Breaking Free of the Routine Drives Difference Maker Michael Cox

Michael Cox
IT Products and Solutions

When you’re in the office technology business, there’s always the threat of falling into a comfortable routine of sameness. Perhaps there’s an app to solve that, but for those employees who ply their trade at IT Products and Solutions, there’s Michael Cox, president of the hardware, parts and supplies distributor, constantly pushing and prodding for something completely different.

“I often times drive my team crazy, but I will never settle for selling the same things the same way every month,” said Cox, a 2018 ENX Magazine Difference Maker. “I have challenged myself and the entire IT Products and Solutions team to think outside the box to constantly create new and improved solutions, and add new product segments that our customers need.”

Cox has earned his Difference Maker wings by creating innovative solutions catered to the unique, individual needs of his customers. Selling commoditized products like laser printer parts is something he finds challenging, yet rewarding. And it only requires good listening skills to craft that tailored fit for customers.

“Every service company has its own way of managing service parts and core returns, so being flexible with our model to better support their internal process builds a strong solution through a partnership,” he pointed out.

Time for Change

Perhaps it was Cox’s own desire to break free of the routine that would later guide his philosophy. Or maybe his spouse played a role as well. In his previous professional life, Cox worked for more than 10 years in retail sales management. However, the weekend work schedule drove his wife, Dawn, up the wall. When she discovered that Parts Now was seeking a sales manager in 1999, she updated her husband’s resume.

During his lunch break at the retail store, Cox trekked across town to Parts Now for an interview. It went so well, he got a job offer the same day.

As Cox has grown within the parts and supplies business, he has gleaned the philosophies of partners and customers who have shown him that although they are in the same industry, there is a multitude of different ways to be successful. “You have to understand the true core talents of your organization and build your business around these core strengths,” Cox noted.

Challenges and Opportunities

Last year provided many snapshots of watershed moments for Cox and ITPS, some of which tested the executive and the company’s mettle. A sister company to Computer Parts Warehouse, Houston-based ITPS was launched on May 1. Shortly thereafter, Hurricane Harvey devastated the proud Texas city. But ITPS weathered the storm, both figuratively and literally, to become one of the fastest-growing authorized partners for both HP and Lexmark in less than one year.

In its first full year, Cox is seeking to make 2018 a success by achieving revenue and profitability goals while rewarding his team and its partners for all of their hard work and dedication in the face of significant challenges.

As for Cox himself, he will continue to seek out better solutions while refusing to rest on his laurels. “There is always a better way, and if you don’t constantly improve, you will fall behind your competition,” he said.

Michael and Dawn Cox have been married for nearly 28 years. They have two sons: Ryan, 26, who works with his father at ITPS, and Jordan, 24, a professional musician who can play more than 30 different instruments. Aside from his family, two of Cox’s passions are hunting and fishing. He enjoys angling for Walleye at Eagle Lake in Canada and hunting Whitetail deer in southern Wisconsin.

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.