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Issue Date: Vol. 51, No. 1, January 2011, Posted On: 1/14/2011


Birmingham Vending Acquires Franco Novelty


Marcus Webb
Franco Novelty, Franco Distributing Co., Birmingham Vending, Steve Toranto, Al Toranto, Greater Southern Distributing Co., Rubin Franco, Morris Piha, Rubin Piha, David Capilouto, vending, vending machine distributor, vending machine business, jukebox operator, pinball machine, coin-op machines, arcade game

BIRMINGHAM, AL -- Birmingham Vending Co., the 80-year-old distribution and operating company based here, said it has acquired most assets of Franco Novelty (Montgomery), an operating company founded three years earlier than Birmingham Vending.

Franco Novelty is the music and amusement equipment operation once associated with Franco Distributing Co., which closed its doors in 2009. The acquisition is the latest wave in a long series of consolidations for the industry, particularly among distribution branches in the South.

Franco Novelty was founded by David R. Franco in 1928. Franco Distributing was launched in 1935 or 1939 (according to various stories in Billboard), handling music, games and vending machine sales and service for Alabama and northwest Florida.

In 1947, the founder's son, Rubin Franco (now retired at age 81), purchased a majority interest in Franco Novelty, along with his partners Morris Piha and Joe Capilouto (both of whom were sons-in-law of David Franco).

The founder remained president and owner of Franco Distributing for at least another decade while his son Rubin and sons-in-law Morris and Joe ran daily route operations. David Franco died in 1977.

Franco Distributing funded the 1964 launch of Greater Southern Distributing Co. in Atlanta, run by third-generation industry members Rubin Piha and David Capilouto as co-presidents. GSD closed in 2009; Betson Enterprises opened a Georgia branch shortly thereafter. | SEE STORY

Birmingham Vending was founded in 1931 with a few 1¢ peanut bulk vending machines by brothers Max and Harry Hurvich. Colorfully known to the trade as the "Gold Dust Twins" (both for their reddish-gold hair and their collective "Midas touch"), the brothers operated out of their basement at first, with both their wives helping full time.

During the next four decades, the Hurviches expanded into music and games, added distribution, and continually grew the company to serve customers across Alabama, as well as in parts of Florida, Georgia, Mississippi and Tennessee.

The brothers ran BVC for at least 35 years. In the mid-1960s, Max's son-in-law Albert Toranto became BVC sales manager. The company opened a branch in Orlando, FL, in 1984, and closed it in 2009, divesting its vending distribution business at the same time. | SEE STORY

Today, Birmingham is headed by third-generation industry member Steve Toranto. BVC continues to distribute and operate music and amusements for Alabama, Florida and Tennessee from its 25,000-sq.ft. facility in its home city.


Topic: Music and Games Features

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