Las Vegas—Agile, bold, creative, determined and empowered. Those ABCs of characteristics certainly exemplify the approach employed by Toshiba America Business Solutions (TABS) and Toshiba Global Commerce Solutions (TGCS) were on full display during the company’s sixth LEAD conference, held Sept. 4-6 at the Bellagio Hotel in the Entertainment Capital of the World.
Approximately 1,600 guests—dealers, end users, press, analysts and partners—flooded into the cavernous hotel to get a glimpse into the playbook crafted by Toshiba, which dubbed its latest conference “Empowering the Art of Business.” After enduring its share of challenges at the corporate level, a parade of Toshiba executives outlined the many changes that have enabled the manufacturer to raise the ante not only from a technology standpoint, but also increase its offerings on the A4 side with the surprise announcement that it had forged a relationship with Brother International that allows its dealers to sell the Workhorse Series of MFPS. Brother joins Lexmark and HP as key partners for Toshiba dealers to fortify their A4 arsenal with entry-level, midpoint and high-end offerings.
The LEAD (Learn, Engage, Act and Deliver) 2018 conference also featured a myriad of 35 educational sessions, with keynote speaker Shawn Achor, a New York Times bestselling author, discussing the connection between happiness and success.
Joe Contreras, vice president of Product and Solutions Marketing for TABS, guided the press and analyst contingent on a preview tour of the product showcase. In a refresh of its MFP portfolio, Toshiba unveiled 26 new e-STUDIO models, including a trio of A4 machines. Contreras also provided a glimpse of the Elevate user interface configuration tool. Released in 2017, Elevate enables the personalization and customization of the MFP user interface, streamlining document workflow and improving efficiency by automating frequently-used functions.
The tour naturally took the journo gaggle past the Brother International booth, strategically located across from Lexmark. Contreras noted that while Lexmark and HP have been great partners, the addition of the Workhorse portfolio allows Toshiba dealers to extend their reach.
On the retail side, Contreras provided a glimpse of Toshiba’s retail-centric digital signage solutions that also serve sectors including hospitality and education. A corporate concierge kiosk allows visitors to check in at the front desk, providing a digital receptionist of sorts. Other digital signage technologies included meeting room availability, which tracks scheduling for a given conference room.
“We can go into any industry and cast a broad net,” Contreras added, noting that Toshiba dealer LDI Color ToolBox of Jericho, NY, has enjoyed much success with the digital signage solutions.
President and CEO Scott Maccabe kicked off the dealer general session on the first full day, highlighting some of the many placements of digital signage (a similar yet slightly abridged version of the presentation was given to 500-odd end users the following day). He focused on adversity, using the NHL’s first-year Vegas Golden Knights as an example of a new team overcoming obstacles to reach the Stanley Cup finals.
In a similar vein, Maccabe recounted how Toshiba Corp. (parent of Toshiba Tec, a.k.a. T Tec) made several strategic moves to right its financial ship, divesting some interests (including the Westinghouse U.S. nuclear unit) while raising $30 billion in operating capital. Last year, T Tec notched record high earnings, and TABS/TGCS played a significant role in the upswing. Among the positive numbers for Toshiba, MFP unit sales rose 8 percent while e-STUDIO color sales were up 6 percent (A4 enjoyed a 70 percent bumps).
Maccabe rolled a short video on how digital signage has benefitted a pair of its high-end fashion retailers, Tommy Hilfiger and Calvin Klein. Recent major takedowns for the manufacturer include FedEx, 7-Eleven, The Staples Center and Home Depot, an account which Toshiba recaptured.
He noted that with the refresh of almost its entire A3 and A4 portfolio (including new branded A4 models), Toshiba had created a new set of applications for its e-STUDIO MFPs. Maccabe was also proud of the company’s continued success in MPS, which he said outpaced the competition last year.
“Our MPS results reflect more than just outsourcing trends. They speak to the value of aligning with a company that pioneered managed print and still offers the most impressive and comprehensive creative solutions in the market,” he said.
Bar code systems have also been a major coup for Toshiba and its resellers, with explosive growth in e-commerce fueling a 20 percent increase in parcel shipments. To that end, Toshiba renewed a multimillion-dollar contract with FedEx and welcomed back Home Depot to the fold.
One of the true differentiators for Toshiba, according to Maccabe, is its performance in digital signage, which witnessed an 18 percent growth. In addition to the fashion giants, Toshiba has provided solutions for a number of clients, including the Grammy Museum, Kansas City’s Union Station and Pepperdine University in Malibu, CA, not to mention its stronghold on event arenas such as L.A. Live, StubHub Center in Los Angeles, and the Mercedes-Benz Arena in Berlin, Germany.
Chief Revenue Officer Larry White and other Toshiba executives took some time to recognize the top-performing dealers from both the United States and South America. On the U.S. end, the following dealers were cited as top performers:
East: Atlantic, Tomorrow’s Office, New York City
South: Vanco Systems, Texarkana, TX
Midwest: Proven Business Systems, Tinley Park, IL
West: Kelley Imaging Systems, Kent, WA
Rookie of the Year: Oklahoma Copier Solutions, Norman, OK
All-Star: Stargel Office Solutions, Houston
Dealer of the Year: James Imaging Systems, Brookfield, WI
Chief Marketing Executive Bill Melo took the stage to discuss the beauty of the Elevate UI platform and weaved in how it ties into the conference’s “Empowering the Art of Business” theme. He explained how the theme celebrates the notion that each company is a unique collective of people, ideas, language and culture.
“It’s really our people that make our companies what they are—the passion, determination and ingenuity, solving unique business challenges and opportunities,” he said. “These are the tools with which we create our artwork, our masterpieces. In our eyes, every client is unique. Their work is their art, their employees the artists. No two artists create the same way and no two companies create the same way, either.”
It is Toshiba’s job, he concluded, to create the canvass and the tools uniquely designed for end users to weave their artistic magic.