LAS VEGAS -- The National Bulk Vendors Association has chalked up another successful convention and trade show. Some 270 vendors and suppliers registered for event, similar to the year before.
The 2012 NBVA trade show was collocated with Amusement Expo at the Las Vegas Convention Center from March 14 to 16. Amusement Expo is jointly sponsored by the Amusement and Music Operators Association and the American Amusement Machine Association, which have consolidated their separate trade shows.
The NBVA, which traditionally has held its annual trade show in the spring, collocated that show with Amusement Expo for the first time in 2011. Both collocations won widespread approval from the bulk vending association's members. It plans to host exhibits inside Amusement Expo for a third time in 2013.
The 62nd NBVA show had 23 exhibiting companies, compared with 21 in 2011, displaying products and equipment in 49 booths, compared with 39 last year.
For a trade association that has struggled through a difficult economy and managed a major reorganization over the past three or four years, a strong convention and trade show turnout signals better times ahead. Separately, NBVA said its membership ranks have increased 10% in the past year, including new and former members.
"I think the show went extremely well," said NBVA administrator Amy Contre. "It was well attended. The number of exhibitors was up and so were overall sales. We had a lot repeat [registrants] and a good portion of new people."
Bulk Vending Banquet And Awards
An additional sign that the bulk vending industry is taking a turn for the better was an unexpectedly large turnout at the annual NBVA banquet and awards ceremony, held on March 15. Dozens of last minute participants kept hotel staff scrambling to add tables to the banquet hall.
NBVA presented its Jane Mason/Rose Schiller Award to Bernie Schwarzli, Beaver Machine Corp., the association's outgoing president. Tom Theisen of Theisen Vending Co. (Golden Valley, MN) presented the NBVA's highest honor to Schwarzli, who served as president for three of some of the association's most difficult years, and is widely credited for its successful reorganization.
PHOTO | High Honors: Tom Theisen (right) presents NBVA's Jane Mason/Rose Schiller Award to Bernie Schwarzli, the association's outgoing president, during bulk vending banquet.
"I did not expect this," Schwarzli said. "I am humbled that Tom Theisen, such an icon of our industry, did the presentation. I'm very glad to accept it, but it was really the team around me that made it all happen -- I did not do this on my own."
The award is named for Jane Mason, the former national sales manager for Leaf Confections (prior to the company's name change to Oak Leaf Confections). The first female president of NBVA, Mason is credited with launching the careers of some of the industry's most successful bulk vending operators. Rose Schiller, whose name also appears on the award, began in the industry as Mason's assistant and later became sales manager of Concord Confections, the maker of Dubble Bubble bubblegum, now owned by Tootsie Roll Industries.
NBVA also recognized the best products of 2011, which were determined by member votes. The winners were:
» A&A Global Industries, Best 2" Capsuled Product, for NFL Table-top Footballs
» Brand Vending Products, Best 1" Capsuled Product, for Sqwishland
» Allstar Vending, Best Sticker, for Angry Birds
» Allstar Vending, Best Tattoo, for Angry Birds
» Oak Leaf Confections, Best Candy/Gum, for Gumballs made with Real Nerds
» Beaver Machine Corp., Best Machine, for the RB16
» A&A Global Industries, Best Crane Mix, for String Doll plush mix
The association also honored an outstanding bulk vending operator. Allan Pollock of Aftica Vend (Ridgeway, ON, Canada) is NBVA's Most Innovative Operator of 2011.
Additionally, NBVA reinstituted its scholarship program this year. The "blind" selection process, which produced seven winners announced at the association's general meeting on March 16, distributes about $7,000 to pursue studies in everything from medicine and engineering to environmental sciences. The recipients are Hanna Krikorian, Emily Brilliant, Lindsay Smith, Gerard Clothier, Thomas Morcate, Juliana Morcate and Emily Luepker. Eligible students must be the children or grandchildren of NBVA members or NBVA member employees.
The 2013 Amusement Expo will be held from March 20 to 22, Wednesday through Friday, again at the Las Vegas Convention Center.