LAS VEGAS - Participants in the 2001 National Automatic Merchandising Association Spring Expo will have more educational options than ever before, said NAMA president and chief executive officer Richard M. Geerdes. The show, formerly called the Western Expo, is being held from March 29 through 31 at the Las Vegas Convention Center here.
Among new educational programs is one styled along the lines of the popular quiz show, "Who Wants to be a Millionaire?" It's titled "Who Wants to Grow Their Business?" and will be emceed by host Steve Ross, Bertsch Vending (Warsaw, IN). Audience members will be chosen as "contestants," and will compete for prizes including the new "golden dollar" coin.
NAMA education director Mary Krukoff reports that this highly interactive session has been designed to help members share important information necessary to compete and thrive in the competitive vending world.
Also new this year, Krukoff said, is a Small Business Issues Forum. It also will be extremely interactive, and will be led by NAMA Knowledge Source Expert Daniel D. Elash of Guarriello, Elash & Kelston, Inc. The session will provide an opportunity for NAMA members to share their experiences and insights with others confronting the same situations.
"Members can discuss what works, and what doesn't, with others who understand , all too well , the trials and tribulations of running a successful business in today's competitive marketplace," Krukoff explained.
NAMA chairman Dan Sofie, B&P Vending (Bellingham, WA) will greet convention-goers at 8:00 AM on Thursday, March 29, and will review highlights of 2000 and 2001. The formal business program kicks off with three concurrent sessions from 8:30 to 9:30 AM.
Dr. Michael Kasavana, NAMA Endowed Professor at Michigan State University's School of Hospitality Business, will moderate a panel session on Comparative Analysis of Vending Operations, emphasizing the use of current information technology to evaluate company performance, identify strengths and weaknesses, and tighten control.
At the same time, Brian Gueniot of The Standard Cos., Inc. (New Orleans, LA) will discuss Human Resources: Recruitment and Retention. Also, NAMA director of government affairs and counsel Brian Allen will moderate a panel discussion on Vending Machine Theft: Protect Yourself, a review of good internal and external security practices for vending operators.
From 9:00 to 11:00 AM, Steve Hyde, Newco Enterprises (St. Charles, MO) will moderate an OCS Open Forum, at which leading coffee service experts will take part in a free-form discussion of issues, opportunities and challenges in today's office refreshment market.
Another threesome of concurrent sessions will conclude Thursday's business program. The first is the interactive quiz game, emceed by Steve Ross of Bertsch Vending Co. (Warsaw, IN). Contestants chosen from the audience will have the opportunity to answer questions based on real-world scenarios that confront vending businesses during their growth cycle, all related to the general question, "Who Wants to Grow Their Business?" While cash prizes will be nominal (though attractive), the long-term payoff can be immense.
At the same time, Barry J. Lyerly, The Lyerly Seminars, will review Effective Communication practices, which involve disciplined and attentive listening in addition to clear and well-organized exposition. And NAMA senior director of technical services Larry M. Eils will moderate a panel discussion of the Route Driver Certification Program and other in-house training programs available from the association.
Two concurrent sessions are slated from 9:15 to 10:15 AM. Bertsch Vending's Steve Ross and NAMA public relations director Jackie Clark will team up for a presentation on "Image and Ethics," offering a course of action any operator can follow to enhance the image of the vending industry.
Also, Jim Nelson of Everpure will lead a workshop on water treatment titled "Improve Your Water Quality, Improve Your Bottom Line." It will emphasize the importance of pure water to the preparation of high-quality coffee in office brewers and in vending machines.
Two seminars are slated for 9:30 AM and end at 11:00 AM. Jim Proebstle of Prodyne, Inc. will lead a seminar titled "Sales 101," a primer and refresher on the basics of selling.
At the same time, Tom Costello, director of the Hospitality Management Program, University of San Francisco, will deliver the 2001 edition of his popular program, "Customers Do Not Live by Food Alone," a wakeup call for managers to play a central role in orienting everyone in the organization in the direction of responsive customer service.
On Friday, Spring Expo participants can support The NAMA Foundation by attending a benefit breakfast. A "mystery speaker" will provide a humorous introduction to "The Art of Selling and How to Accept Rejection." The event is set for 8:15 to 9:00 AM; suggested minimum contribution is $35 per person.
From 10:00 to 11:00 AM, coffee industry legend Martin Diedrich, founder of Diedrich Coffee Houses and its chief coffee officer, will describe "A Passion for High Quality Coffee." He will provide an expert analysis of coffee trends and the cycles that govern consumption, and the ongoing role of quality in driving sales and profits.
On Saturday, two forums will round out the educational agenda. From 8:30 to 10:00 AM, Dan Elash of Guariello, Elash & Kelston will facilitate the "Small Business Issues Forum," at which participants will be invited to propose topics for informed discussion, and to explore the changing world in which entrepreneurial companies must function today and tomorrow.
At the same time, Fred Miller of Security Resources Group will facilitate a moderated roundtable discussion, "Solving Common Problems," to consider security challenges facing vending operators and methods of meeting those challenges.
Augmenting the NAMA Spring Expo curriculum will be a series of "Hot Topic" sessions, conducted at the NAMA booth in the exhibit area and led by association staff members and the association's "Knowledge Source" experts. Thursday's sessions will include "Handling Perishable Foods" and an overview of NAMA's new "Affinity Program," bringing new benefits to members.
Friday's sessions will include "Behind the Glass," a behind-the-scenes look at the vending and coffee service industry, and "Sales and Marketing." On Saturday, the "Hot Topic" will be workers' compensation, and ways to cut premium costs by implementing an effective workplace safety program.
Also on tap are two diverting recreational programs for spouses attending the NAMA Spring Expo. On Friday, March 30, an excursion is planned to the Casino Legends Hall of Fame, which is housed in the Tropicana Hotel. It displays thousands of historic items pertaining to the gaming industry, from casino chips and costumes to "Bugsy" Siegel's death certificate. The tour departs the Las Vegas Hilton, the Spring Expo headquarters hotel, at 10:00 AM, and includes lunch and the opportunity to try one's own luck at the casino. Participants return at 2:30 PM.
On Saturday, March 31, a tour of the "Elvis-A-Rama" museum is scheduled. The institution is described as the largest private collection of Elvis material (a claim that seems difficult to challenge); its exhibits include posters, record jackets, clothing and handwritten lyrics. The tour will wrap up with lunch and the opportunity to shop at the Aladdin Resort & Casino, returning to the headquarters hotel at 2:30 PM.
A Spouse Hospitality Center also will be available on all three days of the show.
Operators interested in building coffee service sales by improving their product knowledge and marketing high-quality coffee, NAMA will host the second of its Quality Coffee Certification courses on Wednesday, March 28, from 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM. This program, launched by the National Coffee Service Association just before its merger into NAMA, provides a thorough grounding in the factors affecting the characteristics of brewed coffee. A separate registration fee of $199 for NAMA members and $299 for nonmembers will apply. Participants will receive extensive course materials as well as a conductivity (Total Dissolved Solids) meter, used to determine the bulk density of brewed coffee, and a precision thermometer, used to adjust coffee brewing equipment so water will contact the coffee grounds bed at a temperature insuring optimum flavor extraction. These items have a total value of over $100, and the registration fee includes lunch.
The instructor is Mike Tompkins, who manages Newco Enterprises' "Cafe 98" line. Tompkins is a former teacher who has assisted the Specialty Coffee Association of America in conducting courses on coffee brewing and brewing equipment.