Hello everyone! West McDonald here, Office Equipment Channel lover and Chief Noise Maker at Tigerpaw Software. I’m fresh off the plane from Denver, Colorado, where I had the pleasure of attending the Business Technology Association’s “Capture the Magic” event on June 9th and 10th, held at the gorgeous Gaylord Resort. What a fantastic couple of days it was! “Dealers helping dealers” is the mantra of the BTA and it was on in full force in Denver. New this year were break-out sessions where dealers could choose learning tracks for deeper engagement than a short stage presentation can usually deliver. I couldn’t make them all, but a couple made my list. I am buzzing with excitement (and repleted oxygen stores after coming down from 8,000 feet) and wanted to share my top seven takeaways with you all. Read to the end and click on the link for the post-event video too so you can relive the memories or see what you missed! So, without further ado:
The Keynote Address:
We kicked off the event on June 9th with an inspiring keynote address by Curt Cronin, former Navy SEAL and CEO of Ridgeline Partners. Curt shared his unique approach to building unstoppable teams, and it was one of the most inspiring takes I’ve heard in a long time. He emphasized the power of team alignment and unity over technology and information in achieving success. From his extensive combat experience to his current position as a CEO, his insights were eye-opening for those of us in a channel rife with change and uncertainty. I loved how he engaged the audience by getting us all up and stretching our bodies and minds to understand how we can reach further than we ever knew we could. His anecdotes drew parallels between combat and corporate scenarios and left us with a powerful message – that the solution to every problem we face lies within ourselves.
1 Curt Cronin, Ridgeline Partners
Optimizing Your Dealership’s Sales Team (Dealer Panel):
This dealer-driven panel was moderated by Mark Spears, President of Amplified Solutions, and was all about the engine that drives our companies forward – our sales teams! We dove deep into how successful companies find the right people, prepare them for success, and keep them motivated to reach new heights. This panel breakout was actually split between both days of the conference to accommodate 6 leading dealers who shared their insights and experience. Great seeing Mike Ardy, president at ABS, Jose Lopez, president at Barlop Inc., Carol Mitschke, president at Frontier Business Products on day one, and day two, Scott Flaherty, COO at Altek Business Systems, Jim George, president at Donnellon McCarthy Enterprises, and Tim Stanley, owner at Total Document Solutions. It was a great reminder of how essential it is to build a motivated sales team at the core of our operations.
2 From left to right: Scott Flaherty, Tim Stanley, Jim George, and Mark Spears.
Positioning Your Dealership for Greatness:
Moderated by Dan Bombard, Yuma Office Equipment, this panel discussed the need for diversification in today’s office technology industry. It was a powerful reminder that while imaging devices remain a key component of our product lineup, we need to be the trusted advisors for technology in the workplace for our customers. The panelists shared their experiences in diversifying their product and service portfolios to ensure continued success. Great insights from dealership leaders who have led the channel both in terms of growth and innovation, including Chelsea Bode, CEO at Pearson-Kelly Technology, Stephanie Keating Phillips, Director of Solutions at Advanced Imaging Solutions, and Brad Knepper, President & CEO at All Copy Products. The core message from all was how important it is to ensure that company culture be preserved, that there is no room for detractors or those that aren’t all-in, no matter how good their numbers are or how much money they might be bringing in.
3 From left to right: Chelsey Bode, Stepanie Keating Phillips, Brad Knepper.
I Heard It Through the Grapevine:
This session on the second day, June 10th, was with Bob Goldberg, the general counsel of the Business Technology Association. It gave us a window into the latest dealer concerns, their impact on the channel, and possible solutions. Bob talked about the advances of AI, the growth opportunities for EV charging stations, the ever-present cybersecurity threats that dealers can help customers with, and some of the more traditional office equipment dealer growth areas that still have legs in a world of declining pages. It was a bittersweet presentation as Bob announced that he is retiring (kind of?). Bob has not only been an incredible legal asset for BTA members, he’s an incredible human being with a great sense of humor and passion to help others through service. There was a BIG silver lining, however, as his son will be taking the reins so the Goldberg magic touch will continue.
Keypoint Presentation on Strategies for Success:
There are few times in life you’ll get the opportunity to see a presentation given that doesn’t actually include a presentation! Anthony Sci, president & CEO at Keypoint Intelligence, shared his insights on the future of our channel. Sans PowerPoint, Anthony touched on all the issues impacting our channel such as declining pages, lower per-unit sales prices, and a host of challenges facing our channel in a post-pandemic world. His message on the opportunities before us was inspiring, at least for those ready to roll up their sleeves and do the work of digital transformation, for our dealerships and our customers.
4 Anthony Sci
Service Department Challenges in 2023 (panel discussion):
What struck me most about this panel discussion led by Kevin Marshall, president at Copy Link Inc., was just how progressive service departments already are when it comes to using AI in their service practices! Wendy Hagerstrand, director of service for Imagine Technology Group, Juan Maldonado, VP of service at UBEO Business Services, and Dale Scheuerman, director of service at All Copy Products, all shared how they are starting to use AI to better the service experience for their customers. Those that know me know that I believe ALL dealerships need to understand and discuss how AI can be used to modernize their businesses to better serve their customers, so this session gave me a lot of hope that we are ready to face an AI future head on.
5 Kevin Marshall
6 Bob Goldberg
Demystifying AI Spotlight:
I know, I know, I’m listing my own session as one of my Top 7 takeaways, which is either an act of ego or, as I prefer to think, just so important that I couldn’t leave it out. I’ve spoken at 4 conferences to date on the need for businesses to take AI more seriously, to raise awareness for their companies and their customers. I’ve also been invited to write about AI and its implications for technology services channels for 6 or 7 publications including the Imaging Channel Magazine, the Cannata Report , GreatAmerica, and ENX Magazine since OpenAI released ChatGPT in November of 2022. In my 30-year career I don’t ever remember writing so much on one topic in the span of 7 or 8 months. It’s that important. At the Capture the Magic event I asked dealers to consider two things: First, to become more “AI Aware” so they can grasp the business realities and impacts it is bringing. Secondly, to work on AI guidelines for their staff to ensure they are using it safely.
If you missed it, the BTA’s “Capture the Magic” event was an enriching experience, filled with countless moments of learning and networking. The insights gained, the discussions held, and the new connections made – all of it was truly magical. Thank you to Brent Hoskins, Valerie Briseno and Kevin Marshall for running a fantastic gathering. Tigerpaw Software couldn’t be prouder of sponsoring.
As promised, here is a link to the post-show video so you can relive the memories or see what you missed!
While you’re here, don’t forget to check out the Tigerpaw Resources page for tons more educational videos, podcasts and blogs, all designed to help you run a better business so you can sleep better at night! And until next time, keep learning!