Before we start, I thought it would be good to give everyone a little back ground about my relationship with Jack Carrol.
Jack was one of the principal dealer owners at Century Office Products. Jack hired me in the summer of 1998 for a sales position in NJ. One year prior, I had sold my stake in my dealership to my two partners.
In essence, Jack was my first sales manager. Over the years I learned so much more about selling, building relationships and was hitting six figure compensation consistently while at Century . In 2009, Century was sold to Stratix. I have a great respect for what Jack accomplished and valued his leadership.
Here we go:
Art: What year did you start in the industry and what was your first position?
Jack: I start in the copier industry in 1971. I worked for SCM Corp, a fortune 100 company. I was hired as a Sales Rep. My responsibilities encompassed sales of equipment and selling supplies to the present account base. At the time, Xerox was the only company selling plain paper copiers. SCM sold treated paper units just like everyone else. SCM manufacture red their units in Skokie, Ill., can you imagine built in the US.
Art: What company aka manufacturer or dealer did you work for during the seventies? If you worked for a dealer please tell us what brands you sold?
Jack: I worked For SCM direct branch in Hillside, NJ. One of three NJ branches. SCM had 75 direct branches at this time. This office also had the regional dealer manager there, the Marchant calculator office and the SCM typewriter division housed here. Because I was a newbie I didn’t realize that SCM also had dealers, until I lost a couple of deals to Superior in Edison. Within a couple of years SCM started to relabel Minolta’s and others. SCM was one of the only treated paper companies to use sheet fed paper. Most of the others all use rolls of paper, so it cut it to size. The market than was dictated by Xerox. It was a rental market. So SCM rented their products, only the small units were sold outright. There was no leasing yet. Our process was in the paper. So, the rental was buying paper each month. Dealers couldn’t do this program, which was lucky for us.
Art: What was the percentage of copier sales people that made it past two years?
Jack: SCM didn’t hire very often. The few that they hire lasted 2 years or more.
Art: What did you like the most about your job in the seventies?
Jack: A year after I was hire I became a selling sales supervisor. I was transfer to the Princeton branch for this job. I supervised 3 sales people. About 2.5 years later SCM merged the three branches into one in Hillside, NJ which was central. We covered from Bergen to Ocean counties. I was now the Sales Manager and had about 14 sales people. So, most of the 70’s I was managing and going on sales calls just about every day. We also had major account people. We were ranked #2 in the country until they sold out to 3M in 1978. I really enjoyed this job of working with salesmen and being involved in sales every day.
Art: What did you dislike the most about your job in the seventies?
Jack: During the seventies SCM started to relabel much of our line. In 1975 we started selling our 1st plain paper unit. We relabeled the VanDyk 4000, a Whippany, NJ manufacturer. It was 67 cpm and used a roll of plain paper. Some rolls were 11x1500 ft. (heavy). It was like the highly successful IBM I & II, but did up to 40 different sizes. Our next unit was the SCM 1200 roll fed plain paper with a sheet bypass made by KIP. Now we were in the middle of the Japanese invasion and dealers were moving into the marketplace at a fast pace. This was now developing into the price wars because people were now buying and leasing companies were now entering the business. Savin also now had the 1st plain paper liquid unit. Kodak was now in the market with all high-end units…75 cpm +. The other companies were still selling treated paper but now it was with powered toner. The result was the copier wars were on and we were moving up market with a 67 cpm unit. Only the strong would be highly successful
Art: What was the compensation plan like, was there a salary, what is just commissions or was there a mix of salary and commissions?
Jack: When I first got into the industry there was no salary. There was a $75 expense check and a $500 per month draw. Selling supplies was supposed to take care of your draw…. sometimes. Based upon the rental plan of either 12, 24 or 36 months and the monthly volume was how you got compensated.
Later, when purchasing/leasing came on we got a direct 7.5% commission plus supplies. Around 1975 sales rep’s salary was $750 per month, senior reps were $1,000. Managers were getting about $25,000 a year. We now also had monthly and quarterly bonus’. President’s Club was an honor from the day I got there and never missed one.
Art: How did you go about finding new business, and what was your favorite of those methods and why?
Jack: Every Monday was our phone day to set up appointments. Each rep had in a locked in territory. With your territory, you got boxes of prospect index cards. Your job was to keep this info updated. After any appointments, you were responsible to visit your account base and to cold call. Demos were very big. What fun it was to demo these liquid units. Some guys removed their front car seats and threw the small fold up cart into the trunk. You would load the liquid toner in a place where you hope they didn’t see you. When finished you would remove the liquid from the tank in a toilet bowl (mess). Leave the copy in the tray as long as possible so it would dry better. Many closes were as simple as putting the agreement on the decision makers desk and shutting up. Around 1975 you had to have a station wagon. One of my demo programs was convincing one of my accounts in a 10, 20+ story building to let us use his machine for demos. We compensated him and it worked out well, sometimes 10 demos in a day. It was also a referral at the same time.
Art: What was your favorite brand and model to sell and why?
Jack: In the 70’s I sold primarily SCM. The 1st 4 years it was probably the double sheet fed console the 211, 30 cpm & very reliable.
Art: What type of car did you use for your demonstrations and how many demonstrations would you perform in a week demonstration.
Jack: I believe much of this was previous stated. In addition to the station wagon and the large building demos, we used a monthly demo day. Each rep had to bring in to the office at least one demo in the am & the pm. We served a nice lunch. This started about 1975 because of our new 67 cpm plain paper copier. This program was successful. Our weekly demo goal back then was 8-10 demos per week. So, doing demo’s in accounts and having the demo day each month greatly aided the sales rep’s quotas.
Art: Can you tell us one funny story about selling copiers in the seventies?
Jack: Not funny but……….Duplifax started when Jerry Banfi traded his wife for a copier dealership. Steak & Beans contest. NY vs. NJ. Every phase of the meal was different kind of beans. The customers in the restaurant loved it. This was when I came up with the demo’s in customer’s offices in multi floor large buildings to get 10 demos in a day.
The SCM/Kip PPC always jammed under the drum and started to smoke. It smelled like toast. One of their divisions was Proctor Silex who made toasters. Some guys gave away toasters with the copiers. Lucky, they got the employee price. In the early 70’s I knew a guy who substituted plain paper copies and removed the liquid paper copies on the demo.
Art: What is the biggest problem you seeing facing the industry today.
Jack: Even though I’ve been out of the industry for several years I keep touch with dealer owners……like Larry Weiss, Andrew Ritchel, and several others.
With Ricoh’s recent changes it somewhat enhances the dealer’s opportunities. Mergers continue, manufacturers constantly keep putting out the software to keep them and the lion share of placements appear to go to the big guys. The small/ regular dealer can’t compete with decent size prospects. So, it will continue so only the strong survive. Obviously, technology is playing a major role every day. So therefore, the industry will continue to thin out.
Art: Jack, thanx so much for your time on this, I'm sure many of our readers will enjoy this.
Jack: glad you enjoyed it, it was fun to go back in time