RT Imaging Summit Review

RT Imaging Summit Review

by Andy Slawetsky, President at Industry Analysts, Inc.

I recently attended the first annual Imaging Summit hosted by Recycling Times. In case you missed it, The Imaging Summit was held in Las Vegas NV at the South Point hotel.

The show seems to be trying to find itself with a wide variety of companies ranging from both OEMs and non-OEM supplies manufacturers, rechargers, recyclers, etc., attending to hear presenters discuss the current status of the non-OEM supplies market. Coming on the heels of some recent patent litigation initiated by Canon, the timing of this meeting couldn’t have been better.

The two days of presentations included legal presentations where a patent attorney both presented and sat on a panel discussing what he’s seeing with the courts on this increasingly hot topic. While he made many very powerful points, there were a lot of people in the audience that didn’t necessarily agree with his perspective, leading to some interesting dialogue, particularly during the open-mic session.

Other presenters included Rod Young, president of Cartridge World, a global leader in printer supplies with over 1,400 worldwide stores, 580 in the US alone. Rod discussed the state of the market as he sees it, acknowledging that it’s tough out there and they will likely be closing several stores this year. That afternoon had a technical session where Dr. Bin Ren, a research chemist from Dinglong in China discussed the technical aspects of organic and chemically grown toner as well as an open mic session that included myself and Allen Westerfield (President of the Imaging Supplies Coalition, a group with members such as HP, Canon, Xerox and others). The topic was centered on the genuine and non-OEM’s competition.

The next day had some great sessions including a very solid piece discussing MPS from Dave Westlake of Print-Six, Print Command, market data from InfoTrends’ John Shane on supplies and after, Luke Goldberg of Micro Solutions Enterprises (MSE) provided an overview on the opportunity in the remanufactured color cartridge market and how much farther the industry could go. Later I was on another panel with Luke, Christian Pepper of Printers Direct and Steve Weeden discussing why the color market has failed to keep up with monochrome with non-OEM supplies.

This conference was for legal/legitimate remanufacturers of components and supplies, although every one I met seems to have had to deal with lawsuits at one point in time or another. However, these lawsuits do go both ways as there was a prominent patent-holder attending that has actually successfully sued the OEM vendors for misusing his patents, many of which were prominently displayed on a table for viewing until someone accidentally took a few thinking they were handouts. Yes, I was at a show full of remanufacturers where someone stole his patents. The irony of this still cracks me up.

Here’s my opinion on this new show. When I first saw that it was at a $50/night hotel I never heard of way off the strip, I thought it was going to be a long few days. It was actually a really nice show. It was informative and well worth the trip. I learned quite a bit about a side of the market that I should probably pay a lot more attention to. Many of these companies being sued didn’t think they were doing anything wrong (and still don’t). Does that matter? No. But as one of the attendees told me, “you need to know what you’re selling. You need to know where it comes from and who makes it. If you use junk and get caught and you didn’t know, then it’s your own fault.” I paraphrase a bit but that’s pretty much what he said and really, how can you argue with that logic?

This brings me to next year. Who should go? Certainly, anyone with a vested interest in this market should consider it. It’s a very inexpensive show; the hotel was actually surprisingly nice. Prices at restaurants, bars, etc. were extremely reasonable. As the use of non-genuine products is continuing to increasing in popularity, I’d recommend dealers attend and learn about what’s going on with the non-OEM market. As about 67% of you dealers/resellers are using non-OEM products (according to my research), it’s not a bad idea to come learn a bit about what is going on and who the players are. Developing good contacts and new relationships is another plus as you can meet vendors from the US, China and elsewhere.

While there weren’t a ton of sponsors attending, as this show gains traction I imagine we will see more each year. The ones that were there were interesting if you’re into supplies. I hope Recycling Times will also consider adding some educational tracts and best practices sessions as well as some other tweaks to improve on what was a nice start for a first show. I learned a lot and I would recommend going to or at least sending someone to this show in order to better understand this industry and the opportunities you may uncover within it.

(Source: industryanalysts.com)

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