Historically known as a component provider for the remanufactured cartridge market, Static Control is fast becoming a major supplier of finished cartridges. As such, its target audience has vastly expanded, now comprising all channels of the business products industry’s supply chain.
OPI speaks to Ken Lalley, Managing Director of Static Control in Europe, and Josh Braendle, Business Development Manager in the US, about the manufacturer’s expanded focus and what this brings to our sector’s reseller community.
OPI: Many of our readers will be familiar with Static Control as a global components supplierto the remanufacturing industry, but perhapsnot quite so aware of the fact that you’re now offering much more than that. Can you provide some background?
Josh Braendle: You’re absolutely right. The fact is, if you’ve ever purchased an aftermarket cartridge, the odds are it contained some level of our componentry. Our traditional customer base has been the remanufacturers which have used our component supplies for the past 30 years. For decades, we’ve been the leader in developing and manufacturing the components, toner and cartridge chip technology, and providing all of the items that go inside a remanufactured printer cartridge.
So while our foray into that final step of assembling our technology into finished cartridges is still relatively new, it builds on our extensive knowledge and experience.
OPI: Why have you decided to enter the market as a finished goods manufacturer given your existing success in selling just components?
JB: The decision started with demand from our customers. As the variety of printer models available has continued to increase, most remanufacturers were pushed into a ‘make some/buy some’ model to avoid prohibitive overheads investment. This put them into the position of having to rely on others to provide reliable, high-quality cartridges and led to overwhelming demand for Static Control to fill that role.
Our remanufacturing customers knew that with Static Control assembling the cartridges, they would be built with the best componentry and undergo stringent quality assurance steps throughout the process. Our ability to deliver on these expectations while also developing new and unique solutions led us to expand our market to include office products resellers, as they also need reliable aftermarket cartridges to support their customers.
Ken Lalley: What’s also important to note from a European perspective, for example, is that a huge amount of Chinese imports have come into the market selling only on low cost – to the point that remanufacturers in Europe are really struggling to compete and, as Josh mentioned, increasingly turning to outsourcing.
We’re filling that gap now by supplying entire cartridges in both a remanufactured and compatible offering rather than just the components for them.
OPI: You say Static Control isselling both a remanufactured and compatible offering…
KL: Yes, we offer the best of both which is a unique solution. We use our remanufactured products for areas where we may have increased intellectual property risks or haven’t been able to qualify a suitable product through a compatible offering. That being said, we also accept the fact that compatibles are a significant growth opportunity in the market today, with first-to-market potential and room for massive product improvement.
The unique opportunity for Static Control in the compatible segment lies in bringing a solution to market for those seeking a high-quality product at a competitive cost through the use of our industry-leading componentry.
JB: One of our largest differentiators in the compatible market in the US is having an excellent infrastructure. A lot of the compatible resellers have limited infrastructure and no testing facilities domestically – they simply bring in products in container loads and sell them at a very low price.
Static Control is very different: we have a global infrastructure headquartered in Sanford (NC) with extensive R&D facilities; we have established technical support teams as well as experienced sales teams; and we have rigorous quality control. It’s altogether a different outlook, process and result – and that’s what sets our finished product apart.
OPI: There’s always been a perception that compatible products are not quite as good as remanufactured cartridges… What would you say to that allegation?
JB: Historically yes, the compatible market has been plagued with a lack of consistency as it pertains to quality. This is where we noticed an opportunity. Quality levels range across the board from one manufacturer to another. That’s not only limited to the compatible market, of course.
We accepted this challenge of inconsistency in the market and used our 30 years of knowledge and componentry development to help stabilise these builds. Since we develop and engineer every aspect of the cartridge from start to finish, we can maintain a level of quality unseen by others.
We could speak all day about what makes our products and processes different. We have a fantastic history in terms of delivering quality product, whether that be components, our remanufactured offering or compatible solutions. I encourage you to visit our headquarters in North Carolina to really see what makes Static Control different. Our website also contains lots of information about our differentiators.
OPI: Given that you’re based in the UK Ken, and Josh, you are in the US, I assume your overall approach is global?
KL: Yes, Static Control is a global organisation which ships to over 160 different countries. Here in Europe, we do that through a mix of direct fulfilment to remanufacturers, wholesalers and resellers, as well as working with a great network of distributors in regions where that makes sense. That said, we have a further four regional distribution centres in Europe planned for this year.
JB: In North America, we directly service 100% of our customers on the continent from three distribution centres in the US and one in Toronto, Canada. In addition to the existing locations, we are planning two additional distribution centres in the US before the end of the year.
OPI: What’s been the initial feedback to your foray into being a ‘finished product’ rather than component manufacturer?
JB: We’ve seen very positive growth. We’re not new to the market, of course, and our traditional customer base already knows and appreciates our technology, our attention to detail and our ability to make the highest-quality products. What is great is that we are also hearing these same responses from our new customer base, so it’s been hugely encouraging.
KL: I agree with Josh. We are finding significant success, especially with our unique offerings and first-to-market replacement cartridges. Those are the products that have opened doors for us and introduced new revenue opportunities to the market.
OPI: To sum up, what’s your core USP?
KL: We have several and expertise is undoubtedly one of them. For more than three decades, we’ve been the leader in designing and manufacturing components and chips for the aftermarket.
Our knowledge on how to develop an imaging system that delivers premium quality is unmatched. We’ve taken that knowledge and placed it into each finished cartridge we offer, be it laser or inkjet. We still invest heavily into our R&D and chip technology in order to stay ahead of our competitors when it comes to first-to-market solutions.