HAYWARD HILLS, CA -- When Andrew Lieberman introduced the AcuCount coin counter several years ago, he was following a family tradition. The Lieberman name is familiar to bulk vending veterans because Andrew's father founded U-Seal-It Vending half a century ago. That iconic Philadelphia-based company manufactured and operated a pioneering line of flat merchandise machines and became a fixture in some of the nation's largest retailers for decades.
"My father was working for Auto-Photo, the photobooth company, in the early 1960s," said Lieberman. "He went into a drugstore and saw a line of people. And when he asked the clerk what they were waiting for, the clerk said they were waiting to laminate their drivers licenses and ID cards." That was back in the day when most wallet documents, including drivers' licenses, were uncoated paper, Lieberman recalled, and normal "wallet wear" was a constant problem.
"My dad came up with the idea of a vending machine that dispenses two pieces of adhesive plastic in a cardboard folder," said Lieberman. "He contracted to have the machine built, and he put it into a couple of stores. He later added a cutter on the top. The cutter was like a pizza cutter wheel on a rail." The machine was easy to assemble and repair, he said; the entire unit was held together by wingnuts accessible from the interior.
The company expanded and the machines were ubiquitous fixtures in some of the nation's largest chains, such as the venerable F.W. Woolworth Co.
Additional products for the vender followed, such as monogram initials and other flat vendibles. "We invented a baseball card machine when collectible baseball cards were really big," said Lieberman. "We also came up with one of the first sticker machines. Laminating was dying; eventually the routes were sold off in the 1990s," he added. "Today, only a modest U-Seal-It photocard business still exists."
Following Bulk Tradition
However, Lieberman has remained in the bulk vending industry. His company, AcuCount, currently markets the popular AC603 coin counter. Said to be one of the most accurate and operator-friendly counters in the business, it uses a digital scale to weigh batches of coins of the same denomination. The AC603 is designed specifically for operators and route personnel.
"At one point, we had three different models," said Lieberman. "The small one could handle $200 in quarters; the next machine did $500, and a huge one could count $1,000 in quarters.
"This new machine does it all by counting up to $1,000 in quarters, but is the size of our older model that only counted $200. We were able to get the best of both worlds; large capacity and small size in one unit."
Lieberman observed that, in the real world, a typical bulk vending operator may never need to count 50 lbs. of quarters -- at 5.67 grams per quarter, that's 4,000 coins worth $1,000 -- in the field. However, AC603's maximum load capacity, which is 55 lbs., does validate the machine's durability.
Weighing in at just under 7 lbs. inside its carrying-case, the 10.5" x 8.5" x 2.75" unit can weigh both coins and paper currency in under two seconds. "I used to run routes, so I tried to envision a product I'd want if I was running a route," said Lieberman. "We put a coin tray on it. It's powered by either six AA batteries or plug-in adapter. And we put a shoulder strap on the carrying case. I'm just trying to make my machine the best one available."
The unit's propriety software is also designed for reliable operation and easy customization in the field, he added.
For Lieberman, counting the cashbox onsite is a no-brainer. Counting in front of store management not only provides locations with an added measure of confidence, but onsite accountability also offers a safeguard against loss at the route personnel level. And, if the storeowner wants proof of an accurate count, the route driver can easily demonstrate that. Taking a quarter off the top of the pile and the LCD display will instantly display the change in dollar value.
"Say a driver makes 20 stops in a day. Maybe 18 will never look at the count. But one day, a district manager will say, 'I want to check this guy,'" explained Lieberman. "The moms and pops will almost always check. When you count in front of them, there's no chance of ripping them off."
But perhaps the greatest benefit of the AC603 is that it saves time, Lieberman emphasized. "Anything you can do to speed up service time is a good thing," he said. "Because time's the most valuable thing an operator has to count."
For additional information, contact the company at (800) 518-8395 or visit the AcuCount website at acucount.com.
COUNT ON IT:Andrew Lieberman and his AC603 coin counter. The portable instrument, which displays the weight of a batch of coins as an equivalent dollar volume, was designed for bulk route operations by the second-generation industry veteran.