The recently-formed alliance of leading sign industry suppliers iMedia, Project Engraving and Digital, and Sign Essentials, has strengthened Agfa's :Anapurna sales channel and allows the distributors to share technical information, product knowledge, and marketing strategies. While the companies remain individually owned and operated, the cooperative arrangement will strengthen their local sales and service support.
Steve Taylor, Agfa's Oceania inkjet business manager says, 'It's a winning situation all round. Working together has real advantages for the three companies and Agfa see this as a real strength.
"They have a long track record in selling products to our target markets, especially in signage. While Agfa has always been a market leader in graphics and printing prepress, signage is not a traditionally-strong area for us, so it's good to deal with experienced companies with well-established sales and support channels and strong industry knowledge."
Collectively, the distributors have already sold over ten :Anapurna machines, including the first XL2 model in the region. Going forward they will offer the full :Anapurna industrial inkjet range - in Victoria and Tasmania through iMedia, with Project Engraving handling New South Wales, Western Australia and Northern Territory, and Sign Essentials looking after Queensland. Agfa will provide all service, maintenance and installation as well as distributor sales training and technical support.
All three companies are long-time Roland agents and share a mutual respect and business ideals. The new Agfa distributorships have consolidated this long-standing relationship, with Sean Strange of Sign Essentials the first to sign up. Adrian Holdaway of Project Engraving and Chris Lewis-Williams at iMedia rounded out the network soon after.
"We were getting enquiries for flatbed UV machines but didn't have a solution so we were looking for alternatives," says Strange. "Coincidently, Agfa were looking at their distribution for the :Anapurna printers."
"The main advantage is marketing. We can promote the product by advertising together and we can share product information, how installs have gone, and feedback from our customers - generally pooling our knowledge. We also share leads."
While each company concentrates on its particular state-based market, interstate enquiries are received. The new group provides an avenue for handing on those leads safely.
With customers entering the sales process more informed these days (thanks especially to the internet, says iMedia's Lewis-Williams) sharing resources amongst themselves and Agfa is a distinct advantage. He says, "We'd never thought to co-market before but from a cost perspective, it's very good. For example, being able to share the cost of placing ads in national print magazines means we can spend some more money locally.
"Agfa has its own engineers to do the installations and back support and that allows us to concentrate on selling. We're usually the first point of call for our customers because we sell them their supplies, but if there's something we can't help them with then we have the backup of Agfa too."