NASHVILLE, TN -- The fast-changing workplace refreshments market was the focus for the National Automatic Merchandising Association's 2016 Coffee, Tea and Water (CTW) conference, held at the Gaylord Opryland hotel here. This year's event was NAMA's ninth annual educational conference devoted to the office refreshments segment, which is continuing to evolve into a versatile total refreshment service.
Participation grew to 936 registrants, a 22% increase over last year's attendance. The trade show occupied 10% more space than it had in 2015, attracting 115 exhibitors -- of whom 31 were making their first appearance. Again this year, the CTW exhibit was co-located with the International Bottled Water Association's annual trade show.
"CTW 2016 bested past performance metrics by delivering elevated education, a jam-packed show floor and most important, 936 industry professionals ready to get business done," said NAMA president and chief executive Carla Balakgie.
At the opening session, Balakgie welcomed conference-goers to the event and thanked the program's sponsors and the NAMA Coffee Service Committee for its effective planning. The committee is chaired by Karen Webster, chief financial officer of Newco Enterprises; Stu Case of Avanti Markets serves as vice-chairman. NAMA communication and information service vice-president Chip Potter is committee secretary.
Hall Of Fame
The NAMA president also inaugurated the association's new Coffee Services Hall of Fame, which recognizes the industry pioneers who were honored by the National Coffee Service Association, with its annual awards, and the National Beverage & Products Association, through its Hall of Fame. NAMA's own Coffee Legend winners also are enrolled.
FAME: The first cohort of inductees into the new NAMA Coffee Service Hall of Fame gather during the opening session of this year's CTW. They encompass the recipients of the National Coffee Service Association's annual awards for excellence (including the NCSA Silver Service and Java awards) and members of the National Beverage & Products Association's Hall of Fame. NCSA merged into NAMA in 1999.
The latest of these is Dean Gilland, who received the 2016 Coffee Legend accolade from Balakgie and Webster. Gilland, who served as NAMA's vice-president of sales and service prior to his recent retirement, played a central role in the development of the Coffee, Tea and Water program.
Celebrating the 2016 CTW and the Coffee Service Hall of Fame inauguration was country and western artist Lionel Cartwright, who performed his new song "Let Me Fill Your Cup," commissioned for the occasion by Newco Enterprises. The song celebrates the morale-boosting conviviality fostered by office refreshment breaks. Cartwright has been producing hits for more than a quarter of a century, and has released three studio albums on MCA Records.
LEGEND: NAMA president Carla Balakgie (l.) and Coffee Service Committee chair Karen Webster present 2016 Coffee Legend award to Dean Gilland, former NAMA sales vice-president who was instrumental in organizing the Coffee, Tea and Water event prior to his recent retirement.
Keynoting the session was workforce strategist Seth Mattison, Future Sight Labs (W. Hollywood, CA), who described himself as "a fourth-generation farmer" -- an upbringing that he has found helpful in keeping change in perspective. "It's important to hold onto values," he said, "but not so tightly that you miss what's coming next."
LET ME FILL YOUR CUP: Country music artist Lionel Cartwright performs his new song "Let Me Fill Your Cup" at CTW in Nashville. The song, commissioned by Newco Enterprise, celebrates the morale-boosting conviviality fostered by office refreshment breaks.
And what's coming is dramatic, he predicted -- perhaps even overwhelming. "And when we're overwhelmed, we resist change; and the cost of missing it never has been higher."
This is not a challenge only to the workplace refreshments industry. There is an accelerating trend toward consolidation and "commodification," and simply focusing on new equipment and products is not an adequate response. "More and more of what we do is being 'commodified,' so we find it harder and harder to differentiate ourselves from our competition, and we wind up competing on price."
The key to overcoming this is "elevated perspective," Mattison advised. "Talk to your clients, not about how your business is changing, but about how theirs is."
Specifically, he said, focus on the breakroom. "Talk about what coffee, tea and water mean to their businesses," he urged. "And you need to have this conversation about the 'workplace cafe' not with the office manager, but with the owners."
The client and the operator alike confront a world that is transforming itself in new ways. Mattison suggested that what's being discussed as "the war at work" is in fact a struggle between an entrenched system of organization and an emerging rival. The dominant model has been the hierarchy; the new contender is the network.
Need To Know
In a hierarchy, knowledge is power and the upper echelons dole it out sparingly to those beneath them. When the means of communication are slow and awkward, an insistence on "going through channels" when communicating upward makes sense. Those constraints gave rise to informal rules for succeeding in a hierarchical organization: "when starting at the bottom, keep your head down, work hard, learn and you'll move up." Moving up in the hierarchy gave one access to more information, which provided additional security.
In a network, by contrast, information is easy to package, send and receive, so it is shared. "The World Wide Web is a network of networks," the speaker pointed out. "The rising generation grew up in that environment, with unprecedented access to information and, essentially, no more secrets." There is an increasing expectation of transparency and openness. "In the hierarchical world, the lower echelons believe that no news is good news," he said. "Today, 90% of employees would rather hear bad news than receive no news at all."
All of this presents a real challenge to organizations seeking to recruit and retain talented younger workers, Mattison observed. It also challenges companies that provide workplace services to those organizations. "How can you explain the role of the workplace cafe in building openness and transparency? And can you do that without also building that environment in your world?"
There are good reasons for accommodating this change, the speaker explained. First, the speed and volume with which information is disseminated offers "exponential reach" to people with ideas. This is what underlay the "Arab Spring" in 2011; the people at the bottom of their hierarchies used this new power to influence those at the top.
Second is what Mattison called "the 'youthification' of influence." A survey of the covers of Time magazine from its first publication in 1923 will find that those who are pictured there tend to be "old white dudes." While these still appear with some frequency, more and more of the cover stories are about kids. Look at the success stories: 17-year-olds making a million dollars from YouTube. Under the 'old way,' children were to be seen and not heard. This is not inherently a bad concept," he quipped. "But you need the best ideas you can get, no matter who thinks of them and whether the thinkers have 'paid their dues' or not."
Finding The Balance
The conflict between hierarchic and network thinking need not be total war, the speaker continued. Similarly, there is no reason for "work" and "life" to be different; they are actually all one thing. There is a common belief that "work" should not be enjoyable: "Why not?" he asked.
"You can maintain a hierarchy without inhibiting the transfer of information," Mattison said. "The key is mindset. Businesses stop growing when their leaders stop growing. How do you know if you -- not your business, but you -- are growing? Ask yourself: 'Do I feel uncomfortable?' If you do, you're growing. Don't stop changing because it's uncomfortable.
"Courage is a muscle," the speaker added. "It grows with use. You can't stay the same; the alternative to growth is deterioration. The antidote to the fear of failure is action.
"The crux is to base your mindset on the present; only in the present moment does opportunity present itself," he observed. "Be here now. Love people, serve people, add value and have fun."
CTW's first business session offered an update to the ongoing cooperation between coffee brewing equipment manufacturers and the Environmental Protection Agency's Energy Star program, which is designed to develop and publish standards for the energy efficiency of a wide range of electrical appliances. Energy Star certification is voluntary for coffee equipment; it is required for icemakers and vending machines. The session was an update to the overview, stakeholder meeting and progress report held at 2015's CTW (see VT, December 2015).
NAMA senior vice-president of government affairs Eric Dell introduced Adam Spitz, technical specialist for ICF International (Sacramento, CA), to describe the program and its progress to date. ICF International works under contract with EPA to develop third-party testing methods to certify products that conform to those efficiency standards.
Spitz led off by explaining that a realistic energy-efficiency rating makes it easier for end-users to choose equipment that offers lower cost of operation, thus saving money for operators and their accounts. It also contributes to reducing the nation's overall energy consumption and emission of carbon dioxide.
Spitz reported that commercial coffee brewers are classified as "commercial foodservice equipment," the category that also includes appliance types like refrigerators, freezers and holding cabinets. This category includes three types of brewer. Of those, Type II is of especial interest to operators. Last year's CTW seminar provided a progress report on putting the initial draft standard into final form. This has been done, and Final Version 1.0 was published on July 8 of this year.
Type II equipment consists of batch brewers defined in three volume classifications and evaluated by ASTM's F2990-12 standard test method. "Small" brewers deliver between 24 fl.oz. and 128 fl.oz. (1 gal.) of coffee; "medium" models produce between 1 and 2 gal.; and "large" ones handle between 2 and 3 gals. Higher-capacity equipment (urns and satellite brewers) producing more than 384 fl.oz., identified as "Type III," are outside the scope of current testing methods. So are "Type I" single-cup brewers, bean-to-cup brewers, espresso machines and liquid- and soluble-coffee dispensers.
For Type II brewers, the standard calls for normalized power consumption of 65W. per gallon when "idle" (ready to brew), and 280 W./gal. under heavy-use brewing.
Single-cup equipment, classified as "Type I," have not yet undergone technical evaluation, partly because of limited participation by the companies that manufacture them.
Spitz outlined the testing method developed for Type II brewers, which is designed to produce an "energy profile" for each brewer under test. This is a graph of tank temperature and power consumption over time; it allows the machine to be plotted in a coordinate system whose horizontal axis is the "idle rate" in watts per gallon, while the vertical axis represents the "brew energy rate" in watt-hours per gallon.
The next step, Spitz continued, is to develop specifications for "Type 1" single-cup machines. This category includes bean-to-cup brewers, espresso machines and liquid- and soluble-coffee dispensers as well as the popular brew-by-pack type.
Also in prospect is the development of standards for Type III large-capacity batch brewers, Spitz added. Again, participation by manufacturers of such equipment and other stakeholders is being sought.
The effort will begin by developing the necessary testing methods, a task that is being undertaken by ASTM (West Conshohocken, PA), an international standards organizations founded in 1898 as the American Section of the International Association for Testing Materials.
Spitz explained that, once standards are published for a category, certification that a product is compliant is done by third-party laboratories. The manufacturer submits the machine to a laboratory that tests it under supervision, and the test results in turn are forwarded to the certification body. Once approved, the machine is listed in the Energy Star database.
Value To Operators
This certification is worth having, Spitz emphasized. It helps show that the operator is environmentally responsible and concerned to keep client costs as low as possible. "And utilities seek to align their rebate programs with Energy Star specifications," he added.
Energy Star offers a variety of informative online tools and resources, he concluded. These include a rebate finder, a product finder, specification test tools and an online savings calculator.
Questions about the Energy Star program for commercial coffee equipment may be requested from Energy Star commercial foodservice product manager Kirsten Hesla at firstname.lastname@example.org; Adam Spitz at email@example.com; or ICF energy efficiency consultant Carly Burke at firstname.lastname@example.org.
WHAT'S NEXT: Winston Fong (l.), chief strategy officer for Castles Technology (Atlanta), discusses trends in unattended payments with Warren Philips of Validata at NAMA's CTW show in Nashville. Philips launched Validata in 1978, and has chalked up an impressive number of firsts in vending and OCS management technology since then. Castles, founded in 1993, has grown into a global leader in cashless systems.