Post-COVID, Dealers Examine Strategies for Continued A4 Growth

As we’ve examined throughout the month of March in our State of the Industry report, the focus is less on an A3 versus A4 conversation, as the true topic is how device placement—albeit with an edge toward A4 in today’s distributed workforce—fits into the context of managed print services and the overall packaged approach.

From vendor consolidation to hardware availability and tying in software and security provisions, the flavor of device is less important than its relationship in tailored, customized client environments. And that’s where our dealer panel continues to shine.

Josh Salkin, EDGE Business Systems

One of the keys stressed by EDGE Business Systems of Atlanta is not necessarily tied into the pandemic and hybrid workflows but is instead a concerted effort to guide clients toward consolidating their vendor purchasing on all flavors of document-related tools, from printers, toner and copiers to software and postage. Josh Salkin, a partner at EDGE, software is vital to the dealer’s A4 and MPS strategy so that it can understand the print environment, reduce printing where possible, redirect output to the most efficient devices and maintain document security.

“We’re getting asked daily by current and prospective customers how to print remote or print and release, address compliance or identify what (they) spend on printing,” Salkin said. “EDGE is in such a strong position since this was our value proposition prior to the pandemic, and we feel very comfortable addressing these needs for clients.”

Gregg Petrie, Copiers Northwest

The game plan employed during the past two years at Copiers Northwest of Seattle will continue to be the tactic employed by President Gregg Petrie. The sharp trend toward A4 placements will not abate, or as Petrie observed, the genie is not going back in the bottle anytime soon.

“A4 will become the dominant placement segment,” he noted. “And with manufacturers beefing up with additional models and offering software like Canon’s uniFLOW, we can manage home office devices the same way as office devices with remote monitoring and diagnostics.”

Karen Mullin, KDI Office Technology

Karen Mullin, sales director for MPS/major accounts at KDI Office Technology, notes her company is working closely with prospects and existing clients to ascertain a complete understanding of the end-users’ new work environment structure. A4 is but one aspect, albeit a critical one, in devising a comprehensive solution.

“We assess their new needs versus their current environment and provide them with a recommendation to not only exceed their new requirements but fulfill their security and imaging needs providing a well-rounded overall solution,” she said.

Sean Sullins, Prosource

Approaching and assessing the clients’ overall technology footprint is also the MO for Cincinnati-based Prosource. According to Sean Sullins, vice president of sales, the A4 placement should not only meet the clients’ hardware requirements but also encompass the technology on the back end to meet security needs and stave off threats in the home office while securing the connected corporate network.

“There’s certainly less print volume coming from home offices and hybrid environments, but this approach is another way to capture revenue and sell hardware in an entirely managed office environment,” Sullins said. “That’s an opportunity that A4 presents in today’s world of hybrid work, and I think that will evolve in a big way over the next few years, with the short-term decline being made up for by the potential for growth.”

Chip Miceli, Pulse Technology

At Pulse Technology of Schaumburg, Illinois, the concern is that the A4 landscape isn’t where it needs to be from the manufacturing/supply side. Chip Miceli, president and CEO, points out the difficulties of certain OEMs when it comes to supplying A4 devices, and as of now, Epson seems to be the best A4 source among the dealer’s partners.

“We like their product, but we’re always in touch with other vendors and manufacturers to ensure that we have additional options and the inventory to meet our customers’ needs,” Miceli said.

As a 65-year-old firm that has seen its share of challenging periods, Miceli believes versatility is the key. “We’re always on the lookout for opportunities, and in particular in the A4 market, to be certain we train our sales teams to thoroughly understand the place and opportunities of A4 in the market,” he said. “I won’t predict if this year will be better than last, but I know we will be as prepared for it as we can be, and will always be certain that we have other revenue sources to supplement MPS.”

AJ Baggott, RJ Young

In the end, it’s all about providing an all-encompassing solution for MPS customers, according to AJ Baggott, COO for RJ Young of Nashville, Tennessee. In that vein, the dealer has developed analytics that allows it to offer unlimited printing contracts for clients that eliminate the need for meter readings.

With customers offering A4 solutions to their remote workforce, RJ Young has developed digital storefronts customized to their needs that enable supplies to be ordered and shipped directly to their homes. “Companies no longer have to manage internally a broad list of device supply requirements as RJ Young’s data collection software can even automate the supply needs of our customers,” Baggott said. “Need custom billing by department? No problem! RJ Young has partnered with the very best in print management software that will allow for detailed billing and reporting, user codes, follow me anywhere printing and additional security features like user authentication.”

Erik Cagle
About the Author
Erik Cagle is the editorial director of ENX Magazine. He is an author, writer and editor who spent 18 years covering the commercial printing industry.