Thursday, April 26, 2012

Nobody Ever Got Fired for Buying a Xerox

Harry Hecht is our Guest Blogger for April, and according to Harry he's been in the office equipment business since Chester Carlson invented Xerography, and a little known secret is that Harry was actually Chester's assistant! Really???  Harry's been around for as long as I remember, and he always brings inspiration, vision and a can do attitude!

I asked for a couple of sentences in reference old copier companies for a blog I'll be posting in a couple of days, true to form, Harry gave me just a tad bit more, so without further adieu, enjoys Harry's ditty about the good ole days in the copier business!

Do you remember the days when a complete copier line included one or maybe two models? Selling at full retail was not only a possibility but a regular occurrence? When Xerox owned 90% of the market and the saying that "nobody ever got fired for buying a Xerox" was an unfortunate reality for the independent dealer? I may be dating myself, but I remember those days well and had to still have a lot of respect for the competition, camaraderie and "wild west' aggressiveness of many of the entrepreneurial manufacturers that competed against each other during the 70s and 80s.

Here are some copier manufacturer names that may serve as a blast from the past for many of you. Names like IBM, Kodak, 3M, Saxon, Royal, Apeco, Savin, Van Dyke, Escofot, Olivetti, and Mita just to name a few. These companies hit the streets with Direct and Dealer Sales forces with the hope and confidence of stealing business away from THE BIG X. The products sold during that time were crude, barely passed a copy, and in some even came with tongs and fire extinguishers -just in case there was a jam and a fire broke out. Oh those were the days. No need to worry about supply pirates and 2 hour response time. Profit margins were Huge and and the Yen was valued over 500 Y to the dollar. Getting in front of customers and demonstrating your product using the sales order ( already filled out ) was sales training of the day. Your manager would say" don't leave the office without an order"!.Talking about pressure. If a customer accepted your demonstration, your competitor would be in the lobby waiting their turn to try and hammer out a deal on the spot and or leave the machine in the customers office until they fell in love with it or just used it and stroked you along- yikes!

Well, time to wake up to a new  and renewed set of technology companies now entering the copier and printer space. Samsung, Dell, Lexmark, Brother, Epson plus all of the Big Players- Konica Minolta, Canon, Xerox, Ricoh, Sharp, Kyocera. Where does it end?. We now deal with information overload, the world wide web, 1,000s of SKU product numbers, accessories, tight margins and 40% discounts. What the heck happened? Opportunity is still there for all of us, however success and prosperity is a game of inches verses miles. Without knowledge and a well thought out plan and execution, who knows who the next fallen Angels list will look like.

Need to contact Harry?  Here's his LINKEDIN page.

-=Good Selling=-


Anonymous said...

What happened is the manufacturers ruined a beautiful model. A model that everyone was making a killing until they all decided that it was necessary to start giving service away with no margin and putting A4 machines into play. They also decided that the dealers were not important to them anymore and bringing back direct branches. At times the branches sell machine below our cost and all the Regional Rep can say is that's not true we all play by the same pricing. They decided to screw their cash cows.

Anonymous said...

Ah the days of strong competition. I worked for Xerox for 32 years and am glad its over. I first worked on the Xerox 4000 which was the first copier on the marked that had a reasonably easy to operate duplex mode. Xerox suffered a lot during the 70 and 80's due to the FTC who determined that we had a monopoly. We had to give away a lot of our trade secrets concerning toner and developer to other corps and allow others to sell their supplies for use in our machines. We had some real problems with crappy supplies that amounted to nothing more than chimney sweepings and were not allowed under penalty of law to say anything derogatory about the competitive supplies. Much time was spent trying to work miracles on machines using compet supplies that could have been used for more productive purposes. Some of the brands packaged the same crap for all of our machines. Our labs were working over time to test toners and developers and find out that they were nothing more than just soot.Xerox spent millions upon millions to produce a quality toner and developer that was specifically tailored for each machine. One doesnt necessarily work in the other due to fuser temp and copy speed. Different speed copiers needed toners that would melt at different rates and Xerox was very good about this. Our supplies also had money back guarantees as well as our papers. We worked very hard to protect our product and make our customers happy. We had a very professional tech force with a few exceptions and our techs were dedicated to a long term commitment.Once our techs started they stayed. In the city that I worked in, our junior man (still there) has about 25 to 27 years service. A lot of good copiers have come and gone but I would say that Xerox turned out some very good and innovative machines and also had very innovative styles when it came to business and service. Im glad its over but I am proud of the 35 years I put in.