During the 2017 Toshiba LEAD (Learn, Engage, Act, Deliver) conference held the first week of May in Orlando, FL, a number of dealers were honored by the host, including the coveted Dealer of the Year designation. That honor went to Donnellon McCarthy Enterprises (DME) of Cincinnati, a longtime Toshiba dealer.
ENX Magazine took a few minutes to chat with DME’s top executives—CEO Jim Donnellon and President Jim George—to gauge their views on the conference and learn about some of the challenges the firm has experienced en route to assembling a top-notch sales and service organization. In the process, the company has earned a reputation for cultivating a “best workplace” environment. But the road to success, as you’ll soon see, was marked by potholes that DME successfully navigated around.
What were your takeaways from the 2017 LEAD Conference?
George: I thought the LEAD show was world class, as it was last year. Everything from the venue itself to the breakaway sessions. I think Toshiba continues to have a top-notch venue and program. Also to hear the Lone Survivor there, Marcus Luttrell, that was just awe-inspiring. [Editor’s note: Luttrell, the former Navy SEAL who received the Purple Heart and Navy Cross for his actions while fighting the Taliban during Operation Red Wings in 2005, was a guest speaker at LEAD.]
How does it feel to be named the Dealer of the Year by Toshiba? What are some of the key factors behind your success?
Donnellon: It’s an unbelievably high honor that’s difficult to put into words. We’ve worked very hard for a long time in connection with Toshiba. It humbles us a little bit. To win an award like that, you have to give the credit to our employees, because you’re only as good as your people. I just happened to be the guy who was able to go onstage and receive the award, but it really belongs to the employees.
George: It’s a huge accomplishment, not just for Jim Donnellon and myself but for the entire company. Every individual within our organization worked extremely hard. It’s how we got there, obviously; selling as much as possible, and working together with Toshiba to ensure that we’re able to take down some large deals. At DME, we try to live by the one team, one vision, one goal mantra. We do that by being 100 percent focused on all of our customers.
In 2007-2008, DME suffered not only through the recession, but was also victimized by a dishonest employee. How was the company able to recover and restore its standing in the office technology space following the breach of faith?
Donnellon: It was a CFO who misappropriated funds, a couple hundred thousand dollars. We recovered some of the money, but not much, and terminated the employee. It occurred in 2007, but it was really the first half of 2008 that impacted us. We had a meeting with Toshiba’s Mark Matthews, the president at that time, and some other executives. We explained to them what happened and that I needed their help. I had to dig out of a hole, so I made an arrangement with them to buy equipment, pay them so much [at a time], and whittle down their debt. They said, ‘We’ll be there for you.’ By the end of 2008, I didn’t owe Toshiba a dime and I got everybody cleaned up, paid all the bills and moved on. Meanwhile, I had a guy named Culver Lamb, an interim CFO, who came in a few days a week to help straighten everything up. We just worked really hard, paid off the creditors as fast as we could and moved forward.
It’s times like that when you find out who your true friends and partners are.
Donnellon: You sure do. When you have money, people will hang around you, especially at the bar or restaurant. When you don’t have any money, you’re at the bar by yourself. You find out who your friends are really quickly. I’ve seen the back side of hell more than once and I don’t like it. I don’t want to see it anymore, either. You’ve just got to be patient, persistent and professional about what you do. If you’re true to your cause, if people know that your word is gold, and that your word is your honor…they know that if you’ll live up to what you say, they’re going to be behind you and help you. That’s what Toshiba did.
Your company grew Toshiba MFP sales by $3 million in 2016. How were you able to do that?
George: There was a lot of different things that we put in place. We created DME University, got really in depth with our training plans with our reps, and put in a lot of hard work to get that done. We added sales reps to every office that we have, and we continue to grow. Not just Toshiba; we were able to grow with our other two vendors [Sharp and HP] as well. With Toshiba, they rolled up their sleeves and assisted us with some of the larger deals and put us into position to win. The entire organization has such a winning spirit.
What other areas of your business are growing as well?
George: Certainly our MPS side, which we were able to grow that by 144 percent. We’ve added managed network services and added more than 20 clients within a six-month timeframe, so we’re growing that at a very rapid pace. We’re also mailing dealers specifically through FP Mailing Solutions. We’ve been cross training everyone on that and moved from a single, individual selling mailing product to selling across an entire enterprise. We’re seeing quite a bit of growth on all fronts.
Your company just received Best Workplace honors from the Cincinnati Enquirer? How were you able to cultivate such a positive working atmosphere?
George: Surveys go out to every single employee—truck drivers, technicians, sales, administrative. It just comes down to creating a very fun environment. We do parties on almost every holiday, like Halloween and Christmas. We have beer and pizza Fridays and barbecues where we include the entire family of our employees. Most importantly, we constantly ask our employees for feedback on what we can do to make it even better. We’re not stagnant, we’re always looking for more ways to improve and make this a wonderful place for people to work. We spend so much time here that we want it to be a great environment. We’ve renovated every single one of our locations to provide associates with the best working environment that we can. It’s going to help us continue to grow.
Donnellon: The culture has such a contagious enthusiasm; they’re really eager to do a very solid, successful job at every turn. When you have that kind of synergy, it’s like a snowball going downhill. It gets bigger and bigger and you cannot stop it. The enthusiasm here within the culture is contagious, which is awesome.
What are your goals for second half of 2017?
Donnellon: The No. 1 goal is to continue the upward success that we’ve enjoyed. We’re still looking to grow through acquisitions or organically. Obviously, we’re looking to expand upon our horizon.
George: We’re going to continue to see double-digit growth in all disciplines, across the entire breadth of offerings. We’re going to add 10-20 sales reps within the next six months. This is going to be a substantial catalyst for growth. I’d predict you’re going to see two acquisitions out of us over next six months. Most importantly, we’re going to continue to be the vendor of choice for all of our customers.