations, of which Flo-Tech’s support has been generous and unwavering over the years. What allows them to continue with their charitable initiatives is the day-to-day success they have as an independent dealer and their focus on making sure they can compete in a changing marketplace. That explains investments in infrastructure to increase efficiency and drive down operational costs while at the same time finding opportunities to improve customer service and add value to their clients.

Besides expanding their MPS offerings to include several software solutions, including the aforementioned document management, document capture and routing, rules-based printing and mobile printing, Bonetti says Flo-Tech will continue to evaluate other solutions and look for new ways to provide additional value to clients.

Acquisitions are also part of the game plan. “Flo-Tech has also continued to leverage an acquisition strategy and evaluate acquisition opportunities to both expand into new markets and increase our density in existing markets growing both our lease base and pages,” says Bonetti.

This is a dealership that understands the value of partnerships and continues to form strategic partnerships with FM companies, IT Integrators, and managed services providers. In many cases these companies provide a wide range of services, but have no offering to support their client’s printing and imaging infrastructure. That’s where Flo-Tech comes in.

The Week in Imaging doesn’t select our Elite Dealers based on sales and size alone, however, when we think of the upper echelon of Elite Dealers, there’s a select few that are in that group and Flo-Tech is one of them.

Coordinated Business Systems

Burnsville, MN

Year Founded: 1983

Number of Employees: 75

Approximate Yearly Revenues: $15- $20 million

This Year’s Biggest Accomplishment: Entering into the telephony business with the acquisition of an Avaya partner.

Primary Hard Vendors and Solutions and Services Offerings: Kyocera, Sharp, HP, Lexmark, Muratec, Dell, Square 9, Docstar, Baracoda

Ask Coordinated’s President Jim Oricchio what makes his dealership stand out in their market and the short answer is “We have great people.” But there’s more to it than that.

“My belief is that this is a very weak answer,” explains Oricchio. “Our customers continue to come to Coordinated year after year because we are consistent. Part of that is tenured peopled that the customer doesn’t have to re-educate year after year. That consistency also plays into the policies and procedures at our company. When we make decisions the customer has a voice. Most companies make internal decisions based on pre-defined internal outcomes with no thought given to the overall impact on the customer. At Coordinated all decisions are made with the customer experience in mind.”

Some of those decisions are leading to a burst of activity in areas such as managed services, which is growing at a 25 percent clip; solutions, which is growing at a 40 percent clip; and even hardware where growth is modest comparison, but better than a lot of other dealers are experiencing at 10 percent.

One of Coordinated’s top marketing programs, and one that stands out for us is its 3-cent color program where they can dramatically reduce a customer’s costs up to 70 percent on high quality color copies. What’s also a nice touch is that they offer a $25 coffee card with any demonstration. Another innovative program is Coordinated’s Smart Print Cartridge Plus program where a client purchases their laser cartridges from Coordinated and then receives printer service for free. “No matter how many printers you own, there are no labor or travel costs,” states Oricchio. “You pay only for parts at a predetermined discount level.”

Coordinated has done a superior job of meeting a challenge that many dealers face and that’s selling multiple products and services. “As the placement of our core products have become more complex along with the addition of multiple other products and services, including MPS, managed services, telephony, EDM, workflow, etc., it has become increasingly difficult to cover the gambit and maintain focus within the sales force,” acknowledges Oricchio. “It has been a challenge to make sure these products create growth rather than just transferring revenue.”

What Coordinated has done to avoid that is add personnel to handle some of the detail pieces and design a sales process that takes these other products and services into account without drastically changing the approach of the rep.

As mentioned earlier, the dealership’s most significant recent accomplishment was entering into the telephony business, an area where few dealers dare to tread. “The acquisition of an Avaya partner has put us in the position to service everything related to the network in a customer environment,” says Oricchio. “In our core business we compete against 17 viable competitors and those numbers are even higher when you look at managed services companies and telephony equipment providers. By bundling these offerings we only have two competitors in our market with similar offerings.”

Two of Coordinated’s biggest wins this past year include winning the telephony business (video conferencing and unified communications) of a Minnesota-based Fortune 500 company and unseating two incumbents in a sizeable non-profit organization, capturing all of the MFP business as well as managing the printer fleet operating alongside the MFP’s. “We take great pride in being able to win against a well-established local dealership as well as a national giant, both representing the same product,” states Oricchio.

While Coordinated has a long list of charitable activities on its résumé, one of the most significant is being a sponsor for PACER, an organization that helps families with children with disabilities. Not only do they sponsor the event with money but they donate all their radio air time their Minneapolis skyway billboards for the month prior to the event.

For someone who has been in the business as long as Oricchio, he’s not old school in his thinking and his approach, which has been instrumental in helping his dealership embrace the “Hybrid Dealer Model,” expanding services to include managed services, networking services, and telephony—all with a focus on creating a consistent stream of renewable revenue and helping customers control their technology spend. That’s a strategy that continues to position Coordinated as a viable player in their market. As Oricchio says, “It is essential that we broaden the base of revenue opportunities while staying focused on information technologies.”

Indeed, this is a dealership, and an Elite one, that has written the book on broadening its base.

RK Dixon

Davenport, IA

Year Founded: 1983

Number of Employees: 200

Approximate Yearly Revenues: $30-$40 million

This Year’s Most Significant Accomplishment: Establishing a corporate vehicle fleet to be used by employees in its seven locations across Iowa and Illinois, saving an estimated 13,652 gallons of fuel on an annual basis.

Primary Hardware Vendors & Solutions & Services Offerings: Xerox, Lexmark, HP, Samsung, Document Solutions, MPS, IT Solutions, Purity Plus

RK Dixon Headquarters

Customers appreciate RK Dixon because they work as a partner not a vendor. The dealership has a knack for helping businesses run better by offering custom solutions. Although that may not be all that unique in the dealer community, what is unique is how well RK Dixon does it. “We build a relationship of trust between the companies we serve, which translates into a true team effort allowing the customer to focus on their main initiatives,” says Bryan Dixon, president.

Business has been going strong thanks in large part to a diverse product mix (notice they also offer drinking water systems) and the growth of their managed print services business, which is up 73 percent year over year.

Something else we like about RK Dixon is how their service technicians leave a Customer Care Card with the key operator after every service call. The card allows the technician to describe briefly the actions taken and the status of the equipment and the detachable survey allows for customer comments. It’s a simple but effective approach. All surveys are monitored to insure appropriate follow-up is provided.

For the past six years, RK Dixon has hosted Tech Summit, which positions the dealership as a technology leader within the markets they serve. This event is a collaboration of different technologies and partners featuring hands-on demonstrations and breakout sessions designed to help technical staff, business managers and business owners learn about advances in technology and new trends.

The biggest challenge of the last five years was developing and implementing business plans for continuous growth in an industry that was not projected to grow. “We accomplished this by focusing on our strengths, being creative with new ideas, understanding each industry in which we market and creating plans for new business opportunities,” explains Bryan.

Growth is critical in any organization and management has identified the following opportunities that will continue to bring RK Dixon down that path, including investing in a supplemental business that uses the dealership’s existing infrastructure. A new point-of-use water purification business has also been instrumental in helping the business prosper. “This model matches very closely to the copier business,” notes Bryan. “Since we already have established customers with office equipment it was a natural progression.”

An investment into a new business unit that focused solely on managed print services has paid huge dividends. “There are many ways to enter this business,” says Bryan. “We chose to invest heavily in new infrastructure to support this business. It has led to great growth for our company.”

The dealership also had the foresight to add high-production printing equipment to their product mix, another high-growth area. “This is a growth opportunity simply because we were not dedicated to this business previously,” states Bryan. “This was a large endeavor and required training dedicated personnel to sell to our 80+ county territories.”

Meanwhile, RK Dixon continues to invest in managed IT services, a business segment they’ve been involved with for many years and which provides a nice reoccurring revenue stream. A big managed IT win was a $456,000 engagement with a construction company and a $540,000 takedown with an insurance firm.

Asked to elaborate on the dealership’s most significant accomplishment of the past year, Bryan explains that by using a corporate fleet, RK Dixon expects to save an estimated 13,652 gallons of fuel on an annual basis. This is based on the company’s annual mileage, 25-MPG fuel usage and its fuel reimbursement rate. In addition to the fuel savings, the greening of corporate vehicle fleets results in additional environmental impacts. “Because fleets tend to turn over quickly, there is an opportunity to move a substantial number of cleaner-technology cars onto the road through the used car market, spreading the benefits of fuel-efficient, low-emission vehicles even more widely,” explains Bryan. “In addition to the environmental impact, the marketing benefits have been substantial; we have over 40 vehicles on the road acting as driving ‘banners’ for our business.”

Another attribute of RK Dixon that stands out for us is the way they focus attention on service profitability. “We study our department analytics, determine the most important statistics, set goals, and create programs to drive results,” reports Bryan. “We have many statistical goals for service technician productivity. We ensure that our technicians are productive and have the tools necessary to achieve the results. We also know statistically the optimal amount of parts that should be used to produce the best service results.”

RK Dixon also incents their technicians to perform to these goals. By studying technician’s inventory techs have the correct parts to complete over 90 percent of service calls.

“Our goal is to always learn, to set new goals, determine new programs, and continually improve,” adds Bryan. “Researching and taking the time to get the proper individuals into the right position and then educate them on how to take ownership of customer’s concerns. As the old saying goes, ‘People buy from people.’ If we are to grow our business, customers must perceive us as engaged, caring individuals with solutions to help them grow their business.”

For us all those statistics add up to a 2012 Elite Dealer. 

Impact Networking, LLC

Waukegan, IL

Year Founded: 1999

Number of Employees: 150

Approximate Yearly Revenues: $31.5 million

Most Significant Accomplishment this Year: Revenue and net income have increased significantly.

Primary Hardware Vendors and Solutions & Services Offerings: Konica Minolta, Kyocera, Muratec, HP, KIP, Bowe Bell & Howell, Dell, Cisco, Docuware, Objectiv Lune, Planet Press, LMI Solutions (toner replacement), Compass Sherpa, Managed Print Services, Print and Interactive Design Services, Web Hosting, Internet Marketing, Data Back-up, and Disaster Recovery

Impact’s Frank Cucco

Here’s a dealership that offers one of the widest varieties of hardware and solutions and services offerings in this year’s class of Elite Dealers. It’s been a good year too with hardware sales, document management, scanning services, MPS, CPC maintenance agreements, creative services, and Internet marketing services trending upwards.

The reason customers choose Impact is because they sell more than just office equipment. “We integrate technology into our customer’s workflow with smart use of software and hardware solutions,” explains Frank Cucco, CEO. “Customers like working with Impact because we develop relationships and help them grow. When they are ready for new technology, we are there to help. Many of our installations include five or six different software/hardware integrations.”

Once a company is a customer, they have many ways to connect with Impact to get service and/or support. These include direct line access to specialists, online Web form submissions – and coming soon – a mobile app.

Impact does a nice job of partnering with popular sports teams (Chicago Blackhawks, Milwaukee Brewers, Indianapolis Indians), businesses, and venues, entertaining prospects with an afternoon or evening of solutions, food and drink. Included in the mix are Tech Shows at the United Center.  “This is another way to touch prospects and bring them into the fold,” says Cucco.

Although it may not be a unique marketing strategy we still like the way Impact has wrapped 24 service vehicles with its red and silver branding. These cars are used all over the three market areas they serve. Impact also continuously upgrades its showrooms with the highest quality displays, equipment, and software so that they can give state-of-the-art demos.

What’s also notable is Impact’s Creative Services Payment Plans. “Customers are able to make arrangements to pay for services over an extended timeframe in order to level out monthly payments similar to an equipment lease,” explains Cucco. “This gives our Creative Services team a competitive advantage when priced against a more traditional billing scheme.”

Meeting challenges head on is a hallmark of Impact and Cucco and the company’s CFO have worked diligently to establish new banking relationships and secure lines of credit for growth.

Recognizing the need to recruit new talent, Impact’s Creative Services Group designed and launched a new recruitment portion on Impact’s Website which offers specialized information and online job openings and applications. “Our HR team has maintained competitive benefits and these are now articulated strongly to recruits,” states Cucco.

Impact’s recruiting team is involved at career fairs at most Midwest college campuses. They’ve also bolstered their social media content to give an insight into what it is like working at Impact.

We also like the way the company focuses on employee retention, offering competitive benefits and advanced training programs. They also run company-wide sales incentive programs, such as a 2013 Mexico Trip. Quarterly meetings with the entire company allow the partners to discuss current and future financials and initiatives. There are also quarterly meetings with key employees to discuss ways to make Impact run better. “All of this creates a sense of ownership and team involvement,” says Cucco.

A key initiative this year was rebuilding Impact’s infrastructure to accommodate future growth. That included switching to eAutomate for accounting, switching to Compass Sherpa for CRM, and adding a new Polycom VoIP phone system with sales call tracking.

As Cucco and company look to the future expect to see continuous improvements to Impact’s technology infrastructure, with software and hardware investments as well as more product and solutions diversification. Cucco also expects to hire more specialized administrators at their headquarters to support their sales team and service techs. You’ll also see more active programs  for recruiting, including social media and Internet marketing. And illustrating the value Impact places on its employees, continued emphasis on employee retention programs, including better benefits and comp plans.

At press time Impact was running an all-company incentive. If the company as a whole hits their target numbers for annual net income and revenue, the entire company will take a 4-day vacation to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico in February 2013.

It’s things like that that make for an Elite Dealer.

Advance –The Document Specialists | |

Cockeysville, MD

Year Founded: 1964

Number of Employees: 150

Approximate Yearly Revenues: $38 million

Most Significant Accomplishment This Year: Educating customers and internal staff about how mobile printing and devices that enable mobile printing can impact their workplace.

Primary Hardware and Solutions & Services Offerings: Ricoh, Savin, Canon, Kyocera, KIP, Konica Minolta, Muratec, Panasonic, electronic document management, Managed Print Services, Managed Services

Jeff Elkin, President of Advance

A perennial Elite Dealer, Advance—The Document Specialists, are enjoying the fruits of their labor as document management and managed services are growing rapidly. The focus of late has been providing basic IT services and positioning the company for growth into a full suite of managed network services.

Over the years Advance has fostered a reputation for outstanding customer service and going that extra mile to make the customer happy. “We believe in making the process seamless and easy, which is why we continue to offer programs like Onsite & Online, the program that allows the device to be delivered in a plug and play type mode decreasing downtime,” notes Jeff Elkin, president owner. “Our 24/7 service and support is also a key to our great service. Businesses run around the clock, not only between 9-5. In understanding the needs of our customers, we structure our support around the needs of the customers.”

Other notable programs that fit the “seamless and easy” focus include ConnecTime, which offers a block of time for basic IT functions to alleviate some of the more burdensome tasks IT departments face as well as secure destruction of copier hard drives to ensure information stored on or passing though the copier is securely destroyed.

On the marketing front, this year, Advance rolled out a new series, Advance Stories, which highlight customers who have benefited from the solutions Advance has implemented. “As the multi-screen phenomenon begins to spread, marketers find themselves turning towards this medium to reach an ever changing and harder to reach audience,” explains Elkin. “These videos feature the document management and hardware sides of the business and run about 2.5 minutes. We use them with the sales force in the field and for in-house demos.”

You can find those videos on Advance’s YouTube Channel,, a channel with more than 12,000 views to date.

The evolution of the industry has called for great change in the advent of some of the technological advancements such as more sophisticated MFPs and Advance has risen to the challenge by expanding their network services division, elevating the sales process to allow reps to be more consultative and relevant to customers looking for value-added resources, and upping their online presence to better reach customers and help them with their business challenges.

Mobile printing has been a widespread area of interest for Advance’s customers. As a result they’ve been educating them and their own internal staff about how these devices impact their workplace. “As the Bring Your Own Device phenomenon continues in the workplace, Advance recognizes the need for accessibility to print on demand in the office, especially between multiple offices,” says Elkin. “Additionally, internally, we’ve made some strategic changes to propel the company forward. Increased sales support, additional technology tools, and process evaluation for enhanced internal workflow in addition to our document management system.”

The big win this year was Mountain Christian Church, a $1 million deal. While deals, big and small, continue to materialize on a daily basis, Advance is focusing on the future to ensure they remain relevant in a changing marketplace.

“At the moment, we’re exploring how to grow the network services department and offer a full suite of managed IT services to our customers,” states Elkin. “It’s a growing need and we want to make sure we’re fulfilling that need. As technology becomes more and more involved in the business environment, we are positioning ourselves as the trusted partner to help keep them ahead of the curve.”

And staying ahead of the curve is a big reason why we consider Advance—The Document Specialists, Elite.

Gordon Flesch Company, Inc.

Madison, WI

Year Founded: 1956

Number of Employees: 600

Approximate Yearly Revenues: $150M – $160M

This Year’s Most Significant Accomplishment: Over the last two years, the Gordon Flesch Company has put a monumental effort towards improving the customer experience and its operational efficiencies by updating its leasing and operating companies’ ERP systems.

Primary Hardware Vendors and Solutions & Services Offerings: Canon, Sharp, Kyocera, and Lexmark, Enterprise Content Management solutions, Cloud solutions, and Output Management solutions

Gordon Flesch Company is a big dealership with a rich and heralded heritage that continues to put up big numbers. Over the past year, they’ve seen an explosion in the services and solutions that help business better manage and optimize their business processes. Through the use of professional services, MPS as well as enterprise software solutions that tackle business workflow, document management, and output management, the dealership has helped its customers build and re-engineer professional business processes that free up resources and increase their bottom line.

Founded in 1956 in Madison, Wisconsin, in 1956 by Gordon Flesch, a man who believed strongly in two things—one, that customers know a product is only as reliable as the person who is selling it. And two, when you put your name on the door, you put your reputation on the line. Since then, the The Gordon Flesch Company has built a reputation as the premier provider of document solutions such as copying, scanning, printing, electronic content management, and workflow consulting by combining innovative sales strategies, flexible financing options, and unmatched technical support for customers.

“This approach has helped our sales team deliver elegant, professional, and innovative business process solutions which will result in ‘Raving fans’,” says Tom Flesch, president.

There’s a lot about The Gordon Flesch Company that impresses us, but we truly admire what they’re doing with their 80/20’d marketing strategy for larger accounts in more mature markets. This strategy supports key accounts with additional customized marketing programs to help customers promote the dealership’s products and services within their organizations.

We also like the fact that the company does a bang up job of researching new and emerging  markets to gain a better understanding of the needs, expectations, and gaps in the new marketplace. This has lead to the development of integrated, strategic marketing campaigns that include a high level focus on being ‘local.’ To leverage the ‘local’ angle they hired a local spokesperson, created local radio and print campaigns, and promoted their Foundation locally with brochures, media releases, PSA’s, and community talk shows on various radio stations.

“In addition to right-fitting our marketing strategy against business goals and marketplace awareness, we have conducted primary research to gain a better understanding of where a B2B company like GFC fits into the social media/interactive environment,” notes Flesch. “We’ll be working towards implementing some of this learning by developing a new, more interactive Website, new videos, LinkedIn Profiles for the Sales Team, and potentially a Facebook page for our Charitable Foundation.”

Even a large dealership has to overcome the challenge of transitioning from a hardware provider to one that also provides professional business process solutions and that’s something that’s been an ongoing focus at the company. “While other organizations were constraining resources during the recession, we as an organization understood that for us to grow and be the premier provider of business solutions, we had to train our sales team and invest in the organization with new systems, people, processes, and locations,” says Flesch.

An example of that successful transition can be seen in a 500+ unit implementation which included software and onsite services—the dealership’s biggest win of the year.

During the past two years, the Gordon Flesch Company has spent time and effort towards improving the customer experience and its operational efficiencies by updating their leasing and operating companies’ ERP systems. “By far, the biggest project in the history of our organization, both in scope and resources, the benefits from these changes will affect the way we do business and serve our customers even better for years to come,” states Flesch.

As a family owned company, the Gordon Flesch Company cares about the communities they call home. That’s why they are active in local charities throughout the Great Lakes Region and why they have a charitable foundation run by their own volunteers. “Every year this foundation donates $100,000 to a wide variety of causes helping the areas—and people—closest to us,” beams Flesch.

In addition to the charitable foundation and volunteer work, the Gordon Flesch Company holds multiple blood drives and food pantries to help the families in their market. Through numerous Chamber memberships, Gordon Flesch Company is focused on strengthening economic growth to provide a better place to live, work, and raise a family.

The focus on the future well-being of the company is ongoing and Flesch reports that the company is constantly adding elegant business IT solutions to their offerings and then providing best-in-class products and services to support those solutions, which result in those aforementioned ‘Raving Fans’.

And from our perspective, Raving Fans and Elite Dealers go hand in hand.

Datasource Ink

Contact Person &; Title

Bloomingdale, IL

Year Founded: 2000

Number of Employees: 10

Approximate Yearly Revenues: $1+ million

This Year’s Most Significant Accomplishment: President & CEO Jim Vitiello’s election to the ITC Board of Directors.

Primary Services & Solutions Offerings: Total printer fleet service and support up to and including toner provisions, parts and device replacement, onsite technical support and electronics and toner recycling

Datasource Ink Founder & President Jim Vitiello

Some of this year’s Elite Dealers are small organizations, yet despite their size, they are doing  big things and have a big vision. That vision is personified by President & CEO Jim Vitiello who founded the company 12 years ago after the demise of his office technology dealership.

While some dealers would have been soured by their change of fortunes, Vitiello found himself determined to get back on track and in business. This time he did things differently. Rather than selling hardware, DataSource Ink focuses on helping companies develop high-level strategies for supporting printers and managing printer-related expenses. It turns out there was a need and a market for that type of service.

These days DataSource Ink is enjoying increased sales of extra high-yield capacity toner cartridges. “Companies are a lot more conscious of their carbon footprint and their recycling practices,” says Vitiello. “We provide both electronics and toner recycling and develop custom solutions to help our clients dispose of their waste properly.”

One of the qualities that Vitiello’s dealership brings to clients is the ability to do business with a nimble vendor. “We partner with large suppliers that give us a lot to work with,” says Vitiello. “Because we are a smaller company, we can engage exactly what we need to do the best job possible and not deal with the red tape along the way.”

For as long as we’ve been familiar with DataSource Ink we’ve been fans of their EZ Print Program, an all-inclusive cartridge-based printer service solution that provides all aspects of printer support at no cost provided the client purchases all toner products through them.

Besides being a successful entrepreneur, Vitiello is actively involved in the industry and was recently elected to the ITC Board of Directors, an opportunity he believes will directly impact his dealership’s ability to engage other vendors in the services they provide.

The big win for DataSource Ink this year was a diamond retail store with 170 locations nationally. “Our solution helped them streamline ordering, provide a service option to all locations, and reduce by 20 percent their annual spend,” reports Vitiello.

The dealership does a nice job of giving back to their community as exemplified by free recycling days that take place at their facility. They also sponsor various charitable events throughout the Chicagoland area.

Vitiello is committed to the future of DataSource Ink and has recently incorporated a prospecting method that helps them keep better track of potential customer’s contract cycles. The result has been an overall improvement in the size of their sales pipeline.

No, you don’t have to be a large dealership to be Elite, you just need to be doing something different and doing ti well to make the cut, and DataSource Ink certainly fits that criteria.


Tempe, AZ

Year Founded: 2006

Number of Employees: 44

Approximate Yearly Revenues: $5-$10 million

This Year’s Most Significant Accomplishment: Named one of Inc. magazine’s 500/5000’s Fastest Growing Companies again for 2012 for the second year in a row.

Primary Hardware Vendors and Solutions & Services Offerings: Konica Minolta, Toshiba, Lexmark, KIP, Muratec, HP, Managed IT Services, Outsource Printing Services, Software Solutions, and MPS

Infincom’s Owners Tiffany & Jeff Bucher with their company mascot, Dudley Do-Right.

It’s hard to ignore a dealership that’s been named one of Inc. magazine’s fastest growing companies for 2012 for the second year in a row, but in our book it’s equally difficult to ignore a dealership that’s seen its managed services business grow by 200 percent since the beginning of the year. Add to that 50 percent growth in Infincom’s A4 business, and what you have is a dealership that has earned recognition inside and outside of the office technology industry.

Infincom was created on a foundation of integrity, which is one reason customers appreciate doing business with them. Team members are hired with the expectation that they operate with honesty and are focused on building relationships (internally and externally) of trust. “The team shares a passion for providing what we call ‘customer delight!’” says Jeff Bucher, one of the co-owners of the dealership.

“We make commitments and we follow through,” adds co-owner Tiffany Bucher. “We take time to understand the client’s needs and we have unrestricted technology, so we don’t have to force a solution, we have many options for the customer. We make it easy from start to finish.”

Infincom is focused on open communication with its customers and stays engaged and accessible. They’re also a big proponent of social media. A Facebook page reflects Infincom’s culture and current company events. They also Tweet regularly with a focus on industry or company news. The company mascot, Dudley Do-Right, illustrates how Infincom enjoys interacting with the public and having fun with it. “Everything we do, we Dudley Do-Right!” is the slogan and we like that.

What also helps Infincom win business is being locally owned and operated. Yes, most dealers can use that line, but the Buchers says that this is important to many of their customers who truly want to do business with locally-owned companies—feeding the local economy and helping their  community thrive.

With friends and customers like that, no wonder Infincom is so successful.

This year’s big win was a large healthcare company, resulting in a $500,000 transaction that included a program encompassing copiers and printers and required statewide implementation.

“Competing against three dominant manufacturer branches, the company chose us due to our honest approach and our ability to provide local service, customer delight and other offerings including in-house print shop support as well as backup IT support,” Jeff exclaims.

Both Buchers are very involved in the business community as well as philanthropic activities that serve the metropolitan area. Tiffany has served as a board member for the Purple Ribbon Council for several years, helping to educate and change the cycle of domestic violence among all ages that are affected by this issue. She is a regular contributor to S.W.A.N., an organization that runs a shelter for victims of domestic abuse in the north valley, and she is involved with Social Venture Partners which recently awarded a $100,000 grant to Purple Ribbon Council to recognize their work. Tiffany is also a member of the WPO (Women Presidents Organization), a close-knit group of women business owners/leaders with a goal to share ideas, issues and concerns and offer support. Jeff serves on the Board of Directors for the Arizona Business Leaders, working to improve business and bring leaders together to solve issues. He is also the president-elect for the Business Technology Association West Region and has been nominated to serve on the board for Dignity Health. As a company, Infincom “adopts” families in need each holiday season, providing them with what they need and also bringing some fun and joy to the children.

Long-term growth and profitability are obviously keys to Infincom’s future. The strategies to achieve those are many and the responsibility falls across all business areas. The owners and their leadership team are in constant communication, reviewing the critical areas of the business on a weekly basis and addressing issues quickly. Effectively managing expenses, building revenue streams and allocating funds back into areas of the business that provide a solid ROI have laid the path for Infincom’s continued profitability. These decisions are made with much thought and care and reflect the dealership’s mission to stay strategically focused and customer-driven to do right for their customers, employees, community and owners.”

Altogether, those are the qualities that exemplify an Elite Dealer.

Des Plaines Office Equipment (DPOE)

Des Plaines, IL

Year founded: 1955

Number of Employees: 82

Approximate Yearly Revenues: $14,400,000

This Year’s Most Significant Accomplishments: Winning a major contract for Managed Print Services with Easter Seals of Chicago and being asked to speak in front of a number of groups, educating the business community on the importance of MPS

Primary Hardware & Solutions Vendors: Sharp, Oki Data, HP, InfoDynamics, Konica Minolta, Toshiba (telephone systems)

DPOE’s President Chip Miceli

You can’t knock a dealership that has seen its revenues rise 12 percent over the past three years, especially when one considers the economy they’ve been selling in.

DPOE provides products and services to a diverse client base that includes schools, hospitals, law offices, accounting firms, and financial institutions, among others. The firm is a consistent winner of Sharp Document’s Hyakuman Kai award for sales excellence, and is a perennial Elite Dealer. 

This is a dealership that saw the promise in managed print services and managed network services early on. DPOE President Chip Miceli speaks nationally on both subjects and has worked with Photizo Group and Agiliant to promote the concept of managed network services as part of the menu of offerings of imaging dealers.

DPOE offers advanced remote monitoring of networks and servers of their clients, and through their software can anticipate and correct problems before they result in down time. Currently, DPOE provides remote IT monitoring/managed network services for non-profits, manufacturing companies, medical organizations, and corporations in the Chicago area.

To further demonstrate the dealership’s commitment to managed network services, DPOE recently unveiled a new NOC (Network Operations Center) at its Elk Grove Village headquarters. The NOC enables them to do remote monitoring of networks anywhere in the U.S. and serves as a showroom and operations center for the company’s expanded IT services offerings. It’s equipped with technology to monitor an entire network’s power consumption, hard drive space, and software that is installed on each device. DPOE has developed proprietary software that allows the firm to remotely monitor its clients’ IT networks throughout the region. The enhanced facility positions DPOE to expand its services nationally. We love that.

DPOE recently hosted its Second Annual Technology Show in late September where they unveiled the new NOC to their customers. The event also featured the world premiere of Sharp’s MX-7040 and MX-6240 high-production, color MFPs, hands on experience with Sharp’s 80-inch interactive whiteboard, and cloud computing seminars.

Also notable is DPOE’s archiving division which helps businesses store documents electronically, through software sales, training and support. In an industry that has historically been very “paper-heavy,” DPOE is offering economic and environmentally friendly alternatives.

We are equally impressed by the way DPOE takes the initiative to position themselves as experts in their field. They’ve launched a “Speakers’ Bureau” where a representative of DPOE will address a business association, individual company, or civic organization such as a Chamber of Commerce to talk about managed print services and its importance to the business owner. DPOE has also initiated an aggressive campaign to instruct business owners about information security as it relates to the office copier/MFP. The dealership offers free seminars on this issue, includes this in its Speakers Bureau topics, and has promoted it in guest editorials in the local media.

One of the dealership’s biggest wins of 2012 revolve around archiving solutions. DPOE recently provided an archiving solution for the 12 locations of Easter Seals in the Chicago area. “This is a software-driven solution and archiving has become increasingly important to our industry,” says Miceli. “There is so much opportunity to save on paper costs.”

Ultimately, this is a dealership that understands the importance of staying a step ahead of the competition, continuing education, and maintaining a high profile in the industry and in the communities they serve, and for those reasons we celebrate DPOE as an Elite Dealer.

Electronic Office Systems

Fairfield, NJ

Year Founded: 1983

Number of Employees: 40

This Year’s Biggest Accomplishment: The addition of quality employees with industry experience.

Approximate Yearly Revenues: $7.5 million

Primary Hardware Vendors and Solutions and Services Offerings: Ricoh, Savin, Lanier, Konica Minolta, Kyocera, HP, Canon, Document Imaging/Content Management Systems, Network Infrastructure

The industry’s most opionated dealer, EOS’s Andrew Ritschel.

Many in the industry know EOS President Andrew Ritschel as one of the most opinionated dealers in the industry as well as one of the industry’s biggest proponents. The industry can use more dealers like Ritschel who tell it like it is. But that’s not why he and his dealership are Elite. It’s because he’s holding his own and achieving success in one of the most competitive markets in the country. And he’s been doing it for 30 years!

Electronic Office Systems has three core competencies, including the variety of commercial office equipment (copiers, faxes, laser printers, color, scanners, wide format architectural and engineering multi-function equipment) that they sell, their document management partnerships and requisite expertise, and their Total Output Management/ Managed Print Services programs that help companies increase profitability and efficiency and decrease their internal printing costs.

For document management key strategic partnerships enable EOS to provide clients with document management solutions for the lifecycle of their documents. “The sales staff at EOS works closely and diligently with every client to ensure they fully understand the current printing environment as well as their printing objectives,” explains Ritschel. “In addition, a detailed analysis is provided back to the customer with best solution options.”

Similarly, EOS’s print management services are designed to provide optimum print output environments. “It is a partnership approach by demonstrating to each client the value in working together to identify current print fleet inventory, usage, and costs,” states Ritschel. “This approach is key in engaging the appropriate decision makers in the account and presenting the absolute best solution.”

Whatever they’re doing in managed print they’re doing well, enjoying 50 percent growth in this important business segment during the past few years.

A lot of EOS’s success of late can be attributed to its knowledgeable staff; picking the right partners, products and solutions, loyal clients, and exceptional service. “We are a privately owned company and our clients know they will always have a voice to speak with and not get lost in voicemail transfers,” says Ritschel. “Every employee at EOS has a significant role in the company. They are dedicated and all work toward a common goal. In addition, we have solid strategic partnerships in the imaging industry. Our clients depend on EOS to offer and deliver best-in-class service. They realize and appreciate the level of expertise, professionalism, and customer service that is always standard in how we do business. We share best practices with our clients and have built trust by demonstrating our ability to provide exceptional products, service and solutions.”

Examples of some of EOS’s newest marketing initiatives include an interactive corporate Website with enhanced content throughout the site and new visitor information forms on every page. They’ve also come up with a standardized proposal template that incorporates company branding. We also admire their Plant a Tree initiative, which demonstrates the company’s commitment to the environment by donating and planting a tree in local parks in the communities in which they serve. This has been well received and covered by local media throughout various Counties in New Jersey.

One of the biggest deals of the year was winning the business of a large New York Hospital.  EOS displaced a manufacturer’s direct sales operation and competed aggressively against another independent dealer to win the deal.

As much as he is focused on the present, Ritschel can’t afford not to think about the future and says that EOS will continue to offer clients exceptional service, quality printing and imaging products, supplies, and solutions. “Our goal is to expand our staff with highly qualified and experienced personnel to further meet the needs of our clients and grow our customer base.”

Part of that growth strategy involves continued employee training on the latest technology and product enhancements that will be implemented on an on-going basis. “Our green initiatives will continue and be shared with our valued clients,” adds Ritschel. “We will continue to develop innovative marketing strategies and programs that will increase lead generation and new business opportunities. We will continue to build partnerships that enable us to offer our clients the greatest breadth of products and solutions for their business.”

Systel Business Equipment Co., Inc.

Fayetteville, NC

Year Founded: 1981

Number of Employees: 250

Approximate Yearly Revenues:  $47-$55 million

This Year’s Significant Accomplishment: The purchase of a new 125,000-square foot and 34-acre property for a Distribution Center in Fayetteville NC. The location will serve as a central distribution point to serve the company’s eleven locations across the Southeast as well as a state-of-the-art demo room and training facility.

Primary Hardware Vendors and Solutions & Services Offerings: Ricoh, Konica Minolta, Hewlett-Packard, Panasonic, MPS, Commercial Imaging, Professional Services (Software Support), Networking Solutions, Cloud & Mobile Printing, Document Management Software, EHR Assistance & Consulting, Commercial Printing

The Systel team.

If one were to judge Systel on what they’ve done with their printing operation they’d be easily considered Elite. However, that’s just one of the qualities that place them in the upper pantheon of independent dealers. Now they’re using that as a foundation to expand their traditional office technology business into production print. Consider that over the last three years their production printing business has increased by more than 100 percent. “We have been able to sell these systems in our larger markets as well as our small markets that we originally did not predict there would be such a high demand,” says Keith Allison, president of Systel.

Meanwhile, Systel’s in-housing leasing program has grown by 50 percent, representing a total value of more than $5-million in annual revenue. “As “C” corporation, Systel is able to withhold its profits and reinvest back into the company on such items as internal financing to allow this part of our revenue to continue to grow and increase in value over the future years,” explains Allison.

Systel recently implemented a customer satisfaction measurement survey that allows customers to provide feedback in such areas as response time, service technician professionalism, user-friendly process of placing the service call, and the overall satisfaction of the service rendered. This survey produced a tremendous response and allowed Systel to measure their overall customers’ satisfaction rate at 98 percent. “It’s one thing to say you have the best service; it’s another to be able to prove it!” states Allison. “This survey has also allowed us to proactively troubleshoot circumstances that may have otherwise escalated into a problem such as a miscommunication of a part order and noticing a needed for a recall before the customer had to place another call.”

Turns out that most sales are made from Systel’s service programs; it certainly helps that they have a 2.5-hour average response time with a 4-hour guarantee or they pay the customer along with a 30-day satisfaction guarantee on maintenance agreements. If the customer is not satisfied with the equipment, Systel replaces it with different equipment of comparable value. “This method of service has allowed us to keep some of the same customers for over 30 years,” reports Allison.

Systel’s top marketing strategy in 2012-2013 is focused on business solutions beyond equipment. “We have found that the first dealer to present a customer with a document management solution or software typically wins the business every time,” notes Allison. “Or even if you can implement the solution or software with their current office equipment provider, they will typically come back to your for the equipment at the end of their lease. We feel that our manufacturers provide the industry’s best equipment but most MFDs today have some of the same features and specs. Offering customized solutions to our customers that will decrease their total operating costs will set us apart from the competition that does not include this as part of their package.”

The biggest challenge Systel has faced over the last five years and continues to face is the perils of growing too fast. Clearly, that’s a challenge many dealers would welcome even with the associated headaches.

“Due to our rapid growth over the last several years, many new programs, policies, departments, and even locations have been restructured to accommodate the additional business,” says Allison. “Taking steps to overcome this threat has required strategic investments and continuous improvements in people, technology, and infrastructure. It is very important that we not only gain the new business but uphold our high reputation in customer service and satisfaction.”

A great example of overcoming this challenge was Systel’s recent Camp Lejeune/Cherry Point install which they now refer to as Mission 31: Nothing’s Impossible. Once the bid was awarded, their team worked overnight to secure a new location, hire additional staff, and complete the delivery and install of over 800 machines, all in only 17 days.

“If we continue to win large bids and compete with large manufactures on install guarantees, we must continue to stock millions of dollars worth of product which adds additional risk of damage, loss, and obsolescence,” acknowledges Allison.

Systel’s most significant accomplishment during the past year was its strategic facilities expansions. Earlier this year, they purchased a new 125,000-square foot and 34-acre property for a Distribution Center in their headquartered city of Fayetteville NC. The location will serve as a central distribution point to serve the company’s 11 locations across the Southeast as well as a state-of-the-art demo room and training facility. The construction of this facility will begin in March 2013.

The dealership continues to grow. Systel expanded its geographic territory into eastern NC opening an office in Grenville, NC. They received authorization from Ricoh and HP for these additional 20 counties in July 2012. “This is such a large accomplishment as we are now the only independent dealer in NC that provides onsite service to all 100 counties,” reveals Allison.

In 2011, Systel was awarded the convenience bid for NC Statewide Contract for 920M—manage print services with IT Procurement Office Bid #ITS-006054. Systel teamed with Hewlett-Packard for the bid. Of the eight companies that submitted a proposal for this bid (independent dealers as well as manufacturers such as Toshiba, Lexmark, Xerox and Ricoh), Systel was one of only two vendors selected to provide MPS. Of the two vendors selected, Systel is the only provider with numerous offices across the state to service all 100 North Carolina Counties.

With manufacturer mergers and sell out rumors, it will be extremely important for independent dealers to grow quickly and aggressively or sell to one of these manufacturers. To ensure that they remain healthy and profitable over the long term Systel is actively seeking new acquisitions and is planning infrastructure for a rapid growth to hit their next benchmark of $100 million.

“We have achieved such monumental growth and plan to reach our future goals by a combination of acquisitions, winning large government bids (teamed w/MPS, continually increasing the number of sales reps, strong management, and in-house financing,” says Allison.

With a strategy like that and a track record to back it up, looks like Systel is a good bet to continue its string of Elite Dealer awards for years to come.

Meridian Imaging Solutions

Alexandria, VA

Year Founded: 1985

Number of Employees: 100

Approximate Yearly Revenues: $25-30 million

Most Significant Accomplishment this Year: After success as an internal consultant to the management and sales team, Meridian welcomed Mike Kerrison as the new CEO in a strategy to facilitate business development and lead the company to the next level of growth.

Primary Hardware Vendors & Solutions & Services Offerings: Ricoh, Konica Minolta, RISO, HP, Lexmark, Nuance (Equitrac), NSI (AutoStore), and Westbrook Technologies (Fortis), Managed Print Services, Managed Services (MS), Document Management, Fortis, eCopy

When we think Elite Dealer, we often think Meridian. This is a dealership that has enjoyed consistent growth, especially now that they are focusing on managed services by targeting small and mid-size businesses. Need proof? Meridian’s COMPLETE Managed Services program has doubled every year since 2010 and is expecting high double-digit growth for the next three years as well.

Another fast-growing business segment is Meridian’s Education Vertical Market, which has grown by 79 percent in the past three years with major contract awards for St. Mary’s County Public Schools and Virginia Beach Public Schools.

There are multiple reasons why people like doing business with Meridian. Yes it’s nice that they are an employee-owned and independent, but mostly it’s because Meridian’s business philosophy underscores their commitment to providing excellent customer service through responsive sales representatives, a knowledgeable IT department, and a tenured staff of field technicians. It seems to work every time.

Meridian recently went through a rebranding process which included the development of a new logo and corporate colors. They also implemented the use of 50 painted and wrapped cars in an eye-catching orange color that travel throughout the DC metro area on a daily basis and provide a large amount of public exposure. Yes indeed, it’s also the little things that make an Elite Dealer.

The big win this year was a multi-million dollar award in 2012 for St. Mary’s County Public Schools that consisted of hundreds of machines and printer placements.

As a valued member of their community, Meridian participates in the Heart Walk (American Heart Association) in November and makes donations to Books for Soldiers, Toys for Tots, and Dress for Success. They also allow employees to volunteer up to 10 hours per month during work hours without having the time out of the office deducted from their leave balance, which illustrates the organization’s community mindedness. That is truly a progressive initiative for an office technology dealership and another reason why we feel Meridian is one of this year’s Elite Dealers.


Lincoln, NE

Year Founded: 1937

Number of Employees: 45

Approximate Yearly Revenues: $5-$10 million

This Year’s Most Significant Accomplishment: Development of a five-year business plan to grow SolutionOne in MFP, MPS, and IT managed services and achieve $20 million by 2018.

Primary Hardware Vendors and Solutions & Services Offerings:Konica Minolta, Canon, Lexmark, Nuance, Open Text

President John Kuchta, the driving force behind SolutionOne.

SolutionOne has high hopes, high apple pie in the sky hopes, but that’s the determination we love to see in an independent dealer as they set forth on a five-year plan to become a $20-million dealership by 2018.

Business is going well with MFP and printer sales up 8 percent year over year. That, according to President John Kuchta, is attributed to leading with document solutions in every demonstration and account facing calls. Six-month account review to review performance and identify issues is also leading to opportunities.

Customers appreciate the service that SolutionOne provides and are enamored by their repeatable processes, which insure consistent delivery of after-sale services. Response times average three hours, and SolutionOne supplies delivery confirmations with shipper tracking data for every customer. It doesn’t hurt either that they offer live customer service whose hallmark is one-call customer support, for placing a service call, taking a supply order, and handling billing and account information.

Another differentiator is a proactive 3/30 call-action plan to identify chronic service issues that need to be resolved. SolutionOne also surveys every customer after each service call to measure customer satisfaction. As an Elite Dealer you can bet their scores are consistently high. Plus that information is shared with customers on a monthly basis.

Quarterly lunch and learns help win new business. Here customers and prospects learn about  document trends and software to help them create, share, manage, and locate documents. SolutionOne also offers a customer productivity seminar series to educate customers and brand the dealership as more than just a technology resource.

The big challenge the dealership faced this year was eliminating high turnover in sales by implementing a process to recruit, select, develop, and manage a team of professionals. “Turnover has gone from 80 percent two years ago to less than 20 percent this year,” reports Kuchta. “This has improved employee morale and customer relationships and satisfaction.”

Although Kuchta is hesitant to point out any major wins, he does point out SolutionOne was able to increase its market share by winning everyday leading to the aforementioned 8 percent increase in hardware and software in a flat market.

SolutionOne remains a good corporate citizen, volunteering and supporting financially the annual United Way campaign in its markets. They also support the local food bank via an employee food drive and contribute a percentage of annual sales to charitable organizations.

Kuchta’s long tenure in the industry has provided him with an appreciation for the benefits of networking and education as seen in SolutionOne’s participation with CDA.

Looking above and beyond their growth objectives, the dealership remains committed to training and developing employees to better serve its customers.

While we admire SolutionOne for its high hopes we also celebrate the little things they do on a daily basis, the things that will also contribute to future success, but which make them Elite today.

Oklahoma Office Systems, LLC

Oklahoma City, OK

Years in Business: 31

Number of Employees: 59

Approximate Yearly Revenues: $12.5-million

This Year’s Significant Accomplishment: Successfully converting more sales to the MPS model.

Primary Hardware Vendors and Solutions & Services Offerings: Konica Minolta, HP, Kyocera/CopyStar, Lexmark, Muratec, KIP

Oklahoma Office Systems (OOS) bills itself as one of the first dealers in the U.S. to adopt MPS and has been an HP Managed Print Advanced Specialist Dealer for the past 10 years. OOS was also the first MPS dealer in Oklahoma to adopt an MPS model. Meanwhile, the dealership continues to differentiate itself from competitors thanks to its service excellence. This enables them to exceed expectations in comparison with their peers in BEI Services’ and the Hanson-Hey service related matrix.

OOS is not shy about asking for help when necessary and takes pride in its partnership with Strategy Development, which has helped them create a more disciplined and productive sales staff, from sales management to field sales representatives. “By implementing realistic territories based on the MIF model, our company has incorporated more strategically proven processes and methods, combined with a high level of accountability, to bring more consistency and success to the sales process,” says Ron Carr, president. “This partnership in the service area has helped us improve our First Call Effectiveness and contribution margins substantially. This allowed us to take the entire service department on an extended weekend trip to Las Vegas last year. If this year’s targets are met, the incentive trip will be to Cancun.”

Philanthropy is important to OOS as giving back to the community is at the heart of its ownership. Throughout its 31-year history, the company has supported, and continues to support, A Chance to Change Foundation, a substance abuse counseling service; United Way of Central Oklahoma, Fine Arts Institute of Edmond, Jim Thorpe Association and Rehabilitation Hospital and Rotary Club of Edmond. They have also been partners with the Oklahoma City Blazers hockey franchise, Oklahoma City Hornets NBA franchise (loaned to Oklahoma City following Hurricane Katrina), Red Hawks AAA baseball franchise and Oklahoma City Thunder NBA franchise. In addition they are active members in local area Chambers of Commerce, supporting their endeavors on a yearly basis and also support local school districts, colleges and universities.

You have to hand it to a dealership that remains locally owned and operated by its original owners after 31 year and remains as vibrant and successful as ever even in challenging times. Employees must enjoy working there too as the service department and administration department boasts an average tenure of 15 years.

OOS is a perfect example of a progressive dealership and continues to look for new ways to serve its customers. They introduced Managed Network Services in 2011, and have consistently implemented new software solutions to proactively troubleshoot problems, incorporating time-saving technology, such as Print Fleet and others while continuing to improve customer satisfaction by employing personal Customer Account Managers (CAM) and overlay sales professionals along with personal one-on-one quarterly reviews for every MPS customer. “We are committed to refreshing hardware to the current technology on a timely basis, and improve our customer service with consistent and accountable follow-up,” states Carr.

Those are good reason why we once again honor OOS as a 2012 Elite Dealer.

Martin Group

Lake Geneva, WI

Year Founded: 1980

Number of Employees: 21

Approximate Yearly Revenues: $5-million

Most Significant Accomplishment: Being named The Week in Imaging’s Elite Dealer of the Year in 2011.

Primary Hardware Vendors & Solutions & Services Offerings: Konica Minolta, Muratec, HP, Martin Yale, MPS, Objectif  Lune, Nuance, Prism, EasyLink

The Martin Group team.

Martin Group is another example that proves that good things come in small packages. And that’s why last year’s Elite Dealer of the Year is honored as an Elite Dealer in 2012. What do they continue to do right? Their OneSource managed print services solution has been growing by more than 800 percent since 2009. Or maybe their ability to retain customers, including some who have been relying on Martin Group since the dealership opened its doors in 1981.

We celebrate Martin Group too because of their ability to provide clients with top-notch service.  Their service department sets a standard for excellence. Training is essential to quality service and Martin Group continues to invest in this area. That helps with first-call effectiveness, which is at 63 percent year to date for 2012. That’s above the team goal of 50 percent and above the team average of 60 percent the past two years. No wonder they’ve won the Konica Minolta Pro-Tech service certification award for seven consecutive years.

We liked it last year and we still like the dealership’s OneSource MPS programs. Martin Group offers three different programs, each targeting a specific office’s needs. It’s a differentiator for sure and is backed by Martin Group’s aforementioned exceptional service and their own remanufactured toner cartridges from Cheese Head Toner.

We also like the fact that Martin Group guarantees that clients using OneSource will save a minimum of 10 percent of their current printing expenditures. All in all, they’ve come up with an excellent program that works well for their clients and brings in solid revenues for the dealership.

The biggest win of the past year was being selected by the local school system to replace an out of town dealer’s MPS offering with Martin Group’s OneSource MPS program. “With schools in Wisconsin facing new budget challenges, OneSource couldn’t have helped the school at a better time,” says John Stensland, president of Martin Group. “We are product of the growth we have seen in our OneSource program, but we are even more proud that we had the ability to help our local school save approximately $13,000 in their school budget.”

Martin Group does a nice job of supporting their community as well, doing it through corporate commitment to local, grass roots organizations and schools as well as personal contributions of time and resources through community service and volunteer work.

“We are not a pillar of our communities because we want or are looking for any special recognition or award,” notes Stensland. “We are a pillar of our communities because every Martin Group staff member is an asset to their home communities.”

When one looks at the Martin Group logo, one thing that jumps out is underneath their name is the phrase, ‘driven by people.’ That, says Stensland, represents both the reason why Martin Group does what they do—their family of clients—and the reason they excel at what they do—their exceptional staff.

“When developing strategies to ensure our long-term growth and profitability, we always come back to our key driver—people,” emphasizes Stensland.

While that is a key driver, so too is planning for the future. That involves restructuring the organization as necessary, focusing on training, investing in software to foster growth and profitability, and exploring new solutions opportunities.

Need a model of how to run a small, albeit highly successful office technology dealership? Take a close at Martin Group. They’ve got it down to a science.

Applied Imaging

Grand Rapids, MI

Year Founded: 1987

Number of Employees: 143

Approximate Yearly Revenues: $33 million

This Year’s Most Significant Accomplishment: A new Distribution Center and adding 50 employees. President John Lowery selected by the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) as the 2012 Michigan State Small Business Person of the Year.

Primary Hardware Vendors and Solutions and Services Offerings: Ricoh, Canon, Océ, Kyocera, Lexmark, PrintSmart – Managed Print Services, DocSmart – Document Management, NetSmart – Managed IT Network Services, ProTeam – High Production Printing, Facilities Management, Outsourced Enterprise Printing

John Lowery, President, Applied Imaging

A perennial Elite Dealer, Applied Imaging offers outstanding customer service driven by employees who have a keen understanding that it’s the client that pays their salaries. As Applied’s President and Owner John Lowery states, “That takes client service to a whole new level!”

Speaking of taking things to a new level, that’s what Applied’s done with production print and professional services with both of those segments growing at a 60 percent and 49 percent clip, respectively. One of the biggest wins this year was providing a production print solution to a Fortune 500 insurance company.

The dealership’s focus on services and solutions has led to the introduction of the PrintSmart, DocSmart, and NetSmart programs, all of which have helped them brand those services, providing clients with a valuable value add.

Applied Imaging has proven time and time again that it can meet challenges head on. Two of the toughest they’ve faced of late are finding appropriate talent and leasing. To overcome those challenges Applied sharpened its hiring practices to ensure that new employees have the skills and staying power to thrive and survive in this demanding industry while on the leasing side of the business the company is emphasizing rent versus buy with its customers.

We’re also impressed by Applied Imaging “Focus on Community” initiative that was launched in January 2012 as part of a year-long 25th anniversary celebration. During this initiative, Applied is donating 2,500 employee hours (paid work hours) as volunteer efforts to benefit local Michigan charities and not-for-profits. Each Applied Imaging team member has the flexibility to volunteer to help a diverse array of organizations. This effort to support diversity in the community has had a positive local impact.

In addition to the Focus on Community initiative, Applied Imaging supports many non-profits by providing free equipment and services. They also deliver food for Kids’ Food Basket with their own trucks at no charge. Kids’ Food Basket provides more than 3,200 meals per day to over 20 needy school systems.

As Applied Imaging winds down its 25th year in business and looks to the future expect to see them transition their model from a vendor to a technology partner. “We’re basing our future not just on clicks but services,” says Lowery.

T.A. Seeley Office Sytems Company

Glens Falls, N.Y.

Year Founded: 1981

Number of Employees: 10

Approximate Yearly Revenues: Over $2 million

This Year’s Most Significant Accomplishment: Persevering and winning some major educational accounts.

Primary Hardware Vendors and Solutions/Services Offerings: Konica-Minolta, Muratec America, United Stationers

Pictured left to right: Maryann Seeley, Kurt Seeley , Tim Seeley, Jr., Tim Seeley, Sr., Brian Seeley , and Vanessa Seeley.

One thing we like about Seeley Office Systems, one of the smaller dealers we’re honoring this year, is that it’s a family owned business committed to being a local and single resource for small to large businesses while providing innovative and current technology in office products. Although not unique as a provider of office technology and office products among the dealer community, what they do they do extremely well. There’s something to be said for being a single source and that says Tim Seeley, president and owner, is one of the reasons customers enjoy doing business with them.  It’s also one of the reasons Seeley is hanging in against larger and more well-heeled competitors.

T.A. Seeley has enjoyed some serious growth during the past three years, which is impressive in a difficult economy, seeing remanufactured toner grow by 75 percent, network copiers by 30 percent, and color copiers by 60 percent.

They do a nice job of marketing too. Seeley creates customized printing packages for customers who are considering their equipment, and indicative of growth, they’ve recently hired a marketing and advertising manager to take them to the next level.

Two of the biggest wins of late have been a local paper mill and a large bank with both of those organizations selecting T.A. Seeley over what many might consider larger and more formidable competitors.

The company remains active members of their community with memberships in the Rotary Club and local Chambers of Commerce. They also provide large copying/printing donations to non-profit organizations.

Kudos to T.A. Seeley for their focus on the future and the investments they make in their employees, including increasing their staffing to meet the demands of the market. Finally, there’s the family angle, an angle that still makes a difference. “We are a family run business that is currently managed by four members of our second generation of family members, all providing different areas of expertise—a nice blend of the new generation and our long-term employees,” states Tim.

Blue Technologies

Cleveland, OH

Year Founded: 1995

Number of Employees: 150-200

Approximate Yearly Revenues: $28.2 million

This Year’s Most Significant Accomplishment: Becoming a hybrid dealer.

Primary Hardware Vendors and Solutions & Services Offerings: Konica Minolta, Lexmark, Panasonic, KIP, Hyland Software’s OnBase, FileBound, Managed Print Services, Managed Services

Let’s look at a dealership that knows how to keep their customers satisfied. Indeed, customers enjoy doing business with Blue Technologies because they can rely on exceptional customer service based on service benchmarks the dealership has achieved through its Commitment to Excellence within the organization. What Blue has done is create a culture that encourages employees to strive for excellence by helping customers achieve full satisfaction. “We operate under the motto, ‘A satisfied customer isn’t loyal… only a truly satisfied customer is loyal,’” reports Paul Hanna, president. “Numerous employees have been with the company for many years and have grown within their career thanks to continuous opportunities for education and ongoing challenges. Through these opportunities created through the Commitment to Excellence culture we have been able to improve our service response time and end-user results.”

Meanwhile, business is doing well, especially Professional Services, which includes Imaging Solutions and Managed Print Services.

We also like the way Blue Technologies has strengthened their marketing presence both locally and nationally by increasing their social media presence through various mediums. “We recognized that business-to-business social media is rapidly growing and businesses of all sizes are now on networking sites such as Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter,” states Hannah. “Although these networking sites were previously being used at Blue Technologies, we knew it would be worthwhile to invest more time into our social media efforts in order to strengthen existing relationships with our customers and generate new leads.”

The first step Blue Technologies took was sponsoring the 2011 Midwest Social Media Summit. “At this event we had the chance to network and hear from industry experts on the benefits of using social media and the different things it can do for our company,” explains Hannah. “By increasing our presence in social media we have not only gotten our name out in the community but have also kept up with our current customers and leads to see how their business needs are changing.”

A new service offering Blue Technologies launched in March of 2011 to increase end-user experience for clients is a Web feature called BlueNET. This is a portal located on the Blue Website that allows customers to easily and conveniently request service, view invoices, view their account, and order more supplies.

The most recent marketing strategies at Blue Technologies were the rebranding of the company Website and the re-launch of the Commitment to Excellence program. “We were able to upgrade our Website to increase not only aesthetics but ease of use and capabilities,” says Hanna. “Through the addition of Managed Services to our service offering, it was also time to upgrade our Commitment to Excellence to put our customer service guarantees in writing for all four areas of our business.”

Blue Technologies is proud to be a pioneer in the industry by offering top-notch customer service commitments for not only hardware solutions but also imaging solutions, managed print services, and managed services. To kick off these changes, Blue Technologies had a company-wide celebration where employees spent the day learning about the new company Website, intranet, growth strategies, and Commitment to Excellence followed by a picnic.

One of the biggest challenges Blue Technologies faced in the past five years has been presenting the company to the public as a hybrid dealer as opposed to a traditional hardware solution specialist. “We have worked to overcome this challenge by utilizing our resources both internally and externally to educate our customers on the full spectrum of Blue Technologies service offerings and solutions,” explains Hanna.

Blue Technologies first worked internally to improve communication between different solutions divisions of the company in order to work more efficiently as one team. Selling teams were also used where each division would send a representative on a sales appointment in a group after having the opportunity to work together and brainstorm from a selection of hardware, imaging, managed print services, and managed services solutions that could be marketed together in one package based off the prospective customer’s needs.

The dealership’s most significant accomplishment during the past year has been announcing to the market their level of expertise. “It was vital that we announced Blue Technologies as a hybrid dealer so that not only business and lead generation became easier, but also recruitment became a bit easier,” says Hanna. “When working with our marketing partner we made strategic changes to our advertising in Smart Business Network magazine as well as their online advertisement. Rather than an inside cover glossy ad, we chose to have our technical talent interviewed for their “Insights” section. These published interviews focused on the industry and solutions expertise Blue Technologies possesses, announcing to our market our level of expertise.”

Several leads have been generated as a result, in addition to the customers being an additional proof source. Blue Technologies has also exceeded previous year’s success in the recruitment, retention and development of talent. Blue not only ended the year with no layoffs, but announced plans to expand the company through the addition of a managed services lab where they have already brought on more IT specialists to join the company.

Blue Technologies biggest sale of the past year in the hardware and managed print services division was to a local metropolitan hospital. “When we reached out to the account they communicated that they were dissatisfied with their current vendor because of their poor service and slow response time,” says Hanna. “Blue Technologies was among six other hardware vendors who submitted a bid to do business with the hospital and they chose to work with us because of our reputation for exceptional customer service through our Commitment to Excellence. This account netted the placement of 150 MFP’s and 400 printers under MPS.”

Blue Technologies has made big strides during the past year in order to further achieve their goals of long-term growth and profitability. “Our biggest efforts have been channeled towards the continuous education of our employees in order to achieve growth as a team,” notes Hanna.

When you look at the majority of dealers who achieve Elite Dealer status, it’s not just management who is Elite, it’s everybody in the company from the top down. Just like at Blue Technologies.

Atlantic, Tomorrows Office

New York, N.Y.

Year Founded: 1959

Number of Employees: 285

Approximate Yearly Revenues: $80 Million

This Year’s Most Significant Accomplishment: Returning the IT department to profitability after three years of losses.

Primary Hardware Vendors & Solutions and Services Offerings: Ricoh, Toshiba, Konica Minolta, Kyocera, Managed IT, Document Management, MPS and Records Retention

Larry Weiss, President of Atlantic, Tomorrow’s Office

If we’re still in a recession, somebody forget to tell Atlantic, Tomorrows Office. Their copier business is up 25 percent over the last three years and their IT business has grown 50 percent during the same time period. President Larry Weiss and company must be doing something right.

Besides the great service that Atlantic provides, clients say they’re “easy to do business with” and that their staff is always upbeat and helpful. Add to that Atlantic’s Seal of Satisfaction, which gives customers some serious piece of mind about doing business with Atlantic.

One of the neat marketing programs that never fails to impress us is Atlantic’s Year End Blitz – “Everyone’s a Winner.” It’s a sales promotion that finds hardware flying out the door. How well does it work? “Last year sales revenue was $4.4 million with over 350 units sold in two weeks,” responds Weiss.

Despite being one of the top office technology dealerships in the New York market, Atlantic still has its share of challenges. The biggest challenge Atlantic had to overcome was providing a culture where copier reps and IT reps would go on joint calls together and not be threatened by each other. “Although this is not where I would like to be, it is improving and more joint calls are taking place each month,” says Weiss.

Asked for more details about the dealership’s biggest accomplishment of the past year, Weiss mentions the hiring of a new CTO two years ago. “To watch the IT department, under his leadership, come together and return to profitability after three years of losses was great,” he beams. “The business sector grew 50 percent in 2012 and we look at a 30 percent growth in 2013.”

The big sale of the year was a major school district in New Jersey valued at $1.2 million. Not bad.

Atlantic does a nice job of supporting the community, giving back $300,000 a year in donations. Additionally, sales reps are encouraged to volunteer with a non-profit. Plus this year they provided 250 underprivileged children the chance to meet and greet the Mets, play on the field, and then watch a game. Impressive, especially since Weiss is a diehard Yankees fan. Not that he’s changed his pinstripes, we know he still bleeds Yankee blue.

With an eye to the future, Atlantic’s managers are involved in educational programs, Vistage Key Leadership groups, and attend seminars by business leaders. Similarly, the executive management team is working on SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities & Threats) analysis to ensure the company remains on the path to future success. “Education is an ongoing theme at Atlantic!” exclaims Weiss.

So is being an Elite Dealer!

Eakes Office Plus

Grand Island, NE

Year Founded: 1945

Number of Employees: 220

Approximate Yearly Revenues: $40-$50 million

This Year’s Most Significant Accomplishment(s): Winner of Sharp’s Hyakuman Kai Elite award and honored as an HP Managed Print Advanced Specialist (MPAS).

Primary Hardware Vendors, and Solutions and Services Offerings: Sharp, HP, Muratec, Square 9 Softworks, Papercut, Gold Facts

Eakes’ corporate management team.

We’ve been familiar with Eakes Office Plus for a number of years now, but mostly from the perspective of an office products dealership. However, Eakes is much more than that; they’re also a successful Sharp dealer and are making huge inroads in managed print services as witnessed by their being honored by HP as a Managed Print Advanced Specialist, the only dealership in Nebraska with that distinction. In fact Eakes has spent hours of training in MPS learning how to optimize and improve work flow.

Many dealerships of late have experienced tough times, and Eakes is no exception. Still they’ve seen their copier business grow by 5 percent during this time and their furniture business by 8 percent. That’s not bad considering those are two product categories where many dealers have seen a considerable drop off during the same time period.

Never underestimate the local and longevity angles, which is why customers tend to prefer Eakes over the competition. Not only do they provide customers with award-winning customer service but they are locally owned and have been providing quality service for more than 65 years.

Eakes is doing innovate things in e-marketing such as sending out direct e-marketing newsletters to customers based on vertical market segmentation. These newsletters include company news, new and current product information, and a section of tips, videos, and fun articles for customers to enjoy. We love it!

Quarterly lunch and learn seminars for current and prospective customers help raise Eakes’ profile. These seminars typically include manufacturer reps who discuss new products and solutions, and also train customers on how to more effectively use those products.

The biggest challenge faced by Eakes during the past few years has been keeping up with changing technology. “We have overcome this by being progressive and moving forward with new technology products and services,” explains Mark Miller, president. “We spend a lot of time on training our sales and service staff on new technology so they can take it with them out in the field and help keep us a leader in our industry.”

It’s been a good year for Eakes and some of its larger sales have been to customers such as Baldwin Filters, Grand Island Public Schools, and Valmont Industries.

As a company, Eakes encourages employees to get involved. All 11 locations participate in company-wide events such as Lee Denim Day (Breast Cancer Awareness) and sell apples for Alzheimer’s Awareness. Eakes is also proud to donate to many school organizations and employees often volunteer at those events.

It’s not easy maintaining a successful business for 65 years, but Eakes continues doing the big and little things that contribute to growth while most importantly meeting the many and varied needs of their customer base. Don’t be surprised if that trend continues for another 65 years.

Loffler Companies, Inc.

Bloomington, MN

Year Founded: 1986

Number of Employees: 316

Approximate Yearly Revenues: $56 Million

This Year’s Most Significant Accomplishment: The successful implementation of a leadership plan to apply minor adjustments to the organization to drive record results in all business units.

Primary Hardware Vendors and Solutions and Services Offerings: Canon, Konica Minolta, HP, Lexmark, Océ, Riso, Toshiba, Nuance, eCopy, Biscom, Columbia Soft, ABBYY, Objectif Lune, Biscom, nQueue/Billback, uniFLOW

President Jim Loffler

You have to wonder sometimes how a dealership like Loffler does it. Not only do they sell multiple lines of copiers and MFPs, but they also offer a wide range of solutions. Add to that phone systems, dictation equipment, voice recorders, mailing technology, and services such as managed IT, managed print, and onsite managed services (copy centers, mailrooms, litigation support, scanning). That’s a broad menu but with revenues reaching $56 million, all of those pieces help complete a very profitable puzzle.

As a privately held lean organization, clients appreciate the ability of Loffler to move quickly to provide support and answers needed. “They appreciate our flexibility to do unique things for them and their organization…to ‘do what is right,’” says President Jim Loffler. “We listen closely to their needs and challenges and look to innovate their processes and deliver this solution and the promise it offers.”

Recognizing the need to constantly innovate, Loffler has launched a fresh new Website. “We believe every year, more and more shopping, learning, and decision making is done by searching the Internet,” states Loffler. “That’s why we are continuously investing in this marketing tool.

Another hot solutions offering has been uniFLOW. “[Customers] want easy to use network print devices, ways to make their office workers more productive, and provide a green and secure environment that doesn’t leave prints laying around their print device,” explains Loffler.

Loffler provides an integrated solution for the office with hardware, software, and processes to communicate more effectively. This could be via print, sharing digital information, using voice, or leveraging the network. “We have a half dozen great offerings for clients that integrating two or more of these could help them a great deal,” notes Loffler. “How do we leverage our strong sales force with different areas of expertise to share the integrated solution? The solution was logical—a compensation and bonus plan with spiffs that were properly balanced to drive the right actions/activity. This with a unified marketing message has worked well.”

The dealership’s big win this year was a copier, printer, managed print services, and document software and process solution for a large wholesale distributor that provided substantial improvements for that organization.

All management and employees at Loffler clearly understand the value of the community where they work and generously commit time and financial resources. Their primary benefactor is St. Joseph’s Home for Children. Loffler does ongoing fund raisers throughout the year for St. Joseph’s. Jim’s wife Darcy is also active and can be found their weekly helping out at their office wherever needed. Loffler is also a Gold Sponsor for the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure. Other worthy organizations Loffler employees are active in include VEAP (a food service for needy), Feed My Starving Children (packing meals to be sent overseas), Cornerstone (single mothers), American Cancer Society, Loaves and Fishes, and Ronald McDonald House among many others.

We find it admirable that Loffler values their clients and seeks constant input, feedback, and guidance from them on where their business is growing and what is important and needed to allow them to be successful. That certainly helps Loffler be successful as well. As does investment in their employees through training and support, strategic acquisitions, leadership team development, and partner relationship management.

Altogether those are some of the many reasons why Loffler is once again an Elite Dealer.

Perry Corporation

Lima, OH

Year Founded: 1965

Number of Employees: 208

Approximate Yearly Revenues: $40-$50 Million

This Year’s Most Significant Accomplishment: Sustaining double-digit growth during a flat economy by successfully combining two previously separate companies (MFP provider and systems integrator) into one resource.

Primary Hardware Vendors and Solutions and Services Offerings: Konica Minolta, Lexmark, Muratec, Riso, Sharp, CompuThink: ViewWise, OpenText, Alchemy NSI: AutoStore Mi-Co: Mi-Forms Artsyl: Simple Capture, DocAlpha

How can we acknowledge a dealership that’s been able to sustain double-digit growth during a flat economy by successfully combining two previously separate companies into one resource for their clients? “It’s not an easy feat to combine an MFP provider with a systems integrator, but our employees across the board understand this will be our differentiator and we have embraced this combination as have our clients,” states Barry Clark, president of Perry Corporation.

Much of that double-digit growth is coming from solutions (25%), managed print (30%), and production print (25%). That all makes sense as customers choose Perry because of Perry’s ability to offer a total technology package over and above just MFPs. “Our goal is that our customers look to us as a true consultant for everything that happens in their business technology environment,” says Clark.

Another differentiator for Perry is that they are 100 percent employee owned and employees are empowered to think and react as owners on behalf of their clients.

All of Perry’s marketing efforts are directed towards the combined solutions they offer in both the office environment (MFPs, document solutions, managed print and production print) and the infrastructure backbone of the company. “As part of this plan, we are combining all resources into PERRY proTECH by December of this year,” reveals Clark. “Our efforts include social media, frequent seminars, and product showcases, speaking engagements with local agencies such as Chambers of Commerce and traditional programs with outbound introductions and appointment setting.”

While Clark says the economic uncertainty has slowed down the decision-making process, Perry’s biggest challenge and also a success has been the integration of solutions into a larger percentage of their traditional opportunities. “We’re spending time engaging teams from all facets of our business to develop the best plan for our client that covers all aspects of their technology needs,” he notes. “We’ve been making joint calls, introducing clients to additional representatives and technical resources, and integrating their budgets into one manageable and scalable source.”

The recent award of a large contract to a regional hospital group has resulted in the placement of more than 600 units. “We were able to provide the hospital a unique acquisition program that helped them reduce printers and further manage their fleet more efficiently,” boasts Clark.

As employee owners, the entire staff of Perry Corporation is very engaged across the company for their local communities. They’ve held food drives at each branch quarterly along with a “Perry Gives Back” community day that allowed each branch to choose a local non-profit and spend a Saturday helping them. “One hundred and eighty five volunteers throughout our company helped in events that ranged from cleaning a cemetery and local parks, working at a food bank, participating in Walk for Wishes and even bathing dogs at the humane society,” says Clark.

Additionally, each branch will “adopt a family” for Christmas to make sure Perry helps those around them in need.

We’re also impressed by Perry’s strategy for future growth and profitability, which includes expanding their use of technology in all aspects of their business. Clark reports the dealership is integrating more lines of their business offerings into each client sale. “Many of those offerings are now managed services that provide economical resources to our clients for the long term,” he adds. “We continue to focus on additional acquisitions to expand our market share inside and outside of our existing geography.”

Those are solid reasons why Perry Corporation is being honored as a 2012 Elite Dealer.

TGI Office Automation

Brooklyn, NY

Year Founded: 1964

Number of Employees: 300+

Approximate Yearly Revenues: $50 million

This Year’s Most Significant Accomplishment(s): Lanier’s National Award of Excellence, Toshiba’s Eastern Region Dealer of the Year Award, Lexmark’s Premier Circle Award,  DocuWare’s Diamond Club Partner Award, Toshiba’s Pro Masters Service Award

Primary Hardware Vendors and Solutions and Services Offerings: Toshiba, Lanier, Lexmark, HP, Kyocera, RISO, KIP, and FP Mailing Solutions, MPS, DocuWare, Drivve, Equitrac, GlobalScan, PaperCut, Rerite, eCopy, PPDM

Frank Grasso

Why does it not surprise us that TGI’s managed print services and document management offerings are growing like crazy? Knowing President Frank Grasso and what he’s achieved with his dealership in the past has positioned TGI well for the future. Sure they’re placing a greater emphasis on those two segments as any savvy dealer would in this day and age, but what it’s done is allow them to go into a customer’s business, evaluate how it operates and then recommend strategic solutions and other ways to improve profitability, reduce costs and position themselves more competitively. It’s a strategy that works and works well.

No wonder TGI has so many satisfied customers. “A satisfied customer is our most important asset, which is why 75 percent of TGI employees are in customer service roles,” reports Grasso. “In addition we are constantly coming up with innovative ways to improve the way we do things, internally making ourselves more efficient and productive which in turn makes us significantly easier to do business with.”

Customers also choose TGI because they know they’ve got the aforementioned solutions to improve their business. “We may start out as a potential copier vendor, but when the process is over we inevitably earn the title of ‘valued business partner,’” says Grasso. “We do this by asking a lot of important questions about their current workflow, data security, and green practice and use their answers to build customized strategic solutions to their pressing business issues. Ultimately we take the business technology burden off their shoulders so they can get back to work.”

This has been a busy year for TGI with a huge focus on creating a new identity for the business. “We realized it was time for a change,” explains Grasso. “The new identity had to satisfy all of the existing expectations of what TGI stands for while simultaneously moving the brand forward. Rather than continuing on the same path, we needed to convey to the customer the changes that TGI has made. We wanted to portray ourselves as the innovative technology company that we are. Not only did we want a new look but also wanted to deliver a new message conveying where TGI stands as a business partner.”

A new Website is in the works too and will complete the rebranding process by incorporating TGI’s updated look while emphasizing that customer service is a priority, especially communication and education.

“The site will highlight solutions, emphasize benefits, and generally make the customer’s life easier,” says Grasso. “Smart organizations constantly think about how they reach and connect with their clients, staff, or partners. Our aggressive re-evaluation led us to rebrand in order to reflect our growth, change in focus, and to properly align perceptions. Our goal is to differentiate ourselves.”

This has been accomplished by aligning their successful sales process with the TGI brand and message. “We realized that in difficult economic times it was essential to adapt and change our sales process as well,” adds Grasso. “Investing in technology, such as CRM tools have resulted in better account management, improved retention and penetration rates, and more organized prospecting.”

Another major advancement has been TGI’s partnership with the Brooklyn Nets and the Barclays Center. Scheduled to open in September 2012, Barclays Center will be a major sports and entertainment venue in the heart of Brooklyn, New York. “This partnership gives us the opportunity to connect with people of Brooklyn in ways we wouldn’t otherwise be able to and provides us with an international stage to showcase what Brooklyn businesses are really all about,” beams Grasso. “We are proud to be the official document solutions provider of the Brooklyn Nets team and the Barclays Center arena.”

One of our most significant wins of the year has been securing a managed output contract for the largest intergovernmental institution in the world. After the formulation of a RFP and an extensive evaluation period, TGI was awarded the Print Services Contract. TGI worked closely with Ricoh/Lanier to provide flexible solutions to meet the needs of the request.

“In order to maximize print technology efficiencies, we implemented our GPS (Green-Print-Save) Strategy,” says Grasso. “Our GPS Strategy will help identify ways to reduce costs, gain control and become more environmentally responsible with their printing devices. These key goals are met by installing device management software, proactively managing supplies to reduce downtime as well as analyzing the current print environment in order to develop strategies to consolidate assets.”

Even though TGI spent much of this year rebranding itself Grasso notes that many of the strategies that will now help with TGI’s long-term growth are the same strategies that have provided them with unprecedented growth for the past 50 years.

“The most important of these however, is moving TGI from the position of copier vendor to business partner,” states Grasso. “With the proliferation of information available on the Internet, businesses don’t need someone to ‘sell’ them a product, service or solution anymore. A recent Harvard Business Review article outlines that customers have a deep understanding of their most crucial issues and a well scoped RFP completed before they see the first sales rep, categorically commoditizing the entire ‘sales process’. Our job, as a strategic business partner, is to use our experience and insight to work with our clients on uncovering hidden, emerging demands to improve the way they do business. By uncovering these emerging demands you bring much more to the table than a low-bid, you bring value and that value is what will help us continue to grow now and in the distant future.”

Clearly, this is an Elite Dealer who gets it. 


Holland, OH

Year Founded: 2002

Number of Employees: 40

Approximate Yearly Revenues: $5-$10 million

This Year’s Most Significant Accomplishment: Continued recognition as a Sharp Platinum Service Dealer and its fourth consecutive Sharp Hyakuman Kai Dealer Award.

Primary Hardware Vendors and Solutions & Services Offerings: Sharp, MaxxVault, Infodynamics

One might say we’re highly impressed by an office technology dealership that has experienced 168 percent growth over the last three years. Much of that growth has been driven in large part by document management solutions as well as color machines (145% growth).

Ohio Business Machines (OBM) does a super job of leveraging the local angle and customers appreciate that all decisions are made locally. Customers also get piece of mind from OBM’s 7-Year Security Blanket, which offers total protection. This emphasis on service has been acknowledged by Sharp who has recognized OBM as a Sharp Platinum Service Provider.

As a Sharp dealer, OBM has been receptive to the digital interactive displays that the company is offering to their dealers. As a result OBM is integrating Sharp hardware with other media such as  an iPad or a Sharp Aquos LCD interactive display when selling to customers. This places OBM ahead of the curve in reaping the rewards of a new revenue stream.

Asked about the biggest challenge the dealership has faced of late, President Salvatore Spagnola identifies the technology change in recruitment strategies. To meet this challenge OBM is using social networking and social media sites. In addition OBM will have the entire sales force attend job and career fairs. “This enables prospective employees to talk with someone who is actually in the field selling our product,” says Spagnola. “We also used teleconferencing (SKYPE) for interviews and meetings.”

OBM does a nice job of supporting its community and is a corporate sponsor of the Anne Grady Foundation annual Enchanted Evening JDRF Walk to Cure Diabetes. They provide team participation along with all printing and copy needs before and during the event. In addition they sponsor various non-profit golf outings, the VFW, and children’s sports teams.

You don’t have to be a big dealer to make a big impact in their community and within the office technology space and OBM proves that.

Ensuring that they’ll continue to meet their customer’s demands going forward OBM has hired a document management specialist and is a Sharp AIP dealer (integration of open systems). “OBM stands firm on supplying high-quality products and service and will not give into the lowest price war,” concludes Spagnola.

And that’s why we celebrate OBM’s selection as an Elite Dealer.

EGP, Inc.

Orlando, FL

Year Founded: 1967

Number of Employees: 90

Approximate Revenues: $10-15 million

This Year’s Most Significant Accomplishment: Streamlining and becoming a more efficient company while maintaining grow and enhancing customer support.

Primary Hardware Vendors and Solutions & Services Offerings: Kyocera, Lanier, MBM,  Document Management Solutions, Managed Print Services, and compatible toners

Customers like doing business with EGP because of their ethics, product knowledge, solution sales approach, and their ability to streamline a customer’s document flows. One way they’re doing the latter is through managed print services, an area that’s growing 25 percent year over year. Besides MPS, EGP remains successful by providing customers with total CPC management programs and innovative network support solutions, as they merge the best of the old school with the new school of office technology dealership offerings.

EGP has done a nice job during the past few years streamlining their operations so they can provide more efficient support to their customers. In a business where quality customer service goes a long way towards customer retention, EGP has done a superior job and we extend our kudos to President Doug Dupree and the rest of the EGP organization who completely understand how important this is not only to the customer, but to the long-term health of the dealership.

Asked about this year’s biggest win, Dupree points to the growth of EGP’s managed print services program.

We admire dealers who are good corporate citizens and this dealership and its employees exemplify that by continued involvement and support of charitable and non-profit organizations throughout Central Florida.

Meanwhile, EGP continues to employ strategies that will ensure their long-term growth and profitability by continually challenging employees for innovative ideals and to better our company and customer service. Management values the opinions of all employees and that is another mark of an Elite Dealer.

LDI Color Toolbox,

Jericho, NY

Year Founded: 1999

Number of Employees: 230

Approximate Yearly Revenues: $55+ million

This Year’s Most Significant Accomplishment: A company-wide initiative titled Friends & Family that reached back to every employee in the company, reminded them of LDI’s roots and motivated them to be an even greater part of LDI’s future. One result is better interdepartmental communication.

Primary Hardware Vendors and Solutions & Services Offerings: Canon, Sharp, Toshiba, HP, Color Graphic Solutions, Application Workflow, Vertical Industry Solutions for Legal, Healthcare, Financial, Education, Product Suites from EFI, Nuance, CGS, Xrite, MaxxVault, IPRO and others.

Jerry Blaine of LDI Color Toolbox

We’ve always admired what President & CEO Jerry Blaine and his team at LDI have been doing over the years and this year is no exception. They just know how to win business and grow. Consider that MFP sales and MPS solutions are each up 15 percent and support services (professional services and training) are up 12 percent. Those are pretty good numbers considering the tough metropolitan market LDI works in.

Customers continue to appreciate the way LDI provides them with a unique strategy for multiline product integration and support. “Where most dealerships are purchasing solutions and workflow from MFP manufacturers, LDI has developed direct relationships with our strategic alliance partners,” explains Brian Gertler, vice president. “LDI historically has played an important industry role in bringing solutions to market, only to be adopted by our manufacturer partners.”

Our earliest awareness of LDI traces back to when we learned about the series of Solution Seminars they conduct in their Times Square Conference and Showroom facilities. Those sessions bring together manufacturers, developers, knowledge workers, and end users. “These collaborations are a value-add to all parties, offering valuable business process and feedback for future development,” says Gertler.

How many other dealers you know are doing something like that?

We also admire the dealership for the way they’ve taken an aggressive stance on green and sustainability, bringing eco-friendly programs and processes directly to prospects and clients.  These efforts have resulted in ongoing relationships and strategies that have positively impacted a number of work environments.

In addition, LDI’s service strategies are built around empowering techs to gain familiarity, regularity and direct communication with the locations that they are assigned to. “This program has enabled LDI to reach extremely high uptime, client satisfaction and therefore, above industry standards for client retention,” boasts Gertler.

Like many dealerships across the country, LDI is challenged in finding the right personnel. They are extremely selective with the individuals that are invited to join the LDI family in all phases of the operation; a fact that has led to carefully managed organic growth and extremely low turnover. That’s something any dealership should be proud of.

LDI considers one of its largest and best wins of the year to be the law firm of Patterson, Belknap. “While it was not the largest in gross revenue or number of units, it was one that represented fierce competition, decisions by both procurement, IT and outside consultants, and allowed us to provide the integrated strategies of our most strategic partners,” recalls Gertler.

A cornerstone of LDI’s corporate culture is encouraging employees to identify community organizations that the company and its employees as individuals can support. “Every year we make significant cash donations to non-profits in our local communities,” says Gertler. “This year alone, LDI supported North Shore University Hospital, Winthrop Hospital and the Interfaith Nutritional Network with substantial contributions from the profit pool specifically designated for monetary contributions.  In addition, we supported numerous not for profits with pro bono hardware, service, supply and production print.”

Perhaps the dealership’s most significant affiliation is with YAI, National Institute for People with Disabilities.  Plus 2012 marked nine consecutive years that LDI sponsored and underwrote the entire cost of a golf event that brought together over 150 people from NYC’s largest companies. The purpose of the annual event is to raise money for the agency and most importantly to highlight the work of The Corporate Source, where LDI President & CEO Jerry Blaine is the board chairman and where employment initiatives and programs, provide meaningful job opportunities for people with disabilities.

One thing is for certain about LDI is that they never sit still and the dealership continues to evaluate existing dealerships for acquisition in markets that would prove advantageous and products that would expand and complement their existing portfolio and branding strategies. It’s a strategy that’s helped get them here in the first place and a strategy that further validates their selection as a 2012 Elite Dealer.

Cell Business Equipment (CBE)

Irvine, CA

Year Founded: 1993

Number of Employees: 81

Approximate Yearly Revenues: $20+ million

Most significant accomplishment this year: Achieving double-digit machine population growth.

Primary Hardware & Solutions Vendors & Services: Sharp, Ricoh, Canon, Francotype-Postalia, Nuance, Prism Software, Digitech Systems, Lantronix, EFI, EM C2, Microsoft, Print Audit

Tarek Hafix, president of CBE

Meet a dealership that is enjoying a serious growth spurt. It was only back in 2010 that they became a Canon dealer, today, Canon hardware makes up more than 50 percent of their total hardware sales. Meanwhile, software sales, including installation, implementation, training, and ongoing support revenue have continued to more than double each of the past three years. Good things come in threes and that’s illustrated by the way demand for non-OEM supplies for retail sales and CBE’s MPS program has more than tripled. They’re also enjoying growth in document management and cost recovery (10-15%) as well as security and cloud services, which has seen 50 percent growth year-over-year for the past three years.

We’re also big fans of CBE’s President, Tarek Hafiz, and the way he operates his business. Hafiz contends that people still buy from people they like and trust. “Much of CBE’s success is created by providing state-of-the-art products and services in an old fashioned way,” he says. “We still do cold calls, ask for and receive referrals. Our staff is stable and is very involved in the community.”

Hafiz also takes pride in the way that CBE has successfully cross-trained five generations of workers (Silent, Boomers, Gen X, Y and Z) to create a positive workflow of emerging technologies.

“We focus on camaraderie that extends through our employees to our clients and reaches out into the community,” he says. “The strength, longevity and success of CBE are in direct ratio to our staff’s commitment to our clients and community. We have found if you genuinely care about, and take care of your employees and clients they will take care of your business.”

As an authorized dealer for Sharp, Ricoh and Canon, CBE is fully certified in three major lines of products, which allows CBE to offer the right solution for each client. “This variety of unique offerings sets us apart from any other dealerships in the area,” explains Hafiz.

A long-term customer base of more than 3,500 businesses provides a strong foundation for growth from CBE’s newest offerings. “Having the ability to offer MPS, document management, SoS, security, recovery and cloud based services as well as hardware and mailing equipment allows for one stop shopping for our clients,” states Hafiz. “By offering a wide range of hardware and software we can quickly and economically put together an appropriate solution consisting of hardware, software, training and service to fulfill our client’s needs.”

Referrals are commonplace in the business world and that certainly has been helpful to CBE.  CBE receives referrals from satisfied clients. “We had a former employee from our client, the Ritz Carlton Hotel, change employment; moving to the 5-star Montage Hotel in Laguna Beach,” recalls Hafiz. “When the time came for some needed software upgrades to the Montage’s imaging equipment, the former Ritz Carlton employee immediately contacted CBE. The software implementation, training and upkeep went well. A new working relationship was formed.”

The Montage management quickly realized the professionalism and value CBE provided to their back office needs. Within a year, the Montage completed a 40-machine deal with CBE. A satisfied customer referral, software implementation, 40 machine deal with full service and supplies; The Week in Imaging may call this a big win. CBE likes to consider it standard operating procedure.

KOMAX Business Systems

South Charleston, WV

Year Founded: 1999

No. of Employees: 48

Approximate Yearly Revenues: $5-$10 million

Most significant accomplishment this year: Securing managed print services contracts in several large accounts that were not previously KOMAX customers.

Primary Hardware & Solutions Vendors & Services: Konica Minolta, Muratec, KIP, PRISM Doc Record, Optimized Print Services

KOMAX Business Systems is a dealership that’s expanded its business by offering customers additional resources above and beyond traditional hardware. Those offerings encompass software solutions and managed print services. Sure everybody is doing it, by we like the way that they’ve been able to add new customers and expand offerings to existing customers through their Optimized Print Services program.

Customers like doing business with KOMAX because they’re reliable, flexible, and solutions oriented. Add to that a dedicated customer support department, local ownership, and empowered employees, and they’re a fitting model for an independent dealership. As part of that customer-oriented focus, we are especially enamored by their dedicated trainer who accompanies deliveries, trains customers in all aspects of the equipment, and provides ongoing support. Her only job is to support KOMAX’s customers. This is a key differentiator and sets KOMAX apart from the competition.

Komax Lunch and Learns help customers learn about new technologies and methods for managing document workflows. These events have expanded beyond the confines of KOMAX and into the community with technology shows at the minor league baseball stadium that includes dinner, drinks, and box seating as well as a showcase for their newest products. Whether it’s educating customers or educating themselves, education plays a big role in the day to day operations at this South Charleston, W.V. office technology dealership.

“Education is the name of the game in our industry,” states Becky Offutt, one of KOMAX’s owners. “Technologies are constantly changing and so is the necessity to keep informed, educated and prepared to step out of our comfort zone. As the old saying goes ‘If you’re not learning something new, then you are going backwards!’ We are dedicated to learning something new every day and we foster that attitude with every KOMAX employee.”

The office technology dealer is no stranger to challenges and KOMAX has met those head on. Whether it’s the changes presented by the shift to digital technologies, the advent of new technologies or services, KOMAX has had the foresight to embrace these changes, viewing them as an opportunity to provide more complete services. With dedicated sales and services teams the challenge has been to ensure the right people are in place, appropriate training is available, and all aspects of the business are working together towards a common goal of providing the best solution and support to its customers.

Equally impressive is how KOMAX’s Optimized Print Services program grew by 30 percent last year, continuing to present new opportunities for additional hardware placements. “We are confident that we now have the infrastructure in place to grow this program exponentially,” exclaims Offutt.

In addition to the successes with managed print, KOMAX has secured sole source equipment contracts in two large County school systems in 2012. “The combined placement of more than 200 multifunctional systems meant lots of overtime in our warehouse and many hours spent at the schools with installation and training,” says Offutt. “Experienced and dedicated team members are required to make this kind of installation possible and these wins are a reflection of the dedicated teams here at KOMAX.”

And that statement is a reflection of the recognition KOMAX management has for their employees and another reason we honor this dealership as a 2012 Elite Dealer.

Copier Fax Business Technologies, Inc.

Buffalo, NY

Year Founded: 1990

Number of Employees: 26

Approximate Yearly Revenues: $5+ million

Most significant accomplishment this year: Expanding the sales division with the addition of management and proven sales talent as well as adding IT personnel to support the launch of a managed network services division.

Primary Hardware & Solutions Vendors & Services: Konica Minolta, Muratec, DocuWare, PageScope, Unity Software

Al Scibetta

If the NFL’s Buffalo Bills want to get back into the win column they might take a lesson or two from Buffalo’s own Copier Fax Business Technologies, a small office technology dealership that’s been enjoying double-digit growth over the past two years. President Al Scibetta expects to see that double-digit growth continue again in 2012.

What’s growing and not surprisingly so is its document management business, thanks in large part to DocuWare and the managed print services that Copier Fax offers through Optimized Print Services (OPS). If you’re a small dealership with limited resources, these are two excellent options for staying in the game.

Its current crop of customers are fans of Copier Fax Business Technology not just for their fast, reliable service, but for the technology they use to go above and beyond, such as an IT department that provides IT assistance at the customer’s location, and remote assistance for connectivity, and software solution issues.

“Customers without their own in-house IT professional depend on us to maximize their office productivity by keeping all systems operational,” explains Scibetta. “We manage the entire work flow from document creation at the workstation, to any type of printing device through our Optimized Print Services which provides e-mail alerts for supplies, service calls, and meter reads.”

Ongoing training for sales and service staff is essential to keeping Copier Fax in the win column as well as keeping everyone in the company updated on their newest hardware and software solutions.

We also like the way that Copier Fax is delving into social media, including Linkedin, Facebook, and Twitter along with the Copier Fax Website. They also use more traditional forms of marketing such as lunch and learn presentations that demonstrate to customers the benefits of DocuWare document management as well as an open house that takes place every six months, an annual Golf Outing for customers and prospects, and newsletters, interactive Webinars, and company updates.

Copier Fax has made an effective transition from a hardware-based sales to a solutions-based approach. “This type of selling separates us from our competition,” states Scibetta. “Ongoing training for our sales and service staff is of utmost importance to keep our dealership current in this ever evolving technical field.”

Big wins can be challenging in a difficult economy, but one of the most recent was the placement of a Konica Minolta C8000 Digital Press at one the region’s premier commercial printers. Not a bad victory for a smaller player in the market.

In addition to the business end of things, Copier Fax remains diligent in giving back to the community and actively participates in blood Drives with UNYTS (Upstate New York Transplant Services) and donating copiers for a local telethon for kids fighting hunger in urban settings. They’re also a financial sponsor to numerous non-profit organizations.

As Copier Fax Business Technologies looks to the future, expect to see them expand on their managed network services, document management, and Optimized Print Services programs while finding new opportunities for clients to use our MFPs.

There’s no standing still at Copier Fax Business Technologies as they continue to focus on the future.

Northern Business Machines, Inc. (NBM)

Burlington, MA

Year Founded: 1985

Number of Employees: 80

Approximate Yearly Revenues: $18 million

Most significant accomplishment this year: NBM was honored as one of the top 15 independent Sharp dealers in the country, and one of only 18 organizations that did more than $5 million or more in wholesale business with Sharp in the last year.

Primary Hardware & Solutions Vendors & Services: Sharp, Konica Minolta, HP, OKI, Kip

The staff of NBM.

Yes, Northern Business Machines (NBM) has been acknowledged as an Elite Dealer in the past, and they earn that distinction once again based in part on the way their business has been surging upwards during the past three years, thanks in large part to managed print services which is up 200 percent and solutions and IT services up 500 percent. That’s impressive.

In NBM’s market, direct sales organizations represent the vast majority of the competition, which is formidable to say the least. Yet NBM is holding their own because customers like doing business with them because the dealership can engage them on many levels and give them local, personalized service that is superior to what a branch is capable of providing. For example, a small firm might engage with NBM for outsourced IT where a larger organization would be more likely to employ an MPS partner.

Although lunch and learns are hardly novel concepts, NBM presented their first session this year inviting customers and prospects for a working lunch hosted by InfoDynamics. NBM and InfoDynamics presented the Intact Smart document management suite and fielded questions relating to best practices for scanning and archiving documents. By all accounts it was a huge success. The company is also moving into the managed services arena and is currently building a Network Operating Center (NOC) that ought to be completed early this fall.

“We feel that this will be a critical component for marketing our IT Services group and more importantly, it will allow us to provide even better support to our clients moving forward,” says Vern Hydorn, vice president.

No doubt this is a challenging business environment and the biggest challenge NBM faced during the past year was finding new revenue streams that would allow them to grow regardless of the economy and with lack of growth of the MFP business. “MPS, managed IT, and solutions have helped us achieve our best ever YTD results for the first two quarters,” exclaims Hydorn. “2011 was the best year in company history and as of 7/31/ 12, we are up 11 percent year over year.”

While being acknowledged by Sharp as one of their top dealers is a huge honor, taking down a big client is also something special and NBM did just that when they billed more than $600,000 in hardware sales to a single client.

Going forward, NBM is constantly looking for new revenue streams while paying close attention to the bottom line for each of its business units. They have a separate P&L for MFP’s, MPS and Solutions/IT.

“We strongly believe that the future success of our organization will be determined by providing the widest possible range of products and services to our prospects and clients,” notes Hydorn.

If past history is any indication, that future success is a sure thing.

DEX Imaging, Inc.

Tampa, FL

Year Founded: 2002

Number of Employees: 450+

Approximate Yearly Revenues: $118 million

Most significant accomplishment this year: Breaking the $100 million mark through organic growth as opposed to acquisition.

Primary Hardware & Solutions Vendors & Services: Konica Minolta, Kyocera, INDEX (document management software), PrintCounts (managed print software)

Sometimes bigger is better and we believe that holds true for DEX Imaging, the Tampa, Florida-based office technology powerhouse that’s now pulling in $118 million a year in annual revenues. The amazing thing about DEX is that they are doing these numbers through organic growth rather than acquisition.


Much of that growth is coming from its MPS division although President Dan Doyle, Jr.

also points out that the dealership’s South Florida sales and service operation has grown extremely fast over the past five years as well.

Another thing DEX does that impresses us is they know how to keep a client. “Once a customer gives us the opportunity to earn their business, we rarely lose them as a client,” states Nancy Lycan, marketing and advertising director for DEX. “We’ve built the business on consistent, quality service, and are able to deliver because we offer financial incentives to our employees. Our customers love our entire team. We have built a culture where our people want to do their best and create customer loyalty. They are given bonuses for exceptional service and admin support.”

DEX was founded in 2002 with two main objectives: 1) to create a privately-held office imaging dealership that focuses solely on quality customer service (without the conflicting objectives that publicly-held companies face); 2) to give back to the communities they do business in by donating one third of the company’s profits to charities and educational programs.

We find those qualities especially admirable in an office technology dealership.

“We believe in supporting businesses, schools, charities, and sports franchises in the communities we do business in,” notes Lycan. “We don’t spend money on traditional advertising. We take our advertising budget and use it to help other businesses do business better. The strategy is working not only for us, but for our customers and those in our community who need our help.”

The biggest challenge DEX, like so many other dealers faced during the past few years, was the tough economy. Florida was hit hard, but DEX persevered. Not only did businesses fold, the dealership’s leasing channels dried up. Any business that was associated with real estate was in automatic decline (approx 35% of all business in Florida). As a result DEX went after the remaining 65 percent of the businesses in the state. This was a conscious, company-wide strategy, and it helped them not only stay afloat, but grow.

As far as recent big wins, one of the biggest was having the winning bid for the Orange County Public Schools. That certainly helped contributed to the bottom line.

DEX is also active in the community, a common trait among Elite Dealers. They give one third of their profits to local non-profits. Plus each DEX manager takes on a personal role, joining boards and committees for local non-profits. The dealership’s marketing team works with each charity to help them raise awareness of their cause. Because most charities can’t afford marketing, and if they do it at all, they usually don’t do it well, DEX works with them creatively as well as with media buying in addition to donating money to those needy organizations.

“We’ve helped numerous charities raise their profile by showing them how to fund-raise and getting the word out about their missions,” says Lycan.

DEX’s long-term strategy is to continue the business model they started with and not waiver from it. The Doyle family has had a long and distinguished career in the copier business, and they know what works and what doesn’t. Staying privately-held is important, and not growing too quickly is equally important. “Everything we do is to better serve our customers,” concludes Lycan. “There is no other agenda.”

Offix LC

Gainesville, VA

Year Founded: 1999

Number of Employees: 34

Approximate Yearly Revenues: $10-$15 million

Most significant accomplishment this year: Winning the Prince William Chamber of Commerce Business of the Year Award.

Primary Hardware & Solutions Vendors & Services: Canon, Sharp, Océ, Kip, MBM, Secap, EFI, HP, Samsung, eCopy, Drivve

While many dealerships give lip service to managed print services, Offix is actually doing it and doing it well. In fact that’s a huge growth area for them and since last January they’ve added more than 1,000 devices, resulting in growth of more than 150 percent year over year.

Clients enjoy working with Offix because of the great service they provide although that’s not the only reason they have such a high customer retention rate. They tout and we love that Offix has created a Service Smart Guarantee with 9 different guarantees, proving their clients’ happiness is the dealership’s number one priority. Those guarantees include: a 15-month equipment and/or money back guarantee; 36-month lease upgrade guarantee; Guaranteed certified technicians; Service response time guarantee; 95 percent uptime guarantee; Free delivery, installation and training – guaranteed; Referral program guarantee; Free loaner guarantee; Lifetime performance guarantee.

With all those guarantees, clearly this is a dealership that puts themselves on the line every single day with every single customer.

Offix is a great communicator and constantly communicates with clients regarding service calls so the client is never left wondering about the status of their call. After a service call is placed, e-mails are sent with the technician’s name and what time they were dispatched, plus after the service call is completed, they follow up with a survey.

The many guarantees that Offix offers differentiates them from their competitors and that information is incorporated in all marketing activities and events where Offix participates. During the last year they’ve been busy creating new marketing projects such as the Offix Welcome Pack that includes the new Offix handbook. This has all the information clients need to know about working with Offix, their newly purchased equipment, leasing, servicing and all contact information so Offix can be easily contacted at any time.

We are also impressed by Offix’s revamped Website where they’ve added all the products they carry so potential clients can easily access information and brochures. A new Featured Product Sale Page with current sale promotions is a nice touch. In addition to the aforementioned marketing initiatives, Offix has created multiple brochures and direct mailers targeting vertical markets, making it easier for the sales team to connect with specific industries.

The biggest challenge Offix faced last year was the unfortunate earthquake and tsunami in Japan that resulted in many delays from their manufacturers, especially Offix’s’ biggest vendor, Canon. Due to the devastation Canon was physically unable to fulfill orders in a timely manner. However, Offix carries other brands such as Sharp, Kip, Oce, HP, Secap, Samsung etc. so they were able to fulfill orders through other manufacturers to keep customers satisfied. As a result, Offix increased sales of other brands, especially Sharp.

The Week in Imaging isn’t the only one that’s recognized Offix. Every year since opening their doors they’ve won multiple awards such as Canon Top Dealer, Canon Outstanding Partner, Canon Certificate of Commitment Gold Status, Canon Premier Gold Achiever, Canon Association of Technical Professionals ATSP Certification Award & Sharp Platinum Level Dealer Recognition. No wonder they have a customer base of over 5,500 and a 94.5 percent retention rate!

The big win this year was a government contracting account in Northern Virginia. The company had over 200 Xerox machines which they will be replacing with Canon. They’ve already replaced over 40 and the remaining will be replaced over the next 12 months.

As for the future, Offix is looking for acquisitions to grow. At press time they were working on a big deal. In addition they have a five-year plan to add one new office every year, adding to the two offices they currently have in place.

Yes indeed, when it comes to dealers who have set themselves apart from the pack, Offix is truly Elite.

Advanced Imaging Solutions

South Bend, Indiana

Year Founded: 1995

Number of Employees: 85

Approximate/Average Yearly Revenues: $10 – $15 million

Most Significant Accomplishment This Year: The purchase of Custom Computer Services.

Primary Hardware and Solutions Vendors/Offerings: Lanier/Ricoh, Canon, HP,  RISO;  MNS, MPS, workflow solutions, document storage and retrieval solutions, production print solutions, and cloud-based solutions.

Customers in South Bend, Indiana like doing business with a locally owned and reputable company. That’s why they choose Advanced Imaging Solutions. “We take pleasure in giving back to the communities we serve and act with integrity in all business dealings,” explains Steve Klatt, president of Advancing Imaging Solutions. “We promise to always put the customer first, be respectful of all people, respond quickly and effectively, take ownership and, above all, work to improve the quality of our company and the companies that we do business with.”

It’s an idealistic philosophy, but one that has made a difference in winning and retaining business over the years. What’s also contributing to Advanced’s growth is managed services, an area they’ve placed a serious focus on with solutions and programs for managed networked services, MPS, workflow solutions, document storage, production print, and now cloud-based solutions. It’s the menu of services that one would expect from a dealership thriving in the 21st century.

One program we love is Advanced’s “Take MPS for a Test – Drive” marketing program. That includes a USB leave behind that is preloaded with a case study and video to support the dealership’s MPS program. They also do a nice job with their Technology Showcase—in-house seminars covering relevant topics such as secure computing, building a technology roadmap, the future of MPS, and mobile printing—along with the service offerings Advanced has in place to support customers.

The expansion of their solutions and services offerings is a testament to Advanced meeting the challenge of successfully transitioning from a hardware sales approach to a solutions sales approach along with responding to the many emerging technologies that have become commonplace in the office technology industry.

“It makes for a market filled with too many technology options and not enough cash flow to support them,” says Klatt. “Our company made the decision to rebrand itself from a printer/copier supplier to a trusted solutions provider and began offering managed print services. Finding success in our efforts, we have since decided to expand our company even further to include managed network services. Under this new business model, hardware supplements the solution and not vice versa.”

Making a move into managed services isn’t for the faint of heart, however, Advanced boldly stepped into the fray by acquiring Custom Computer Services, which has helped them expand their core services offerings to include managed network services.

Advanced Imaging Solutions has a reputation for being a good corporate citizen illustrated by its annual Warming Heads Hands, and Hearts fundraiser; donations of equipment to non-profits amounting to $41,000 during the past 12 months; and by providing additional support to local communities in each of its four locations through sponsorship of local activities such as golf outings, luncheons and fund raising events.

Being an Elite Dealer isn’t only about today, it’s about positioning the dealership for the future. That’s why we’re impressed by Advanced’s integrated marketing campaigns using TV, printed materials, and social networks such as Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter. We’ve already mentioned the expansion of their core business offerings to include MNS, which places them firmly on the path to future success as well as the expansion of their core business offerings to new industries, including production printing solutions.

One doesn’t get ahead by standing still, and Advanced Imaging Solutions is an Elite Dealer that remains constantly on the move.

Carolina Business Equipment, Inc.

Columbia, S.C.

Year Founded: 1975

Number of Employees: 35

Approximate Yearly Revenues: $5-$10 million

Most Significant Accomplish this Year: Being selected as the primary source for office equipment for a national company with offices across South Carolina as well as Iowa and Texas.

Primary Hardware & Solutions Providers/Offerings: Sharp, Toshiba, Lexmark, Okidata, Security and Electronic File Management, Square 9.

John Eckstrom, president of CBE

Any dealership that focuses exclusively on hardware in this day and age is not facing the cold, hard facts. That doesn’t matter how large or small the dealership is. If a modest-sized dealership like Carolina Business Equipment (CBE) can do it, it can be done. CBE has a nice mix of hardware vendors but what we really like is what they’re doing on the solutions side making them the poster child for the smaller dealer delving into solutions.

CBE has developed a program for security that goes beyond replacing or scrubbing the hard drive. “It is a multi-faceted process that provides our customers with the comfort level that there is an auditable program that certifies compliance with their most demanding requirements,” explains President and owner John Eckstrom. “As a reseller of Square 9, we also use it. It has not only helped us as we talk EFM solutions, but it also has increased our efficiency in records retrieval—just like it says it will.”

Without a doubt the solutions segment of CBE’s business has been growing the fastest during the past three years. Although the business was built on hardware sales, much of the company’s long-term success in the market has been from keeping their customers satisfied.

“We demonstrate our commitment and dedication to the client base every day by looking deeper into their organization and by becoming solution partners,” notes Eckstrom. “We won’t be the end of all their problems, but we sure can take many of them away and that is where we excel. It seems to really be appreciated by them.”

CBE’s First Response Center

CBE continues to evolve with the times and during the past year they built out their First Response Center. Here they’re able to handle a significant portion of incoming service calls, both hardware and software related. This has improved response times and allows them to track real time service techs with pinpoint accuracy so they can make full and efficient use of their time when in the field. 

Eckstrom seems to embrace the challenges that the industry continues to throw at him.

“What is fun about this industry is the fact that it constantly offers challenges. There is not one that stands out as a single biggest, but I can name a few challenges that have given us an opportunity to shine; acquiring another business and the fun associated with that, the constant motion of where the industry is headed and the necessary steps it takes to stay in the top spot in our area, the entry into our market area by one of the manufactures we represent and the subsequent picking up of a new line. And the list goes on.”

Winning a big national account was one of the highlight’s of the past year. “Though this organization could have selected anyone, they chose CBE,” states Eckstrom. “We attribute this to our long-standing philosophy that we are ‘different’ and provide a level of expertise not found in our competitors.”

As a family oriented and community minded business, opportunities come to CBE almost every week. There are some that get more attention than others such as the local homeless shelter, but the folks at CBE never have a shortage of opportunities to help and they encourage it. They are also partners with Tech-Soup, an organization who connects non-profits with technology partners and provide donated software and technology to eligible organizations.

Looking towards the future expect to see CBE continue to adapt to remain a viable force in the marketplace. Why not, it’s been the nature of their business for years. With the adoption of an MPS strategy CBE is now digging deeper into a strategic managed network strategy.

“Industry experts have predicted that by not evolving a managed network strategy, you are risking an opportunity to remain viable, especially in an ever-changing market,” states Eckstrom. We are committed to that vibrant growth with a mindset to provide a stable and secure workplace for the CBE team. As good as we think we are, we still look to industry experts to help steer this ship where we want it to go.”


Uniontown, OH

Year Founded: 1955

Number of Employees: 670

Approximate Yearly Revenues: $140-$150 million

Most Significant Accomplishment this Year: Achieving record revenues in a year where the dealership had an extensive system integration.

Primary Hardware & Solutions Providers/Service Offerings: Xerox, Sharp, Konica-Minolta, HP, DocuWare


Gordy Optiz

If you’re going to grow a dealership in this day and age, better not count on hardware alone. At ComDoc growth (20%) is coming from managed print services and today they have more printers under ComDoc service than traditional MFPs.

“Our printer fleet has grown to over 45,000 devices in the field,” reports Gordy Opitz, president and owner of ComDoc. “We have also grown our high volume sales. No one has stronger offerings in the production arena than Xerox, and we have really seen our sales grow in this area over the last few years.”

Customers love ComDoc because of their solutions focus. “We bring solutions to the customer that helps make their business more effective and efficient,” states Opitz. “We approach our clients with the goal of looking at their workflow and providing a roadmap to help them meet their company’s initiatives. We are working every day at becoming more of a consulting business that helps our customers achieve their goals and objectives.”

ComDoc’s tenured employees ensure consistency in the way the dealership does business with its customers. “Our customers can trust us and know that we are being fair and equitable,” notes Opitz. “Our methodology is actually rather simple; we service our customers exceedingly well, we’re flexible and quick-to-market—and most importantly we care about our customer relationships.”

We are impressed by ComDoc’s Customer Care Center that handles about 2,000 calls per month, offering immediate phone resolution for our clients. The Customer Care Center has changed the way ComDoc does business and has transitioned their service and analyst team from a reactive to a proactive service approach.

A large part of the Customer Care Center is spent on remote installation of print drivers, scanning, and preparing customers for upcoming deliveries so that an analyst does not need to be onsite at time of delivery. That seems to be the wave of the future. ComDoc also helps customers get set up on their remote monitoring tool, so that they can proactively manage their equipment effectively. “This is just the beginning of the services our Customer Care Center will offer and we look forward to watching this integral piece of our business grow,” says Opitz.

As far as recent big wins, ComDoc has been successful in penetrating the higher education market with some of the region’s largest universities choosing ComDoc as their strategic partner.

ComDoc is continuously giving back to our communities, which positions them as a good citizen in the markets they serve. Each office gives back in a way that is the most meaningful to them and their communities. The dealership is a long-time United Way partner and in 2011 was one of the Top 100 Largest United Way supporters in Summit County. Inspired by one of their employee’s daughters, they’ve become ongoing supporters of Juvenile Diabetes and are continually sponsoring events to raise money for this. In addition ComDoc also supports The Akron Children’s Hospital, The American Cancer Society, The Animal Protective League, March of Dimes, and numerous other organizations throughout the year.

Looking ahead, the company remains committed to its ComDoc 360 process,which provides an analytical view of clients’ current workflow and helps them achieve optimization of their output devices. “This strategy provides an on-going residual stream of service and supply revenues, which typically lasts 3-5 years,” says Opitz. “We also continue to expand our service offerings to include additional software solutions along with a world-class Customer Care Center to create an exceptional customer experience.”

And that Customer Care Center and exceptional customer experience go a long way towards making ComDoc as 2012 Elite Dealer.

Copy Products, Inc.

Springfield, MO

Year Founded: 1963

Number of Employees: 80

Approximate Yearly Revenues: $10M +

Most Significant Accomplishment this Year: Providing a stable work environment with benefits for over 80 families where over 90 percent employees can supplement their income through performance bonuses and profitability incentives.

Primary Hardware, Solutions & Services Offerings: Toshiba, Samsung, KonicaMinolta, KIP, Riso, HP, Lexmark, Oki, DocuWare, FMAudit, PaperCut (also numerous solutions from the manufacturers)

Erik Crane

Let’s meet a dealership that is family owned and possesses traditional, hardworking, Midwest values. As President Erik Crane points out Copy Products provides the best products and have the best people who sincerely care about their customers.


“In the uncertain world we live in, having a constant, unwavering partner in your corner is of high value,” says Crane.

While other dealers are seeing hardware sales flatten out or drop off, Copy Products is finding certain segments flourishing. For example, production print unit sales are up over 50 percent, midrange units (25-45 ppm) are up over 40 percent, and their Samsung A4 devices and are also up over 40 percent. On the services side of the business, MPS sales are up over 99 percent. That sounds like a pretty good year to us.

Another positive about Copy Products is that they offer true in-house leasing with no third party or bank involvement. “This gives us maximum flexibility to retain customers,” says Crane.

We also like they way the dealership is moving away from traditional advertising markets and using more ‘tech savvy’ methods of marketing such as Website pre and post rolls. Targeted customer-centric events have led to better relationships and more referrals. Crane has also found that using BEI Services for Copy Products’ technical staff has enabled a more proactive approach to service, which is making for a more satisfied customer base.

The business has its challenges and Crane finds the constant influx of ‘me too’ companies and how to differentiate Copy Products from them one of the top ones. “We have been providing innovations to enhance the customer experience like paperless service calls where the customer signs the ticket on a wireless device and receives the copy via e-mail. Automated meter collection and billing is greatly appreciated along with cutting edge MPS and document management options.”

As mentioned earlier Copy Products’ ability to provide a stable work environment with benefits for over 80 families where over 90 percent of employees can supplement their income through performance bonuses and profitability incentives helps them stand out from the pack. As Crane points out, “Having some control over your compensation is a great motivator.”

Business continues to do well and one of the big wins of the past year was securing a large school district for the third consecutive contract for $750,000.

Copy Products does an admirable job of supporting the community and needy organizations, providing MFP’s, printers and other equipment and services to many charitable events and organizations free of charge to maximize efficiency and fund-raising efforts. “Many of our people are youth sports coaches, youth pastors, or Big Brothers/Sisters,” reports Crane. “Since many of our customers are school districts, we are heavily involved in many After Prom activities through monetary donations or free items to give away.”

By compensating employees based on their profitability, Copy Products has seen costs decrease while revenues increase. That has improved their bottom line, positioning them well for the future. They continue to acknowledge that their employees are integral to their growth and that is evident in an education reimbursement plan that allows employees to continue their education and become a better asset to the company. In addition Copy Products is constantly looking for new revenue streams and ways to diversify their product offerings to stay ahead of our competition. If the past year is any indicator, that’s exactly what they seem to be doing.

Scott Cullen
About the Author
Scott Cullen has been writing about the office technology industry since 1986. He can be reached at