Wittern Group Marks 85th Year In Vending; U-Select-It Parent Honors Employees

Posted On: 10/18/2016

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TAGS: The Wittern Group, Wittern Group 85th anniversary, Hawkeye Novelty, Frank A. Wittern Sr., bulk vending, bulk nut vending machine, U-Select-It, Heidi Chico

U-Select-It, Vending, Wittern Group

DES MOINES, IA -- The Wittern Group is celebrating its 85th anniversary this year, and marked the occasion with an open house and employee awards program on Oct. 7. The company was founded as Hawkeye Novelty by Frank A. Wittern Sr. in 1931, with an investment of $12.50 and a garage on the east side of Des Moines. Its initial products were bulk nut venders.

Over the ensuing eight and a half decades, the company has grown to become a leading international manufacturer of full-line vending and other controlled dispensing equipment. It is the parent company of U-Select-It, and prides itself on maintaining the entrepreneurial spirit while remaining true to its deep Midwest roots.

Since its founding 85 years ago, Wittern Group has manufactured tens of thousands of machines that have been placed in locations nationwide and around the world. Today, the company manufactures everything from traditional snack and drink vending machines to controlled dispensing solutions for inventory management and asset accountability applications.

The company's staff of 475 manufactures all of its vending equipment at its 375,000-sq.ft. facility in Des Moines. It received the first-ever National Automatic Merchandising Association iSpot Innovation Award in 2010.

"The Wittern Group is proud to be a family-owned company that is also family-centric," said Heidi Chico, a member of the Wittern family's third generation who serves as Wittern Group president. For this reason, the company is commemorating the anniversary by recognizing outstanding employees who "Live the Wittern Way." This is a company-wide award to honor team members who have made exceptional contributions to the company.

"We realize that our success is the result of people taking action," Chico said, "and that our true power is in the continuous flow of initiative, skill and insight from our employees. The Live the Wittern Way award is a way to recognize individuals who have made significant contributions to the company and its culture." She is a longtime member of the National Automatic Merchandising Association's board of directors and NAMA's chair-elect for 2017.

The Wittern Group has demonstrated a long-term commitment to the vending industry and the community. The Wittern Family Foundation that supports various nonprofit organizations, including the National Automatic Merchandising Association, the Mayo Clinic, Junior Achievement of Central Iowa, and United Way. The company also facilitates The Wittern Family Scholarship Foundation, which provides post-secondary educational financial assistance to children of company employees. U-Select-It chief executive officer F.A. (Art) Wittern Jr. was honored by the National Automatic Merchandising Association as Allied Member of the Year for 2016. | SEE STORY

In honor of its 85th anniversary, Wittern Group has posted a video summarizing its early years, present activities and future outlook.