CHICAGO -- Members of the National Automatic Merchandising Association's newly formed Emerging Leaders Network have schmoozing and education on tap for their second meeting, which will be held at the upcoming Coffee Tea & Water show in Nashville, TN.
Led by chair Paul Tullio of California's Gourmet Coffee Service, ELN's aim is to provide the next generation of vending and refreshment services leaders the opportunity to network and learn from one another as well as from veteran NAMA members.
The group of young vending and OCS professionals began with 25 members when it held its inaugural meeting at NAMA's OneShow in Las Vegas last spring. It has doubled its membership in recent months to more than 50.
Set for Tuesday, Nov. 12, the next ELN meeting will be an interactive roundtable discussion on "Brand-Building and Marketing to Millennials." Emerging leaders will share real-life marketing case studies as well as their views on marketing to their demographic. Led by vending veteran Craig Hesch of A.H. Management Group (Rolling Meadows, IL) and NAMA vice-president of marketing and communications Roni Moore, the session will conclude with a review of overall marketing trends impacting the industry in 2014 and beyond.
ELN members are also invited to participate in an evening networking event on Wednesday, Nov. 13, from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. The event, sponsored by Gourmet Coffee Service, Royal Cup and Aramark, will encourage discussion involving professional growth and development.
Tullio said the group's CT&W gathering will build upon its high-energy Las Vegas meeting. "There was a sense of excitement and real energy in the room, which was filled with those eager to make networking connections with peers facing the same challenges," Tullio said. He added that NAMA board members joined ELN members after their inaugural meeting, offering their expertise and extending an open invitation to contact them at any time to discuss industry issues.
"With the next generation of consumers coming into the marketplace, we are all focusing on ways to shed the old stereotypes of vending and OCS -- junk food, broken or jammed machines and 'vending coffee,'" Tullio added. "We shared the idea that we needed to continue to highlight the positive aspects of the vending and OCS industry -- choice, healthy options and quality of products and equipment."
Through marketing and social media, many ELN member companies are educating consumers on the technological advancements in OCS and vending that are providing a more user-friendly experience while delivering a higher-quality product, Tullio said.
All CTW registrants are invited to attend ELN's roundtable discussion; the networking event is limited to ELN members. NAMA members interested in joining the ELN can contact Roni Moore at firstname.lastname@example.org.