American Business Machines Dealer Profile

Keeping up with Joneses: Third Generation Breaks with Tradition by Diversifying Portfolio

05/02/2017

 

 

Fast Facts

History in Brief: Founded in the ’20s by Wallace Jones, fought through the Great Depression to become a growing provider of calculators and typewriters throughout Central California; one of the first Canon dealers on the West Coast, is today in its third generation and offers a variety of hardware and software, as well as both managed print and IT services, and locational security technology

 

Headquarters: Bakersfield, California

 

Locations: 8 (California)

 

Employees: Approximately 100

 

Hardware Partners: (A3) Canon, Duplo (duplicators); (A4) Canon, HP; (Production) Canon, Duplo (offline finishing); (Wide Format) Canon, Océ

 

Noteworthy Software Partners: Canon (uniFLOW, Therefore), Océ (PRISMA Suite of Solutions)

 

 

Over the past two years, American Business Machines has seen its revenue jump from $15 million to $20 million. This spike, according to Ryan Jones, the company’s General Manager, was sparked by some major account wins, outstanding growth in the production space, and a concerted effort with managed IT (MIT). ABM has also been selling more software of late and, thanks to its partnership with AXIS Communications, now counts locational security as yet another of its menu options.

 

So, diversification? “Our salespeople have a smorgasbord of products and services to discuss with both existing and potential customers, but that’s not what it was like back in 2010 when our revenue was below $10 million,” Jones said. “We had to get deeper with clients, to extend the dialogue. The good news is that we were able to take on more with very few hiccups, which enabled us to change our slogan to ‘Everything for Office’—we’re not just about copiers.”

 

Ryan Jones, General Manager of American Business Machines

 

When Jones’s father returned from Alaska, after being drafted during the Vietnam War, the company became one the first Canon dealers on the West Coast—the rest is history, literally. Canon provides the bulk of what ABM offers, from office MFPs and printers to production gear to wide format. Also, software: “We got in on the ground level of uniFLOW, walked over the hill to get to heaven, and today have a few large educational institutions using it,” Jones said. “Since that solution is in a very good place, Canon is making Therefore a top priority and we’re starting to land customers who want it.”

 

Back to hardware, though. Specifically, that Canon is now selling its imageCLASS line through the channel. While the announcement was made just recently, at the One Canon Event 2017 in March, ABM had already been beta testing the program for six months. “Many people were clamoring for this, so I was very excited and, frankly, honored that Canon chose us to help out. I feel like pricing is more competitive than before, even with cartridges. Having these devices will be big for our MPS play, because one trend I’ve noticed is that IT departments don’t want to deal with all the devices in the office today.”

 

And then: locational security. As Jones explained, ABM was ankle-deep in that game when Canon bought AXIS around the last Canon Expo, in September 2015. The topic was coming up on a fairly routine basis, sort of in conjunction with ABM developing its MIT strategy. What’s more, the AXIS portfolio spans a range of low- to high-end cameras, which can satisfy the needs of homeowners all the way up to huge enterprises. To date, ABM has roughly 35 “security” customers—mostly SMBs, and it’s had a serious impact in the education vertical too. In fact, while one school only bought cameras and nothing else, it spent big bucks as the deployment covered 10 sites!

 

“Our salespeople have a smorgasbord of products and services to discuss with both existing and potential customers, but that’s not what it was like back in 2010 when our revenue was below $10 million. We had to get deeper with clients, to extend the dialogue. The good news is that we were able to take on more with very few hiccups, which enabled us to change our slogan to ‘Everything for Office’—we’re not just about copiers.” –Ryan Jones

 

“The wide format market is still young, but there’s a transformation happening with it right now,” Jones said. “People are really beginning to understand the value of these devices. We’ve been in the segment since Canon released its first model almost a decade ago. Although the phone wasn’t ringing off the hook at the outset, we believed in the technology because it’s costly to keep printing posters and other large color output out of house. We had to create the demand through constant customer education.”

 

Canon says that its sales in large format are split 78/22 between CAD and graphic arts, respectively, but it recently announced that it’s targeting the more even 52/48 division. Enter the Océ Colorado 1640, which Jones feels proves that Canon is meshing words with the more important actions to go after share. “We have approximately 50 wide formats in the field, half CAD and half graphic arts, but one key piece we’ve been missing is outdoor signage. Eco solvents. I think there’s a need for the Colorado (SRP, $58,000), and need always overshadows cost, so why can’t we sell it?”

 

Along the lines of an A4 printer, for which cartridges might simply be purchased online or at a discount house, the supplies side of wide format hasn’t quite aligned in a traditional service contract world. To boot, ABM wasn’t proactive enough in touching base with clients, Jones admitted. To fix the issues, the company hired a supplies manager and began offering a maintenance agreement on wide format devices. “Our contract would include parts and labor, but with the meter that’s available on Canon’s newer large formats, we have the ability to provide more to the customer, including a maintenance agreement,” he said.

 

Jones cited the Canon imagePROGRAF PRO-4000 with the second roll option as ABM’s biggest wide format seller, at an MSRP of $6,995—with rebates and 0% interest from Canon Financial Services. “This is but a single example of where the road could lead,” he said. “Wide format has the power to ‘wow’ at tradeshows, it can easily attract attention. Canon is spending a lot of money on development, for the software too, and I’m positive that the technology will resonate with businesses more and more.”

 

Ryan Jones delivering a presentation on wide format, which has been, is, and will continue to be an important segment for American Business Machines.

 

ABM picked up the Duplo duplicator line to help it gain more traction with K–12 schools and universities. What’s more, Jones has been especially bullish on Duplo’s offline production finishing options, most notably the Slitter/Cutter/Creaser line, and described the relationship as one of the best decisions he’s ever made—a real eye-opener to both ABM and its customers.

 

Speaking of production, the company claims that upwards of 30 percent of its revenue stems from this segment. “We’ve sold a number of Canon imagePRESS C700/C800 combos, partially because of the flexible finishing offered by Duplo, and we’re one of the top resellers in the country of the Océ VarioPrint Ultra line after taking on those devices less than four years ago,” he said.

 

In addition to ABM acquiring a pair of dealers over the last two decades, it bought a full-service print shop in September 2016—another example of how the company is spreading its wings. The operation can basically do it all, from RX prescription pads to elementary forms to banners, menus, postcards and everything in between. Jones reported that from this past November to February, The ABM Print Shop brought in $50,000 in revenue on average per month. And to answer the obvious question: Yes, Canon production devices are employed.

 

Diversity seems to be a thing with Jones’s family, too. His wife has two kids from a previous marriage, he has one, and together they have two more. The kids stack up this way: boy, girl, boy, girl, boy. A food fanatic, he’ll eat whatever but particularly enjoys Italian fare or a great steak. He’s also big into hockey and still plays every week with retired local professionals.

 

Further evidence of not only ABM’s growth but his own, too, is that the company has been named to Canon’s Advanced Partner Program for three consecutive years and he won a 2016 Canon Golden Eagle Premier Golden Achiever award—only 25 sales reps in the United States can claim this honor. “These accolades are proof of the strong family we have here at American Business Machines,” Jones said. “We wouldn’t be who we are without our dedicated and professional employees, who all share in our vision of 100% customer service. That was the legacy of my grandfather, what my father instilled in me and what someday I’ll instill in the next generation!

 

American Business Machines is headquartered in Bakersfield, California, with seven other locations throughout The Golden State.

 

 

 

Carl Schell
Managing Editor
With over a decade’s worth of experience at Buyers Lab, Carl manages workflow on the BLI side of Keypoint Intelligence’s Office Technology and Services Group. He also manages both editorial content on the KPI corporate site and the BLI newsletter, LabLines. For the past few years his primary interest has been on the channel, specifically writing dealer-focused articles, while his prior responsibilities included producing reports on printers/MFPs and software.