LAS VEGAS -- The National Automatic Merchandising Association's fourth OneShow convention and exposition continued the steady expansion that the annual confab has enjoyed since its rescheduling as a spring event. The first NAMA conference and trade show was held in 1946, and this year's staging was the 66th in an unbroken series.
The association reported that the 2013 OneShow drew 250 exhibitors, of which 57 were showing for the first time; this is an increase of 24 over last year. Total attendance was 5,000, up 4.5% from 2012.
Two leadoff "super sessions" got the educational program off to a fast start on Wednesday, April 24. Dr. Michael Kasavana, NAMA Endowed Professor at Michigan State University (E. Lansing), explored recent technical developments and their likely impact on vending with a panel of experts. His panelists included Ron Spinella, Apriva; Lori Marshall, Byndl; Anant Agrawal, Cantaloupe Systems; Brendan Kehoe, Crane Merchandising Systems; Joanne Bethlahmy, Cisco Consulting Services; Rajnish Maini, Intel Corp.; Doug Haddon, MEI; and Mike Lawlor, USA Technologies.
At the same time, NAMA senior vice-president of government affairs Eric Dell led a workshop exploring the ongoing barrage of legislative and regulatory initiatives provoked by public concern over health and wellness. Joined by nutrition strategist Alma Kay Nocchi and James A. McGreevy, III, senior vice-president of government affairs for the American Beverage Association, Dell warned operators that that they are in the crosshairs, and urged everyone to remain vigilant, pitch in to form coalitions and retain expert advisors, and communicate the industry's story to the public and to elected officials.
Two more simultaneous "super sessions" followed on Wednesday morning. In one, vending market research pioneer Brad Bachtelle, Bachtelle & Associates (Tustin, CA), offered an overview of the swift growth in micromarket adoption based on an extensive study conducted by his organization, and Joanne Bethlahmy, Cisco Consulting Services, probed the opportunities that micromarkets may offer in broadening the unattended point-of-sale retail model into branded high-traffic destinations.
In the other, Mike Dabadie of Heart+Mind Strategies assessed the market strengths of office beverage service, and the opportunities presented by the development of new products and equipment to meet the wider range of tastes exhibited by today's consumers. He presented statistics to demonstrate the potential rewards for meeting workplace consumer desires that are not now being addressed adequately.
The super sessions were followed by seven "breakout" seminars. The first offered a closer look at the Heart+Mind analysis of workplace beverage service opportunities; it was led by Jeff Deitchler, PrairieFire Coffee Roasters (Wichita, KS), and Mike Dabadie. The second, titled "People Buy You," was presented by Jeb Blount of Sales Gravy, who detailed the value of relationship-based selling and outlined the steps needed to implement it.
The third breakout session, moderated by Eric Dell and featuring Michigan Distributors and Vendors Association president Polly Reber and Matthew Rodriguez of Dewey Square Group, offered a close look at the way government works and how citizens can organize and advocate effectively. The fourth, led by Smith Amundsen LLC partner Heather Bailey, Esq., offered pointers on determining the effects of the Affordable Healthcare Act on operators as the rules are implemented and developing a strategy for minimizing them.
The fifth breakout session turned the spotlight on NAMA's Fit Pick program and its value in positioning vending as the expert in tailoring machine menus to meet specific nutritional requirements across a wide spectrum of locations. It was led by Jackie Clark and Fritz Schneider of Clark Communications. The sixth, led by Jeff R. Parks of Southern Refreshment Services (Tucker, GA), presented strategies for improving profit through improved policies, pricing, productivity and benchmarks to measure their effectiveness. The seventh, moderated by Automatic Merchandiser editor Emily Refermat and featuring representatives of leading micromarket providers, offered participants the opportunity to ask questions about and share experiences with the fast-growing micromarket self-checkout retail concept.
The OneShow opening general session was held after the educational program. NAMA chairman Mark B. Dieffenbach, The Hershey Co., presided. He hailed the strides made by the industry in applying technology to improving convenience, selectivity and communication, but observed that old-fashioned emphasis on responsive service is as important as it ever has been. "No technology will compensate for a dissatisfied customer," he said.
photo | GOING FOR BAROQUE: Convention-goers (and mythical deities) pack retro-styled Venetian Theater at the Venetian-Sands convention complex (Las Vegas) for opening session of the National Automatic Merchandising Association's 2013 OneShow. Here, NAMA president and chief executive Carla Balakgie (at right, on stage) reports on progress of the association's industry education and advocacy programs, and the Positioning for Growth capital campaign, over the past year. OneShow 2013 was NAMA's 66th annual convention and trade show.
NAMA president and chief executive Carla Balakgie brought convention-goers up to date on the association's "Positioning for Growth" capital campaign and its government relations and consumer information programs. "We can uphold consumer choice," she said, "but we can't do it alone." She urged everyone in the industry to become involved.
Keynoting the opening session was basketball legend Earvin (Magic) Johnson, Jr., whose illustrious career with the Los Angeles Lakers brought him three MVP awards, and he remains the NBA's all-time leader in average assists per game (11.2). After retiring from the sport, he became a successful entrepreneur with ventures ranging from Magic Johnson Theaters and a chain of Starbucks coffee shops in urban areas to a contract foodservice venture with Sodexo called Sodexo Magic. Thorough preparation, self-discipline, leadership by example and "over-delivery" are crucial to success in business and athletics alike, he told the audience.
The exhibit formally opened after the opening session, and the annual Chairman's Reception was held immediately after the show closed for the day. Outgoing chairman Dieffenbach awarded plaques to directors whose terms on the board expire this year, honoring their service to the association and the industry. Recipients were Mary Rampe of MEI, Thomas Barlow of Coca-Cola Refreshment and Pat Hagerty of Vistar Corp. NAMA chairman-elect Peter A. Tullio, Gourmet Coffee Service and World Wide Vending (Van Nuys, CA) presented a trophy to Dieffenbach in recognition of his chairmanship.
The association's annual membership meeting was held during the general session on the morning of Thursday, April 25. Dieffenbach presided, calling the meeting to order and reading the slate of new directors proposed by the Nominating Committee. These include incumbents Todd Elliott, Tomdra (Tucson, AZ); Steve Hyde, Brew-Tek; Rod Nester, Smith Vending (Clarinda, IA); Tom Reynolds, PepsiCo Food Service; and Greg Sidwell, G&J Marketing (Palm Harbor, FL). Joining the board are Dan Hart, Southern Refreshment Services (Tucker, GA); Randy Smith, LightSpeed Automation; and Jeff Whitacre, Food Express and Atlanta Vending (Greensboro, NC).
Dieffenbach introduced past-chairman James H. Terry, Coca-Cola Co., who has led the Positioning for Growth campaign to secure almost $5 million in pledges. Terry hailed co-chairmen Marcus Whitener, Refreshment Solutions (Norco, LA) and Howard Chapman, Royal Cup (Birmingham, AL) for their successful effort.
A highlight of the annual meeting was the awards ceremony honoring consistent exemplary service to the industry, the association and the community. Award-winners were Mark Kelley, General Mills, chosen as Vending Supplier of the Year, and Jeff Rawlins of Vend Catering Supply, named Coffee Service Allied Member of the Year. On the operating side, Todd Elliott, Tomdra (Tucson, AZ), was selected as Vending Operator of the Year, and Jeff Deitchler, PrairieFire Coffee Roasters (Wichita, KS), won kudos as Coffee Service Operator of the Year. Lauded as Industry Person of the Year is Peter A. Tullio, Gourmet Coffee Service/World Wide Vending (Van Nuys, CA).
Keynoting the general session was Newt Gingrich, architect of the "Contract with America" that led the Republican Party to victory in 1994 when he served as Speaker of the House of Representatives. Gingrich called for a return to "market-centric" governance, in which the citizens make the important decisions, and for "frugality" as a truly workable alternative to "austerity." He concluded by warning that "If entrepreneurs don't provide civic leadership, we have no hope of anyone's doing it."
Next year's OneShow will be held April 9-11 at Chicago's McCormick Place, Lakeside Center.