Rick Taylor Attains Top Status at TABS4 Oct, 2005 By: Aaron Shea imageSource
Rick Taylor Attains Top Status at TABS
After a decade of playing a
major role in the growth of Toshiba’s office equipment operations, Rick Taylor
has ascended to the top of the company’s business solutions mountain.
In August, Taylor was named the successor for retiring Toshiba America Business
Solutions President and CEO Dennis Eversole, who had been with the manufacturer
for more than 20 years—six of those as the head of TABS. Taylor officially took
over the position this month.
Prior to his promotion, Taylor served as senior vice president of sales,
marketing, and business operations. Additionally, he supervised the company’s
Electronic Imaging Division’s day-to-day operations and managed the company’s
Toshiba Business Solutions subsidiary, a network of acquired office equipment
dealers throughout the United States that employs more than 2,700 people.
During his more than 25-year career in the copier industry, Taylor has worked at
Xerox, Savin, where he departed as vice president of dealer sales, and was
president of Better Office Systems, a dealership in San Francisco.
Taylor took some time with imageSource to discuss TABS and the industry.
imageSource: What is your first priority as president?
Rick Taylor: Our priority is to always grow the business and, most
importantly, grow it profitably at all levels of the business. All of our
emphasis will be to continue on growing in this market that is, quite frankly,
not growing much at all. The industry data we are receiving shows, in terms of
revenue and unit sales, the market is fairly flat.
This has been created by average selling prices coming down pretty dramatically,
the introduction of digital products, and just the competitive environment. So
when you look at our track record of growing both units and revenue and a
compound annual growth rate of over ten percent for the last ten years, we’re
clearly taking share from our competitors.
IS: What is your approach to growing in a stagnate industry?
RT: A lot of people we compete with believe their main job is to supply
quality product to the market, make sure it works very well, and has a lot of
features that are desired by the customer. We believe our job goes far beyond
that with really aggressive training, advertising and public relations. All of
the things that surround a successful office products dealer are really the
focus for us. If we continue to excel in those areas, plus bring world class
products to the market, we’re going to outperform our competitors. I think that
is what we have done, and we’ve taken share in the last eight to 10 years.
IS: Does growth include more acquisitions for TABS?
RT: Yes it does. We really believe balanced distribution is important.
We’re probably, in my estimation, one of the most under distributed product
lines in the market today. Honestly, that is not all bad. That can lead to lots
of profitability for the independent dealers that represent us. We’ve really
grown our business with independent dealers, mega-dealers and major accounts,
and in the acquisition business. It’s worked for us in the past and we will
continue that in the near future.
IS: Are you happy with the direction of the company currently?
RT: I think the fact that I have gotten this job shows that our parent
company is happy with the direction we’re going. On the other hand, I would
separate that from satisfied because we are never satisfied with our level of
performance, with the amount of support we’re giving the end user customers and
dealer customers, and we’re always challenging ourselves to improve in every
area. It’s a huge strength of our company. I think it’s why we live our tagline,
“Don’t copy. Lead.” We’re trying to stay out front. The inherent nature of that
philosophy means we can’t be satisfied with the way things are today.
IS: Can you catch the Canons of the world?
RT: We started behind the market leaders. We started with a lower market
share and lower market presence. All of the things we’ve done in the last 10
years have been an attempt to catch them. We have passed numerous competitors
one by one in terms of market share over the last 10 years, and that’s what we
continue to do.
IS: Is it realistic that you can catch them?
RT: Absolutely—given the time to perform. Toshiba is a 130-year-old
company and it’s very patient. They really like this business. That can be
demonstrated in the investments they have made in the dealer channel and
IS: Let’s look 2-3 years down the road; what do you want TABS to be known
RT: We want to be known as a company that can substantially do more than
just sell product. That means supporting customers’ businesses and improving
their workflow, providing solutions, and transitioning them from black and white
IS: Pinpoint one aspect of this business that you would stress to your
dealers out there?
RT: Before I would get into the tactics of what a dealer should do, I
think the most important thing is they have to commit to growing their
businesses. With a more competitive market from a price standpoint and competing
against a much larger array of competitors such as printer companies, if you’re
not committed to growing your company and optimizing your expense infrastructure
then you are going to struggle.
I think beyond that, the conversion to color is a huge opportunity. Solutions is
probably an overused word, but additional software sales that enable our output
devices to operate more efficiently is important. I would say to dealers: commit
to growth, utilize the programs we bring to them as a manufacturer, and go after
the areas of opportunity that really do exist today.
RT: Rick Taylor is out there selling a hardware/software bundled solution
to a customer, how would he go about it?
IS: I think it’s really exactly how we train the beginning rep and even
the most seasoned rep. You have to start out trying to clearly identify the
problem and create a solution for them. I think a big mistake people make is
they go in and get trained on a specific product, or they get excited about
something like scanning, and they learn how to sell that as opposed to learning
how to assess what a customer really needs and fix that problem.
What does a customer need? What should we bring them as opposed to here is what
we’ve got? That’s where we have encountered a lot of problems. The pre-steps of
understanding the customer and looking at the customer’s vision have not been
done. I would start with a really good assessment and then go find the solution.
Listen before you talk. Understand what problems you are trying to solve.