CHICAGO - The National Automatic Merchandising Association staged the first National Expo of the new millennium here. The event, which took place in the aftermath of the September 11 terrorist attacks, nevertheless drew operators from all parts of the United States and a number of other countries.
"Though large numbers of association and corporate meetings and events were canceled or rescheduled, the NAMA Expo went off without a hitch," the association reported. The number of exhibiting companies reached an all-time high (314), breaking the previous record of 310 established last year.
Highlights of the National Expo were the annual membership meeting held on the first day of the event, and the awards banquet that climaxed the proceedings on the the following night.
The annual meeting was keynoted by former astronaut Capt. James Lovell, USN (ret.). New directors were introduced (see V/T, October), and NAMA Chairman's Awards were presented to individuals whose efforts at the state level produced positive results for the vending and coffee service industry.
In Michigan, Jeff Smith of All Star Services (Port Huron) spearheaded a campaign for fair sales tax treatment of certain products sold through vending machines. With the help of many other industry members, and the able administrative support of Michigan Distributors & Vendors Association executive director Polly Reber, the prolonged effort was capped with victory: nonalcoholic beverages sold through vending machines in sealed containers are no longer subject to state sales tax.
In Illinois, state council stalwarts Vince Gumma, American Vending Sales (Elk Grove Village), Bob Oplaski, A.H. Vending & Food Services (Rolling Meadows) and Ken Zydek, Triple A Services (Chicago) led a sustained campaign to persuade the legislature to exempt the sale of vending machines and their components from state sales tax. Their arguments were accepted, and the exemption will take effect on January 1, 2002.
NAMA chairman Dan Sofie, B&P Vending (Bellingham, WA), made the presentations. He also conveyed the association's thanks to immediate past chairman Alan Suitor, Automatic Products international, ltd. (St. Paul, MN) for his long service to the industry and his effective leadership. Sofie also recognized the valuable service rendered to NAMA by outgoing directors Richard L. Ball, Wes-Tex Vending (Mineral Wells, TX), Frank A. Feist, Five Star Food Services (Dalton, GA) and Jack E. Thomas, Coin Acceptors (St. Louis, MO).
Recognized for their perseverance and effectiveness in making the 2001 National Expo a success, despite adversity, were general chairman Frank Saverino, Saverino & Associates (Carol Stream, IL); program chairman Ron Weber, Master Brew (Northbrook, IL); Ken Shea, Newco Enterprises, chairman of the Trade Show Advisory Committee; and Shae Pavlic, Modern Coffee Service (Waukesha, WI), who chaired the Spouse Program Committee.
NAMA paid special tribute to two pioneers in vending industry trade publishing. Honored with Lifetime Achievement Awards were Ben Ginsberg, who founded American Automatic Merchandiser and who now publishes Vending & OCS, and Morris (Tiny) Weintraub, founder of VENDING TIMES and of the Internet-based vending community network TinyTalksVending.com.
The gala banquet that climaxed Expo 2001 was highlighted by the presentation of NAMA's national operator and associate member awards. The presentations were made by NAMA president and chief executive officer Richard M. Geerdes.
The industry's top honor, the Golden Coin Operator of the Year Award, was bestowed on Bill Burch, Burch Food Services (Sikeston, MO). He was chosen on the basis of his unswerving commitment to leadership, innovation and willingness to expand conventional practices for the overall good of the industry. Burch, a past-chairman of NAMA, served five terms as president of the Missouri Automatic Merchandising Association, and has been elected as Mayor of Sikeston for four terms.
Winner of the Mike Savoie Memorial Silver Service Award for excellence in coffee service is Randy Parks, ProStar Services (Carrollton, TX). The award, dedicated to the memory of OCS pioneer and leader Mike Savoie, Coffee Connection (Madison Heights, MI), recognizes an operator for consistent adherence to the highest standard of integrity, dedication, innovation and leadership in the professional coffee service industry.
Honored as NAMA Industry Person of the Year is J.E. (Eddie) Hicks, Prestige Services (Clifton Park, NY). The award pays tribute to an operator who has maintained an unbroken record of excellence, leadership and inspiration in the vending, coffee service and foodservice industry. Hicks has long been involved in industry affairs, and currently serves as president of the New York State Automatic Vending Association.
Receiving the 2001 OCS Allied Member of the Year Award is Butch Winkler, Holiday House Distributing (Land O Lakes, FL). The accolade is given to a coffee service industry supplier or manufacturer for dedicated customer service, recognized leadership and longstanding service to the coffee service industry and the national association.
Carrying off the palm as Vending Allied Member of the Year is Chuck Sicking, regional sales manager for MEI in Lexington, KY. The award is granted to a vending manufacturer or supplier who excels in all areas of business, freely contributes his time and problem-solving expertise toward industry progress, and is a leader in the community.