BIS Office Systems Dealer Profile
Crimson Tide Football Isn’t the Only Team That’s Rolling in Alabama
History in Brief: Formed in 2009, document imaging hardware and software subsidiary of the BIS Technology Group; covers the Gulf Coast from Mississippi to northwest Florida, has been an active MPS provider for many years, and is in the private-label toner business
Headquarters: Mobile, Alabama
Locations: 1 (Alabama)
Hardware Partners: (Copier MFP) Copystar, Canon; (Printer/MFP) KYOCERA, Canon; (Wide Format) Canon, KIP
Noteworthy Software Partners: KYOCERA (DMConnect Pro), Biscom, Hyland Software (OnBase, via KYOCERA/DataBank), PaperCut
Tyran Colvin is a fan of KISS—both the ubiquitous principle (Keep It Simple, Stupid) and “the hottest band in the world.” The former has helped him build BIS Office Systems, of which he is President, into the successful dealer it is today, while the latter, well, that’s just one of his many passions outside of work.
The company began out of a conversation between Colvin and Phillip Long, Founder and CEO of the Business Information Solutions Technology Group. More specifically, an eight-year, ongoing dialogue about the benefits and potential strategy of pairing hardware and software with IT services. After more life experience and considerable deliberation, Colvin took the plunge and opened BIS Office Systems, thus fulfilling his and Long’s vision.
Nine months went by, sometimes fast and other times slow. The company—at the outset, just Colvin and a sandwich-shop-clerk-turned-sales-rep—had a dozen customers and a growing MIF, so he hired a tech. First-year sales were $149,000. Then, in the back half of 2010, another weighty decision: Settling in with a true partner in the copier space was imperative, so he bought an underperforming Copystar dealer and its 230-strong client list, along with a second, smaller operation.
“Those acquisitions early on, they’re the rocket fuel we needed to propel us to where we are now,” Colvin said. “Many of our employees wear multiple hats. We serve mom-and-pops to enterprises and rank in the Top 10 Copystar dealers in the Southeast. Our net profit last year was up 110 percent from 2016—that’s good for a fairly young company in an ever-changing market.” What’s more, locational expansions along the Gulf Coast are in the planning stage to fuel the next level of growth.
|Tyran Colvin, President of BIS Office Systems|
“Listen, I’m not saying anything new here, but you really do have to find a differentiator in business,” Colvin said. “Down-the-street selling is brutal, loyalty is a thing of the past, and there’s always somebody who can go lower than you. So we lead with software, document management in particular, which, again, isn’t an original idea—but it’s simple and it works, like a Paul Stanley guitar riff.”
Because of its relationship with Copystar, BIS Office Systems has access to KYOCERA DMConnect Pro (“easy to use, not overloaded with features, priced right”). The company is also the regional rep for Biscom. As Colvin explained, software fosters a higher level of client confidence than hardware does because the provider is closer to the data and, by extension, more protective of it. That philosophy has resulted in BIS Office Systems already putting up 23 software deployments on the board in Q1 of 2018, compared to only 13 for all of last year!
Thanks to Kyocera’s acquisition of DataBank, the largest reseller of Hyland OnBase in North America, BIS Office Systems has the means to break into the ECM market and is currently undergoing certification training. “We’re definitely feeling a shift,” Colvin said. “Document management and protection, cloud printing and scanning. When you invest the time and money, stay laser focused on it, and make your own luck, commitment to the cause becomes a natural, daily activity.”
“Those [two] acquisitions early on [in 2010], they’re the rocket fuel we needed to propel us to where we are now. Many of our employees wear multiple hats. We serve mom-and-pops to enterprises and rank in the Top 10 Copystar dealers in the Southeast. Our net profit last year was up 110 percent from 2016—that’s good for a fairly young company in an ever-changing market.” –Tyran Colvin
Hardware, however, is still the straw that stirs the drink. Colvin estimates that roughly 40 percent of BIS Office Systems’ revenue is derived from sales of copiers and printers, with 1,100 serviceable MIF. The bulk of the company’s customers are classified as Segment 1–3, with Segments 4–5 making up the rest. He believes that Copystar’s more intimate overall feel and excellent support (“we have the best DSM in the country and there’s not a lot of red tape, either”) make it a great partner (check out BIS Office Systems’ entry in KYOCERA Document Solutions America’s Christmas jingle competition last year).
Meanwhile, BIS Office Systems is beginning to carve out a nice niche for itself in the wide-format arena. “We have sold as many as 15 of these devices in a year, mostly for CAD, engineering, and technical applications,” Colvin said, adding that wide-format sales currently represent about 2–3 percent of the company’s revenue. “As older machines age and new customers find out what we can offer them, those numbers will go up.”
BIS Office Systems bills about 400 clients a month, with a large portion of them under an MPS contract. On that front, the company has a dedicated technician who handles everything in-house using KYOCERA Fleet Services and Print Audit Facilities Manager, from monitoring and diagnostics to helpdesk support, supplies and inventory (he also preps hardware for installation and does repairs; the service department has over 90 years of experience). Based on the data Colvin analyzes and his conversations with the tech, he looks for opportunities and then sells the customer on the whole concept of MPS.
“With the network background of the BIS organization, MPS is yet another solid topic to bring up early in the needs assessment phase,” he said. “We were doing some unique things that we didn’t realize were unique, such as live monitoring of connected devices and configuring non-network devices to report toner levels and meters. Our company has been touting MPS since Day 1. We cover both copiers and printers and always include OEM consumables.”
|BIS Office Systems is headquartered in Mobile, Alabama, and provides products and services to customers along the Gulf Coast from Mississippi to northwest Florida.|
As if he didn’t have a ton of important things at work, Colvin has a host of outlets to keep his body and his brain active. An outdoorsman who enjoys bass fishing, boating (owns a party boat), and swimming, he’s a former club and private-event DJ. So…while he lives in “God’s country,” his musical hero is Gene “The Demon” Simmons.
And then there’s his family: wife Teresa (the artistic matriarch who’s also an incredible cook and baker and works five hours a day in the office), daughter Teryn (BIS Office Systems’ Operations & Systems Manager and a Six Sigma Black Belt), and son Tyler (owns an iPhone repair store).
His work family extends past his operation into the other areas of the BIS Technology Group. “Each of the branches is independently owned, there’s just enough independence from one to another, but we’re very successful when sharing resources and the flow of leads through all four is pretty much constant,” he said.
“Listen, I’m not saying anything new here, but you really do have to find a differentiator in business. Down-the-street selling is brutal, loyalty is a thing of the past, and there’s always somebody who can go lower than you. So we lead with software, document management in particular, which, again, isn’t an original idea—but it’s simple and it works, like a Paul Stanley guitar riff.” –Tyran Colvin
Over the last few years, BIS Office Systems has seen a proliferation in the number of apps that it’s installed on MFP interfaces. This makes the device like a smartphone or a tablet and has provided “The Solutions Company”—its motto—with a simple way to help streamline business workflows.
“Because of our fleet management tools, we can see when a customer suddenly has store-bought printers on the network,” Colvin said. “This is definitely a trend, buying low-end printer-based hardware, so with the help of our Copystar DSM, we came up with devices that consumers can procure through us at prices they can buy at the retail stores or on-line and get onsite service for the same price.”
At the opposite end of the spectrum: major accounts, which comprise approximately 20 percent of the office group’s revenue. “You can never have enough of them,” he said. “It’s either that or through an acquisition that you can grow quickly. The fact that we’d like to improve our share in ECM shouldn’t be, therefore, a surprise.”
While it hasn’t happened a lot, Colvin admits that the company lost several deals in the past four or five years due to its lack of production hardware. “I had a chance to see the TASKalfa Pro 15000c at the recent Kyocera dealer meeting, it definitely has me excited,” he said. “Production is a big deal, it can open doors to new customers and, critical to us right now, major accounts. I sense we’re getting bored of being patient—it’s time to rock.”
Yes. Yes it is. And roll.
|Tyran and his daughter and coworker Teryn having some fun in front of the Colvin family party boat.|