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ISM Article

Adapting to Change in the Marketplace

6 Jan, 2009 By: Editorial Staff imageSource

Adapting to Change in the Marketplace

Precision Roller has certainly seen the ups and downs of the American
economy during its 35 years in business.  In 1974, a gallon of gas cost 55
cents, and the Dow Jones average closed at 616 points. Postage was raised to 10
cents from 8 cents, and businesses started using a very primitive word processor
that resembled a typewriter. One of the first computers, the Altair 8800 model,
was sold as a mail-order kit through advertisements in Popular Electronics
magazine. In the mid 70’s, Japanese manufacturers Canon, Minolta, Mita and Ricoh
entered the copier market creating dealer networks for selling low volume

Brian Kuhlmann, the founder and President of Precision Roller, started by
manufacturing aftermarket polyurethane squeegee rollers in his garage, then
began making Savin foam cleaning rollers in his parent’s basement.  In 1979, he
opened his first plant to mold and grind silicone upper and lower fuser rollers.

The expensive upper silicone rollers were susceptible to damage from picker
fingers and fuser oil. Brian reacted by developing a process of coating upper
fuser rollers with Silverstone Teflon which gave them a longer life and made
them less expensive to manufacture.  Many Japanese manufacturers soon changed
almost all of their machines to this type of fuser roller.  Precision Roller
continued to grow and prosper!

Then, in the 80’s, the industry began to experience dramatic
changes.  The larger companies such as Alco Standard (now IKON, recently
acquired by Ricoh) and Danka (acquired by Konica Minolta), began acquiring
dealers across the country, consolidating them and giving them massive
purchasing power with the OEMs.  The effect on the remaining independent dealers
was a greater challenge in being competitive, and the effect on Precision Roller
was a decreased demand for the rollers that had been their mainstay.  Meanwhile,
a rise in the number of non-affiliated small service companies who couldn’t buy
from the OEMs created an increasing demand for a wide variety of parts and

“One of the keys to success and survival is the ability to adapt to change,
whether it be in the economy or in the office equipment industry,” states Brian.

This emphasis on flexibility was demonstrated by Brian’s response to the
changing industry.  Realizing that Precision Roller would need a greater
understanding of the needs of the service companies they sold to, Brian launched
a service branch by buying a small independent Canon dealer. By actually
servicing office equipment he realized that independent dealers needed a source
for all parts, not just the normal, available aftermarket parts that everybody
carried. He also realized how important it was to have a source to turn to for
parts research and in-house tech support, which led him to hire technicians as
well as set up a parts research department.

With the advent of the Internet, Precision has a way to market tens of
thousands of parts worldwide with high quality full-color images and detailed
descriptions that include all of the models using each part (even models
released under another manufacturer), detailing on each model, with an
introduction date, and available accessories. This is critical information.

Precision Roller’s exceptional website,
www.precisionroller.com, is
recognized as one of the industry’s best.  Comprehensive yet user-friendly when
looking for a part or looking for a cross-reference, you will find it all

Continuing to change and reacting to the demands of the marketplace has been,
and will continue to be, the key to success for Precision Roller. No matter what
the economy or the situation, they continue to provide their customers with
product, information, and the best possible customer service.

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