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Ricoh SA gains local expertise with Fusion Office Automation

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Ricoh customers in the Eastern Cape in and around Port Elizabeth and the Border-Kei region around East London will benefit from Fusion Office Automation’s expansion and move to its new headquarters in East London.
Fusion, a Ricoh SA Premium Business Partner, has created its third franchise based on the acquisition of Ricoh SA’s Port Elizabeth branch, which is expected to soon be franchised to an industry stalwart in the region.
David Hallas, director of Indirect Channel Operations at Ricoh SA, says: “Fusion was a small partner of ours 10 years ago and has grown into a significant force in the Border-Kei region. Their competitors, derogatory about their initial attempts, have since realised their potential as they have employed more people, expanded their product portfolio to include our full range, and achieved our highest levels of certification while continually expanding their customer base. Our recognition of their achievements is exemplified by giving them greater responsibility in the full Eastern Cape region through the Port Elizabeth branch.”
The document imaging and office automation market in PE differs from that in East London significantly enough that Fusion believes it requires local expertise and is also two to three times the size of the market in East London, according to market intelligence at Fusion’s disposal.
“In East London we have smaller businesses owned by individuals or families, which have different requirements from the predominantly branch operations of national and international corporations and manufacturers in PE,” says Jason Van Der Walt, director and co-founder of Fusion Office Automation. “Currently we have over 3 500 customers in the Border-Kei region and there are 700 Ricoh devices in the field in the PE region.”
The PE Ricoh branch will continue to operate as it has, with all employees transferred to the new franchise.
Ricoh is most well-known in the region as the former Gestetner, operating in South Africa since 1923, supplying a range of office automation equipment such as printers, faxes, copiers, scanners and more. Today the range is broader and incorporates numerous devices, from desktop printers to production printers used in graphic arts and high volume variable data production, large scale indoor and outdoor marketing materials produced on latex printers, as well as software and services to meet modern enterprise demands for communications and collaboration.
Fusion, which recently moved to custom-built headquarters in East London following a decade of consistent growth that has resulted in annual revenues in the region of R50-million, two years ago began developing a franchise model.
Fusion is currently in the final stages of partnering with a former star salesperson of a local competitor to operate its PE franchise, a man who has in excess of 20 years of experience in the Eastern Cape market. His is the third Fusion franchise.
The first is the Transkei franchise in Umtata
“Dylan Cloete was a long-standing employee who wanted to further his career so he bought the first franchise, which has paid off handsomely due to his commitment and experience,” says Van Der Walt.
The second franchise resulted in the Eastern Cape’s very first 100% black owned and Level 1 B-BBEE office automation company, Fusion Eastern Cape.
“Fusion Eastern Cape is independently owned and run by the extremely talented Sabelo Jela and Mawonga Simelani,” says Van Der Walt. “They are guided by their enterprise development agreement with us, which is a roadmap we provide, along with business mentoring, that assists them to build the general operational business experience they may require.”
Fusion Office Automation intends in the near future expanding its franchise model to additional South African provinces and discussions are already underway with potential franchisees in Johannesburg and Cape Town.