Alternative Vendors: Workgroup Color Laser Printers

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In the high-end workgroup color laser printer space, Hewlett-Packard Co. is tops. However, alternative vendors are gaining traction through pricing and aggressive maneuvering. Solution providers say their reasons for going with alternatives like Oki Data Americas Inc., Lexmark International Inc.and others range from better pricing and margin opportunity to better product performance and more innovation.

Joe Elliot, sales manager at Elliot Services and Peripherals in Conover, N.C., said he finds Lexmark to be more active in courting his business than market leader HP. "Lexmark offers more front-end rebates from distribution and the manufacturer only to Lexmark partners. They're easier to work with," he said.

For Jim Fall, vice president of strategic planning at Cannon IV, Indianapolis, corporate or organizationwide mandates sometimes have meant bringing in alternative vendors. "On the straight, single-function color laser printers, there might be a corporate standard. In school systems there might be a Lexmark or an Oki Data standard. It's more customer spec than functionality or pricing even," he said.

Sharon Krell, owner of government reseller Imaging Systems, Colorado Springs, Colo., said aggressive partner recruitment has helped Xerox Corp. work its way to having 25 percent of her company's workgroup color laser printer sales. "We've been doing a lot more Xerox over the last two years because they're getting more aggressive in the marketplace. Our customers are becoming more acquainted with them," Krell said.

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