Zone 3 Business Solutions Inc. (Zone 3) has been a trusted independent office equipment dealer for the past 10 years. Its diverse product offerings range from printers to plotters, postage equipment to photocopiers, 3D printers to production machines. President Darryl Graham created Zone 3 to be a different kind of company, one that focused on service and team. The meteoric growth and success of Zone 3 is proof that different is good. Business in Calgary sat down with the dynamic Zone 3 team to find out more about what makes this company tick.
BIC: How has the company grown since the early days?
Darryl: We started with four sales reps working out of my basement and our service manager, Shannon, set up the copiers in his garage. We started with zero base, so every customer we got was net new. Two years in we moved into our current facility and due to our rapid growth, we are bursting at the seams. In 2014, we expanded into Red Deer for a strong presence in central Alberta.
BIC: What did you hope to do differently with Zone 3?
Darryl: I always said we’d never be like the corporate world. I liked the smaller company with an atmosphere where you’re a team that works together for the common good and has a lot of fun. We have an actual receptionist who answers the phone. Our customers receive the best service in the industry and we have the quickest response time. As an independent dealer, we go above and beyond for our clients.
BIC: How does being an independent local dealer help Zone 3 go above and beyond?
Clive: Not only does a local dealer know your business environment far better than a head office that’s based in, say, Mississauga, we know the climate, we know the conditions, we know the economy and as an independent dealer we can partner with a variety of manufacturers to provide the best solutions.
Olivier: Being a dealer we have the benefit of carrying more than one brand where the manufacturers only have their brand. While we’re the largest Konica Minolta dealer in Calgary and the only one in central Alberta, we carry other complementary brands like Lexmark, Samsung and HP.
Terry: Every business needs equipment like what we offer, whether it’s a little HP printer or a big printing press. We sell models from $200 to $200,000. We can usually source anything a client is looking for on the printing side.
BIC: Seems like you have it all for customers?
Clive: We do. We’re a diverse company. We offer everything from hardware to software solutions to IT support and infrastructure. Anything print related we can handle and as an independent dealer we can offer a level of flexibility others can’t.
BIC: Flexible how?
Terry: We don’t dance to anybody else’s tune. If something needs to change on a personal client basis we’re able to do that at the drop of a hat. We have leasing alternatives, rental options and short-term agreements for projects. And we make in-house decisions on the spot. Customer satisfaction is number one so flexibility enables us to do it.
BIC: So customer satisfaction is the goal here?
Shannon: Absolutely. We built this company with the customer in mind. We carry a large inventory. Ninety per cent of what you need on a day-to-day basis is here, on site, and we deliver toner next day to clients for free. We work on an average four-hour service response time to have someone on site or remotely on the phone or remote desktop applications.
Patrick: When you call with a problem, we send a technician and he fixes it, whether it’s an equipment or operator issue. If you call us we will be the last person you need to call. Our technicians stick around for a long time so our customers can really build a relationship with them.
BIC: The talented staff seem to set Zone 3 apart.
Mitchell: Yes, it’s our expertise. We’ve got one of the most talented service managers in the city. We focus on hiring some of the top sales, technical and administrative support available. Within a few years of starting up, we expanded all of our departments and we’ve been growing ever since.
Marti: And when Darryl looks to expand, he looks for a company that has the same kind of dynamic and vision. He has a great team behind him and the goal is finding out what the customer needs and doing everything we can to deliver it – supporting them the best way that works, even if it means stepping outside and doing something a little different than what we’re used to.
BIC: Is Zone 3 stepping into different areas?
Darryl: Yes. We are trying to grow in different areas. We opened an IT company called Z3 Network Solutions Inc., which recently expanded. I’d like to buy one or two more small companies to grow that department as well. Artificial intelligence is definitely a direction we’re going to go in. It’s how you can make your office more efficient and productive. We’re really trying to be cutting edge. Artificial intelligence is taking off and we’re excited to be involved.
BIC: What do you see in the future for Zone 3?
Olivier: Offices are evolving and so is technology, and businesses like ours that support businesses have to evolve too. We’re a local family-owned company in Alberta and in these tough economic times that means a lot. I think our clients appreciate that. We set out to have long-term relationships with our clients, not to just make a quick buck. Our vision is for continued growth, maintaining our integrity and presence, and going to that next level of growth.
The Zone 3 Team
Darryl Graham, President
Clive Lawrence, Sales Manager
Olivier Graham, Sales Manager
Terry Coleman, General Manager, Red Deer
Shannon Girodat, Operations Manager
Patrick Clarke, Service Manager, Red Deer
Mitchell Graham, Controller
Marti Martz, HR Business Administrator
Tammy Yablonski, Office Manager, Red Deer