Page 34 - Print 21 Magazine Nov-Dec 2018
P. 34

Supply Side People
Cutting is the core of invention
Every business has its own market differential, the secret sauce that makes it stand out from the crowd. Sometimes it’s technology, or inventiveness, or customer service. Sometimes it’s a bit of all that. To John Wall success for Roland DG has to do with its culture of invention... and the passion of its people.
It’s not unusual for a company,
or an individual, to strike out
in a different direction from where they eventually arrive. The straight arrow may be the shortest distance but it’s rarely the way things work out in the real world. The experience of taking different options, of going down blind alleyways is mostly educational, provided the results are learned from and integrated.
Roland DG sprang from Roland Corporation in Osaka (Japan) on May 1st 1981, initially making computerised musical peripherals
at a time when synthesisers were cutting edge technology. Building on this experience, it thereafter turned to manufacturing pen plotters and shortly afterwards to cutting plotters for the signage industry. From
there it was a short but inspired step to introducing the world's first integrated printer/cutter.
This signature technology was such a success, and so finely attuned to the needs of the signage market, that it made Roland DG the market leader of the sector, a position it has since maintained for decades.
John Wall’s progress has also taken some unexpected turns before he arrived at his current role as President of Roland DG’s Australian and South-East Asia operations. From pay television executive
to sales director and marketing manager, the genial Canadian’s 27-year Australian story is also an odyssey of learning from experience. He admits to drawing a lot from the Roland DG corporate style.
“Roland DG’s philosophy is that it’s not about being the biggest, but about being the best. I like that. It’s about listening and learning from your customer,” he said.
Avoid the me-too
Wall has no problem defining Roland DG’s unique market differential. Asked to identify its strengths in the market place, he does not hesitate.
Above: “I believe it’s about selling on the merits of the product, not denigrating the competition.” John Wall.
“We’re a technology-driven company with a focus on developing real- world solutions. We’re not a ‘me-too’ product producer. We first identify a need from our customers, and then we take it to a new level. That’s our passion, it drives the company, and it’s in our DNA.”
He identifies a former Japanese executive, Mr. Tomioka, a 35-year veteran, as the leader who bred
the philosophy and passion into the company. The current driver is Japan-based Mr. Fujioka, who is responsible for continuation of the corporate drive.
Roland DG is a widely diverse enterprise with global revenue of over a couple of hundred million per year. The Australian business turns over $25 million, a figure that Wall describes as making it into an SME. While it has more than doubled its size in recent years, growth is not the main goal – being the best is more important.
“There is a continuous growth plan and a direction to the company. From
when I joined the company we’ve more than doubled in size. Roland listens to the market. We do a lot of market research and value customer feedback: as a matter of fact, I’ve
just had a couple of individuals from Japan in Victoria for last three days doing just that, talking to customers and getting feedback on our products and services and futures.
“It’s important we provide a full solution, and to do that we listen to the market. We’re dedicated to helping customers – we call them end-users – in their business. If their business is successful, we’ll be successful.”
Unusually for most Japanese companies, the local Australian management is allowed to run the operation virtually unhindered. Wall maintains that despite being a corporate entity, there is a sense of family throughout.
“It’s a case of local management, working through Japanese protocols. It’s like a family. Even our dealer channel is part of the family.”

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