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A Service Company That Sells Products: A Look at the New Bell and Howell

May 24, 2015

Bell and Howell Discusses Its New Relationship with RISO

By Andy & Julie, Co-CEOs of the OutputLinks Communications Group

Since its acquisition by Versa Capital, the “New Bell and Howell” is succeeding at what many enterprises would love to do: Reinvent the company to be highly relevant in today’s marketplace by identifying and leveraging their base skill-sets.

By adding new services and products, this “New Bell and Howell” is an entirely different company than the Bell and Howell of just a few years ago.

Jim FeelyIn this two part article, we discuss with Jim Feely, Bell and Howell’s vice president and general manager of service solutions, about the company's expansion into printer sales.

Julie: Jim, in on our last discussion, we covered the company’s evolution beyond the mailing industry, as an independent service provider for a wide range of equipment throughout North America. [To read the previous article about independent maintenance and Bell and Howell, click here >>>.]

Today, we start a Two-Part discussion on Bell and Howell’s new relationship with RISO. Let’s focus this Part 1 discussion on Bell and Howell’s move into digital printer sales beginning with the RISO ComColor line of mid-volume transaction printers. Can you share with our readers why we are talking about selling printers with you even though your title is VP of service?

Jim: Good question and the answer is that we see sales of equipment like the RISO ComColor line to be as much a services opportunity as a hardware sales opportunity. You can think of us as a service company that sells products. And that's where our new RISO sales and service business comes in. There will be more new additions like that in the near future.

Julie: How long have you been actively selling the RISO line?

Jim: We kicked off the program four months ago with the RISO executive team at our national sales meeting. Now we are in the process of letting customers know they can buy RISO from Bell and Howell. We are launching another campaign to inform those who have acquired printers directly from RISO or other re-sellers that we can now service and support their printers. Read Part 2 of this interview, we speak more about our North American Maintenance program for RISO printers.

Andy: Is it common for a major company's Service Division to also sell equipment like the RISO printer?

Jim: No, but the "New Bell and Howell" is not a common company. The Service Division owns both the RISO sales and the services initiative. I recently added a new Product Manager, who will be in charge of the RISO initiative and future products to be announced shortly.

Andy: So the Service Division will be selling RISO printers. But, will Bell and Howell's sales people also participate in selling the product?

Jim: Absolutely. Our sales team will be aggressively selling the RISO ComColor to sell to their customers.

Julie: How deep does the RISO relationship go?

Jim: We are fully supported and trained by RISO to provide one-stop access for sales, service, parts and inks for the RISO line of ComColor® printers and all of its accessory products.

Andy: Jim, how did your team decide to partner with RISO for printer sales and service?

Jim: The RISO ComColor series is an excellent mid-volume, inkjet print solution at a great price for organizations that want to use color to enhance their documents or for high-quality production-level applications like transaction, transpromo, reprints, short runs and proofing.

It's just a good, fast and economical color digital printer. By combining durability and flexibility with speeds up to 150-pages per minute, a RISO ComColor printer will serve one or more needs of many companies doing print. And, it will open new opportunities for those not yet in print.

Serious about evaluating the RISO print quality? Let us mail you the informative RISO Print Sample Book.

Andy: Where will you team be focusing their initial selling efforts for the RISO line?

Jim: The initial sales focus is definitely to our current customer base of mailers who do not yet have their own color digital printers or need a low cost printer to supplement their larger, more expensive printers. Many of our customers have already expressed interest and that's where our pipeline is coming from.

Since we already have deep relationships with most mailers in North America, we can show them how the low-cost RISO printers can help them add a new print services revenue stream or decrease the cost and increase profits of their current print environment. By doing this, we will be able to deliver tremendous value to our current customers.

Julie: Where else outside the mailer community do you see sales coming from?

Jim: We are already speaking to colleges and universities about reducing costs and having more control over currently outsourced print for applications like fund raising solicitations and student communications as well as booklets, pamphlets, courseware and testing materials.

Another very interesting application we will be promoting is related to checks and payroll.

Because of the low cost of ownership, compact footprint, low heat imaging and standard power requirements, a company can now have one or more RISO printers located in a closely monitored environment dedicated exclusively to security-sensitive applications like payroll, checks, bonds, stock certificates and corporate filings. And for additional security, add Bell and Howell’s self-mailer technology to create a secure “untouched by human hands from print to mail” environment. We will be developing more of these valuable cost/risk reduction applications as we secure new high-value clients. So watch for our announcements on OutputLinks and other industry media outlets.

Julie: Jim, as we close Part 1 of our discussion, what else can we expect from Bell and Howell in relation to your RISO sales initiatives?

Jim: I hope my comments give your readers an understanding of the innovative approaches we are applying to our new RISO digital printer sales initiative. Since the ‘”New Bell and Howell” is often referred to as a start-up company with a long history, we look forward to serving as the creative stimulator to helping our current and new customers launch new, profitable print applications.

Bell and HowellWe hope this first of the Two-Part Interview Series with Jim Feely provides you a glimpse of the New Bell and Howell and the services they are now providing to the North American print industry.

Read Part 2 as we discuss with Jim Feely how his Independent Services initiative will deliver additional benefits to companies purchasing RISO printers from Bell and Howell, as well as those who have previously purchased from RISO and its other resellers.

The goal is to provide you information and insights that can be helpful as you review your print related business objectives and options. We invite you to share your thoughts on this Interview Series in the Comments Section below.

To innovation,
Andy & Julie Plata
The OutputLinks Communications Group

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