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Does printing still matter?

By Kathryn

 

Today the world is net savvy. Almost every third person has a computer and every single person has a mobile. On a click of a button, you can send a sms or email. You can chat on the phone or have face to face video conferencing even across the oceans.

The thought of a paperless office is very interesting, but even today this is next to impossible. Why is it so, even in this net dominating world, printing is still going on a large scale? Well the reasons are clear. For one, it is permanent. No one can say that he/she has never lost any data. The reason is either your hardware is up or a virus has damaged your software, but when it happens 100's of files are lost in a click of a finger, whereas printed matter once kept safe, can be kept for years and years.

You can never know when a virus will attack your PC, and take away your precious information from you. On a PC or email, if you forget your password you can not access your files whilst with printed matter even if you loose the keys to the drawer or cupboard, you can break the lock and take the file or paper work you need. Only a natural disaster can make you loose your printed matter.

Also printed matter is priced. Tablets and laptops have made the PC come in our hands, but using them is not a piece of cake for all. The scent of an old book will not come from an E-book. Reading a yellow page (page turns yellow over time) is very interesting because you can't believe you actually are reading something that old.

In a survey done on e-book readers and print readers, it is found print readers were able to remember more on what they read as compared to the e-book readers, because the e-book readers had to click pages and wait for it to open, that disturbed their focus.

Print material today still has a large requirement range. Today as well, you wait for the newspaper to know what is happening even though there are 24x7 news channels. The power of printing is still evident today. If the balance of print and digital was to be scaled, print will be heavier. Net is the present demand, but as of yet, it can not make printing a pre-historical item. In this way, printing still matters thus far. From the house to our business, printing is still the demand of the world. Even today, big deals are signed on paper not clicked on tablets.

 

Author’s Bio:

Kathryn is the author for chrisalexcorp. She also writes for a website where you can get store discounts on various products at discounts.ca.

Tagged in: BLOG UNTAGGED
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Of late, there have been numerous settlements between Canon and various aftermarket supplies manufacturers who violated Canon's drum gear patent. As an industry, many of us are likely thinking the drum gear patent issue is over and we can all now breathe a unified sigh of relief. As a reseller, you may be thinking that these patent litigations did not impact your business at all. Much ado about nothing? Fair point, however I believe  the drum gear patent issue is more of an impact to the longer term viability of your toner supplier (and your business), than a short term supply chain issue.

 

In short: it's not over and all of this fuss over a little drum gear remains directly tied to your supplies vendor.

 

The irony of the drum gear patent issue is that it concerns a vendor that is rapidly losing market share. There are very few dealerships in business today that do not rank HP hardware as the biggest, by market share, in their customer profile. In fact, there was a time when the only toner supplies you needed to carry where HP. That time has passed. While there are still many viable remanufacturers ready to supply your needs, I estimate that in the next 12 months HP will account for less than 60% of the office imaging supplies market. What will it be in 24 months? We expect HP’s market share to be as low as 50%.

 

The distinction is thus: remanufacturing is limiting. Beyond HP, most aftermarket products require NEW cartridges, from the ground up – also known as new build compatibles. Never mind the drum gear, this level of manufacturing is beyond the scope of your typical remanufacturer. Can they build Brother, Samsung, Dell, Kyocera and other market share gainers, WITHOUT a new mold strategy? Likely not. Our industry has changed and if you want to take part in the other half of the aftermarket, you need to have a strategy for new build products that do not rely on an empty core.

 

Back to the drum gear. For Print-Rite, it represents the tip of the iceberg (oh, and I should mention that we have a patent to protect our drum gear. You can read more about it here). The part of the iceberg that you see above the waterline is the dealer being on the right or wrong side of a lawsuit. Below the waterline, we see an industry that is quickly being split up between manufacturers that can make IP safe "new-build" supplies and those that can only remanufacture. Our advice to you: it’s time to review your supply chain runway and product portfolio.

 

Where can you start?

 

Start by reviewing your top 100 Devices in your machines in field (MIF). How many of those do you have aftermarket supplies for? If its under 60%, its time for a review of your supplies vendor and their ability to fulfill your top 100 requirement.

 

Jake Ducey

Print-Rite N.A. Inc.

www.PrintRiteNA.com

Tagged in: OEM Observations
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By: Peter S. Bauman, Esq.


The industry for remanufactured printer/toner cartridges has flourished for years as users purchase replacements from third party suppliers who fill a need and offer print supplies at prices significantly lower than those offered by the original manufacturers and OEM’s.

There has been litigation by original manufacturers in the past, premised on third party suppliers infringing patent rights in the cartridges being sold, but the manufacturers seem to have been satisfied in picking and choosing their targets, while permitting the broader industry of third party suppliers to survive.

Things have changed. Perhaps it’s the difficult world economy and generally shrinking market for printer cartridges that has led to a more aggressive strategy in recent years. Now, companies like Canon and Lexmark are taking more significant steps to enforce IP rights and shut down third party suppliers of remanufactured printer/toner cartridges, whether they be based outside the US, or those based in the US who resell cartridges originally sold internationally.

Canon is perhaps the biggest fish in the sea, as its cartridges are used not only in Canon printers, but those of HP as well. HP has long held a significant share of the computer printer market.

The broadest salvo fired by Canon against third party suppliers came in March 2012 when it filed a patent infringement suit at the US International Trade Commission and in Federal Court naming more than thirty companies.

According to a recent article in Actionable Intelligence, Canon is seeking a General Exclusion Order at the Trade Commission, which “would bar the importation of all infringing SKUs, regardless of manufacturer,” a result that “would have a chilling effect on the entire aftermarket industry for toner supplies in the United States.”

Lexmark, which also filed against foreign third party suppliers at the US International Trade Commission in 2010, has more recently been pursuing US toner cartridge re-manufacturers, sending letters demanding that they settle or risk being added to current infringement litigation in US Federal Court. [Actionable Intelligence (June 5, 2012)]

The litigation in this industry has significant potential impact on users of remanufactured cartridges who could find their current suppliers out of business, or raising prices after agreeing to settlements with Canon, Lexmark and the like.

Unfulfilled orders may be at risk, as well as IT budgets that assume cartridge prices which may be unrealistic in the current environment.

These and other risks should be addressed by companies who contract with third party suppliers. Contractual indemnification for losses and the cost of defense against lawsuits brought by the Canon’s of the world is certainly advisable but may be insufficient to fully protect users.

A review of corporate insurance policies and risk management related to contractual breach, economic loss and lawsuit defense also seems warranted as part of an overall strategy for dealing with these issues.

 

***

 

Peter Bauman is a Senior Associate at the law firm of Tharpe & Howell, LLP.  Mr. Bauman specializes in commercial litigation and business transactions throughout California, focusing on complex litigation, business disputes, and strategic business assessment and planning.

Joined with other counsel at Tharpe & Howell, Mr. Bauman brings a practical business oriented approach to the numerous legal issues that face companies in California’s difficult environment.   Mr. Bauman earned his Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Southern California, and his law degree from Pepperdine University, including certificates in Entrepreneurship and Technology, and Alternative Dispute Resolution. Mr. Bauman may be reached at either (818) 205-9955 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .



 

 

Tagged in: Legal Lessons
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I had the good fortune of being able to attend the 2012 Fortune Most Powerful Women Summit . It was an educational forum that enabled me to listen to some of the most successful and dynamic leaders, presidents, CEO and other high ranking professionals from a variety of industries. A recurring theme to the thoughts presented by these leaders involved the need to have the courage to take risks.

 

Ursula Burns discusses how Xerox has changed over the years and will continue to change, moving towards a services-based and technology focused model.

 

Throughout the conference it was emphasized that the need to prosper and stay in business in any economy is to have the courage to make changes. Admittedly this requires risking money, personal prestige and the longevity of your company. Those individuals who have made it to the top of your profession have been able to identify the appropriate avenues of change, create the momentum and have been willing to take the risk .

A few of the catch phrases that captured the spirit of speaker’s focus on risk and change included:

  • Reward and recognize those who take risks
  • Create new markets
  • Great mistakes are OK as long as you fail fast and move on
  • Always analyze and learn from your mistakes
  • Identify and embrace the arches of change
  • Not taking enough calculated risks, in and of itself, is a great risk to the longevity or your company
  • Diversity is a necessity
  • Business must be globally inclusive in both scale and the people being served
  • Identify and understand what you do not do well and focus on fixing it
  • Keep the momentum moving forward
  • Establish the journey, follow the path, comment on the success and failures
  • Be impatient when fixing things
  • Impatience is a virtue
  • Sooner rather than perfect
  • Do not accept NO as your final answer
  • Fill your free moments
  • Become fit for the future journey
  • Momentum must be sustained
  • You do not need to hold the ball to add to the success of the team
  • It is OK to WIN
  • To stay in business you must transform
  • Follow the technology
  • Evolution and revolution is necessary
  • Beware of complacency
  • Question, challenge, experiment, engage
  • You must push harder today than you did yesterday
  • Spend less time making your current products better; create new products and services
  • The best is yet to come

 

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This is a phrase I have often heard from distributors when outlining what are typically three of the most important considerations when evaluating a potential supplies vendor. When this approach is applied to the aftermarket supplies business, it really becomes apparent just how critical these criteria are.


Here’s the good news: The benchmark for quality in our industry has risen significantly over the last few years. It’s safe to say the horrors of “drill and fill” are long behind us.  There may be an argument that color and extended yield products still have significant quality gaps among vendors. The overall low penetration rate of aftermarket color supplies is evidence that the market does not believe our color quality is as acceptable as monochrome.

 




Price is also an interesting conversation today. On the top 30 monochrome SKUs, aftermarket pricing among vendors is fairly close. Point of clarification: I am not including vendors that are offering counterfeit cartridges. Dealers that wish to take advantage of these low price points risk an even greater financial consequence vs. any potential savings counterfeit products may present. There are two considerations with pricing that are important here. The first is logistics. Our industry is often fixated on the price of the supply, and not on the ancillary costs. As an example: some dealers use distributors to drop ship supplies directly to customers. Others invest in internal staff and inventory. While typically the drop ship model has a higher price than purchasing toners directly from a manufacturer, it is often much cheaper when all related costs are considered. So, while you may ask a distributor like Parts Now or Supplies Network for a 43X cartridge and find the price including freight and handling is $10 more than you could purchase from a direct selling vendor like LMI or MSE, it is likely that any savings when buying pallet loads of toner is cannibalized by the internal expense of operating your own logistics warehouse.  One only need to look at companies like Amazon.com to illustrate that inventory is not a necessary condition for a profitable business.


MPS changes the price dynamic somewhat. Why? Well take an example of a 20,000 page yield cartridge that costs $110 from one vendor, and $100 from another. The price difference here would amount to a $0.0005 per page. Would you see that difference? My first thought would be of course not, but if your organization manages 3,000 devices, that would equate to a $50,000 increase in costs which, in this case, would directly impact your profit. This example illustrates that MPS changes nothing when it comes to measuring the impact on pricing. While it may seem like the number is small, as we know with pages, 100,000,000 x $0.0005 adds up to a large number.


Probably the biggest consideration in “the PQA big three” criteria is availability. We should consider availability in two ways: fill rate availability and SKU assortment.


Fill rate is likely the biggest concern, especially among MPS providers. A page rate is often based on using aftermarket supplies. If that supply is not available, the dealer must substitute it, often with an expensive OEM supply. The increased cost is now that dealers issue, as the end user pays the same CPP rate. When the dealer complains, the aftermarket supplier will often say “its not my fault; cores are constrained.” This is actually a terrible lie; it is their fault! Cores are like the stock market: they are always available for the highest bidder. The problem is your supplier has decided not to pay the premium core cost and hence pushed the problem down to you. You should think about this next time your order fulfillment rate is not satisfactory.


The other availability concern is the breadth of SKUs available. The decrease in HP market share and the increase in sales from Samsung, Xerox, Brother, Ricoh, Canon and Konica mean that the traditional aftermarket supplier, or, more specifically, remanufacturer is less and less relevant. Aftermarket vendors should now be evaluated on their ability to provide lower cost compatibles across the ever-increasing number of device models and manufacturers. What does this mean? Your current direct selling remanufacturer may be outsourcing a significant portion of the product you are purchasing. That’s fine, but they are taking a margin on those products, and that margin they are taking is yours.


This simple axiom, “price, quality and availability: pick two” is a useful way to keep your vendors on their toes, and margin in your business.

 

Tagged in: Print in General
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Posted by on in Uncategorized

 

 

“A visit will always bring pleasure, whether on the arrival or the departure.”  – Zen proverb 

 

 

When things are about to end and leave, the other side of that is always something new – an arrival.  Perhaps what the printing industry is to our times was once an arrival that made our lives easier, more productive, and innovative.  As with anything, all things come to an end.  But should we really let the apparent end of an industry trouble us?  After all, no one knows for sure what lies ahead.  It is the fear of the unknown that makes us troubled, not that the industry is dying per se. 

 

It’s a matter of perspective of how you look at it.  Stay in fear, or embrace change.  As with nature, at the end of every dead winter is spring, where flowers start anew. In the cosmos, the other side of a blackhole is a big bang, where things start all over again.  Perhaps the end of an era in technology is the beginning of a new and more exciting possibility for each one of us.

 

So fear not, maybe the departure of the printing industry is just another way of moving us forward, for better opportunities.

 

Tagged in: Print in General
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Posted by on in Uncategorized

 

I am writing this blog entry in response to a recent eNewsletter posted by HP, called “Is Your Remanufactured Toner Really Cheaper?”. It can be found by following the link below and I would suggest you review their post prior to reading my responses.

http://h30458.www3.hp.com/us/us/smb/1234766.html

 

The eNewsletter outlines 5 myths about the benefits of using remanufactured toner cartridges vs. HP (OEM). I will address each below and welcome industry feedback.

 

Myth #1 – Remanufactured cartridges always save you money

Always is a strong word. Remanufactured cartridges usually do save you money. Anyone who has purchased a replacement cartridge can attest to this. As with anything, there are varying degrees of quality when it comes to remanufactured cartridges. If you stick to a reputable supplier of third party supplies, remanufactured will certainly save you money over OEM. Patent safe, high yield compatibles may save you even more…

 

Myth #2 – Remanufactured cartridges are just as reliable as Original HP cartridges

Unless you are buying a cartridge for a freshly released printer model, there is a good chance that the supposedly “new” cartridge you are buying from HP has been remanufactured to some extent. HP doesn’t even make their own cartridges, the engines are usually by Kyocera or Canon and the toner is made by third party manufactures in China and Taiwan. If you buy from the right supplier of remanufactured toner, it can certainly equal the quality of a “new” HP cartridge.

 

Myth #3 – Remanufactured cartridge print quality equals that of HP

As mentioned above, in many cases even the “new” cartridges coming from HP contain parts that have been reclaimed or reused. Top tier remanufacturers can produce a quality similar to that of HP’s. That being said, not all remanufacturers are created equal and the guys “drilling and filling” in their garage sometimes cast a negative light on the aftermarket as a whole. If quality is a top priority and you still would like to save money over the OEM, a patent safe, new compatible cartridge may be the way to go.

 

Myth #4 – Remanufactured cartridges are better for the environment

“Remanufactured” and “green” are not always synonymous. Some companies do it (remanufacturing) better than others. We remanufacture as many cartridges as we possibly can and also actively collect the empties through our partner, NextGen Collections. Sometimes a high performance compatible cartridge may be greener than either OEM or remanufactured. We had a leading US independent test lab do some studies on our toner usage vs. OEM in our non-infringing compatible cartridges. A data example from the study is below.... 

 

OEM toner load on a HP 36A = 97 grams 

Print-Rite toner load on a HP 36A = 120 grams 

 

OEM Toner usage per 1,000 pages at 5% = 42 grams 

Print-Rite Toner usage per 1,000 pages at 5% = 21 grams 

 

OEM cartridge yield = 2,330 pages 

Print-Rite cartridge yield = 5,685 pages 

 

One would have to remanufacture the OEM cartridge 2.5 times to produce the same # of pages, which doesn't seem very “green”. Answers are not always black and white; consumers and dealers need to do their research on the companies they buy consumables from. With the litigious nature of the aftermarket, one needs to align themselves with companies who have invested in intellectual property and sell products that do not infringe upon existing patents.

 

Myth #5 – Remanufactured cartridges won’t hurt your printer

At Print-Rite N.A. we stand behind our products and offer a full warranty on our cartridges and any potential damages that their use may cause to a printer. This type of warranty is not uncommon amongst reputable remanufacturers. We also do not produce cartridges that infringe on any of the countless patents related to traditional jumping toner systems. High quality, high yield, and low cost can be achieved without buying from HP and other OEMs. Let us prove it to you!

 

------------

 

Print-Rite is vertically integrated with a portfolio of 1800+ patents and more than 30 years of experience in the aftermarket consumables industry. For more information about our company and products, please visit our website. For current industry news and insights, please visit our blog, The Aftermarket Informant.

 

Website: www.printritena.com

Blog: www.printritena.com/categories/the-aftermarket-informant

 

If you would like to attend a free webinar on October 25th hosted by our CEO, Ian Elliott, please email Laura Kittner to get registered,  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . The title of the webinar is “Counterfeit Cartridges: Opportunity or Civil War for the Aftermarket?”

 

 


 

 

 

 

Tagged in: Print in General
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On Saturday, July 28, 2012, Green Concepts held a Web Conference attended by several hundred people worldwide.  Greene Concepts, Inc, a publicly traded company under the symbol LKEN, is an ink technology manufacturing and distribution company headquartered in Fresno, California.  The subsidiaries under Greene Concepts include AccuBrite, Inc., creator of FreeInk4Life (TM), Refills4You (TM) and INKWAY USA (TM) and have developed a family of 25 “Do-It-Yourself Ink Cartridge Refilling Systems.”

 

 

The main topic of this conference was to introduce a new way to market ink via direct and affiliate/network marketing (which has never been done before within the industry), and where there is currently no other company in the market doing it.  Larry Greene, founder of Greene Concepts, introduced Duane Noble, President of InkWay USA, a wholly owned subsidiary of Green Concepts, to discuss and introduce the new marketing scheme called the Inkway USA Founder Program.

 

Under the program, Founding Units can be purchased at $1,000 per unit.  They may also be purchased at half and one-fourth units, priced at $500, and $250 each, respectively.  Each unit contains a “no-mess, do-it-yourself” refilling system equivalent to 48 CMYK cartridge refills.  Each unit may be purchased for personal use, sold/distributed, or given away.  Founders will receive incentives for purchasing and re-selling the units by way of commissions, and company profit sharing.  Depending on the number of units purchased, the founder will be promoted to a higher profit tier and will receive profits for life.

 

After the Founder program introduction, Duane Noble announced their breaking news. In addition to commissions, and company profit sharing benefits, Inkway USA will also share their retail profits with their Founders. To illustrate the magnitude of this breaking news, he added that they are in the process of working out an arrangement with two major retailers (with a combined number of 5,000 stores) which will carry their Accubrite ink refill system, also manufactured by Inkway, under the InkTelligence line.  This retail product will be offered at a lower price point but will have limitations as to the number of refills it can handle.  While it is of good quality, it will not have the same standard as that of Inkway sold through the Founder Program. The retailers can also benefit from the Founder program by referring and offering Inkway through the Founder Program.

 

For more details on the Inkway USA Founder Program, visit their website at www.inkwayusa.com.

Tagged in: Print in General
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Lexmark, Canon, and Xerox have recently posted lower earnings for the second quarter of 2012.  That’s really not surprising given the state of the global economy, and these companies have attributed their slow revenues to as far back as the Japan earthquake and the European economic crisis.

 



On the other hand, Ricoh and HP have introduced new printers.  Canon is investing heavily in Vietnam and the Philippines, while Ricoh is doing the same in South Africa.  This proves that there are always two sides of a coin, and that there are always opportunities in different parts of the world. Developing countries seem to be the market to invest in to boost hardware sales, or tap on inexpensive labor force.  In countries where printers are everyday household items, the trend is to offer new services that go together with the advancement in technology as in the case of cloud printing, or services that help cut down a company’s labor force as in the case of Managed Print Services.

 

The key to survival in the global market is to operate on both sides of the coin.  What is lacking on one side is a potential on the other side.  It is a constant balance between opportunity, innovation, creativity, and business savvy.  And of course, it is a race on who gets to do it first, and who gets to do it better.  As in any business, it’s always a toss-up…you either make it or break it, just choose wisely…heads or tails…or both?

Tagged in: Global Market
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Contributed by Ronelle Ingram

 

I read with amusement an article about a group of three people from Brooklyn New York that have been accused of stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars of toner cartridges from multiple Staples (US office equipment) stores.

My first thought was how Lexmark, Canon, or HP will be able to extend patent infringement charges against the three defendants. Maybe they will claim the specially designed foil lined shopping bags, (which were used by the thieves to prevent the store’s anti-scanning gates from detecting the stolen merchandise being removed from the stores), were made from the foil wrappings removed from OEM inkjet cartridges and reused without royalties being paid to the OEMs. Or the OEMs may state reselling stolen goods is an unlawful way to try to circumvent the first usage doctrine.

Perhaps the OEMs will claim the packaging does not reflect the former owner’s right to keep possession of the cartridges until they are lawfully purchased. Whatever reason is used, I think these robbers may also have to face additional legal entanglements once the OEMs come after them.

The second and more confusing part of this theft ring is: Why would anyone chance the possibility of being sentenced to time in jail just so they could have the opportunity to become a reseller of ink and laser cartridges? Every day I see advertisement for job openings for sales reps for office equipment supplies. These three New York residents could have easily applied for a telemarketing job which would provide instant access to plenty of supplies to sell.

After the trail maybe the evidence will be released and the hundreds of stolen cartridges will be recycled and become remanufactured products. If this happens, perhaps they will be again held as evidence in OEM originated trial.

 

Tagged in: Legal Lessons
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Contributed by Ronelle Ingram

 

I sometimes think the tail is wagging the dog. Patents seem to be more valuable than the products they allow to be made. As part of Eastman Kodak’s bankruptcy terms Kodak just received approval in a Manhattan U.S. Bankruptcy Court from Judge Allan Gropper in a July 2 ruling that they can go forward with an August 8 scheduled sale of approximately 1,100 digital imaging patents. Much of the four hour bankruptcy court session pertained to who owned what patents, how the scheduled Aug 8 auction-type sale would transpire and how the money would be split up for those patents with disputed ownership claims. There is some infighting between Eastman Kodak Co., Apple Inc. and the Apple spinoff Flashpoint Technology Inc. as to who actually owns some of the most valuable patents. Kodak has claimed the disputed ownership is merely a ploy for those not wanting to pay for past patent usage by claiming a joint ownership in the patent technology. Kodak hopes their ability to sell their patents which they have valued at over 2 billion dollars will help pay-off creditors and keep Kodak solvent while trying to recover from bankruptcy. Kodak seems to have given the term patent pending a new meaning.

Tagged in: Legal Lessons
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The Business Technology Association is hosting a trip to China Sept 4-11, 2012. As a past BTA national president and member of the 2012 Board of Directors; I have been able to watch the progression of the planning of this trip from then being when BTA’s President Tom Ouellette first suggested a BTA trip to China. After months of planning, a search for an experienced travel planning company and negotiation with Konica Minolta and Sharp; all the details are completed. With the help of BTA Executive Director Brent Hoskins and the National Board, the BTA China trip is now accepting reservations.  www.bta.org/ChinaTrip.

 

 


This trip is open to all BTA members, which includes anyone who works for company who is a BTA member. If you are not sure of your BTA member status you may contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . You may also join BTA prior to making your online reservations.  
The China trip will include guided tours of the Konica Minolta Business Technologies Co. Ltd. Factory in Wuxi, China, and SOCC/Sharp Office Equipments Co. Ltd. factory in Changshu, China. These factories are both in the Shanghai area. Both facilities produce MFP equipment that are sold by authorized dealers in the United States.
 
This is the first time BTA has sponsored a trip to China. Those attending will have a unique experience to enjoy the traditional tourist locations including the Great Wall of China, Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City. As well as being allowed to tour two manufacturing plants that are normally unavailable to visiting foreigners.
 
BTA President Tom Ouellette comments "We spend our careers selling and servicing the products produced by our industry's manufacturers. We are rarely, if ever, invited to tour a plant where these products are made. This trip will provide an unforgettable opportunity and venue to see, firsthand, the factories of two of our industry's leading manufacturers.
 
Dealers joining us in China will have a new level of appreciation for the industry, meeting some of the people who manufacture the products they sell and learning more about what goes into the development and manufacturing of equipment."
 
Tom also emphasized the value of connecting and traveling with other dealers while in China. "I predict that each of our travelers will develop some long-term friendships with fellow dealers that will serve as resources for many years to come. BTA has always been in the business of presenting opportunities for dealers to connect so that they can learn from one another. Our trip to China will provide an unparalleled occasion for them to do so in a captivating setting that is far removed from our daily routine."
 
Complete details, pricing and itinerary of the BTA trip to China are available at:
www.bta.org/ChinaTrip

Tagged in: Eye on Asia
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One of the luxuries of working and writing for smaller organizations is the ability to make and rescind decisions, policies, programs, pricing, etc. quickly and easily. In many cases I have made decisions and realized the errors of my judgement in a matter of hours.  If a new idea seems to be working, we go with it.

 

 

If a customer asks for a ‘special consideration and if it is doable and we will make a bit of a profit (or not lose any money), an immediate answer of "YES" can be given and the request can be quietly accomplished. Sometimes, it can be extended to other clients and it eventually becomes a new offering. Other times, the special client request is just that -- a one-time special nicety.

 

In either case, the triumph or failure is of little distraction to the day-to-day progression of one's business. In many cases no one but the manager and client are even aware that a diversion from normal policies has taken place.

 

However, when you are dealing with a mega corporation with multiple levels of managers, directors, VPs, departments, divisions, cultures, egos and agendas, a different set of strategies will occur.

 

When I first read about Toshiba's National No-Print Day (NNPD) campaign, I was disgusted and amused at the same time.  I immediately envisioned a gel haired sales rep holding a large smoking revolver who had just shot himself in the foot. This definitely was another nail in the copier and printing coffin. What tree hugger came up with the idea to suggest that no one should use the product that supports my livelihood?



I actually shook my head in disgust. How short sighted was the Toshiba employee or consultant that came up with this ‘don’t use our product’ idea?

 

Is the Asian concept of 'respect one’s counterparts' so ingrained in the Toshiba organization that no one could stand up and say ‘This is a horrible idea”? Are people at Toshiba so afraid of losing their jobs if they go against a company sponsored idea that no one said anything against a marketing campaign that requests that no one use their products? Or worse yet, did the decision makers at Toshiba actually think that a National No Print Day was actually a great business campaign?  If so, as an independently owned dealer, I am glad I did not have to represent a company that encourages end users not to use the product we are trying to sell.

 

I now congratulate Toshiba for stepping up to the plate and rescinding the controversial campaign. I know and respect Bill Melo, Vice President of marketing, services and solutions, Toshiba America Business Solutions, Inc. Bill had the good or bad fortune of being the one to make the apology for the ill-thought out campaign. In today’s press release, Bill is quoted as writing, “The provocative name and message unfortunately led to a misconception of the campaign goals by the paper and print industries, and for that we apologize.”

 

“Toshiba America Business Solutions recognizes that printing and paper are necessities at the workplace and in our daily lives and that the companies and employees of those industries make valuable contributions to society. We will continue to help our customers exercise sustainable printing practices through our various products and solutions we offer.”

 

Thanks, Bill and Toshiba. You have helped to reinstate my faith in the Toshiba programs and marketing decisions.  I hereby give anyone who is reading this blog to make a copy or print of my thoughts. You may also email it, save it or delete it.  

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I just recently attended the BTA Gateway to Success Conference which was held at the Four Seasons Hotel in St Louis, Missouri USA. In addition to some entertaining and educational presentations; the BTA conference format situates the exhibiting vendors along the inside walls of the ballroom where the educational presentations are taking place. Every exhibitor is given the opportunity to present a brief introduction of their products and services to the attending group.

 


 
At this BTA St Louis conference over one-third of the exhibitors were directly involved in the making, distribution and reselling of aftermarket supplies and parts. I made a point of visiting with many of the vendors offering OEM and compatible products. I also positioned myself to be able to overhear conversation between other attendees and the venders.
 
When discussing the different vendors’ products and services I never heard a question about specific prices of items being sold. Questions that were discussed include: immediate product availability, total value of in stock items, size/locations  of warehouses, shipping options, blind drop shipping procedures, customizable marketing material, green agenda, warranty process, country of origin, availability of dedicated sales reps, technical support desk, MPS program, 24/7 online ordering availability, and if the reseller offered 30 day payment.
 
Potential buyers were appeared to be more interested in the individual offerings of the exhibiting vendor, than they were with the price of the products. The general attitude of the independent dealers who plan to use the aftermarket products in their own Managed Print Service and/or their cost per copy agreements, was much more about what the reselling vendor brought to the partnership than the cost of the product. In the final analysis, most buyers feel the BTA Channel of resellers are all going to have comparable, competitive quality, yield and pricing. The final buying decision will be greatly swayed by the service and support that is provided. 

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Hewlett Packard recently announced their plan to eliminate 27,000 jobs from their worldwide work force; which is calculated to save them in excess of 3.5 billion dollars during the next few years. Doing the simple math, the average cost savings HP is hoping for amounts to about $130,000 per employee.

 

So what does this mean to the remanufacturer?

 

The layoff is scheduled to be worldwide including the large HP operations in England, India, Australia and North America. I read their Indian HP subsidiaries are not too concerned because their employees average only 1/3 of the cost of US and English HP workers. The Indian HP staff feels it will easier to lay off one European or North American worker rather than eliminating 3 Indian workers.

Perhaps a few USA patent attorneys positions may be eliminated. This might cut down on the number of lawsuits and cease and desist orders being issued. There may be some highly trained industry workers, who have lucrative retirement packages, who may be looking for a job within the remanufacturing industry. These former HP workers may be able to take the place of employees temporary lost after I.C.E. visitations.  
Hewlett-Packard Co may decide to lay off their tax advisors who suggested the $190 million Dutch tax shelter, designed by the derivatives arm of American International Group, which was disallowed by the US Internal Revenue Service after a lengthy appeal.

Since the announcement of these anticipated job eliminations; HP stock prices have risen. The HP first quarter earnings of 1.6 billion dollars equaled 80 cents per share. However, the HP fiscal quarter ending in April 2012 also showed a 31% decline from the 2.3 billion dollar profit reported in April 2011.

I doubt that HP will vanish like the Polaroid camera. In the future, maybe they will consider re-manufacturing their own cartridges.

Tagged in: OEM Observations
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The recent ITEX National Expo and Conference in Las Vegas (www.itexshow.com) is no longer just for those in the copier industry. The addition of Managed Print Service to the arsenal of products being offered is rapidly expanding.

 

 

FULL ITEX 2012 PHOTO GALLERY CAN VIEWED HERE.

 

There were approximately 140 exhibiters at ITEX this year. More than 50 of those companies offered products that directly related to the remanufacturing and sales of laser and ink jet supplies and the accompanying parts. There were 40+ ITEX show booths that offered sales of aftermarket consumable toner and ink products. There were 4 exhibiting companies that are headquartered in China. There were also a company based in Korea, one from India, and several from Japan.

 

This international grouping of aftermarket wholesalers, distributors and resellers understand their new buying audience is made up of thousands of independently owned office equipment dealerships throughout North America. These former copier dealers are now actively buying and using, in the devises covered by their MPS agreement, compatible supplies and parts.

 

Five years ago the ITEX show had fewer than 5 exhibitors that were offering aftermarket supplies and parts. The remanufacturers and distributors of aftermarket supplies are rapidly shifting their advertising toward those that are directly paying for and using compatible supplies. 

 

The need to have superior remanufactured products at a fair price is greatly increasing. Many of the ITEX show attendees, that are now purchasing aftermarket printer and copier supplies, are the same companies that are directly responsible for making sure the equipment (using the aftermarket products) works flawlessly and attains maximum yield.

 

Most MPS dealers who took the time and expense to attend the 2012 ITEX Expo in Las Vegas are looking for superior quality and yield and they are willing to pay the additional cost for long term value. These MPS servicing dealers understand that the lowest price product is rarely the best value. A faulty or low yield after market laser cartridge or inkjet is of negative value to a MPS dealer.

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“What's in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet”
William Shakespeare 1592
 
The concept is not a new one. Names are changed, companies merge, or are bought or sold. Names can change to emphasize new products, increase brand awareness or in hopes the customer forgets an error of the past. It is very fashionable in today’s multi-faceted, customer orientated corporate world to include solution in the business name.
 
The former Kyocera Mita has officially updated its name to KYOCERA Document Solutions Inc.   
The core competence of Kyocera, a Japanese based company headquartered in Kyoto was established in 1959 with technical grade ceramics as its original product. Kyoto Ceramics’ founder, Dr. Kazuo Inamori, recognized the immense future potential of these highly versatile ceramic products. KYOCERA is now one of the world's foremost manufacturers of a wide variety of products and services including printers, copiers, Multi-Functional Products, wide format, and the parts, supplies, software and services that are required for complete imaging solutions.
 
Kyocera Mita has been an industry leader in marketing their low cost print per page programs with both their monochrome and color imaging products. The production of non-OEM compatible supplies for Kyocera products has increased in direct ratio to the expansion of Kyocera’s product penetration into the world wide printer market.
 
Kyocera greatly increased their visibility and market share within North America at the turn of the century when Kyocera acquired photocopier manufacturer Mita Industrial Co., Ltd. In January 2000, Kyocera Mita Corporation, headquartered in Osaka, Japan, had acquired subsidiaries in more than 25 countries.
 

KYOCERA Document Solutions Inc.

12 years later, in April 2012 Kyocera Mita has officially changed their name to KYOCERA Document Solutions Inc. Potions of the official KYOCERA press release stated:
One of the world’s leading document output management companies, KYOCERA Document Solutions manufactures and markets monochrome and color network printers, multifunctional products (MFPs), wide-format products and a portfolio of software solutions.

KYOCERA Document Solutions, headquartered in Osaka, Japan, has sales and service subsidiary companies located in Asia Pacific, America and EMEA, which work with a network of authorized distributors and dealers around the world.

KYOCERA Document Solutions' corporate philosophy reflects that of the mother company KYOCERA Corporation: ‘Preserve the spirit to work fairly and honorably, respecting people, our work, our company and our global community.’

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It really depends on who you talk to.  Some people will have a strong opinion leaning towards one or the other but all it takes is a little bit of observation.

 



Let’s look at the news articles posted on our website for the week of April 16.  Just to give you a recap, leftover toners are being re-purposed in New Zealand, sales are up in Western Europe, Ricoh ramps up its production line, franchisees are branching out to be on their own in the UK, cloud printing is available at FedEx locations in the US, Canon introduces new printers, HP to build a new factory in China, and a strong campaign against counterfeit cartridges.

What do these kinds of news tell us?  For starters, for a company to develop new technology from leftover toners, environmental accolades aside, it means that there is an anticipation of the continued and regular use of toners for some time to come. Otherwise said company would not invest the time and money to research and develop a product that it believes would not be a viable source of income in the future.  That means, this company in New Zealand, at the very least, expect that toners are here to stay.

When sales data are up, especially in Europe where there has been a recent economic crisis, that’s always a good sign.  When companies like Ricoh, Canon, and HP are opening new factories and introducing new products, that means there is a demand for their products and that in itself is a good sign for the aftermarket which rides on the coat tails of the OEMs.  And finally, when cloud printing is "mushrooming" across the US, that can only mean that a "harvest" is in the horizon.

Tagged in: Print in General
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No matter what type of business you are in, the proper care and attention to the administrative necessities can make or break the overall profitability of your business. Customer invoicing, attention to inventory, tracking employee work hours, network security and effectiveness are all part of day-to- day activities that should be monitored and managed.

 


 
The increase of the personal use of recreational internet sites is probably effecting the over security and efficiency of your company’s network speed. The personal use of your company’s bandwidth can be wasting time by slowing down the overall streaming of information as well as your employees using thousands of paid labor hours for personal Web surfing or viewing of non-business related material.
 
A recently published Proctor & Gamble internal report found that P&G employees were watching 50,000 five-minute YouTube videos and listening to 4,000 hours of music on Pandora on a typical day. At one point, the company's Web capacity was overtaxed, "requiring immediate interaction," the memo said. The company locked out the ability for their 129,000 employees from access to music-streaming site Pandora and the movie site Netflix in hopes of improving the bandwidth "spectrum crunch”.
 
There is a need for companies to have a written policies and procedures that are respected by all employees for what internet usage is allowable during scheduled working hours. Many have found a honor system of obedience is not a practical alternate. This is compounded by management personnel being some of the worst offenders in breaking the company’s rules for internet usage.
 
Restricting universal access to Facebook, YouTube, Netflix, Pandora, Monster, Craigslist, ebay, Amazon or other sites that are not work related may be worth considering.     
Many companies are being proactive by having the IT department block access to certain Web sites that require a large amount of bandwidth. Some companies have a few community/open use computers that are in the break room that can be used for recreation usage during meal and break periods.
 
Companies that are unwilling or unable to confine business computers or wireless device usage within their company; will see the use of paid labor hours and bandwidth access continue to be used for non-profitable, non-business related activities.

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If I were making an active employment decision, hoping to maximize my job opportunities in the office equipment supply business, a great place to start would be investigating which law school had the best patent litigation department.  There seems to be a steady growth pattern between those companies that are disagreeing with the way their competitors do business. Filing law suits, sending or receiving cease and desist letters, asking for postponements, going to court, filing appeals, making apologies and restitution is all part of the aftermarket office equipment industry.

 

 

The patent lawyers can be viewed as our best friend or worst enemy depending on who owns the patent or product involved with the pending legal action.

 

Another group of legal bottom feeders that try to take advantage of the high cost of patent legal entanglements are the non-practicing entities (NPEs) who are often referred to as Patent Trolls. The trolls help small inventors to be able to afford to go after a large corporation who may have infringed upon one of their patents. In return the Troll and the inventor share the money gained through legally enforcing the rights of the patent holder.  The troll generally receives the larger portion of any monetary settlement.

 

Win, lose or draw, those who actually do the legal work always seem to get paid first.

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