MURCIA, Spain -- The past four decades have witnessed Spain's emergence as a leader in vending machine design and production, and the spirit of innovation that underlies this development extends to bulk equipment and merchandise. Ancieto Alcaraz-García, founder and principal of Control Vending here, exemplifies the global character of today's bulk industry.
PHOTO: Ancieto Alcaraz García of Control Vending (Murcia, Spain), pictured at right visiting the National Bulk Vendors Association's 2011 show in Las Vegas, is looking for North American manufacturers, distributors and operators for his line of interactive bulk venders, Magic Twister and Magicpinball. Both present a small footprint and feature bright colors,
battery-powered lighting effects and added-value gameplay.
Alcaraz has been studying the North American market, and sees real similarities between the situation confronting bulk operators on both sides of the Atlantic.
"I am very interested in knowing how the U.S. and Canadian markets work," he said. "And there are also some ideas that I'd like to share with Canadian and U.S. operators, such as the way we do business in Europe."
As Alcaraz explained it, bulk vending, which is known as "mini vending" in Spain, is suffering from the same socioeconomic woes currently plaguing American operators. "Internationally speaking, there is a need for everyone in this business to experiment," he said. "The industry is struggling, and what is needed is for people to get excited about new products and new machines that actually give the operator, and everyone else in bulk vending, good revenues. We need to share ideas internationally."
As a knowledgeable operator and manufacturer, Alcaraz has taken a new approach to the business. Rather than selling machines outright, he essentially leases them to operators. How well that strategy will work in the Western Hemisphere remains to be seen, however. Alcaraz plans to find out by offering two new interactive bulk venders in North America.
Magic Twister is a vertical-format piece fitted with a steering wheel that the patron turns to control a large horizontally-pivoted disk. A ball drops into the flange surrounding this disk; the customer uses the wheel to snag the ball with a radial finger, carry it to the top of the flange where it drops into a pachinko-like maze, and then guide it through this obstacle course.
Magicpinball, as the name suggests, is a pinball-themed machine with a horizontal playfield complete with side flippers. When a vend is initiated, a ball drops onto the upper end of the playfield and rolls down toward the patron, who can attempt to keep it in play with the flippers.
Both games feature an attractive array of battery-powered lights, small footprints, brightly colored cabinets and high-capacity live displays.
At present, García is seeking to bring his venders to the North American market. He is looking for both operators and distributors. He is also in the process of finding manufacturers to build the venders in North America.
"I'm looking forward to producing the machines here in the U.S. and Canada," he said. "These machines can be easily adapted for the market. We need to change the coin mechanisms and also the products, but the most important thing is the coin mechanism. So it has to be done with mechs that people are using here. The rest of the machine is very, very simple. The production could be done easily, and the maintenance and service is minimal."
Both games are described online at magicpinball.es (English and Spanish). The company also maintains a website at controlvending.com, in Spanish, which details its novel lighting system designed to spur impulse sales through mechanical venders and a smartphone-based management information system for bulk operations of all sizes.