Sales / Marketing

Innovations catch up with growth opportunities

by Grace Chan

Aaron Yim, managing director
Ricoh Hong Kong Limited
Photo: Lewis Wong

Service packages extend beyond hardware

Keeping pace with the changing business world and leading the market with innovations are parts of the magic formula that Ricoh Hong Kong Limited (RHK) uses to sustain consecutive double-digit growth.

Some 45 years ago, RHK was an office equipment division of the Gilman Group with less than 30 staff. Today, the company has grown into a document solutions provider with more than 900 staff, helping clients improve cost efficiency, productivity and competitiveness through the use of office automation solutions.

"We're heading for the commercial digital printing market," reveals Aaron Yim, managing director of Ricoh Hong Kong Limited, adding that a new document solutions era is just around the corner, particularly with the launch of the company's new digital colour production system series later this month.

"Our latest print-on-demand invention boasts a speed of 90 colour pages per minute and produces image resolution of 1,200 dpi (dots per inch)," Mr Yim explains, emphasising that such a technological achievement is the result of the strategic acquisitions of Hitachi Printing Solutions and IBM's Printing System Division by Ricoh Asia Pacific back in 2004 and 2007 respectively.

Mr Yim adds, "Print-on-demand is already popular in the US. The market opportunities are similarly abundant in Hong Kong, especially for small-to-medium scale printing." He suggests that the publishing of books and company's annual reports are some of the potential markets: "They all have tight printing schedules and relatively smaller quantities, yet require high printing quality."

Enhanced efficiency

Due to its cost efficiency and flexibility, print-on-demand is expected to replace offset printing in the foreseeable future. "The monthly printing capacity of our new printer series reaches 1.5 million pages and it costs only about HK$6 million," says Mr Yim who believes the new printing machine can serve to drive the company's total sales growth.

The company's new office consulting business is another engine for sales growth. "The operating cost can account for two to three per cent of a company's total revenue," Mr Yim says. RHK provides its clients with professional consultancy services to help optimise their documentation management.

"Through on-site visits, our analysts run diagnostics on all office equipment," he elaborates. With the subsequent findings, the team then generate a customised documentation solution and design a detailed floor plan for deployment of all machines. "A reduction up to 25 per cent of office equipment is possible," Mr Yim says.

The solution does not necessarily lead to a total replacement of old machines by Ricoh's products. Instead, they recommend reallocation of resources so as to achieve cost-effectiveness and improve efficiency. "In most cases, office equipment utilises one fourth of the total electricity usage and the new deployment can reduce energy consumption by five to 10 per cent," he adds.

Green responsibilities

Aiming at sizeable corporations of 200 to 1,000 staff, the RHK consulting service covers the needs of more than 10 corporate clients a month. With revenue ranging from HK$1 million to HK$10 million for each project, Mr Yim is optimistic about the future and attributes its growth to "green" principles.

"We offer trade-in services for old machines which are serviced and then sold to developing countries at a reasonable price," he says. A two- to three-fold increase in business is forecast by mid-2009, as there is enormous market potential with many paper-intensive businesses.

To accomplish the sales goal, the company adopts a "C-Class" marketing strategy. "By organising or attending forums targeting CEOs, CFOs and CIOs, we can approach decision makers directly," says Mr Yim. "Currently, we have four analysts to conduct office equipment investigation and we expect to grow the team to around 10 analysts. Graduates of mathematics, statistics or computing are preferred."

As office equipment goes digital and connects to IT networks, Mr Yim stresses that comprehensive after-sales service is paramount. "We're no longer just an office equipment supplier, we now position ourselves as a professional IT company. Our new product offerings will focus more on software application and integration."

For this reason, RHK values the technical qualifications of its engineering team. "Our 350 engineers possess at least a Microsoft Certified Professional (MCP) qualification, while most of them also have Microsoft Certified System Engineer (MCSE), A+ and Network+ qualifications; and MCSE is now the minimum requirement for new recruits," Mr Yim says. "Despite all the technological advancements, we consider people the most valuable asset. We rely on them to maintain long-term client relationships, which is essential for our business."

To commemorate the company's 45th anniversary, RHK is sponsoring an exclusive concert featuring renowned cellist Trey Lee and other international artists early next month. The concert will raise funds to support the Hong Kong Association of Youth Development.

"As part of our anniversary programme, we'll also entertain all our staff and their family members at the Ocean Park," Mr Yim says, noting that the company has doubled the funding for its staff club so that more activities can be organised to help build stronger teams.


Taken from Career Times 21 November 2008, p. B3
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