Wednesday, March 31, 2010
Ricoh vs. Toyota
In what may go down as the biggest ‘speedbump’ in Ricoh history, a new issue has surfaced in regard to the IKON transition. As you have been reading over the past few months, IKON has been slowly assuming control of Ricoh.
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Since Ricoh had purchased IKON and could now leverage their buying power with Toyota, Ricoh’s intent was to purchase new 2010 Toyota Venza automobiles, which were Hybrid vehicles (these cars are not even available on the open market right now). With Ricoh’s strong commitment to Environmental initiatives, the new Venza Hybrid vehicles were to be touted as “Green Machines” and driven in Japan (and all of Asia), Europe, North American, and South America.
Terms of the deal with Toyota were not fully disclosed, however, Ricoh did receive 0% Financing and they basically acquired all Toyota Venza (AWD) cars at the same price that was paid for the TEKNOFORCE Toyota Matrix (2WD) vehicles years ago.
These new Toyota vehicles would no longer be painted with the TEKNOFORCE logo, yet they would be launched as the IKON I-KARS, as part of the IKON Assimilation Strategy. As the RBS Direct Branches and IKON local offices merged, the new entity would be supplied with IKON I-KARS, accompanied by a national advertising campaign.
The Toyota Venza was specifically chosen due to it’s size, which has a larger rear compartment than the Toyota Matrix (former RBS TEKNOFORCE vehicles). The Toyota Venza would be able to hold Service Technician Car Stock, Laptops, Tools, and had enough room to fit the upcoming Ricoh A4 device (manufactured by Samsung and re-labeled as Ricoh) for delivery and install.
The IKON Assimilation Strategy also dictated that a Sales Representative, a Service Technician, and a Network Specialist would travel together whenever possible, to ensure efficiency. Not only would Service Calls be handled adequately, but a Sales Call could be made at the same location, or in the vicinity of the scheduled Service Call. The Network Specialist would also be on hand to take advantage of the Managed Print Services (MPS) hype in the Office Equipment Industry, by offering “free network assessments.”
Yet, as trouble mounted with Floor Mats, Accelerator Pedals, and Brakes, the new Toyota IKON I-KARS were not being well-received by Ricoh executives. In fact, Ricoh Corporation LTD in Japan hired their own independent vehicle consultants to ensure the Toyota Venza Hybrids were safe for employees.
While no critical problems were found with the Toyota Venza hybrids, Ricoh decided to terminate the contract with Toyota because they feared the current issues would hamper the worldwide launch of the new IKON I-KARS. However, Toyota had already completed the new artwork and graphics on the entire fleet. To make matters worse, Lexus E350 Luxury sedans had already been delivered to IKON Marketplace Vice Presidents (in the United States), which has been causing internal conflict amongst long-time Ricoh and RBS Vice Presidents, who have not yet received ‘company’ cars.
We now know exactly why those IKON executives (many of whom were named to new Ricoh positions today) received the Lexus E350 vehicles.
Now, in addition to handling one of the largest mergers in the history of the Office Equipment Industry, Ricoh must somehow resolve the IKON I-KARS debacle. Apparently, this will be the first order of business for Jim Corriddi, under Matt Espe’s direction.
Time will tell if this situation can be resolved and it may be an example of how Ricoh and IKON are able to co-exist in the future. The timing of this situation could not be worse.
A Press Release from Ricoh Corporation LTD about the impending litigation is due to hit the wires next Monday. I was able to secure an advance copy, which I have attached.