Spreading its wings to a variety of business services

Spreading its wings to a variety of business services

Gurliacci, David

Being a sales representative for Eagle Business Machines Inc. in Elmsford isn’t the easiest sales job to learn. You have to know a lot of different subjects.

Eagle sells, leases, repairs and provides maintenance and supplies for copy machines but nowadays that only amounts to about 60 perentt of its business. The company also sells, installs and services computer and telephone systems. It also offers shredding services. And scanning services. Eagle is even looking into the installing of security cameras.

“We want the customer to only have to make one phone call for sales and service of both their computers, the software for their computers, the wiring, the copiers, everything to run your office from soup to nuts,” said Joseph Magardino Sr., president and owner of the company. “And in the end, the customer loves it.”

Taking responsibility for a variety of machines in the office has been one of the ways Eagle Business Machines has been able to attract more business than the typical copier dealership.

Eagle grow 20 percent last year with annual revenues rising to $6 million. The company is growing at a more moderate 12 percent rate this year, Magardino, said.

Annual sales for office-machine dealers nationwide have been growing only about 10 to 12 percent a year in the past couple of years, said Lou Slawetsky, president of Industry Analysts Inc. in Rochester, a company that tracks growth in the industry.

Sal Eppolito, owner of Copyfax Ofrice Centers Inc. in Yonkers, said he considered business slow with revenue growth holding at 10 percent to 12 percent a year in the past couple of years. Nancy Sue, owner of Young Business Systems Inc. in Eastchester, said she thought business was even slower this year.

Eagle Business, with 55 employees, was named one of the top 100 “Elite Dealers” for 2005 in the country by OfficeDealer magazine, a trade publication for companies in the fields of office supplies, office furniture and office equipment.

Magardino attributes the company’s success largely to an aggressive marketing campaign and solid customer service.

In recent years, the company has stopped up its telemarketing, “fax blasting,” advertising on the Internet and in telephone directories and, most of all, extensive notworking.

The company organized its own breakfast meetings with businesspeople in compatible industries, such as printing companies.

Keeping customers happy with good service and selling them more services is another important way the company grow, Magardino said.

“They’re always right,” he said of his customers. “No matter what a tech says, if a customer says X and a tech even says, ‘No, look – you even signed a paper,’ we go with the customer.” Customers also got cell phone numbers of top company officers so they can call at any time of the day or night. “If something’s wrong, something’s wrong – we want to know about it.”

“When I call them, they get here,” said Michael Colasuonno, a partner at Philip Colasuonno & Company L.L.P., an accounting firm in New Rochelle, who has been using the firm since the late 1980s. Colasuonno owns Prima Check Cashing Inc. in Elmsford and uses Eagle for his telephone system there. “They’ve treated me very well over the years.”

About 60 percent of the company’s customers are in Westchester County, with the rest in Hudson Valley and Catskill counties to the north, Fairfield County, Conn., to the east, the Bronx and Manhattan to the South and Rockland County and New Jersey to the west.

Magardino started the company in 1958 in a rented room behind a jewelry store on Central Park Avenue in Scarsdale. “I didn’t want to be in a storefront,” he said. “I always wanted to go out to my own customers.”

At that time he was dealing in typewriters and calculators as well as copiers, which then had liquid toner, he recalled. By the early 1960s, the copier business started to boom when manufacturers solved problems with jammed paper catching on fire. Copier companies used to give customers fire extinguishers to go along wuth the copy machines, he said.

Magardino hired his first employees in the early 1960s. Four years after starting the company he moved it to larger quarters on Scarsdale Avenue where Eagle Business Machines remained for the next 20 years before moving to Elmsford.

In the late 1970s or early 1980s, Magardino was visiting a customer when he happened to meet a computer technician working on a computer in a store window. Magardino was amused by the unintentional “display” and started a conversation with the technician, John Saunders.

Not long afterward, he hired Saunders to set up the computer end of Eagle Business Machines.

After taking the leap into computer services, the company next took a smaller step into installing and maintaining office telephone systems. Initially, telephone companies shied away from allowing Eagle to sell and install their equipment because, they told him, “We never had anyone from your industry do this.”

They were worried how a company rooted in the copier business could handle the technical challenge, Magardino said.

But the telephone market hit hard times in the 1990s, he recalled, “and my phone started to ring.”

About eight years ago Eagle expanded into scanning services which medical practices find especially useful and shredding documents. Those services combined now make up about 10 percent of company revenues and computer-related sales and service make up another 30 percent, said Magardino’s son, Joseph Magardino Jr., sales manager for the company.

From its base in Westchester County, the company expanded into Connecticut with a 2,500-square-foot Stamford office started about eight years ago. Five years later, Eagle opened a 3,000-square-foot office in Monticello in Sullivan County.

Magardino said the company may expand in different ways in the future. Geographically, he wants to do more business in the Catskills and is even thinking about some operations in southern Florida.

“We’re exploring putting in security cameras and systems,” he said. “When our salesmen go in we’re being asked all the time, ‘Why don’t you put the security camera, in? … ‘So we have to hire a few new people, go into an industry and learn it.”

STRATEGIES FOR S*U*C*C*E*S*S

JOSEPH MAGARDINO SR., PRESIDENT AND OWNER, EAGLE BUSINESS MACHINES INC., ELMSFORD

Age: 64

Grew up: near Pelham Parkway in the Bronx; at 16 moved to Yonkers

Education: attended City College of New York

Family: married 44 years to Angola; sons, Joseph G. Jr., Robert, Thomas, Anthony; 14th grandchild is on the way

Lives in: Scarsdale

Advice for success in business:

“You just have to make it happen. You can’t sit on your hands. You have to be patient, and you have to build that customer base. … You have to make your customers happy to keep them staying with you, and you have to find a way to get them. You have to have a good business plan.”

Biggest mistake in running the business:

“At the time I was going into business, it could’ve made my life a lot easier had I partnered with others rather than doing it all myself – but they’re out of business now and I’m still in business, so I’m not so sure.”

Part of his job he likes most:

“I enjoyed it when I was repairing … and I enjoyed the rapport of selling and having a good relationship with customers. … I just enjoy this whole industry, I really do.”

Least likes:

“The accounting part. That to me is a horror. Even though I have a great accounting firm, you still have to work with them. I just find it very boring.”

To unwind:

“I go to the gym. I have a home up in the mountains in Roscoe, N.Y. … I enjoy the fishing. We have a golf course, too; horseback riding. The grandkids love going on the paddle boats.”

Copyright Westfair Communications Sep 26, 2005

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