The picture in the header showed our demo room back in either 1989 or 1990, might have even been 1991. As you can see by the photo Atlantic Office Systems (the first one in NJ) was Authorized for Adler Royal, Brother, and Tele VaxaFax (facsimile). Sometime later Adler Royal was purchased by Mita and the Adler Royal brand was changed to Copystar. I thoroughly hated the name Copystar because there was no brand recognition, at least with Adler Royal, our clients knew about Royal typewriters.
We were never a big dealer, I did most of the sales while my other partner handled the technical work. From time to time I had to dig in and do a few service calls when we were swamped. Not being a large dealer enabled us to make timely decisions and offer products that were in high demand. Back in the early nineties we were still selling analog copiers and improvements came at a much slower pace than today's digital copiers.
We had two PC's in the office. One was used for accounting (peach tree) and the other was used for sales. The computer that we used in account was connected to a dot matrix printer and we were running carbonless forms for our invoices.
Back then, I thought we were on top of technology when we sold our first fax machine (Tele Vaxafax). The MSRP was $2,495 and the auto feeder was an option. Once we added the document feeder, and delivery/installation we were able to get to $3,000. Three thousand dollars was the magic number to offer leasing to our clients. We got a little creative and placed a display ad in our local county newspaper for the Teli's. We advertised them at $1.99 a day to lease. Probably one of the best ideas we had. We were selling more faxes than copiers. At one point we were at one every day (we were also open on Saturday mornings till 1PM). What we didn't realize is the volume of thermal roll paper that followed. Every month we were ordering full skids of thermal paper along with a skid of fax machines. Yes, those were some great times.
As the fax market matured and pricing eroded we found ourselves placing more of the Brother fax machines over the Teli's.
It was about 1993 or so when we purchased our first color copier. That copier was manufacturer by Brother, was very slow and used some type of ribbon transfer technology (no toner or ink). I think we were selling color copies (singles) for $5.00 each. At one point we hooked up with a sales rep for Gillette, he had to make copies of his presentation in color for his clients. He was in a three of four times a month and needed almost 100 copies every time (we discounted to $3.00 each for his volume). Back then Hulk Hogan was hired for their advertising campaign back then. My son was so excited the day that client brought in a signed Hulk Hogan press photo. I believe my son still has that pic. Yes, great times to be selling.
Another client that I remember was some guy who came in on a regular basis to send faxes during the late eighties. His faxing pattern was quite unique because he was always sending faxes to places like Panama, Afghanistan, San Salvador, Iran & Iraq. I thought he was kinda screwy also because he always had to send his own faxes. He would not let us see them. After maybe a year ago or so he opened up and told us he was an arms dealer. All of those faxes turned out to be purchase orders and invoices for his business. WOW, I would have never guessed it!
I do remember that he invited me to go with him on a trip to Afghanistan when the Russians were departing. He told me about the riches that could be gathered such as rugs, gold, and antiquities. He stated that we would be away for three weeks and he would give me training on how to use a weapon. Well, that sealed the deal for me, there was no fracking way I'm going to a war torn country and having this butt head leave me there or get shot. I had the great sense to opt out. I never saw that guy again, I'm guessing he went and never came back. One of my better decisions in the copier industry I guess.
Another neat story from back then came from another guy who frequently visited our office in 1993 & 1994. He was the President of a chemical plant in NJ (we got a crap load of those). He stated he had closed his plant and was looking for someone to sell everything in the place. Whoa, that was right up my alley. The site was like a time capsule, one day they just locked the doors with everything in it. There were copiers, desks, chairs, printers, fax machines, tables, file cabinets, paper, high end furniture and all of the hardware that used to produce the chemicals they made.
Every Saturday and Sunday I was there four about six months. I sold almost everything, even brought in a large fork lift to remove a huge Xerox copier from the second floor. If I remember correctly I got $5K for that son of a gun. It was not until late in the six months that I began exploring the chemical part of the plant. There was copper, aluminum, steel, vats, filters, the place was loaded. I admit I was kind of naïve about chemicals plants. I later found many puddles of a silver liquid substance on the concrete floors, the substance proved to be Mercury. I asked the owner about it and he told me Mercury was used to make chlorine. Frak, the place made chlorine? It was not until I finished (made a ton of cash) that I found out I was selling crap from a site that labeled as a NJ Superfund site (toxic dumping went on their for years). I later investigated the owner and found that he was indicted for some pollution thing. Seems he needed to raise additional funds for his defense. I believe he was found guilty many years later, however, at that time he was probably in his late seventies. Never heard from him again either.
There you have it, a few vignettes from my early days in the copier industry.
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