— How much more can A&A Global Industries grow? The firm, which currently has a very healthy share of the bulk vending market in capsuled products, flat vendibles and equipment, also boasts a manufacturing division that includes plastic injection molding, powder coating and tool and die facilities. And then there is the company’s Koko’s Confectionery and Novelty, which makes retail and private-label candy.
What else is there? The firm that changed its name to include the word “Global” a few years ago is now living up to its ambitious moniker. Over the past year, A&A has launched an aggressive overseas initiative aimed at the growing bulk vending market in Europe. The company, which is determined to create a worldwide presence for itself, has secured licenses, products and established a distribution network that covers virtually the entire European continent. The effort, which is being headed by director of international sales Ken Barnum, is first of its kind in both size and commitment by an American company. Since assuming his post last January, Barnum has set up representation in the United Kingdom, Ireland, France, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Greece, Germany, Belgium, Luxembourg, The Netherlands, Holland and Switzerland.
“Since I have already done this before, I had the opportunity to streamline our efforts,” explained Barnum. “From the moment I started wsith A&A, I hit the ground running and have secured licenses, products and a distribution network that covers the entire continent.”
However, the international effort, said A&A officials, has not been entirely smooth. The company has learned that setting up a vending business overseas is, in fact, extremely difficult. Among the many obstacles the firm has faced are countries with differing cultures, trends, laws and regulations, all of which has made the process both time consuming and costly.
“We’ve focused a huge amount of resources into our international initiative and believe the payoff will be global,” explained A&A vice-president, Philip Brilliant. “As a company, we are committed to promoting the vending business around the world, and [we] know that will help everyone in the industry – regardless of the country in which they operate.”
At present time, the company reports that the first shipment of products is currently on its way to Europe and its distribution network. “Their enthusiasm is overwhelming since they have been able to pre-sell most of the products,” said Gerry Clothier, vice-president of sales. “We’ve implemented a very aggressive sales program that is sure to put the European vending industry on notice that we plan to increase their choices in suppliers and variety of merchandise, provide new equipment and develop the marketplace for further expansion.”
Although A&A’s gamble on the future of European bulk vending is anything but a sure bet, the aggressive move is not without its proponents both inside and outside the industry. While American products, particularly those based on popular culture icons and themes, have been popular in Europe for decades, American teens are currently developing a taste for what marketers call the “international youth culture.” Because the marketplace is now broader, A&A feels that product development between the two continents can be synergized to the benefit of all geographic regions. “We plan to bring a little of America to Europe and a little Europe into America, and it’s all going to happen inside a capsule!” said A&A’s executive vice-president, Brian Kovens.