IN THE HOT SEAT: The changing face of Fuji Xerox

IN THE HOT SEAT: The changing face of Fuji Xerox

Having started his career in environmental science, Paul Harman decided to walk away because he was disillusioned by the gulf between the left wing and right wing camps. He ventured into selling, where he has since swapped lawn mowers for printers.

As head of the local Fuji Xerox printer channel, he has earmarked the MFP market as the next big thing. With 250 channel partners on the books, and increasing strength in the SMB space, Harman is looking to separate its partner program into key categories: retail, general channels and corporate accounts.

How did you go from selling lawn mowers to printers?

Paul Harman (PH): If someone is a good sales person, they are a good sales person, and it doesn't matter if they are selling lingerie or lawn mowers. The product is not specific - it's whether the person follows the right sales structure and has the ability to relate to the sale. I think the people at Oki decided to take a chance on me, given I had no experience, and obviously it has turned out okay.

When did you get involved with Fuji Xerox Printers (FXP)?

PH: I've been here for seven-and-a-half years. I started as an account manager in Victoria and have worked up to national channels manager, running the distribution business and channel operations, then promoted to the regional sales manager, and now operations manager. This company has been through a number of different guises in that time. I actually started with the Tektronix business, which was its network colour printer division. This was bought by Xerox in the US in 2000. At that time, we had three printers in our range, which were really slow, low resolution and cost about $20,000. Now we have 14 printing devices and the range continues to grow.

How did the transition from Tektronix to FXP go?

PH: It's been massive. We went through several stages. When the merger was announced, we set up two separate businesses in Australia. We had Fuji Xerox Phaser Printing, which offered rebadged Tektronix colour printers, and we had Fuji Xerox Australia, which had monochrome printers. They were both sold through the channel, but they were competing. In order to be one channel entity selling network printers we brought the two divisions together in April 2003 and created Fuji Xerox Printers. We have moved from a niche business to a fully fledged print solution operation in Australia in a short time.

What market areas does the company want to reach?

PH: We were stuck in general office printing and the low-end graphic arts space. But we are now expanding into SOHO and retail and up into the high-end graphic arts community. We have a much broader spectrum of printers available to different segments of the market.

What are the top trends in 2005?

PH: The low-end colour device market is a top focus area for us. For example, our foray into the multi-pass laser market, in the SOHO space, is becoming a key part of the colour market - certainly in volume; not in value. That's been a major trend over the past 18 months. The other push is with multifunction devices. In the next few months, we are making our first foray into the low-end A4 part of the MFP market, and will continue to expand our range during the rest of the year. We're bringing out three devices in June. At the channel level, we have never had the capability to offer multifunction devices before.

Are there any channel plans on tap?

PH: The business will become silo driven. We will be changing from one homogenous program to include different silos - retail, general channels and corporate accounts. We will have three separate divisions run by different managers to make sure we have a stronger matrix to cover the span of product line. We will also look at the staff and current Star Partner Alliance channel program to ensure they are aligned to the separate silos. Most likely we will still have an umbrella program but it will be aligned differently to each segment of the business. We will work on the new program in the next quarter and launch on July 1.

Will you launch any specific programs?

PH: The Just Print Program is being rolled out. With this, instead of buying the printer, the customer pays a cost-per-page charge over a three-year term, or other period of time, with a minimum monthly page commitment as a rental fee.

The equipment is leased through Fuji Xerox Finance via the FXP direct resellers. Additional hardware/accessories or services can be included. The lease is paid monthly based on the minimum number of pages printed. Any network printer can be leased, with a minimum total spend of $5000. SOHO printers are not included in this program.

There are benefits here for the reseller. The partner has one additional task: to record monthly customer usage and bill the customer based on the cost per pages. For this the reseller gets substantial additional revenue, locks in the customer for consumables purchase for the term of the lease and builds a stronger relationship with the customer by assisting with upgrades and future purchases. Additional margins are also substantial.

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