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Atlantic Coast Exposition's Attendance Tops 1,000 As Show Experiences 6th Year Of Growth

Posted On: 12/18/2016

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TAGS: vending, Atlantic Coast Exposition, ACE 2016 vending show, Hurricane Matthew, Ty Bello, Jonathan Childress, Canteen Vending, Bryce Gartner, Icimo LLC, Larry Etter, Malco Theaters, Barbara W. Short Memorial Lifetime Achievement Award, Wayne Seagraves

MYRTLE BEACH, SC -- The Atlantic Coast Exposition marked its 62nd anniversary with its largest show in six years. Themed "Let your Star Shine," the event drew more than 1,000 registrants from 28 states and Canada for three days of business and pleasure at the Embassy Suites at Kingston Plantation here. Showgoers were greeted by clear skies and pleasant temperatures in the wake of Hurricane Matthew, which came ashore just south of the conference hotel on Oct. 8 and caused widespread flooding as it traveled north along the coast. Kingston Plantation escaped serious damage, and the highway system in North and South Carolina was restored quickly enough to allow access.

Atlantic Coast Exposition, vending
GOOD MORNING, STARSHINE: A representative of the Blonde Bombshell tradition in filmmaking helps cut the ribbon for Hollywood-themed 62nd annual Atlantic Coast Exposition in Myrtle Beach, SC. Marking the sixth consecutive year of growth, the 2016 ACE featured a repeat of the popular technicians' training seminar, an optional supervisor leadership program and seminars on pure-water operations, effective use of data and government affairs. ACE 2017 is scheduled for Oct. 12-14, again in Myrtle Beach.

Atlantic Coast Exposition, vending
Ty Bello
The 2016 exposition opened on Thursday, Oct. 13, with an early-bird supervisors' education program conducted by Ty Bello, founder of Team@Work (Fort Wayne, IN). Starting with the question "When is the best time to plant a tree?" and the answer -- "Today!" -- Bello led participants through a series of exercises designed to increase awareness of everything that goes into communication, which includes the ability to overcome mistrust, inspire and reinforce commitment, and stimulate closer attention to results. "You can manage a process," he emphasized. "But you coach people."

The Atlantic Coast Exposition grew out of early cooperation between the North Carolina Vending Association and South Carolina Automatic Merchandising Association (now the South Carolina Vending Association) during the dawn of full-line vending. Two decades later, the Automatic Vendors Association of Virginia (now Virginia Automatic Merchandising Association) added its support. The sponsoring state associations conducted board meetings on Thursday, and NCVA hosted a Political Action Committee event.

Atlantic Coast Exposition, vending
GOOD DAY, SUNSHINE: Maintenance worker repairs storm damage to Embassy Suites Hotel façade caused by Hurricane Matthew, which had struck the Myrtle Beach area on the weekend before ACE. The storm was followed by warm, clear weather for the show.

The technicians' training workshop, which featured detailed discussions about servicing contemporary equipment, was held on Friday morning. The parallel education track began with a session on pure-water service as a complement to office coffee and vending. It was moderated by Jonathan Childress of Canteen Vending (Summerfield, NC). Panelists were Barbara Russell, Holiday House Distributing (Land o'Lakes, FL); Thomas Radford, Alpine Coolers (Duluth, GA); and Mike Raycher, Follett LLC (Easton, PA). Their topic was the growing demand for pure water on the part of office coffee and vending accounts, the different ways to meet that demand profitably and the opportunity presented by icemaker rentals.

Atlantic Coast Exposition, vending
Eric Dell
Eric Dell, the National Automatic Merchandising Association's senior vice-president of government affairs, led a session on federal legislative activities. Dell emphasized the importance of advocacy to make sure industry concerns are understood by elected officials and regulators, and that responsible authorities know where to turn for accurate information about vending, coffee service and micromarkets.

He brought seminar-goers up to speed on current issues, the most immediate of which is the deadline for compliance with the vendible product nutritional labeling rule that is in effect as of Dec. 1, 2016. The NAMA official explained that the Food & Drug Administration, which was directed by Congress to write rules for the nutritional disclosure requirement included in the Affordable Healthcare Act, has been in regular contact with food and beverage industry trade associations (including NAMA), and has agreed with the major product suppliers that front-of-pack calorie labels imprinted on the product wrapper by the factory can be a convenient way to meet the requirement. This will require the FDA and the suppliers to determine the minimum acceptable size of the labels' lettering. Accordingly, FDA will deem existing packages with FOP calorie labels that are legible when the item is displayed in a vending machine to be compliant until the revised lettering regulation is finalized in 2018. All displayed items without FOP labels are subject to the rule.

NAMA's has contended that a product displayed in a machine with its supplier's front-of-pack label plainly visible to the consumer meets the rule's requirement. Dell said that the FDA has agreed with NAMA's view, which is extremely valuable to the industry, and will be a benefit that accrues as more suppliers adopt FOP nutrition labeling. He estimates that the FOP agreement will save the average operator between $50 and $300 annually. Dell added that the NAMA website now includes a list of packaged products that carry FOP caloric-content labels.

Products without FOP caloric-content disclosure must be accompanied by some means of displaying this information to patrons, and the chosen medium must be plainly visible to the patron. The rule covers hot-beverage vending machines; the ones that offer multiple selections require some thought. The rule allows the operator to label each component separately (e.g., the caloric content of black coffee, the sugar, the creamer and whatever other soluble ingredients are available), or labeled by the total caloric content of each finished drink.

Commissary-prepared portion-packed foods already carry labels with ingredient statements; as of Dec. 1, caloric-content disclosure also is required. Dell explained that if a menu item is wrapped with a condiment packet, the caloric content of that condiment must be disclosed, too. But unit-portion condiments available at a service stand are not affected. He urged operators with commissaries to be sure their commissary recordkeeping includes a description of the method by which the caloric content of menu items is determined. "You should be prepared to explain that if you're asked," he advised.

The NAMA government relations expert concluded by reporting that the FDA has indicated that it proposes to begin monitoring compliance with an eye to explaining what an operator must do to meet the requirements before imposing penalties. But those penalties are available.

He emphasized that good-faith efforts to comply are in everyone's interest. "What we hope to avoid is the FDA's involving state governments," he said. "You really don't want that. Good compliance will minimize the danger."

Dealing With Data

The final education session was presented by Bryce Gartner, chief experience officer of Icimo LLC (Cary, NY). Titled "The Matrix Revisited," the session explored the complex question of how to grasp the practical implications of the torrent of data available from today's management tools and put it to work to help operators accomplish company goals. Regarding the much-discussed "big data," Gartner emphasized that "the definition of big data depends on your organization. You use it to solve your business challenges. You need to get the data that lets you do that."

Atlantic Coast Exposition, vending
Larry Etter
The Saturday morning awards breakfast concluded ACE's formal program. In keeping with the Hollywood theme of the 2016 show, the keynoter was theater industry veteran Larry Etter, vice-president of concessions for Malco Theaters (Memphis, TN), and a past-president and board chairman of the National Association of Concessionaires who now serves as that association's director of education. In his address, "Two Steps from Stardom," he drew on his long acquaintance with a wide range of movie celebrities to define star quality as kindness without weakness, strength without harshness and being a role model, not a preacher.

Etter also recalled his experiences in the vending industry with the Servomatic organization in Memphis, observing that vending and theater concession operations confront similar challenges. Four decades ago, the vending industry had to consider the costs and the benefits of installing standalone bill changers in locations; about 10 years later, they were doing the same calculations about in-machine bill validators. In recent years, the frequency with which decisions of this kind must be made has increased, for concessionaires and for vending operators, he pointed out.

At the breakfast, NCVA and VAMA presented their vendor and supplier of the year awards. NCVA's 2016 Vendor of the Year is Joe Costanzo, Canteen Vending Service (Charlotte). The Supplier of the Year is Randy Laster, Pepsi Bottling Ventures (Raleigh). Chosen as VAMA's 2016 Vendor of the Year is Carl Moser IV, Cardinal Canteen (Newport News, VA). Honored as Supplier of the Year is Ted Goodwin, Nestlé Professional (Baltimore).

The South Carolina Vending Association announced that the 2016 winner of its annual scholarship is Alexis Dawn Alexander.

The winner of this year's Barbara W. Short Memorial Lifetime Achievement Award is Wayne Seagraves, who recently retired from Canteen Vending Services (Greensboro, NC). Seagraves has long been active in the association, which honored him as Vendor of the Year in 2006.

The ACE organizers also recognized exhibitors whose booths best embodied the show's theme. Best single-booth honors went to Hershey Co., and the palm for best multi-booth décor was carried off by Crane Co. Vistar placed first in the mega-booth category.

Next year's Atlantic Coast Exposition will return to the Embassy Suites and Kingston Plantation from Oct. 12 through 14. The show is managed by TayCar Inc. (Cary, NC). Chairing the 2017 ACE Planning Committee is Mark Matthews of H&L Tom's Distributors (Virginia Beach, VA).

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