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NBVA Sees Lean Bulk Show Turnout, Elects Chilton President

Posted On: 5/8/2008

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LAS VEGAS -- The 58th annual National Bulk Vendors Assocation trade show and convention posted disappointing attendance numbers. Held at Caesars Palace Hotel from April 17 through 19, the event attracted some 355 registrants, down significantly from the previous year's 516.

The weak showing was anticipated in the days leading up to the show, and marked another year of decline for the annual bulk vending event. According to association officials, the considerable drop in attendance was most likely due to the downturn in the economy that has caused both operator and supplier profits to noticeably decline.

"The attendance was not as good as we had hoped," said Jim Hinton of Oak Manufacturing, a convention co-chair. "However, the operators who did attend were enthusiastic and seemed to be buying. And the majority of the exhibitors verified that they had a decent show."

However, despite the disappointing turnout, the show floor welcomed several new exhibitors, and operators reported a generous assortment of new products and equipment. Seminars and workshops were well attended, and showgoers still seem to favor the new format of holding these sessions over a two-day period.

The NBVA completed a full agenda of association business during the Las Vegas confab, including the election of new officers. Randy Chilton of Coinstar (Louisville, CO) becomes president.

NEW LEADERSHIP: Newly elected NBVA officers, from left, are Bernie Schwarzli, Beaver Machine Corp., treasurer; Randy Chilton, Coinstar, president; Steve Siegel, Great American Vending Machine Co., vice-president; and Mark Pogue, MEPCO, secretary.

 Chilton, who is a past president of the Amusement and Music Operators Association, is a third-generation operator who came to Coinstar through a series of acquisitions. In 2004, Coinstar acquired American Coin Merchandising Inc., a nationwide operator of skill cranes, which had purchased Chilton Vending Co. (Wichita, KS) in 1998.

Through the Chilton Vending Co. purchase, ACMI gained a strong presence in Kansas and Missouri, and opened the door to videogame conventional coin-op amusement operations. The family-owned business serviced public locations and maintained game installations in Family Golf Centers, AMF Bowling Centers and Worlds of Fun Amusement Park. Chilton joined ACMI as vice-president of amusement games development.

Steve Siegel of the Great American Vending Machine Co. (Hauppauge, NY) will serve as vice-president; Mark Pogue, MEPCO (Fresno, CA), was elected secretary; and Bernie Schwarzli of Beaver Machine Corp. will fill the treasurer post.

The association also amended its constitution and bylaws to reduce the number of directors on its board from 39 to 21, a move that officials believe will benefit the organization. "The larger number of directors was unwieldy," said Tom Theisen of Theisen Vending (Minneapolis), chairman of the ways and means committee. "And seats on the smaller board were eagerly sought by members, so this is expected to streamline the decision-making process and create a more effective, responsive association."

The NBVA also adopted a policy under which members who fail to comply with its toy safety standards and other applicable laws will be disciplined -- for example, membership may be terminated if conduct or activities that bring "embarrassment or disrepute" to either the association or the industry as a whole are observed. This includes failing to comply with the Voluntary Toy Safety Standards the association adopted in 2004 following the lead recall, as well as selling toys, novelties or other products that do not comply with related laws and regulations, including federal and local statutes.  Disciplinary action, which can include expulsion, censure or suspension from the NBVA, will be subject to hearing.

The association also discussed the possibility of eventually co-locating the annual show with another event. Proponents of the concept were quick to point out that this would in no way compromise the association's independence, and would simply involve the sharing of exhibit space. While no firm decision was made, there are plans to continue exploring this option.

The 59th annual NBVA trade show is currently scheduled to return to Caesars Palace in 2009, and is set for April 23-25. The association maintains a website at nbva.org.