By Andy Slawetsky – The Executive Connection Summit in Scottsdale, AZ took place from January 14 to 17 and was once again the ultimate networking event to kick off the new year. The conference began with a welcome reception the first night and those who beat the weather had a great time reconnecting after most of us had taken a travel break for the holidays.

Bob Goldberg, an iconic figure in the industry, opened the event the first morning. After a few words, he brought Barry Simon of Datamax Arkansas up to lay the spiritual groundwork with a prayer and The Pledge of Allegiance, setting the tone for a day of fantastic presentations and discussions.


We began with Frank Cucco and the Impact Networking team’s journey from humble beginnings to becoming a powerhouse “megadealer.” This was not just a tale of success but an inspiration for many. Frank and his people shared their story for nearly two hours as they discussed growing from a simple copier dealership and how they got to where they are today.


The day’s sessions then took our first AI turn with a panel led by Michael Cozzens on “Putting AI to Work,” featuring a roster of notable industry faces like Jim George of DME, and Laura Blackmer of Konica Minolta. Other panelists included Anthony Sci of Keypoint Intelligence, Keven Ellison, Peter Kujawa, Joseph Brunsman, David Tan and West McDonald. AI, a thread woven throughout the event, was discussed not just as a tool (like a chatbot), but as a force multiplying the capabilities of businesses and the potential perils in the context of security. It will seep into every part of our businesses and dealers need to have a plan.

Mike Marusic of Sharp then guided attendees through the cloud’s implications on information accessibility in his presentation, “Cabinets to Cloud,” while Frank Mallozzi spearheaded a production print panel that delved into advanced solutions, highlighting Roland’s potential as a gateway for resellers looking to broaden their portfolios as well as products from Fiery and EFI.

At this point, Richard Schaublin of Xerox spoke for a bit about how glad he was that Xerox was now a part of this conference. Richard’s presence ends a dry-spell of Xerox executives at this event and it was great to have them participate.


Emotions ran high during the evening’s dinner, where industry veterans like Bob Goldberg and Hiro Ueda were honored, underscoring the community’s deep respect and affection for our leaders and role models. Rick Bastinelli and Ben Ragusa, two iconic dealers that have stepped back from the limelight were also recognized that night. Perhaps the best part of the evening was when Wes McArtor joined us! Wes has been low-key for a while and it was great to have him in our midst!


The next day maintained momentum, with personal stories from industry legend John Hey about taking his family dealership to the top, followed by data-centric forecasts from Kirk Offel of Overwatch.


I experienced a live demonstration of vulnerability in the digital age, courtesy of Jay Ryerse of ConnectWise, who adeptly ‘hacked’ my public information, laying bare the urgent need for robust security measures. Much of what he did used AI, tying in to the underlying theme of the event.


Jennie Fisher of GreatAmerica facilitated a generational dialogue on leadership in an excellent panel discussion with Millennials and a Gen Z executive. On the panel were Greg Goldberg, Jenna Stramaglio, Lauren Hanna, Aubri Akervik and Sarah Cluster – all of whom are following in the footsteps of their successful parents.

Next, Toshiba executives, Steve Sauer and Bill Melo, provided updates on industry movements, including the much-discussed Ricoh merger.

A major highlight of the event was the keynote given by Medal of Honor recipient Dakota Meyer. Meyer spoke to attendees, then joined us for dinner after sitting for a fireside chat with Mike Stramaglio and Bob Goldberg.

The event culminated with a panel hosted by myself, Andy Slawetsky, where discussions pivoted back to AI’s practical applications, particularly Konica Minolta’s strategies to empower dealers. This session included Laura Blackmer, President and Dino Pagliarello, SVP of Konica Minolta discussing how Konica Minolta is currently using AI to develop products, what’s the KM role in helping dealers with AI, and what’s coming down the road.

As the summit came to an end, Bob Goldberg brought up Joe Contreras of Epson and Travis Sheffield of UBEO to discuss “what’s next” after we go home following such an amazing few days.


While the learning was over, there was still one more part of the event. The group golf outing was a perfect ending to the conference, as usual.


Another exceptional ECS orchestrated by Mike Stramaglio, Hiro Ueda, and their team – an event that, by all accounts, was their finest yet. Well done and thank you to all that sponsored!


SOURCE Industry Analysts Inc.