Ron Kerley, Canteen Vending Services (Greenville, SC), wins prestigious Barbara Short Lifetime Achievement Award
MYRTLE BEACH, SC -- A busy show floor, sold-out exhibit space and packed educational sessions marked a successful Atlantic Coast Exposition. The 57th annual vending, office coffee service and foodservice confab took place here at the Embassy Suites at Kingston Plantation from Oct. 20 to 22.
Attendance climbed 15% over last year's registration numbers, according to TayCar Inc. (Cary, NC), which has not yet released a final tally. Nearly 150 manufacturers and broker representatives showcased the latest equipment, products and services in vending and office coffee service.
"All indications show that the operators and exhibitors were extremely pleased with the attendance, education, events and the overall show energy," reported TayCar owner Beth Bowen. ACE is sponsored by the North Carolina Vending Association, South Carolina Vending Association and the Virginia Automatic Merchandising Association. TayCar assumed management of the event this year from longtime ACE manager IMI Association Executives (Morrisville, NC).
A well-rounded series of educational workshops brought showgoers up to speed on the industry's latest technologies and trends. A daylong maintenance training school was held on Thursday, prior to the official start of the show. Moderated by Lance Roper of Canteen Vending (Columbia, SC), the workshop offered in-depth instruction in troubleshooting and service for all major brands of vending equipment and payment systems. Mike Frye of Southeastern Vending Services set the stage for the proceedings and provided a summation at the end.
Drawing a full house on Friday was a panel session on "micro market" self-service stores gaining traction as a versatile complement to vending, moderated by ACE convention chairman Scott Halloran, Halloran's Refreshment Services (Richmond, VA). Detailing the benefits and trends of the self-checkout concept and fielding questions from operators were four industry executives from leading suppliers of the technology: Joseph Hessling, chief executive of 365 Retail Markets; Jim Brinton, chief executive of Avanti Markets; Kevin Bailey, vice-president of Breakroom Provision Co.; and Terri Bryant, president of Microtronic Market.
Other sessions included an OCS seminar led by Jason College, Pat McGuire and David Lee of Newco Enterprises that explored the potential for operators in today's pod brewing equipment and new liquid coffee dispensing systems.
Crane Streamware's Silpa Pande led a conference for current users of the company's VendMax and DeliveryMax software suites.
Validata's Jan Dzuirlik hosted a session for present customers on route optimization, prekitting and making the transition to the company's Routesail Millennia suite. In a separate session, Dzuirlik reviewed new and recently added features, functions and compatible technologies, including interfaces for Cantaloupe's Seed remote machine monitoring system, LightSpeed Automation's "pick-to-light" route order fulfillment architecture and the latest in Validata's long series of moneyroom interfaces.
Mike Lawlor of USA Technologies presented the latest information about the effect of adopting cashless vending on operating company results. The USAT vice-president also announced that, following negotiations with Visa, the company can assure its customers that it will continue to process Visa debit cards with no rate increase for the next year. The news follows industrywide concern over plans by Visa and Mastercard to raise debit card swipe fees charged for small-ticket purchases to 21¢, the full amount allowed under new Durbin Amendment rules. Lawlor pointed out that Visa debit cards account for 80% of all debit transactions. He said USAT had not yet reached an agreement with MasterCard.
CompuVend's Mark Kronenberg conducted an introduction to the company's software for route, warehouse, commissary and moneyroom control and demonstrated the systems in action.
Chuck Reed of MEI described the benefits of implementing cash recycling -- which enables patrons to use higher-denomination bills by paying back lower denominations in change, and thus boosts sales and profits.
Rounding out the business education was a presentation by Molly Hegeman of Capital Associated Industries, a Raleigh, NC-based employer's association and human resources consultancy, on the top 10 human resources issues confronting operators today, from regulatory compliance to motivating employees.
Operators thronged the show floor following the morning educational sessions. After touring the exhibits, showgoers mixed and mingled during a festive welcoming event in the exhibit area.
ACE's annual industry awards breakfast led Saturday's events. The prestigious Barbara W. Short Lifetime Achievement Award, sponsored by the ACE producers, went to Ron Kerley, who retired from Canteen Vending Services (Greenville, SC) after decades of service to the industry. The North Carolina Vending Association recognized Canteen's Scott Denhard as Vendor of the Year and honored Doug Darby of Vendors Supply as Supplier of the Year. Carl Moser of Cardinal Industries took top honors as the Virginia Automatic Merchandising Association's Vendor of the Year. Chairman-elect Wayne Seagraves of Canteen Food & Vending thanked 2011 ACE convention chairman Scott Halloran for his year of service by presenting him with the association's Chairman's Award.
Keynoting the breakfast was motivational speaker Denise Ryan, whose energetic presentation inspired operators to take six steps to keep themselves and their teams motivated.
The show floor reopened following the breakfast. The exposition concluded with the Super Sample Aisle Sweep contest. Two lucky raffle winner -- Dennis Jessup of Greensboro Vending (Greensboro, NC) and Michael Calkins of Trolley House Coffee (Richmond, VA) -- drove a grocery cart throughout the floor for three minutes, grabbing every sample in sight.
Shifting gears from business to pleasure, conference-goers congregated for an afternoon beachfront volleyball tournament. A dinner banquet featuring live entertainment from the Catalinas, a local beach band, culminated the event.
PHOTO: ACE convention chairman Scott Halloran (l.), Halloran's Refreshment Services (Richmond, VA), presents Barbara W. Short Lifetime Achievement Award to Ron Kerley, who retired from Canteen Vending Services (Greenville, SC) after decades of service to the industry. The award recognizes outstanding achievement in the vending industry during a lifetime of service. Barbara Short was convention director of the Carolinas-Virginia Vending Convention and Exhibit and the Atlantic Coast Exposition for 25 years before her retirement in 1996. She is credited with building a single-state meeting into the regional ACE vending trade show. Short was also the first recipient of the eponymous award in 1999. It subsequently has been bestowed on Donald Ray Head (2000, posthumously), Ben Ginsberg (2001), J. Shields Harvey (2004), Jon P. Brady (2005), Ralph H. Kiser (2006), A. Eugene Rountree (2008), James Sikes (2009) and C.T. Cromer (2010).