Adapting To The Environment

Posted On: 2/2/2018

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Welcome to our first publication of 2018. This issue is themed to the consumerization of the workplace and what this means for our industry. What are the needs and requirements of today's locations and how can we meet contemporary consumer expectations? Where and how do we eat, work and play? Which locations are most profitable, and how do we seek out new business opportunities while we take care of our current accounts?

On that note, I'd like to introduce our newest contributing editor, Paul Schlossberg. Paul is a veteran of the foodservice industry, and has an extensive background in sales and marketing management, new business development, mergers and acquisitions, channel development and strategic planning. He has worked with a number of well-known companies including Frito-Lay and General Foods, and will be discussing how we can compete in this changing environment; or, as Paul likes to ask: "How do we sell more stuff?"

This issue also includes coverage of a seminar on "pantry service," which is finding widespread acceptance in today's evolving market. In these pages, you'll also find an inspiring story about a 10-year-old entrepreneur who started and now runs his own vending route. It demonstrates the ease of entry into vending, and how a person with the right drive, commitment and personality can be very successful.

Speaking of success stories, Michele Sparks of Prime Vending (Martinsburg, VA) is back in VENDING TIMES. Sparks, an operator whose accomplishments were detailed in the cover story of our August 2016 issue, "How To Turn Biz Op Lemons Into Lemonade," has teamed up with former Jofemar pro Teddy Sanchez to establish Optimal Vending Systems. The duo have set their sights on a "one-stop-shop" service for retailers seeking customized vending machines to engage today's consumers in novel ways (see page 14). For example, at the recent World Vapor Expo in Miami, Sparks and Sanchez demonstrated a Jofemar machine customized for Vapor X Lounge – a cannabis product distributor – that controls patron and service personnel access through use of RFID cards and fobs. This clearly is not your daddy's vending industry!

But that doesn't imply that we have a generation gap. Paramount Refreshment Solutions (Pompano Beach, FL) recently named Maria Miniaci President of the company, succeeding her father and company co-founder, Albert Miniaci, who will remain as chairman and chief executive officer. Maria represents the third generation to oversee Paramount companies. Kudos to you Maria; this is indeed the year of the woman!

Here's a brief timeline of this progressive company:

In 1931 Paramount Automated Industries Inc. was established by Alfred Miniaci in New York City. It became the largest independent cigarette and jukebox operator in the country.

Frank Miniaci joined the company with his brother in the late 1930s. They sold the business to ARA Services (now Aramark) in 1969.

In 1974, Al worked with his son Albert to found  Paramount Vending Inc. as a jukebox, cigarette, and coin-op amusement operation.

In 1982, Paramount Automated Food Industries was established as a full-line vending operating company.

There's more to this story – including payphones, ATMs, office refreshments and micromarkets, as you'll see when read the article. You can't make this stuff up!

I'm always telling readers (and anyone who will listen) that the vending "street" business grew out of jukeboxes and cigarette machines. If you want proof, you should chat with Albert and Maria Miniaci if you encounter them at the upcoming Amusement Expo and NAMA shows, because they'll be checking out the latest products and services at both events to learn what's new in all aspects of this ever­evolving business. Will you?

The more things change, the more they stay the same. Here at Vending Times, our long-standing "all one industry" viewpoint is illustrated in many of our articles. Each segment's priorities and concerns will vary with geography and over time, but many of the same people are active in more than one of them. Entry (and exit) is easy for knowledgeable local route delivery companies with trucks and skilled personnel on the street.

This always has been, and remains, largely an entrepreneurial business, created and led by people who follow the needs of their local markets very closely, and act imaginatively to meet them. As Michele Sparks notes in this issue, what sets her company apart is its focus on customizing, consulting and customer service. That concept certainly has not changed since the dawn of self-service retailing a century ago. The sky is the limit for operators seeking new ways in which to apply automatic retailing.