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NAMA Aligns With St. Joseph's U. To Augment Educational Resources

Posted On: 1/16/2006

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PHILADELPHIA -- The National Automatic Merchandising Association has announced a partnership with St. Joseph's University here. This is the latest initiative in NAMA's long-term program for advancing the industry by establishing liaisons with highly respected institutions of higher learning.

"We are very pleased to announce this valuable educational alliance in the Northeast, which rounds us out geographically and through its offerings," said NAMA's Dan Mathews, senior vice-president and chief operating officer. "These university programs are important in building the image of the vending industry, and in introducing vending to young professionals about to embark on their careers."

Of equal value is the role of the industry-academic partnerships in familiarizing faculty and staff with the nuances of vending, Mathews added.

TEAMWORK: St. Joseph's University's Dr. John Lord (left) and Dave Gellman, Gellman Assoc., president of Pennsylvania Automatic Merchandising Council, are working hand in hand to ensure vending is well represented in the university's renowned food marketing curriculum and that students benefit from seasoned guest lecturers and hands-on vending industry experience.
St. Joseph
's, renowned for its Center for Food Marketing, is the first university with which NAMA has partnered in a food marketing curriculum that can benefit not only operators, but suppliers too --  brokers and distributors, machine manufacturers and food providers. The first four NAMA partner universities focus primarily on the hospitality industry.

St. Joseph's students who pursue the college's Bachelor of Science degree in Food Marketing prepare for diverse careers in the food industry, including managerial positions in food retailing, foodservice and sales, as well as advertising, marketing research and brand management.

NAMA's partnership with St. Joseph's University was formalized in December when NAMA president and chief executive officer Rich Geerdes, Mathews and Pennsylvania Automatic Merchandising Council president David Gellman, Gellman Associates (Norristown, PA) presented a $2,500 check to the university. The funds will be used to help develop a vending curriculum and to support faculty travel and research on behalf of the vending industry. Gellman is serving as NAMA's liaison with St. Joseph's.

"At St. Joseph's, we have been focused 180 degrees on the food industry," said Dr. John Lord, Ph.D. "With the addition of this partnership we can expand our coverage to 360 degrees as we include away-from-home eating, including the vending industry.

"Thanks to the partnership, we have access to expert resources and source material," Dr. Lord added. He is administering the program, and working with the university's Dr. Richard J. George, Ph.D., Christine A. Harmann and Dean Joseph A. DiAngelo, Ed.D. to add a fully accredited course on vending to the school's food marketing program in January 2007.

Also under development at St. Joseph's through the NAMA partnership is a two-day executive-level educational program designed for industry suppliers, including brokers, distributors and manufacturers, also scheduled for 2007.

Dr. Lord added that he intends to "sprinkle" vending throughout the university's curriculum, as has been done with foodservice, to reflect its vital role in the away-from-home market.

In the interim, Gellman is working closely with Dr. Lord to recruit vending veterans as guest speakers at the university, to explain the business in depth to students. "There are so many layers of the industry -- operators, manufacturers, brokers, distributors -- all of which provide opportunities for employment, whether with a manufacturer, broker or distributor or doing sales and marketing for a vending company," Gellman explained. "By bringing in representatives from different parts of the industry, students will have a great opportunity to explore its potential."


The university also will incorporate vending into its student internship and cooperative learning programs through which students will have the opportunity to explore the vending industry on a hands-on level while earning credits toward a degree. "Through this program, a St. Joseph's student may have the opportunity to help an operator develop a sales brochure or assist a manufacturer in administering a survey to vending operators," instanced Gellman.

Gellman's high regard for St. Joseph's University stems from his own experience as a student. When NAMA contacted him to request his assistance in selecting an educational institution with which to partner in the Northeast, he was certain St. Joseph's would be a perfect fit.

He made contact with the university, found a receptive partner, and was a key player in helping NAMA move the partnership forward and cement the deal.

NAMA formed its first university partnership in 2000 with Michigan State University (MSU).  That program was so successful that the 2003 NAMA Strategic Plan called for the association to create four  similar partnerships, and today, with the addition of its newest partner St. Josephs, the association can boast five university affiliations, with each school strategically placed across the country to serve the entire industry. 

NAMA's first four university alliances are with MSU (Lansing), Georgia State University (Atlanta), University of Nevada (Las Vegas) and Washington State University (Pullman)

According to NAMA, the programs have been invaluable in opening doors for faculty and students, and serving as an introduction to the industry. This enhanced familiarity, in turn, builds the image of vending. NAMA members also can take part in numerous educational opportunities through these universities.  

While NAMA staff members play an essential role in coordinating the partnerships, the programs' success depends on the work of NAMA State Council members who become senior industry contacts to help guide each one. Faculty members, in turn, routinely speak at State Council meetings and share their expertise at a variety of NAMA Expo education sessions.

Local industry liaisons also help NAMA maintain strong relationships by becoming guest lecturers in their own right, or recommending speakers to the university.

At Michigan State University, in addition to regular classroom work, the partnership includes the MSU Executive Development program offering an intensive advanced education program for senior leaders in the industry taught by NAMA Endowed Professor Michael Kasavana, Ph.D. and Ron Cichy, Ph.D., CHA, CHE

A highlight of NAMA's original partnership with MSU is HB 370: V-Commerce, taught by Dr. Kasavana. The course is a fast-paced undergraduate elective for students majoring in the School of Hospitality Business at Michigan State University, and focuses on two principal aspects of the industry: vending technology and product branding.

Session topics are varied and relevant to current issues, ranging from coin management and bill recycling through the DEX and MDB standards, cashless and contactless payment systems, guaranteed product delivery mechanisms, and remote machine monitoring to vending management software, planogramming and category management, and Web-hosted applications. In addition, non-traditional product vending, machine placement, competitive advantage, account negotiations, and techno-strategies are included in the curriculum.


Of special interest in the coursework is the evolving role of vending in a self-service economy, and its potential for innovative hospitality industry applications.

MSU is collaborating with NAMA on its new Supervisors Development Program, which will be offered for the first time at the Spring 2006 NAMA Expo in Las Vegas.  In addition, MSU assisted in designing the NAMA Certified Executive (NCE) program, and many faculty members helped write the NCE Study Guide.

 "The six-year partnership between the MSU School of Hospitality Business and the National Automatic Merchandising Association has been phenomenally successful," Dr. Kasavana reported. "It provides us the mechanism to develop and deliver the V-Commerce course, support industry research and publication efforts, enable joint executive education and certificate programs, maintain the VendTec expo model, populate the NAMA Vision website, and produce industry focused White Papers. If there has been a more synergistic integration of industry and academia, I am not aware of it."

The partnership at Georgia State University was formed just prior to the finalization of the St. Joseph's agreement; it's led locally by NAMA board chairman Jim Terry of Coca-Cola, who facilitated the interaction among the university, the Georgia Automatic Merchandising Council and NAMA leaders. Handling local liaison between the industry and the university are Alan Plaisted, Southern Refreshment Services (Tucker, GA), and Vic Pemberton, Pepi Food Services (Bainbridge, GA).  The program is administered at the university by Debra Cannon, Ph.D., CHE. In 2006, the school will include vending in a variety of course curricula.

At UNLV, NAMA's Dan Mathews and LyNae Schleyer handle direct liaison with key contacts at the university, including Stuart H. Mann, dean, Michael D. Rose distinguished chair, William F. Harrah College of Hotel Administration at UNLV and Audrey McCool, assistant dean for research. In the spring semester of 2005, the school added vending to its Managed Services course, and the university is working with NAMA to expand its vending initiatives. 

"The NAMA partnership enables our students to benefit from a segment of the hospitality industry that they may not otherwise recognize," said Mann. "With the Las Vegas scene overwhelmingly dominated by large casino resorts, a wide variety of opportunities for students often gets overlooked. This partnership helps to focus attention in the vast arena of professional opportunities."

At Washington State University, Dennis  Reynolds, Ph.D., and the university's dean, Terry Umbreit, Ph.D., added vending to their managed services course curriculum beginning in the fall of 2005. Jim Brinton of Evergreen Food Services (Seattle, WA) has been instrumental in handling liaison with the university, by building and maintaining strong relationships with university leaders, faculty and students.

NAMA's LyNae Schleyer, director, education and meeting services, who manages all of the university programs, told VT that, with the recent addition of St. Joseph's University, the association is confident in the representation it has established from coast to coast, and does not plan to add more educational partners at this time. It rather is concentrating on building the relationships now in place.

NAMA's long-range plan is to cultivate and expand these programs by developing internship programs, expanding into new Executive Development programs, conducting research and developing publications that help association members.

According to NAMA, the partnerships are designed to accomplish much more than the initial intent of exposing the faculty and students to the vending industry by creating resources that benefit everyone in the industry. One such example that's on the table for development in the near future are Internet-based learning programs through MSU, and likely other university partners, that would be facilitate remote learning by both the campus student body and industry professionals.

To fund the educational programs NAMA has created with its university partners, the NAMA Foundation offers financial support in varying degrees to help universities develop curriculum and support faculty travel and research.