Sunday, June 24, 2012

Meet Sharp’s New President Doug Albregts

Meet  Sharp’s New President Doug Albregts

By Scott Cullen

(Editor’s note: The following interview appears in this week’s edition of The Week in Imaging.)
It’s been six months since Doug Albregts took over the reins at Sharp as the new president, replacing Ed McLaughlin. Somewhat of a surprise choice to many industry observers, Albregts’ background is mostly from outside the industry, but if one drills deeper down below the surface, his background is well suited to an industry that’s undergoing a tremendous amount of change. Throughout the course of his career Albregts has spent time in the IT space and had short stints in consumer package goods and financial services as well as managing MFP and IT products at Samsung. 
What do you think of the industry after six months, do you feel settled?
Albregts: I do feel settled. I think the industry is going through a definite shift not only from a manufacturer perspective but from a dealer perspective. You see a lot of companies acquiring other dealers and from a manufacturer perspective you see companies acquiring IT VARs. And the dealer community is looking to expand their business into IT services as well.
We’re at an interesting point where we’re seeing a land grab between IT and the traditional copier space. In terms specific to printing a lot of companies are looking at ways to save money whether it’s MPS or in-sourcing printing services, being able to print on demand, and those types of things. Plus having the ability to capture that demand internally is another big trend which is paving the way for production products and higher end products, which is ultimately good for us.
It seems to be mighty quiet on the Sharp front although I'm sure it's not. What have you been focused on for the past six months?
Albregts: One of the things I’ve done is examine where our business is today in light of where our business was and where the market is heading. I spent a lot of time trying to understand our model and what that model should be. First and foremost I’ll talk about product. We feel for the most part, from the product side, that we are about to enter into every category we need to be extremely competitive, not just in features, advantages, and benefits, but at all ends of the spectrum.
The most challenging part is what role we want to play in this industry. When you look at that, competitively speaking, a lot of manufacturers have taken an aggressive stance in not only competing with their dealers from a direct operation but in IT. Part of that is because they think the grass is greener, but they also think this is a revenue and profit opportunity. As a result, what has been lost in the whole equation from a manufacturer perspective is a focus on the partner.
When you go to our dealer meeting in July part of our theme and our intellectual property, if you will, is becoming an ‘irresistible partner.’ We think there’s an opportunity in that. It sounds a little clichéd, but becoming a good partner goes beyond better communication with dealers. It’s looking at things like how can we help improve their working capital for instance. At the end of halves and quarters manufacturers have become very aggressive in trying to incent dealers to load up on inventory and make bad business decisions. We’re looking at the entire equation and how we improve our delivery times and how we improve our dealers’ working capital that transform the business that’s not only good for the dealer but even better for the manufacturer as margins start to erode. We’re going to detail a lot of those things at our meeting in July. It’s that whole idea around ‘irresistible partner’ and how we change the way we do business. That’s the challenge we see today.
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-=Good Selling

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