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View from the channel: Steve Todd, Director, Karlson

Q: How’s business; better or worse than 12 months ago? And how confident are you about the future?
A: Business at Karlson has been excellent over the last fiscal year. We recorded 25 per cent growth on the previous year, which means the business has made progression now for the last five years on the trot. We are very confident about the future, and are currently preparing for an exciting market investment – we will announce more very soon!

Q: In what areas are you experiencing strongest demand?
A: When we set up the business 17 years ago, it was built on the premise that we would be a disruptive player in the traditional copier/MPS market. So, whilst you would expect a print vendor to encourage clients to print more, our mantra is to help customers to ‘print less and do more’. As such we are experiencing strong demand for all that we do in terms of supporting our customers to become paper-lite – by that I mean automating more, securing more, facilitating electronic workflows and consolidating more services through small strategic partners.

Q: How have you changed/are you changing business operations to exploit new opportunities?
A: The Karlson business has always prided itself on being ahead of the curve. We are in the business of transformation and service, as opposed to being a provider of products. We are an agile business and innovation is tightly embedded into all that we do. As such, we refine our messaging, value proposition and service value on an ongoing basis; we are always poised to change and adapt to exploit new opportunities and are in fact on the cusp of a major transformation for 2020 – it’s just a little too early to reveal all!


Q: What do you see as the biggest challenges facing channel businesses today?
A: One of the biggest challenges facing both the channel and end customers, is the mixed messaging around the OEMs’ direct and indirect business models. The other issue would be around copierbased companies marketing MPS and pricing the service at copier contract rates. True MPS represents tangible value and is a natural extension of a business’s internal infrastructure, not a commodity transactional-based service.

Q: Could vendors and distributors do more to help you overcome them? And if so, what?
A: Yes, as a true vendor-agnostic dealership, we are not motivated by products. However, better alignment and communication on direct vs indirect is in everyone’s interest. Most of all, the end customers.

Q: If you could change one aspect of your job what would it be and why?
A: As the years go by, learning to enjoy each day more is essential. Work is a huge part of life and your social life. We encourage and motivate our staff to make it an integral part of life, giving them the freedom to take personal time as they need to, and trusting people to get the balance right and shift the focus to outcomes as opposed to hours.

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