MYRTLE BEACH, SC — The Myrtle Beach Convention Center once again was the site for the annual Atlantic Coast Exposition. Sunny skies greeted the 53rd presentation of the tri-state show, creating ideal conditions for vending and OCS professionals to enjoy the camaraderie of a variety of organized outdoor recreational activities.
Sponsored by the North Carolina Vending Association, South Carolina Automatic Merchandising Association and Virginia Automatic Merchandising Association, in affiliation with the Georgia Automatic Merchandising Council, the event offered operators a comprehensive update on the latest products, services, equipment and technology in the vending, office coffee service and foodservice industries.
Generating excitement and boosting floor traffic at this year’s show was ACE’s first-ever Grand Prize Car Giveaway. Lucky winner Eugene Ellixson, vice-president of support services for Durham Coca-Cola Bottling Co. and Classic Food Services (Durham, NC), and his wife, Pat, drove home in a brand-new 2007 Toyota Corolla.
DRIVE IT OFF THE LOT: The ACE show climaxed with Eugene Ellixson, vice-president of support services for Durham Coca-Cola Bottling Co. and Classic Food Services (Durham, NC), and his wife, Pat, winning a 2007 Toyota Corolla in the Grand Prize Car Giveaway. Pat said she had made a wish earlier in the day that her husband would win, and considers the gift especially meaningful following her receipt of a kidney transplant a year ago.
Each eligible showgoer received one chance at winning the grand prize by registering for the convention, and then earned additional chances by visiting the exhibits each day, participating in the educational sessions and attending the social events.
The drawing took place during the final 30 minutes of the trade show on Friday. A total of 10 operators, whose tickets were drawn at random, were invited to each select a key, only one of which would open the car door.
Ellixson was the final contestant to be selected and the last to choose a key. He was, however, the first to try his luck at opening the car door – and, as luck would have it, the last.
The Grand Prize Car Giveaway was sponsored by ACE, with contributions from Vendors Supply Inc., Greater Southern Distributing and Burdette Beckmann.
“This was one of the most exciting incentives ACE has offered in recent years, and it certainly did keep operators on the exhibit floor through the final hour of the show,” said ACE chairman Chet Cromer, Cromer Food Service (Anderson, SC). All 10 operators whose tickets were drawn from the tumbler were present on the show floor, a prerequisite for eligibility.
The ACE confab got underway on Thursday morning with a Biz Bits educational session entitled “How to Market Your Business,” during which a panel of operators shared their tips on keeping a vending or OCS business positioned for success on a small marketing budget.
ACE’s annual awards luncheon followed, at which NCVA and VAMA honored outstanding achievements in the prior year. Recognized as 2006 North Carolina Vending Association Vendor of the Year was Wayne Seagraves, Canteen Vending Services (Ridgeway, VA); awarded NCVA Supplier of the Year honors was Brad Tomlinson, Coca-Cola Bottling Consolidated (Charlotte, NC). The Virginia Automatic Merchandising Association chose Carl Moser, Hampton Roads Vending and Foodservice (Hampton, VA), as its Vendor of the Year.
Cromer also announced that SCAMA has awarded scholarships of $750 to Christina Marie Cothran, a sophomore at Erskine College (Due West, SC) whose mother is employed by Canteen in Greenville, SC, and McIntyre (Mac) Kennedy Sanders, a freshman at Clemson University (Clemson, SC) whose parents own Ice Machine International.
The exhibits opened for the remainder of the afternoon, culminating in a networking opportunity for operators and suppliers to mix and mingle at a cocktail reception in the exhibit area. The festivities continued with ACE’s popular Welcome Event, featuring a lavish buffet and live entertainment in the convention center ballroom.
Operators and their families enjoyed some friendly competition at Friday morning’s beachfront Fun Run at The Breakers Resort, as well as racing and a miniature golf tournament at Nascar SpeedPark.
The education program got underway on Friday with a late-morning Biz Bits session on “Improving Profitability for Greater ROI,” presented by Josh Patrick, a financial planner and former operator. He described small measures operators can take that can translate to big returns on their financial statements and increase the value of their businesses when they’re ready to sell.
A concurrent session, “Vending Boot Camp – Operations and Equipment,” brought together those new to the vending industry and their more-experienced colleagues in an interactive roundtable idea exchange that addressed day-to-day operations, optimizing equipment usage and troubleshooting.
The exhibits were open in the afternoon, encouraging operators to check out new products – and to gather in suspense during the final moments in hopes of winning the Grand Prize Car Giveaway.
Next year’s Atlantic Coast Exposition is scheduled for May 1-3, 2008, again at the Myrtle Beach Convention Center. Information will be posted online at the ACE website, atlanticcoastexpo.com.