BRUSSELS, Belgium -- The European Vending Association held its annual general meeting earlier this month here. The event, accompanied by roundtable idea exchanges, attracted diverse attendance by executives of leading operating and manufacturing companies as well as officials of EVA's constituent national trade associations.
The event opened on Dec. 3 with the annual general assembly, at which Arnaud van Amerongen of Aequator AG (Arbon, Switzerland) was reelected president. Some changes also were made to membership in the association's executive committee. Augusto Garulli, Necta Vending Solutions SpA, was succeeded by Luca Adriani of Fas SpA as the representative of Italy's national vending association, known as Confida, on the committee. Paul Theobald succeeded Jeff Alsop as representative for payment systems; both serve with MEI.
Other members of the executive committee include, in the operating segment, Michael Maurer, Automaten Service Maurer GmbH (Germany); Fioravante Allegrino, Sogeda srl (Italy); Michal Piotrowiak, Master Cup (Poland); Jan Marck Vrijlandt, Selecta (Switzerland) and Brian Tustain, Associated Vending Services (UK). Among industry supplier representatives are Nestlé's Hugh Hose and Huhtamaki's Ute Bremm; and Hubert Boyer, NAVSA (France) serves with the French national trade association.
The association celebrated its 15th year with a festive dinner at the impressive Château de la Hulpe, at which awards were presented to founding member companies and individuals who played pivotal roles in the establishment of the multinational trade group.
The second day of the general meeting was devoted to a wide-ranging discussion of the vending industry's image. The roundtable workshop was opened by van Amerongen and themed by Richard M. Geerdes, the National Automatic Merchandising Association's president and chief executive officer, who described NAMA's image campaign.
The daylong idea exchange was conducted at eight tables, each dealing with a specific topic, and participants had the opportunity of joining any three. EVA director general Catherine Piana facilitated a discussion of "the lack of academic training," and Selecta's Vrijland moderated a conversation on "tailoring the offer." MEI's Allsop led an exploration of "knowledge management" and Huhtamaki's Ute Bremm lent her expertise to the discussion of environmental issues.
Van Amerongen facilitated an inquiry into "change management," while Piotrowiak moderated a conversation about "positioning vending." Associated Vending Services' Tustain assisted in addressing the need for "selling vending," and Gillian White of 24Vend Ltd. (Basingstoke, England) chaired the session on "the vending experience."
EVA reports that the discussions, in which professionals from Brazil and the United States took part with their European colleagues, were lively and conducive to the elaboration of best practices. Much thought was given to the need to emulate other retailers in striving to offer the patron an experience (a "story"), and the means to do this must be sought through a cooperative effort among manufacturers, suppliers and operators. Lacking this sort of context, EVA suggested, patrons find it too easy to undervalue the quality of vended products.