Canon Canada, which last week established a new channel program, has formed a new solutions division that will compete with its distribution partners and some of its dealers.

Called the Business Solutions Division, it will be made up of Canon’s direct sales force in central and eastern regions

along with its solutions group in western Canada.

Mason Olds, the general manager and vice-president of Canon Canada’s Imaging Group, acknowledged this new division could be a good news/bad news for its dealer network.

“For our distribution partners like Ikon and Danka this is nothing new to them. They know they have to compete for business,” he said.

In the past Canon had one dealer placed in each market. However, that meant Canon would not know that a customer with two locations had to deal with different dealers. “That was embarrassing and we are trying to get rid of those things,” Olds explained.

Canon built this new division basically from its OE Technologies acquisition.

OE, which stands for Office Equipment, has been in business for more than 98 years and has 1,500 employees in five cities. Canon Canada expanded into Halifax and the Niagara peninsula to complete its division.

The company also had an operation in Vancouver that will now be part of the division.

“We had a number of different entities and we ran them as separate entities, and with that we did not get best practices, a common IT system and we could not do any advertising of the brand,” he said.

Olds added that the new investment in advertising could prove to be lucrative to Canon partners.

“By getting more visibility a customer will look for more Canon products. Typically they will shop around and that stirs up a lot of activity and everyone gets a chance to play in the market,” Olds said.

Canon Canada’s direct versus indirect business is about even Olds said. And, he added, Canon does not want to change the ratio. Olds said pricing, except for specials, would remain the same for both Canon’s Business Solutions Division and its dealer network.

Ken Harper, marketing manager for Canon partner Taknology of Richmond Hill, Ont., doesn’t believe the new division will affect his firm’s Canon business.

He said that his company does not compete with Canon’s direct business. “There may be some overlap with their direct business, but I do not believe it willaffect our business that much,” he said.

As for the increased advertising from Canon, Harper thinks Taknology may see some increases.

Olds said that when a direct transaction happens it usually means independent dealers will be involved.

He cited a recent implemention for Hydro Quebec of nearly $4 million. Several independent dealers in Quebec were needed to handle all of Hydro Quebec’s remote offices, he said.

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