Boring Business Systems Dealer Profile
There’s Nothing Boring about Rapidly Growing Business
History in Brief: Founded by Frank W. Myers (Dean Boring’s grandfather) in 1924 as Lakeland Typewriter and Supply Company; Allan Boring joined 28 years later and was instrumental in boosting sales; the most successful provider of document imaging hardware in Polk County, Florida, today, with a focus on managed services, particularly of the network
Headquarters: Lakeland, Florida
Locations: 1 (Florida; a second office will soon open in Tampa)
Employees: Approximately 50
Hardware Partners: (A3) Konica Minolta, Canon, Toshiba; (A4) Konica Minolta, Canon, HP, Lexmark; (Production) Konica Minolta, Canon
Noteworthy Software Partners: Konica Minolta (PageScope solutions, bizhub MarketPlace apps), Canon (uniFLOW), EFI, Lexmark, Nuance (Equitrac), PaperCut, Square 9
For any company that has been around for almost a century, there will be countless peaks and valleys in its history. These high and low points are often predicated on the timing of organizational changes in relation to current market conditions. It’s obvious that Boring Business Systems has again found a winning balance, with revenue increasing from roughly $6 million a few years ago to a shade under $10 million in 2016.
The company’s recent success can be traced back over a decade to when it moved to its present location, a former Cadillac dealership that’s situated on an iconic corner on the “auto mile” in Lakeland, Florida. Then, BBS purchased its lone locally owned competitor, Till Office Equipment, in 2011. A year later, the company took a bold and necessary step by buying a local IT firm called TNT.
“I firmly believe you have to spend money to make money, and we’ve certainly spent money to give us growth opportunities—opportunities that have paid immense dividends,” said Dean Boring, President of BBS. “We have a lot of pride in our office, whereas before it was difficult to host clients. The Till acquisition was critical, as it gave us an even greater presence in Polk County. Truly entering the IT game helped us not only expand our offerings beyond print but brought us squarely into the future of the industry, too. All three things have provided us with more energy, flexibility, and market visibility.”
Dean Boring, President of Boring Business Systems
Boring thinks that while selling boxes will continue to be the bread and butter of document imaging dealers, the IT piece will continue to gain traction and produce results. Looking at what BBS has already achieved in managed IT (MIT), it’s clear where his confidence comes from: The company’s 2013 revenue in this space was a mere $60 thousand, but last year that figure was an eye-popping $1.2 million—for BBS, that’s just north of 12 percent of its total revenue.
“Actually, back in ’94, we had a guy with a more technical background than your average salesperson, so we decided to start a NetCare group,” Boring said. “It was very similar to what you see today. We’d assess a network, do some homework and give the customer a proposal. The program was quite successful, but there weren’t as many resources and consultants as there are in 2017.”
BBS was dealt a devastating blow when the man who was spearheading the IT charge suddenly died in his forties, which Boring admitted took the wind out of their sails and crushed any momentum they had had. It wasn’t until around 2010 that the company began contemplating a return to MIT, once he heard what others were saying about it at CDA (Copier Dealers Association) events. “So we went for it,” Boring said. “We knew we wanted to control our own destiny, and we spent two meeting-filled years before finally making the decision to buy TNT. That’s when we started to learn the difference between break/fix managed IT and what it takes to deliver managed IT as a service in today’s business world.”
Now, BBS boasts over 60 MIT monthly contracts, at a price of up to $3,500. As Boring explained, the company has a tech stack that it doesn’t deviate from—the idea here is to elevate uniformity, this way the service process becomes an easy, repeatable exercise. Also, scooping up a former Ricoh employee to be the vice president of sales has been hugely beneficial in that his growing team has an experienced trainer and a dedicated mentor to help the staff reach both individual and group goals.
“Managed IT is more organized and structured than previously, and it gives our employees a pep in their step,” Boring said. “To provide them with another topic to discuss with customers is advantageous for all…although Voice over IP is really big for us, it’s still our primary opportunity in this segment. We’re doing network services for organizations in the finance, legal, medical and automotive verticals, and things are picking up with K–12 schools and at the university level, too. What’s especially gratifying to me is that we have more net-new IT clients compared to the hardware side.”
|Boring Business Systems is headquartered in Lakeland, Florida, and will open a second office in Tampa in the near future.|
Admittedly, Boring was very excited about MPS when he first heard about the concept. Early on, the company engaged with industry guru Tom Callinan to provide much needed education on the subject, and it didn’t take long for BBS to nail down two extremely large accounts—to the tune of almost $13 thousand per month collectively! To brand itself as a player in the management and servicing of devices, BBS changed its tagline from “Wouldn’t you rather be Boring?” to “Trust us with your technology”.
“The MPS story we’ve always told customers is that they can take back control of their fleet and not let their copiers and printers drag down their bottom line,” Boring said. “Not by simply swapping out their devices for one of our brands, but through changing from a variable to a fixed expense.
“Over several years we built our MPS sales to $110 thousand a month, but then it got stagnant because we weren’t adding new clients,” he continued. “The next move was to bring on an MPS manager, who has driven our program to 15 percent of our revenue and will keep pushing the dialogue with customers so we do reach the top of the MPS mountain.”
“I firmly believe you have to spend money to make money, and we’ve certainly spent money to give us growth opportunities—opportunities that have paid immense dividends. … All three things [new office, Till and TNT acquisitions] have provided us with more energy, flexibility, and market visibility.” –Dean Boring
Harriet Boring, Dean’s wife, was one of the people selling MPS at the outset. Married for 25 years, they are the proud parents of two daughters and a son and are big Florida Gators fans. Perhaps their biggest interest these days is hanging out at their house in Holmes Beach on Anna Maria Island, where they go fishing and cocktail cruising.
BBS started selling Konica hardware in 1973, and due to all the acquisitions that have happened, it owns the longest relationship of any dealer on either side of the Konica Minolta family. Boring stated that 50 percent of the company’s revenue stems from the sales of office equipment, including A4 placements that are basically split 50/50 between HP and Lexmark.
With software, Boring stated that there’s been plenty of activity of late—and he projects that solutions will at least triple in sales in 2017. “We have a PaperCut deployment in a large enterprise, a number of uniFLOW systems in the field, we just closed a deal for student payment integration with EFI, and we’ve done a lot with Lexmark solutions,” Boring said. “Now we just need to stay hungry and further educate our customers about software so they see the value in streamlining processes, not to mention the long-term cost benefit.”
Another growth area for BBS is in production, which represents 5 percent of the company’s revenue. “To meet our plan for the future, years ago we understood that we had to expand beyond our geographical territory, specifically into Tampa,” Boring said. “We simply couldn’t find the right organization to buy, operationally, culturally and otherwise. We’re working with an agent to secure a location and will then make some hires to get the office heading in the right direction. The advantage we have in this city is that the competition is made up mostly of directs that sell only one line.
“And we have a real chance to make some more waves with production,” he continued. “We can only sell Canon and Toshiba in Hillsborough County, and there are plenty of corporate environments where even a light production device would be a tremendous fit in terms of workflow and saving money.”
|Austin, the family dog, sometimes gets to ride in the Boring boat that’s docked in Holmes Beach on Anna Maria Island, Florida.|