One of the most fascinating things about the auto ID industry is the movement of people in and out of the business, and also from company to company. This migration often occurs when companies reinvent themselves or diversify to offer more products. Some companies, however, stick to their core offerings and here the migratory path for their personnel is often upward to take on greater responsibilities. These veterans eat, breathe and sleep the company, but refreshingly never promote themselves as being a company man or woman, instead exude calm confidence. One such person is Mark Ryan, Metrologic's newly appointed director of EMEA sales. Undoubtedly, Ryan has served a remarkable decade within a remarkable company.
While other companies in the scanner market have spent time and money on diversifying and expanding product lines, Metrologic has stuck to scanning, focussing on its distribution channels, with the aim of making it easy for customers to buy product while maintaining short lead times for itself. This strategy has served the company well and continues to be the way forward.
Ryan's history with the company is interesting, beginning as sales manager for Metrologic's UK business. At the time, the company had a sole UK distributor and Ryans task as to develop channel customers. With this task complete and under control, he then took on the job of regional manager for Benelux and Scandinavia.
Ryan earned his Northern European campaign stripes and was given the responsibility of establishing Metrologic UK as a subsidiary of the parent company, which was completed in 2000.
Riding out the storm
Metrologic hasn't had it easy all of the time and has had to ride the economic waves caused by implementation of the Euro and post 9/11. But, in the wake of the economic maelstrom Ryan points out that Metrologic maintained a positive approach by continuing to develop products, winning business and turning in impressive financial results.
Ryan comments that the market continues to develop and he sees competitors going in different directions, but he also sees the need to maintain a focus on scanning and keeping it simple for business partners and customers to do business with Metrologic. He says that within this strategy it has been important to use local people to get close to the end customer. plan of action works for Metrologic and he cites the company's Russian office as a good example of how maintaining a local contact has enabled the company to win business under some difficult conditions.
I asked Ryan where he wanted to take the company's EMEA team. He indicated that the primary target was selling more scanners and investing in business groups that could deal with important customers, primarily the top 10 retailers in each European country. This team will help promote the company's Stratos bioptic in-counter scanner for point-of-sale (POS) applications. This will challenge PSC's Magellan POS scanner and Ryan is looking forward to a fruitful campaign.
He also added that he is seeing business growth in Eastern Europe, the Adriatic region and as far a field as Kazakhstan.
In response to my question about RFID, he maintains that the company remains vigilant, but is not making any moves yet, particularly as there is no clear indication of the market moving towards item level RFID and standards still need resolving. And, as the company has no logistics market focus, it is not concerned with pallet-level applications. I asked about the industrial side, because this is an important sector for Metrologic, particularly as it has a formidable line of products. Ryan points to the company's subsidiary Adaptive Optic Associates (AOA), which is driving some significant developments in laser/imaging technology. (AOA is a leading-edge company that develops laser beam delivery and control systems to semiconductor and fibre optic manufacturers as well as a variety of highly sophisticated optical systems used by government, military and aerospace agencies.) Metrologic will see AOA's technology appearing in industrial scanning systems soon.
In closing, Ryan wanted to make it clear that Metrologic would not "mess around" with its channel. Its goal is to be there to support, make products that the channel can sell and not to dictate how channel partners run their own businesses. By being there he emphasised the need to "think global, act local" to ensure success for the company itself and that obviously requires the success of its partners too.