It was exactly a decade ago to the day that I finalised the sale of my office equipment business to another Ricoh dealer. It was a big moment for me, the end of 20 years in the business, 10 years with Xerox and 10 years on my own, first selling Xerox machines and then Ricoh. The business sector had become difficult , whilst we were selling technology, the development of the capabilities of machines had increased vastly compared to the cost price and the consequent profit that could be made from the sale. It wasnt simply a relative decline , it was a dramatic absolute decline that has continued at a pace to this day.
It was very difficult to support the rising costs of wages for staff , fixed overheads and other costs when the core business profits were declining so quickly. The Canon printer I have on my desk today, that can print in colour, act as a copier and scanner cost just over £35 ( the only possible profit now is in consumable sales ). In 1991 and even 2001, that sort of capability would cost a minimum of 4 figures.
It was a difficult last day, I had only told the staff a few days before as the sale of the business was not confirmed until the last week, some retained their jobs, others chose to leave. I was still in the office until 8.00 pm working with the new owners to agree the service stock values, everyone else had left and then it was over. I returned home to an empty house ( everyone else had gone out for the evening ) poured myself a large scotch and began to wonder what next.