Ricoh is Committed to Print, Its Partners, AND Change

The message from leadership at the Ricoh Dealer Summit was loud and clear: Ricoh is still committed to print and its office technology channel partners, but diversification is an important element to its future strategy. 

Carsten Bruhn, President & CEO of Ricoh North America, kicking off the event

In October, Ricoh hosted its partners from the office equipment dealer channel and a select group of media and analysts at a two-day event in Colorado. Attendees could build their own journey, with the option to tour Ricoh’s spectacular Customer Experience Center in Boulder, get a first-hand look at the latest technology from vendor partners in the Customer Solution Expo, and attend panels and seminars (there was something for everyone: from print and AV, to digital transformation and AI). During the general session, Ricoh’s leadership gave us an overview of the company’s health and status, and discussed the variety of initiatives and investments Ricoh is committing to its print portfolio (and beyond), manufacturing capabilities, and go-to-market strategy. 

The rebound we’ve been waiting for

Ricoh—along with the rest of Big Print—is just about done digging itself out of the crater created by COVID-19. According to Carsten Bruhn, President & CEO of Ricoh North America, print volumes declined as much as 50% at the height of the pandemic, but have since recovered to about 80% of pre-pandemic levels. Scott Dabice, VP of North American Commercial Operations at Ricoh, said that those pages are gone and that we shouldn’t expect them to come back. Instead, we can expect an annual 2% decrease in volumes. 

The good news is, even though total volume hasn’t recovered, certain segments have. According to Bruhn, print volumes in federal government, higher education, and healthcare have returned to pre-COVID levels. So, while the overall size of the pie is shrinking, not every slice is shrinking proportionally (or at all). Fortunately for Ricoh, they already have a strong presence in these verticals. 

And even if volume hasn’t been restored, sales have. Carsten Bruhn said that Ricoh grew hardware sales by 23%. According to Jim Corridi, Senior VP in Ricoh’s Dealer Division, A3 sales improved by 3% (following double-digit growth in the previous year) and A4 sales improved by a whopping 196% (this impressive number is mainly because of tremendous backlogs in the year prior). Bruhn said Ricoh owes a lot of credit to its partners, as 51% of Ricoh devices in the field were put there by Ricoh’s partners. 

It does not appear that Ricoh is losing momentum, either. In fact, there is evidence to the contrary. According to Bruhn, Ricoh’s dealer channel has already placed 1,000 more devices this year than they had all of last year, and Ricoh’s ‘23 net new pipeline is larger at the time of the event than it was in all of ‘22. 

Committed to print and the dealer channel

A recurring theme in the event was Ricoh’s commitment to print and the channel. But the company isn’t just talking the talk. They also showed us the different ways they are walking the walk. 

  • Expanded print portfolio: Ricoh has been making investments to fill the A4 and production gaps in its print portfolio, ensuring that dealers can be more competitive. 
  • Ricoh has expanded its manufacturing capacity, evidenced by its co-manufacturing venture with ToshibaTEC. Ricoh’s 85% controlling interest in that pact is a clear message that Ricoh is committed to print for years to come 
  • Dealer Experience Portal: Lauran Sallata, CMO at Ricoh, walked us through the new dealer experience portal, which provides dealers with all things Ricoh at their fingertips.  

Diversification 

“There is still plenty of money to be made in print,” said Carsten Bruhn. But Bruhn (along with all his other colleagues) acknowledged that Ricoh needs to transform now if it wants to survive and thrive in the future. He stressed the importance of Ricoh’s investments into technology—such as video conferencing, document management, and business process automation—that is adjacent to its core offerings.    

Our take

It’s easy to forget that, even with the massive decline and then partial restoration of print volume, print is still a $50+ billion industry. Even if the value of the print industry declines by one or two points every year, that still leaves the print industry with hundreds of billions of dollars to earn over the next decade. It’s a runway with enough space to fund a print manufacturer’s pivot into new areas AND provide shareholders with healthy returns. But that runway isn’t going to be long enough forever—it’s getting shorter and shorter by the quarter. 

Right now, the name of the game at Ricoh—and some of its competitors—is maximizing its slice of the shrinking print pie, and parlaying those earnings into another industry. 

John and Casey Lowery of Applied Innovation accept the national award for Independent Dealer Highest Total Revenue. Award presented by Jim Coriddi and Carsten Bruhn of Ricoh.
POA is the national winner of the Highest Production Revenue Award. Christie Wakefield, Doug Pitassi and Chris Roll of POA accept the award. Award presented by Jim Coriddi and Carsten Bruhn of Ricoh.

Patricia Ames is president and senior analyst for BPO Media, which publishes The Imaging Channel and Workflow magazines. As a market analyst and industry consultant, Ames has worked for prominent consulting firms including KPMG and has more than 15 years experience in the imaging industry covering technology and business sectors. Ames has lived and worked in the United States, Southeast Asia and Europe and enjoys being a part of a global industry and community.