The Executive Connection Summit – #Amazing

The Executive Connection Summit (ECS) was held in Scottsdale Feb. 17 – 19. Sponsored by Technology United, the conference bills itself as a place where C-level executives from imaging dealers, manufacturers and partner companies can come together for educational, networking and socializing opportunities.

It was exactly that; three days of seminars from great and well-known industry speakers combined with a casual atmosphere, amazing venue and great friends.

EVENT VIDEOS

Major event contributors included Clover, ESP, GreatAmerica, MWAi, Print Audit, OKI and many others. About 200 people from well-known dealerships, many coming from the SDG meeting held here a few days before, joined people from throughout the imaging industry at the classic Valley Ho hotel overlooking Camelback Mountain.

The event kicked off with a much bigger press conference than the previous ECS event with Rick Taylor talking about how Konica Minolta is trying to bring dealers closer to them through the programs and products they offer.

Rick was followed by MWAi President and CEO Mike Stramaglio, who laid out the agenda for the next few days as well as what’s new with SAP and HANNA. SAP’s new version is set to take imaging dealers to the next level and MWAi will help them get there.

Luke Goldberg, EVP from Clover came next with a brief discussion on seat based billing and an update on the rebranding Clover is currently undergoing as they continue to integrate the companies they’ve acquired over the last few years (MSE, West Point, Dataproducts, etc.).

Soon after Luke came GreatAmerica Financial SVP Jennie Fisher who welcomed us as well. Shortly after came Jennie came Jenny 2.0 (Jennifer Jakubowicz) from OKI Data and a brief update from them.

Several other vendors gave us short overviews as well and then it was time for the welcome dinner, which began at sunset on the roof of the hotel with a spectacular view of Camelback Mountain.

The dinner, sponsored by GreatAmerica, followed where we were again welcomed.

Many of you followed my ride last year where me and the boys from MWAi and several from Muratec raised tens of thousands of dollars as we rode Harleys across the US to fight cancer for the V-Foundation in honor for Bob Shields and Matt Marshall.

This year we’re riding for The Jillian Fund, started by George Gorman of Ricoh in honor of his young daughter, who passed after a courageous battle.

After a short video about the organization, we heard how Clover Imaging had donated a Harley Davidson (which Stramaglio rode into the event (VIDEO) towards the cause. In fact, if you were at the event, Gavin from MWAi no doubt approached you to buy a ticket (and you probably bought several).

If you didn’t buy a ticket, please email me (andy@industryanalysts.com) and I’ll make sure to get you one. They’re $100 each and it’s going to an incredible cause.

Kiss your kids, count your blessings and please help others whose kids have to face this. I can’t imagine anything worse than losing a child and this organization is making a huge difference to families trying to cope with a child battling for their life.

This is an incredible industry and we continue to come together to make a difference and I love you all for that.

Following this emotional portion of the dinner (VIDEO), BTA attorney Bob Goldberg then gave out a few awards, including a lifetime achievement award for Muratec’s Jim D’Emidio (my old DSM back in the day when I was a beeper boy).

Congrats Jim and sorry you had to golf with me!

CLICK HERE FOR ALL MY EVENT PICTURES

The event really started the next morning with a riveting keynote by some real heroes; two former Navy SEALS spoke to us about leadership and kicking ass (and how they actually use printers in the field when fighting the bad guys). Several standing ovations later, we were onto the “meat” of the event.

Stramaglio took the stage back and announced that Rick Taylor, President and COO of Konica Minolta had just been named CEO of KMBS and been given a spot on the Mother Ship’s board – the first time I ever remember an American being placed in such a role at a Japanese company.

It was awesome seeing this announced in a room full of Rick’s peers, dealers, friends and colleagues. It was a special moment and I can’t think of anyone more deserving of this honor.

Shortly after, Doug Albregts, President of Sharp, took the stage with a great Star Wars parody opening (watch the video below). Doug’s a great speaker and you can see much of his session below. Doug told the crowd that the print industry and world of IT is on a collision course and I agree.

He also gave an update on Sharp’s survival. Contrary to what you may have read by people that never speak with Sharp executives, Sharp isn’t going away. The company will almost certainly be purchased in the next week or so, by either a Taiwanese or Japanese company, providing it with the resources and financial stability that has been killing them the last few years.

Would an acquiring company dismantle one of the most profitable pieces of a company they just bought? I don’t think so. Would you? But that topic can be a whole other article of it’s own.

Tanya Flores of ESP then told us What’s Happenin’ with their recent announcement about ESP being acquired by Ametek and the opportunities and financial stability (a common theme with acquisitions like these) they will see as a result. (Click here to watch Tanya’s video). Stay tuned; I think we will be seeing a lot from these guys in the next few months.

This event was heavily focused on the Internet of Things (IoT), that is to say, the connection of devices of different kinds exchanging data through constant connectivity with each other.

Everything is connected now, from your phone to your watch that monitors your heart rate to controlling your thermostat (or TV or BBQ smoker or turning your lights on/off). Even the golf cart on our outing had a digital display with GPS, distance to the hole and a force field that effectively cut the power if you drove where you weren’t supposed to drive (yes, we proved it works).

One of the many things that make this event truly special is that it’s not just imaging. Intel was a sponsor and during their session the speaker talked about the IoT and where we’re going and how much and data we’re using now.

We watched a great video that really put today’s technology in perspective. Here’s a fact that stuck with me; if the auto industry kept pace with Intel’s rate of improvement on their chips, cars would get 2 million MPG, go 300 MPH and cost four cents. Amazing.

Then it was off to a nice lunch sponsored by ESP before sitting back down to a session where Luke Goldberg of Clover gave a presentation with partner West McDonald (VP) of Print Audit.

They discussed a trend that is increasingly becoming a topic of discussion with dealers – seat based billing for Managed Print Services contracts.

There are a lot of questions with this approach as well as a lot of advantages and many of them were candidly discussed during a brief Q&A.

After a long day, Rick Taylor closed the afternoon, providing an overview of KMBS; their MIF is up, their PAGE VOLUMES are UP and essentially, they’re on fire right now.

In fact, Konica Minolta’s revenue is up $1 billion dollars since Rick took over as president a few years back. Is the print industry dying or evolving? I know what Rick believes. Incidentally, for all of you betting the over/under on how long it would take Rick to mention his beloved Jayhawks in his presentation, it was 12 minutes.

That night was an amazing networking event at a nearby restaurant (close enough to walk!). Where else can you get so many “it” people under one roof?

Presidents and senior executives from Konica Minolta, Sharp, Muratec, Xerox, Samsung, OKI Data, Lexmark and Toshiba mixed with imaging dealers and so many partner companies (GreatAmerica, MWAi, ESP, Clover, Print Audit, Coco Training, Dealer Marketing, umango, etc.).
The next day we were up bright and early to listen to former Sharp President Ed McLaughlin speak to us about data and predictive maintenance.

After, Jim D’Emidio spoke about Muratec’s Leap Forward MSP program designed to help imaging dealers “find new cheese.”

The day closed with GreatAmerica’s Jennie Fisher leading an excellent panel consisting of dealers like David Scibetta of CopierFax BT, John Swalwell of Perry Pro Tech, Barry Simon from Datamax and Mike McGuirk of ProCopy.

Millenials (hiring and keeping them) was a common discussion as was how these dealers’ culture has created their success.

As different as you all are, your dealerships have a lot of common issues and this meeting is a great place for you to openly discuss them with your peers. #invaluable.

After lunch, those of us that stayed were treated to a day of golf by one of the sponsors and the event concluded that evening with a more intimate dinner, again within walking distance of the event, hosted by Mike and MWAi.

For those of you who were there for the toast Mike made to me, she said “yes!”

There are a lot of shows out there ranging from dealer “road shows” to full-blown 1,000+ person manufacturer product shows. There is nothing like this and if you weren’t there, I hope you’re feeling like you should have been because frankly, you should have been.

As nice as it was to sit through the informative sessions, the real beauty of this event is the networking. Almost everyone worth talking to from this industry was here.

And unlike bigger shows at event centers where everyone is kind of on their own, this was great because we were all together from the beginning of the day until the end. Apparently you CAN have a dealer event without a ride on a bus. Who knew???

Dealers and vendors had full access to each other. I introduced more people from different companies to each other than you would believe. Everyone got something out of it.

CLICK HERE FOR ALL MY EVENT PICTURES

MWAi does things with class and this show was a perfect example. Everything from the venue to the content to the company was top notch. Whether you’re a printer manufacturer or a solutions partner or a dealer, the next time this thing comes around, do yourself a huge favor and get yourself to ECS.

You will thank me. Great job MWAi and all the sponsors and speakers, you made this an amazing event and a wonderful use of three days.

~Andy