CHICAGO -- The National Automatic Merchandising Association is celebrating imaginative contributions toward industry progress with its first-ever Innovation Awards. They'll be presented at the upcoming OneShow here, and all exhibitors who entered the competition will receive iSpot medallions to display at their booths.
Awards were bestowed in six categories. Honored for product innovation is Inko's White Tea (Englewood, NJ), which produces ready-to-drink white tea beverages in nine flavors and an energy formulation. Carrying off the palm for creativity in energy efficiency and sustainability is Elstat Americas (Marietta, GA), which produces "intelligent thermostats" to maximize efficient use of power in a wide variety of refrigerated equipment, including vending machines.And MB Media Brokers (Phoenix, AZ) is recognized for its novel LED-matrix electronic sign, which is sized to fit across the base of a glassfront machine’s display front for high visibility.
Sharing the honors for advancing the state of the art in technology-related equipment are Cantaloupe Systems (San Francisco), developer of the popular Seed telemetry system for vending equipment; LightSpeed Automation (Alpharetta, GA), which manufactures a computer-controlled light-guided product picking application for warehouses; cashless micropayment pioneer USA Technologies (Malvern, PA) for its low-cost, turnkey Edge vending payment solution; full-line vending machine manufacturer U-Select-It (Des Moines, IA) for an Advanced Ergonomics breakthrough; and Vendors Exchange International (Cleveland) for its Mind retrofittable touchscreen nutrition-information display.
Taking the top spot among coffee and water equipment manufacturers is de Jong Duke, which has offices in Taylor, MI, and Sliedrecht, Netherlands, for the new Virtu system that will be unveiled at OneShow. And finishing first for vending machine innovation is VENDture (Temecula, CA), recognized for its development and introduction of the Vend it Hot hold/heat/serve vender.
Criteria for judging entries were defined by NAMA's Innovation Council, made up of operators and associate members and chaired by Dr. Michael Kasavana of Michigan State University (E. Lansing). Judging the entries was a panel of recognized experts including Dr. Lisa Gundry, director of DePaul University's Center for Creativity and Innovation (Chicago), Bennett Brenton, chief innovation officer and vice-president of innovation at Snap-on Inc. (Kenosha, WI) and NAMA knowledge source James Proebstle, president of ProDyne Inc. (Deer Park, IL).
The Innovation Award winners will be recognized at a brief celebration set for 8:30 a.m. on Friday, April 30, keynoted by NFL Hall of Famer Terry Bradshaw.