New Levels of Success: Thoughts From Impact Networking’s Frank Cucco
CEO of tech provider speaks about print, production, IT, and dealers
Anybody in the industry who wonders how to constantly grow their business need look no further than Impact Networking. When CEO Frank Cucco and President Dan Meyer founded the company in 1999, their vision was based on a consultative approach—that hasn’t wavered.
And when Cucco speaks, it’s impossible not to listen and really hear what he has to say. He is super engaging. He is a leader. Here are some of the finer points he discussed with me recently…
One of the buzzwords for 2020 was “diversification,” and for good reason: Between lockdowns, office closures, and the like, global print volume took it on the chin.
“Document output will never return to what it was pre-COVID,” Cucco said. “There has already been a substantial decline in hardware sales, especially with A3, and the reality is that we can’t expect that to return either. Impact Networking began migrating away from print several years ago, and because the pandemic has forced everybody to learn that remote working is just fine, we’re very happy we made that decision when we did.”
Diversification isn’t just vertical (entering new arenas), it can be horizontal (moving deeper in existing spaces) as well. Such is the case with Impact Networking’s production offerings.
The company has played in light production for a while now, selling up to 25 devices per month on average. But it’s always about evolution at Impact Networking so, after a couple of years of planning, Cucco and Meyer rolled out an expansion plan that included the construction of a new building at the company’s headquarters in Lake Forest, Illinois. Here is where Impact Networking will showcase its production portfolio, from said light production units to high-end cut-sheet and continuous-feed machines to label and packaging printers. As Cucco explained, pushing harder to do unique things helps create separation from the competition, and it’s no secret that the click model is no longer sustainable.
|Frank Cucco, CEO of Impact Networking|
This has been part of the company’s backbone from the beginning. Back then it was all about break/fix, and even Cucco admitted that it was a losing proposition until Impact Networking reevaluated it in 2009.
“IT is our lead product moving forward—it’s that simple,” he said. “It started taking over five years ago and will represent 44% of our 2020 revenue. Our program is a true, proactive IT service, and we’ve doubled down on it with our Impact Optimize annual event, which has been great for two-way education and learning. Ponder this: Our typical hardware sale is roughly $18,000, but our typical IT sale is in the neighborhood of $330,000, with a lot of that in the recurring bucket. You see, everything ties together, it really is a technology ecosystem, and IT is spearheading the charge.”
When all is said and done, COVID-19 will be responsible for the shuttering of innumerable businesses around the world—to think the print industry will go unscathed just isn’t realistic.
The pandemic will likely eliminate a lot of dealers in the $5 million and lower category, Cucco believes. There could be some interesting action with bigger dealers, whether they decide to grow by acquisition or be acquired themselves. Dealers and OEMs (or other tech partners) ultimately form a symbiotic circle, but the vendors have to help create new opportunities in the form of cutting-edge products, fresh services, and even improving supply chain.
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