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04-07-2012, 01:26 PM   #46
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QuoteOriginally posted by Docrwm Quote
Excuse me but doesn't PRIC have a head PR honco in John Carlson? Ok, VP Marketing. If responding in a positive, coherent and upbeat manner to reassure your customers without spilling the internal secrets is beyond the skills of most folks at PRIC then why not hand it off to John Carlson?
Wrong question. The right question is, "Where's their Internet / Media Relations contractor - you know, the one that does the PentaxImaging website, approves images like the WG-2 mud photo, places the K-01 in a featured position within a month of its release (but apparently doesn't do Public Relations) - where's THAT person??

JC is the National Accounts relationship manager (all 12 of them). He's apparently very good at doing that. Doesn't mean beans when you have to come up with a media and consumer relations response to challenging news - not his skill set. At the corporate level PR/Media Realtions people either have decades of experience or an advanced degree from Columbia.

I have Private Client owners of small businesses who get better PR from their personal secretaries.

04-07-2012, 01:39 PM   #47
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QuoteOriginally posted by monochrome Quote
When you really only have a dozen or so meaningful customers in the USA market you necessarily favor the needs of the retailers over that of the end buyers. Lose a retailer and you lose the end buyers anyway.

. . .
This is a lot like a chicken or an egg argument. However, there have been a lot of chickens running around in the barn yard. They have been neglected and the hawks and foxes have picked a lot of them off over the years.

QuoteOriginally posted by monochrome Quote
He probably does proofread his posts - but he is necessarily out of touch with us. CEO's have to be out of touch with end-customers. Otherwise they couldn't ever make a corporate decision. This isn't his job and he shouldn't be attempting it. CEO's should only be public figures when there is a corporate tragedy such as a plane crash He's not professionally trained to do it and the best he can hope for is he only makes a small hash of it. Worst case he just deepens the already serious anger and alienates more people.
That does not fit the description of the CEO as described to us by himself. He described himself as one of us. Most of us like Ned. We think he has the potential to move things forward from our perspective.

QuoteQuote:
Being an avid photographer, I am blessed to have a job that combines my passion and knowledge of photography with managing the US subsidiary of HOYA Pentax Imaging Systems.
Go back to the beginning of his Blogs and you will see he acted like one of us. This link goes back to 2005.

NED BUNNELL
04-07-2012, 02:01 PM   #48
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QuoteOriginally posted by Blue Quote
That does not fit the description of the CEO as described to us by himself. He described himself as one of us. Most of us like Ned. We think he has the potential to move things forward from our perspective.
I agree entirely - that is exactly what he did and why he was hired, because we like him. I like Ned just from his sociability and accessibility. It feels like he is one of us.

Which is precisely why he shouldn't be the CEO. At a time like this the CEO by definition must be an Executive Officer who manages managers from the distance of the corporate office. Ned should be managing the person who steps forward and explains what is going on, in a way that is empathetic, yet not overly revealing.

Because he is one of us Ned must either break his compact with us (the prices are what the prices are and don't complain about it) or break his compact with Ricoh (the prices are what they are for a few months until we can clean up the retail channel, then here's what we're going to do for you . . .)

Neither response works - damned if he does and damned if he doesn't - so he needs to make a list over Easter weekend. What a thankless, horrible position to be in.

When I criticize Pentax _USA - and from time to time express criticism of JC and NED it is really criticism of Hoya for putting them in the position they are in.
04-07-2012, 02:18 PM   #49
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What 'list' does he need to make, monochrome?

04-07-2012, 02:36 PM - 2 Likes   #50
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QuoteOriginally posted by monochrome Quote
If I were Ned or John I wouldn't openly post here again, either. In an open Forum one is exposed to all manner of classless, unrestrained people. Yet often the kernel of a classless post has some truth to it, more the damning if expressed politely.

No one questions Ned's desire to shoot Leica. Many people here own and shoot them. Many more would if they could afford one.

What we question is the wisdom of the CEO of a division of a global consumer products company praising a product manufactured by a (admittedly distant price-wise) competitor. Should Alan Mulaly (CEO of Ford) blog about a Ferrari?

Ned occupies a privileged position - there can be only one CEO of Pentax USA. It is unfortunate that sometimes with privilege comes some sacrifice of absolute freedom - in this case the freedom to blog as one sees fit personally. My company, for instance, doesn't permit us to have Facebook or Linked-In accounts at all. A personal blog must be registered and emails sent to managers for each entry.

It is also unfortunate that people in positions of privilege are judged for their apparent results by persons who, if in the same position, likely couldn't manage as well under the circumstances. But results are as results are. If you get them, lesser people can bitch all they want and you just point to your results. If you don't get them, where do you point?
Not allowed a social networking profile? That's just sad. Sure, you can choose to work for a company that restricts you, but you are saying that their policy is acceptable. I don't see why posting on here is much different, but I guess with an anonymous profile you can say whatever you want.

Ned should not be restricted about talking Leica or whatever else he wants to talk about, unless his blog was hosted on pentaximaging.com or another official place for Pentax.


QuoteOriginally posted by Jean Poitiers Quote
Bonjour,

"I had met with Adorama two weeks ago, but their gesture is symbolic of how important a relationship between manufacturer and retailer is. Equally important are the relationships we have with our users. ..." Ned

........
You lost me after posting Ned's photo here without his permission.


QuoteOriginally posted by monochrome Quote
Which is precisely why he shouldn't be the CEO.
I disagree. We don't need more of what presumably is your business style with companies that apply personal restrictions.
04-07-2012, 02:37 PM   #51
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QuoteOriginally posted by monochrome Quote
Wrong question. The right question is, "Where's their Internet / Media Relations contractor - you know, the one that does the PentaxImaging website, approves images like the WG-2 mud photo, places the K-01 in a featured position within a month of its release (but apparently doesn't do Public Relations) - where's THAT person??

JC is the National Accounts relationship manager (all 12 of them). He's apparently very good at doing that. Doesn't mean beans when you have to come up with a media and consumer relations response to challenging news - not his skill set. At the corporate level PR/Media Realtions people either have decades of experience or an advanced degree from Columbia.

I have Private Client owners of small businesses who get better PR from their personal secretaries.
He IS the guy they have trotted out for interviews with online and print media over and over again. Just look at the threads comparing his performance (abysmal) to that of the UK VP for whatever. It's all well and good to try to shift blame to some title (that has no one in it) but PRIC has two people who have talked to the media over the past 2-4 years and he's the one that seems to be holding that bag lately.
04-07-2012, 03:15 PM   #52
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QuoteOriginally posted by monochrome Quote
It is unfortunate that sometimes with privilege comes some sacrifice of absolute freedom - in this case the freedom to blog as one sees fit personally.
I agree. Whether enforced by their company or not it is impossible for people like Ned to maintain a private persona in public next to their company role. Ned could not say "My most used camera nowadays is a NEX-7 because of its form factor" on any blog, private or not.

QuoteOriginally posted by monochrome Quote
It is also unfortunate that people in positions of privilege are judged for their apparent results by persons who, if in the same position, likely couldn't manage as well under the circumstances. But results are as results are. If you get them, lesser people can bitch all they want and you just point to your results. If you don't get them, where do you point?
I'd say we cannot say anything about the likelihood of such critics succeeding. Moreover, even if the critics wouldn't succeed that does not render their criticism invalid. Some people can tell if someone sings out of tune without being great singers themselves.

QuoteOriginally posted by monochrome Quote
The right question is, "Where's their Internet / Media Relations contractor - you know, the one that does the PentaxImaging website, approves images like the WG-2 mud photo, places the K-01 in a featured position within a month of its release (but apparently doesn't do Public Relations) - where's THAT person??
Seems like you have some criticism. Would you want that criticism to be met with the response "It is also unfortunate that people in positions of privilege are judged for their apparent results by persons who, if in the same position, likely couldn't manage as well under the circumstances.? I don't think you should receive such a response.

Last edited by Class A; 04-07-2012 at 04:12 PM.
04-07-2012, 04:01 PM   #53
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QuoteOriginally posted by Kunzite Quote
Yeah... it already begun.
Sometimes, I hate when I'm right

04-07-2012, 04:34 PM   #54
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QuoteOriginally posted by monochrome Quote
I agree entirely - that is exactly what he did and why he was hired, because we like him. I like Ned just from his sociability and accessibility. It feels like he is one of us.

Which is precisely why he shouldn't be the CEO. At a time like this the CEO by definition must be an Executive Officer who manages managers from the distance of the corporate office. Ned should be managing the person who steps forward and explains what is going on, in a way that is empathetic, yet not overly revealing.

Because he is one of us Ned must either break his compact with us (the prices are what the prices are and don't complain about it) or break his compact with Ricoh (the prices are what they are for a few months until we can clean up the retail channel, then here's what we're going to do for you . . .)

Neither response works - damned if he does and damned if he doesn't - so he needs to make a list over Easter weekend. What a thankless, horrible position to be in.

When I criticize Pentax _USA - and from time to time express criticism of JC and NED it is really criticism of Hoya for putting them in the position they are in.
Huh?

Unilateral pricing is probably worldwide for Pentax. It's called unilateral in the US for reasons related to the Colgate lawsuit.

Likely Ned has limited mess with which to react to pricing issues as the cost structures are overseas. His main job is probably to monitor the currency/inventory ratio, warranty, and keeping the channel happy.

It is Ricoh in Japan who are likely insisting on a per unit margin regardless of where product is sold.

It is likely that a worldwide [ricing scheme is going to have some major wrinkles as new stock and old stock collide, and retailers say their piece by jacking prices in response to heavy-handed pricing from Tokyo.

Guess what? People will stop buying, volumes will drop, ad Tokyo will alter its practices. For the "right now dammit" consumer, this is a big deal. But for a company that thinks QtQ, it's something that is an issue at the next Board meeting.

I have no idea what Ricoh's plans are for Pentax. Ricoh appears to be happy as a (very) niche seller of high-margin cameras and has scrupulously avoided margin wars with Canon, Nikon, Sony, Olympus, Panasonic, etc. in the camera arena. They were like that in the film camera biz as well and were one of the few companies to make a decent transition to digital without losing their heads (Yashica, Konica, Minolta, etc.). Perhaps this is the first salvo in that strategy. It is hard to say.

One thing about Ricoh is that it is a *very* Japanese company in its focus. The company appears to be a home market/away market setup as far as I can tell. I bet Ned's comments to head office in Japan are courteously y listened to, and then all discussion are done behind closed doors in Tokyo.
04-07-2012, 05:05 PM   #55
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Ned warned us and we didn't pay attention

Back last September, Ned's blog had a link to
Photo Industry Reporter’s State of the Industry 2011 : Page 2 of 2 : Photo Reporter
Check out the third item there:
Bill McCurry,
Chairman, McCurry Associates

Will the Imaging Industry Recognize the “Borders Effect”?
04-07-2012, 08:05 PM   #56
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The problem seems to be that in photography, the approach to getting new customers and the one to keeping existing customers isn't the same. Consider something like audio receivers. If I have a Denon now and it's getting long in the tooth, my next receiver doesn't have to be a Denon. I might walk into a store and come out with another brand that impressed me. If I liked my Denon then it's got an advantage when I begin my search for a new unit, but I am in a way, a new customer. Photography equipment is different, or at least it is for enthusiasts. Once you buy into a system, something really drastic would have to happen for you to decide that you're going to replace your K20d with a d7000. And therein lies the problem. We have Pentax. We like Pentax. A good B&M hires people who are into the product, who know what the customer needs, and can help the customer get the right thing. We, however, don't need to be "sold" on Pentax or any other brand of camera, we just want the body or lens at the best price. Now there is no "best price," there's one price. Maybe the answer is some kind of loyalty program, which acts as a sort of quasi-competitive price for people who already know what they want because they're already invested in the brand. Just a thought.

I have enough time in firearms retail to know that there are different kinds of customers. Some need their hands held, they don't know what they want, and they value the help a knowledgeable salesman can provide. That's the kind of shop I worked in. In firearms sales, you can save money by going to gun shows, and I understand and expect that customers who already know the product can go there to save $50. My "knowledge on tap" was of no value to them. Pentax has in effect said there will only be one sales model, and it's geared toward people who need their hands held. That's why we're feeling alienated at the moment, and rightfully so. A good B&M store doesn't need to compete with the internet, though their prices need to be at least reasonably close. I realize that's not easy. With firearms, there are in the US certain laws that reduce competition (primarily the Gun Control Act of 1968). With other products, competition can be brutal. It should be. I recognize that this is difficult for specialty products where, in the absence of a sophisticated buyer, there must be a sophisticated seller. If you've ever been to Best Buy, you know that the great majority of their sales clerks add no value to your experience. They're usually too young and there's too wide a range of products for them to really know much about any of them. A good B&M might try to fix this themselves by offering a loyalty program, but there simply aren't enough stores selling Pentax. Some of us live hours from the nearest Pentax on display, so something to appease the existing customers will have to come from Pentax itself. I hope they realize this and reveal something wonderful soon.

Last edited by Glarus; 04-07-2012 at 08:20 PM.
04-07-2012, 08:14 PM   #57
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QuoteOriginally posted by Glarus Quote
The problem seems to be that in photography, the approach to getting new customers and the one to keeping existing customers isn't the same. Consider something like audio receivers. If I have a Denon now and it's getting long in the tooth, my next receiver doesn't have to be a Denon. I might walk into a store and come out with another brand that impressed me. If I liked my Denon then it's got an advantage when I begin my search for a new unit, but I am in a way, a new customer. Photography equipment is different, or at least it is for enthusiasts. Once you buy into a system, something really drastic would have to happen for you to decide that you're going to replace your K20d with a d7000. And therein lies the problem. We have Pentax. We like Pentax. A good B&M hires people who are into the product, who know what the customer needs, and can help the customer get the right thing. We, however, don't need to be "sold" on Pentax or any other brand of camera, we just want the body or lens at the best price. Now there is no "best price," there's one price. Maybe the answer is some kind of loyalty program, which acts as a sort of quasi-competitive price for people who already know what they want because they're already invested in the brand. Just a thought.
I do see what you mean. The practical implications though are the Pentax either sees us as an inconsequential number or stuck due to our investment, or both, and therefore to be ignored in their long-range planning.
04-07-2012, 08:19 PM   #58
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QuoteOriginally posted by Aristophanes Quote
Huh?
Huh? Isn't your response what I just wrote?
04-07-2012, 08:31 PM   #59
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QuoteOriginally posted by Docrwm Quote
I do see what you mean. The practical implications though are the Pentax either sees us as an inconsequential number or stuck due to our investment, or both, and therefore to be ignored in their long-range planning.
If they have a plan in which they think they can grab a bigger market share, then we may indeed be considered collateral damage, and at an acceptable level. That would be unfortunate, but business is business. Interestingly, and it has been pointed out, it's not like Ricoh's plan is some unprecedented and horrible thing; the leading makers do the exact same thing and they succeed. Maybe I should pay closer attention to the Nikons in BJ's (a warehouse store like Costco) to see how they're pricing them. It never occurred to me that there's no significant discounting on their products. To us, Ricoh's pricing policy is "horrible," even if not unprecedented. Again, I really hope the "let's wait and see" camp is right. I like my camera, love my lenses, and nothing about the competition excites me. I really do want to buy more in the future, but if I can't price shop online, I might as well drive the 2-3 hours to a camera shop, ask dumb questions for three hours, then finally say 'sorry, I already know what I'm here to buy, I was just getting my additional $750 worth from your knowledgeable sales staff.' That's silly, but if I don't do it, I'm getting nothing for the extra $750 the lens now costs from Amazon. I wouldn't buy a new one at all, but would instead keep an eye out for a used one being offered at the "old" used price. It would be a long wait and my loss of use for that period, but business is business, and for that price hike and no added value, they would have lost the sale.
04-07-2012, 08:44 PM   #60
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QuoteOriginally posted by Class A Quote
Seems like you have some criticism. Would you want that criticism to be met with the response "It is also unfortunate that people in positions of privilege are judged for their apparent results by persons who, if in the same position, likely couldn't manage as well under the circumstances.? I don't think you should receive such a response.
I couldn't do Ned's job or any other CEO's job or I'd be a CEO. I do the job I do because I can do it well enough to grow it and keep it.

Perhaps I haven't been clear. From the outside it appears that Hoya forced P-USA to adopt the BigBox marketing strategy, significantly shrink the US employee roster and outsource most of the business functions. I have consistently criticized that decision since it was announced - and done so without rancor, for the most part. In response to the volume strategy, over ensuing years USA prices cycled to the bottom, so that USA internet sellers were competing with Pentax-Canada, Pentax-Europe and the Australian distributor.

Now that P-USA is being forced to cleanse the distribution channel, it appears there is little if any infrastructure left upon which to build a more European, local sales and service distribution model.

  • There doesn't appear to be a full-time, dedicated person who manages the placement of product links and new product splashes on the Pentax Webstore.
  • There doesn't appear to be a full-time public/media relations employee to make timely, explanatory statements on behalf of P-USA management, or to write them for senior public figures.
  • There doesn't appear to be Pentax-employed Customer Relations department
  • There doesn't appear to be a Pentax-employed technical support department
  • We know there isn't a Pentax-employed service department
  • We know there isn't a dedicated sales force (perhaps excepting National accounts); there apparently isn't a contracted sales broker
  • There apparently isn't a broad workshop schedule supporting customers and local retailers (I think Ned and John did several local workshops on the East Coast last winter - not a task I would assign the VP-Marketing and CEO)
The core point of my earlier post, perhaps not clearly expressed, is that I wouldn't want to be a senior manager at Pentax USA right now. I've lived through corporate acquisitions from both sides (now - after 20 years of buying, my company was recently bought by another). The ensuing culture, strategy and tactical changes are at best challenging and often perplexing in that promises you've made to valued relationships must be broken and the relationship rebuilt. I wouldn't be surprised to learn that is why Ned felt it important to blog about the Adorama relationship.

Sometimes there isn't a good choice or a better choice, there's only the only choice - and it isn't a pleasant choice. Pentax-USA's results have just been judged by Ricoh and instruction to change has been given. That's where I think Pentax-USA (Ned and John) is right now - pointing to results that have been judged by the owner.

And spending Easter (or Passover) weekend making a list of things to address with valued relations on Monday.
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