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UPFRONT: Soundly Run Companies That Remain Confident And Invest In The Future Will Survive, And Will Have A Competitive Edge When The Sky Clears
Issue: Vol. 48, No. 4, April 2008
What is happening in the vending and amusement market? How can I strengthen my position in the industry? What is my strategic plan for next year? These are just a few of the questions I’ve heard asked by manufacturers, suppliers and operators alike, and it’s not surprising. The alarming economic environment magnifies the risks associated with running a business – even if there is considerable disagreement on whether the economy actually is slumping – and finding the right answers is a survival skill...by ALICIA LAVAY-KERTES
Author: Alicia Lavay

Up Front: We All Need To Make Ourselves Available To Newcomers And Encourage Their Participation
Issue: Vol. 48, No.3, March 2008
By the time you read this column, many of you will be on your way to the National Automatic Merchandising Association Spring Expo or the Amusement Showcase International; both are being held concurrently in Las Vegas at the end of March.  If you’ve never been to either of these events, now’s your chance to check out both shows for the price of one plane ticket...By Alicia Lavay-Kertes
Author: Alicia Lavay

UPFRONT: VT is Investing in the Future, and I Hope Everyone Reading this is Resolved to do the Same.
Issue: Vol. 48, No.2, February 2008
There has been a pervasive lack of confidence in the economy, even before the current recession talk began. However good business may have been, employers have put off rebuilding their staffs to pre-2001 levels. Our industry has not been immune from the effects...By ALICIA LAVAY-KERTES
Author: Alicia Lavay

UPFRONT: The Energy And Imagination That Characterize People Like Roger Folz Are Rare And Valuable Qualities
Issue: Vol. 48, No.1, January 2008
When I left for Christmas vacation in late December, our executive editor reminded me that I had forgotten to submit my Upfront column for the issue you are now reading. “Go away and relax,” he said. “Maybe you’ll be inspired to write something while you’re gone.”...By ALICIA LAVAY-KERTES
Author: Alicia Lavay

UPFRONT: We All Make Mistakes...But It’s What We Do To Recover That Matters
Issue: Vol. 47, No.12, December 2007

We all make mistakes. It is what we do to recover from those mistakes that leaves a lasting imprint in our customer’s minds ...By ALICIA LAVAY-KERTES

Author: Alicia Lavay

UPFRONT: A Diverse Workforce Reflects A Changing World And Marketplace
Issue: Vol. 47, No.11, November 2007
When the National Automatic Merchandising Association asked me to serve on its newly formed Diversity Awareness Committee, I wasn’t sure what this group hoped to accomplish, or what I could do to help. And, when I told the VT staff about the invitation, they insisted adamantly that the vending, coffee service and music and amusement industries have been ahead of the curve when it comes to inclusion. I was also asked what, exactly, is meant by “diversity?” …By ALICIA LAVAY-KERTES
Author: Alicia Lavay

UPFRONT: The Value Of Trade Publications And Associations, And Their Role In Maintaining The Industry Dialogue, Needs To Be Understood
Issue: Vol. 47, No.10, October 2007
Last month, I was invited to be a guest speaker in Dr. Kasavana’s highly successful V-Commerce course at The School of Hospitality Business at the Eli Broad College of Business, Michigan State University (Lansing). As most of you know, this program was underwritten by the The Foundation of the National Automatic Merchandising Association as part of a long-range plan to foster closer relations between the industry and the academy, to the benefit of both..By ALICIA LAVAY-KERTES
Author: Alicia Lavay

UPFRONT: Family-owned businesses confront tough new challenges adapting to our changing vending industry.
Issue: Vol. 47, No. 9, September 2007
Those of you who read my column regularly may have noticed that I often make mention of my father, the late Victor Lavay. My dad was one of our founding partners, and that makes me the “second generation.” Talking about my father in my column is my way of keeping his memory alive and honoring VT’s modest beginnings. I am fortunate to have this forum as a creative outlet...By ALICIA LAVAY-KERTES
Author: Alicia Lavay

UPFRONT: There is no reason why we can’t keep the NBPA family together
Issue: Vol. 47, No. 8, August 2007
I was sad to learn that the National Beverage and Products Association has decided not to continue holding its annual trade show. I started attending that event as a full-time VT employee in 1989. It had become an annual road trip for me, my mother and my father – our former publisher, the late Victor Lavay. It was a chance for us to spend quality drive-time together and talk about the industry in my own private tutoring session (while listening to Frank Sinatra)...By ALICIA LAVAY-KERTES
Author: Alicia Lavay

UPFRONT: “We have to sell what consumers want to buy. The consumer is king.” –James Terry
Issue: Vol. 47, No. 6, June 2007
Looking back at the recent National Automatic Merchandising Association (NAMA) Spring Expo in Las Vegas and the Atlantic Coast Exhibition (ACE) in Myrtle Beach, SC, I’m encouraged by the number of new exhibitors and the surge of positive energy I felt at both trade shows. I hope the energy is contagious, and will adjust the attitudes of the prophets of doom who always pipe up during periods of rapid change...By ALICIA LAVAY-KERTES
Author: Alicia Lavay

UPFRONT: The most fitting memorial we can establish to people like Bill Cravens is a commitment to following their example.
Issue: Vol. 47, No. 5, May 2007
In last month’s column I spoke about the importance of mentors, not realizing I would soon lose one of my nearest and dearest. At this year’s Amusement Showcase International in late March, the industry was stunned and saddened by the sudden loss of a charismatic leader, Bill Cravens. Bill was one of my first mentors in the amusement industry, and a very special friend...By ALICIA LAVAY-KERTES
Author: Alicia Lavay

UPFRONT: Everyone – Young And Old – Can Benefit From Mentors.
Issue: Vol. 47, No. 4, April 2007
It finally dawned on me… I can’t do everything myself. Oh, the pressures we put on ourselves when running a business in our quest for perfection...By ALICIA LAVAY-KERTES
Author: Alicia Lavay

UPFRONT: When You’re Through Changing, You’re Through!
Issue: Vol. 47, No. 3, March 2007
If you’ve been reading my columns for the past year, you have probably noticed that I often comment on the changes taking place in the world, and attempt to understand how these relate to the transformations we see happening in our industry...By ALICIA LAVAY-KERTES
Author: Alicia Lavay

UPFRONT: An Industry And World Undergoing Transformation
Issue: Vol. 47, No. 2, February 2007
I had the pleasure of attending the Amusement Trades Exhibition International in London, England at the end of January. Although I’d been able visit this show for 16 consecutive years, the distractions of business ownership forced me to skip the past two. Yes, I too am guilty of getting bogged down by the daily grind, and need to be reminded of why I am in business in the first place. The ATEI show was an excellent reminder …by Alicia Lavay-Kertes
Author: Alicia Lavay

UPFRONT: It Makes A Difference To Be Regarded As A Good Supplier
Issue: Vol. 47, No. 1, January 2007
By the time you read this column, I hope that you will have recovered from your food hangovers and other consequences of seasonal indulgences. I am writing this in the aftermath of our own Vending Times holiday party, so those consequences are in the forefront of my mind...by Alicia Lavay-Kertes
Author: Alicia Lavay

UPFRONT: We Must Learn From The Past And Embrace New Opportunities In The New Year Ahead
Issue: Vol. 46, No. 12, December 2006
As 2006 comes to a close, it’s natural to reflect on the past 12 months and ponder the new year ahead. What have we accomplished? What might we do differently in the future? What untapped opportunities might we find as we go forward? What are our short-term and long-term goals? How will we get from here to there? by Alicia Lavay-Kertes
Author: Alicia Lavay

UPFRONT: An Industry In Decline, Or Untapped Opportunity?
Issue: Vol. 46, No. 11, November 2006
Like many of you, I’ve recently returned from the NAMA National Expo in Orlando. The how was informative and entertaining, and it’s always great to catch up with old friends and sample the new products at the exhibits. I thought about devoting this space to kudos to NAMA for a job well done, but I’d be remiss not to mention that the exhibit was smaller this year, and there were fewer machine manufacturers…by Alicia Lavay-Kertes
Author: Alicia Lavay

UPFRONT: Who Will Patronize Vending Machines In 5 Or 10 Years?
Issue: Vol. 46, No. 10, October 2006
I've just returned from East Lansing, MI, where VT’s editor-in-chief, Tim Sanford, Elliot Maras of Automatic Merchandiser and I had the pleasure of speaking to a group of students at Michigan State University on the historical and future perspectives of the vending industry...by Alicia Lavay-Kertes
Author: Alicia Lavay

UPFRONT: How Do Small Operators Survive…And Flourish?
Issue: Vol. 46, No. 9, September 2006

One of the pleasures of conducting our annual survey of operators for the VT Census of the Industry is the comments we receive from people responding to it. This year, one of them complained that the “little guy” too often is not recognized as playing an important role in the vending industry, or even as belonging to it ...by Alicia Lavay-Kertes

Author: Alicia Lavay

UPFRONT: Why Is It That With Today’s Modern Communications, We Know Less About Our Customers?
Issue: Vol. 46, No. 8, August 2006

While writing this column last month, I discovered that it was starting to turn into two columns, and I didn’t have room for both. So I wrote the second one too, because I think that the value of staying in close touch with customers is related to the wider subject of communications, and that’s a topic that needs close attention right now ...by Alicia Lavay-Kertes

Author: Alicia Lavay

UPFRONT: If We’re Not Out There Interacting With Our Customers And Calling On Our Prospects, Then How Can We Find Out What They Really Want?
Issue: Vol. 46, No. 7, July 2006

I’ve just returned from visiting several vending and amusement manufacturers and suppliers. It was a trip I had wanted to make for a while, but like most of us, work kept getting in the way! Afterward it occurred to me that I really should make time to visit my customers more often. There is so much we can learn from each other ...by Alicia Lavay-Kertes

Author: Alicia Lavay

UPFRONT: Food Vending: It’s All About Perception And Marketing.
Issue: Vol. 46, No. 6, June 2006

On a recent visit to the shopping outlets, my husband and I went looking for a place to have a quick lunch. There were a variety of food and drink options at this outdoor mall, but the lines in the food court were very long. After searching for a more convenient option, we ended up waiting 30 minutes to be seated at a local chain restaurant ...by Alicia Lavay-Kertes

Author: Alicia Lavay

UPFRONT: What Is It About A Vending Machine That Justifies Lower Prices?
Issue: Vol. 46, No. 5, May 2006

At the recent NAMA show, I had dinner with a manufacturer who expressed concern about the future of the vending industry. He explained that advances in technology made it necessary to charge more for his company’s equipment. “Operators need more sophisticated vending machines, but they’re not willing to pay more for it. What they really need to do is raise their prices. Vending operators and the way they merchandise  have not kept pace with modern technology.” ...by Alicia Lavay-Kertes

Author: Alicia Lavay

UPFRONT: In A Fiercely Competitive Environment, How Do We Gain Market Share While Retaining Our Integrity?
Issue: Vol. 46, No. 4, April 2006

Whether you are an operator, a manufacturer, distributor, supplier – or publisher, as the industry continues to consolidate it has become more difficult to secure existing accounts and generate new sources of revenue. In a fiercely competitive environment, how do we gain market share and keep our companies healthy while retaining our integrity, not burning our bridges behind us, and preserving a business environment in which we all can thrive? ...by Alicia Lavay-Kertes

Author: Alicia Lavay

UPFRONT: Succession Planning And Exit Strategies
Issue: Vol. 46, No. 3, March 2006
Succession planning always has been an important topic in entrepreneurial industries. Whether or not the founder has children, or whether or not more or fewer family members want to purchase the founder/owner’s interest in the business, the various “exit strategies” are long-time topics of operator conversation...by Alicia Lavay-Kertes
Author: Alicia Lavay

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