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Steady Sailing

Ross O'Hanley, Vice President, Domestic Game Sales and Marketing, Konami Gaming

Steady Sailing

Konami Gaming, Inc. has been one of the industry’s most remarkable success stories of the past few years. In 2008, Konami’s executive management team announced the company’s goal was to reach the “podium,” meaning the goal was to become one of the top three slot manufacturers in the industry.

Never mind that the industry was at the beginning of its worst revenue slump of modern times. Three years hence, Konami is very close to stepping on that podium.

The reason has been the K2V slot platform, and its new follow-up, KP3—not to mention the Konami Casino Management System, one of the fastest-growing casino management systems on the market. Surging sales have defied the recession, putting Konami squarely in the top five slot-makers in the market—and by some measures, at No. 4.

And at the center of the revenue surge has been Ross O’Hanley, Konami’s vice president of domestic game sales and marketing. Like many of the slot sector’s best sales and marketing pros, O’Hanley comes from the operational side—and also like so many slot-sector executives, from Caesars Entertainment. O’Hanley entered the industry as an MBA student in the President’s Associate Program of the former Harrah’s Entertainment, followed by positions with Harrah’s Atlantic City, the Venetian and Harrah’s corporate offices before joining Konami just as the push toward the podium started in 2008.

“It has helped to understand what it’s like to be on the customer side of the table,” O’Hanley says. “Having had people sell to me, I remember what was important to me as an operator. I wanted the sales representatives to partner with me to make my slot floor more successful. I always keep that in mind in my current role.”

It also helps to have a great product. While the new KP3 platform is state-of-the-art, the K2V product is still at the height of its popularity. “It’s a good problem to have,” says O’Hanley. “K2V is still robust, and still one of the top-performing platforms out there. There is excitement about the advanced graphics and processing power of KP3, and some of our customers want that new platform, but others still want the tried-and-true K2V performers. It’s great to be able to offer them both.”

In 2012, things promise to get even better for Konami. Near the end of 2011, the company’s ship share was up to 15 percent in North America—it was hovering around 6 percent in 2007 before the “podium drive”—and O’Hanley hopes that will go up further next year. Meanwhile, the systems division continues to grow, and Konami’s recurring-revenue game placements have gone from 1,500 three years ago to more than 6,000 today.

O’Hanley says Konami’s success can be traced to a simple strategy: listen to your customers. “We’ve succeeded by really listening to what our customers want,” he says. “We’re not off on a tangent trying to create ‘cloud’ capabilities for gaming, or trying to lead the way with server-based initiatives.

“Some of our competitors have stayed focused on the floor of the future—at Konami, while we are keeping a close watch on applications for future technology, we’ve stayed focused on the floor of the present.”

Frank Legato is editor of Global Gaming Business magazine. He has been writing on gaming topics since 1984, when he launched and served as editor of Casino Gaming magazine. Legato, a nationally recognized expert on slot machines, has served as editor and reporter for a variety of gaming publications, including Public Gaming, IGWB, Casino Journal, Casino Player, Strictly Slots and Atlantic City Insider. He has an B.A. in journalism and an M.A. in communications from Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, PA. He is the author of the books, How To Win Millions Playing Slot Machines... Or Lose Trying, and Atlantic City: In Living Color.