LAS VEGAS — An impressive range of new products and equipment was complemented by strong attendance and exhibitor sales at this year’s National Bulk Vending Association convention. The 56th annual meet, held at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas last month, attracted some 617 attendees. Although the show failed to set a record, it did surpass the attendance of last year’s Jacksonville, FL-based event by nearly 16 percent. However, with sold out blocks of hotel rooms and a convention floor jammed with booths, show organizers, operators and exhibitors were in general agreement that the event was a categorical success.
As expected, the show drew heavily from the West Coast, though East Coast and Midwestern operators were equally in attendance. There was also a strong international presence of operators and distributors, including those from Europe and South America.
“Attendees at this year’s show expressed high levels of interest in the 50¢ and 75¢ vend items that were available throughout our supplier exhibitions,” said Daniel L. Case, NBVA president, and president of Tejas Distributors (Round Rock, TX). “The move to higher-priced vend items is one of the most solid indicators that from a consumer-spending standpoint, our industry is moving in the right direction to provide the kind of products and services that will capture key repeat business. It will help our industry continue to accelerate profitably in the next several years.”
According to exhibitors, operators were aggressively purchasing in all major product categories. This robust buying, according to several attendees, was rooted in the introduction of a near-record number of new products, including capsuled merchandise, gum, candy and flat-vending products. “There was more new product and equipment innovations than I recall seeing in recent years,” noted NBVA convention chairman Jim Hinton of Oak Manufacturing.
New machine offerings as well as prototypes made strong showings during the Las Vegas confab, with virtually every major manufacturer either displaying new equipment or equipment concepts. However, several items did stand out for operators surveyed, particularly those firms who used the NBVA event to launch product. These included Sherwood Brands’ new Zypperz capsuled lollipop, and Sweet Maple, a Canadian candy manufacturer, which gave many operators their first look and taste of the Bubble Max-brand ball gum line. Attendees also pointed to the numerous show discounts being offered. Most notable was Concord Confections, which offered generous show discounts on its ball gum selection.
“I think the show was very well received and we had some good things as far as technology was concerned, such as coin meters on machines and using PalmPilot technology,” said Case. “As we move ahead, these metered systems and other technologies are going to be a valuable part of our business.”
During association’s executive meetings held concurrently with the trade show, all 2005-2006 incumbent officers were reelected to serve second-year terms. Officers remaining in their posts include NBVA president Daniel L. Case, Tejas Distributors (Round Rock, TX); vice-president Peter Becker of What’s Up, LLC (Appleton, WI); NBVA secretary Randy Chilton of Sugarloaf-Folz Vending (Louisville, CO); and treasurer Steve Siegel of Great American Vending Machine Co. (Hauppauge, NY).
Seminars again proved to be a highlight, particularly the “world premiere” of a new film about bulk vending. Created by seminar chairman Steve Siegel, the third annual film presentation on suppliers and operators included documentary profiles of Texas-based Tejas Distributors and New York’s Sugar Daddies Vending, Caconi Candy & Gum in Georgia, The Northwestern Corporation in Illinois and Great American Vending in Long Island.
The annual association banquet capped the event and was held after the closing of the exhibit floor on Saturday. Once again, the famed “NBVA Night Rockers,” a band comprised of NBVA members, supplied entertainment. The talented group included emcee and crooner Jim Hinton from Oak Manufacturing; Adam Ippolito of New York Sticker Exchange on keyboards; lead guitar and singer Steven Schechner, Capital Vending (Florence, AL); bass guitar by Peter Becker from What’s Up, LLC; on conga drum was Richard Bolen of Northwestern Corp.; and Brandon Smith (son of Pam Smith with Amusement Factory); on keyboards. Leon White, the only non-NBVA band member, was on the drums.
“We had better attendance than we had in Jacksonville and we’re looking for even better attendance next year,” said Hinton.
The NBVA annual convention for 2007 returns to Caesars Palace Hotel in Las Vegas from April 19 to 21.