ROCHESTER, NY -- Thomas A. Nesser, the founder of Sirness Services here, died on Feb. 26. He was 80.
Nesser began his involvement with the workplace services industry in western New York in the early 1950s, working for Kwik Kafe of Rochester. Kwik Kafe offered franchises to operate the brand-new coffee vending machines invented by Cyrus Melikian and Lloyd Rudd, who later established Rudd-Melikian. The Rochester franchise was one of the first.
The operation was one of four charter members of Automatic Retailers of America (now Aramark) in 1959. Nesser remained with the fast-growing organization, assuming responsibilities for account sales and retention. ARA became the dominant provider of vending and foodservice management services in its market area.
In 1977, Nesser recognized the potential of office coffee service, then a new, fast-growing industry. He and his son, Thomas Jr., established Sirness Services, ably assisted by their local coffee roaster friends Sid and Bob Maves.
The new company began selling Maves/La Touraine coffee to business and industry clients, and soon grew out of the founders' basement. Within six years, Sirness Services employed more than 20 people and was selling a wide variety of local and national brands. It since has grown into a diversified workplace services operation offering not only office refreshment services but also full-line vending. The company today has a staff of 40 and annual revenues of $7 million.
A strong believer in quality coffee and customer service, Nesser watched the growth of the specialty coffee industry with great satisfaction. Sirness Services was the first to offer the Keurig coffee system in the Rochester area.
Sirness Services will continue Tom Nesser's legacy under the direction of his nephew Mark Wahl, a 16-year veteran of the business, and Tom Nesser Jr., who has been involved from the beginning.