Jan (01-04) - Ethics in a cutthroat business

January 17, 2004 Editorial

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Welcome to another year. For those of you used to receiving this by private email, the spam laws have made such broadcasts dangerous, so it may be some time before I'll be able to mass-email this "column".

In November's column there was a mention of a new intra-dealer trade association being formed. It turns out that the President of the leading dealer trade association took it upon himself to register the domain name of the new association, thereby attempting to short-curcuit the attempts of the breakaway. For a trade association which professes to uphold the highest degree of ethics, this surreptitious act by its own president reeks. As the industry has gotten tougher, unethical behavior is much more rampant.

Last year was a very tough year for many in our industry. We were no exception. The pace of activity was unpredictable and disappointing. Sales were down, primarily by way of lower price points rather than a reduction in the number of transactions. The graph below is an interesting story on how internet activity on our site went for the past six months. I only began collecting the statistics in April, but you can extrapolate backwards to get an idea of the trends.

As you can see, the activity level has definitely increased over the past few months (except for the notable period at the end of the year for the winter holidays), but mostly due to "tire kickers" -- those just checking around. I suspect that until the economy starts adding jobs in a big way, that the increases in price points and gross sales will be marginal at best.

We plan to implement some changes which will counter these effects on our business. We plan to:
a) Begin offering other dealers the opportunity to act as sales agents for Argecy. The significance of the relationships built over many years between individual sales representatives and their customers cannot be underestimated. We have initiated relationships with independent sales agents who may re-sell our high quality products and further enhance their relationships while remaining independent. Further, the brand name identity that we have developed over the past 25 years will be helpful to both dealers and their customers.

b) Increase our warranty period from 30 days to 90 days for our end user customers. Our quality standards are very high and the emotional comfort from the offering of longer warranties will, we believe, help.

c) Begin offering service contracts along with the sale of our equipment through selected national and regional maintenance companies. We will only offer service based on the service providers we have carefully vetted.

d) Begin offering a full line of rebuilt fuser units for many popular laser printers

e) Focus on increasing our presence in higher end equipment.

The refurbished equipment market has suffered along with the new equipment business. We remain bullish on the prospects for the future as our economy recovers.

End-users: If you are on our mailing list, look for our new mailers showing up soon. Our new marketing campaign will focus on the core values: Honesty, Quality, Competence, Consistency.

Sweet spots:
IBM 3151, 3472, 3482, 3486, 3487, 3488 terminals - and please check out the CLI et1500, et2000, et3000, and et5000 lines or the I/O TC4000. Also check out the BOS line
IBM 3900-0W1 Venerable printer can be upgraded to the 4000 series.
IBM 4224-201 - you can add internal ethernet to these and they last forever.
IBM 4230-201, 202, 5s3, 5i3 - (check out the internal ethernet for the 4230 family)
IBM 4317-001