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Issue Date: Vol. 54, No. 6, June 2014, Posted On: 5/13/2014

OK Manufacturing Returns Under New Management; Bulk Vending Machines Roll Out

Hank Schlesinger
TAGS: bulk vending, vending machine, OK Manufacturing Co., Gumball Depot, Bob Olson, Jerry Duke, Steve Halliday, American-made vending machines, kinetic vending machine, giant gumball machine, coin-operated machines, coin-op news, Rattler vending machine, Gravity Hill

SALT LAKE CITY -- OK Manufacturing Co. is back. The company that pioneered giant and kinetic bulk vending machines is under new management. Purchased in an employee buyout in August 2013, OK is now a division of Gumball Depot based here.

Former OK Manufacturing employees Bob Olson, Jerry Duke and Steve Halliday created Gumball Depot to reestablish their company and its quality equipment in the bulk vending arena. The new management team plans to release a steady stream of new machines alongside the classic designs that put OK on the map. The born-again company is also marketing such vending supplies as ball gum, capsule merchandise (1"-4") and high-bounce balls, along with plush prizes.

Behind the company's equipment lines will be an emphasis on its "American-made" status and on customer support, explained OK president Bob Olson. "Product and service quality will be our focus moving into the future," he said.

The company is also going to play up its ability to offer customization services, something OK excelled at in the past. "For instance," Olson said, "right now we produce a lot of machines for Sketcher and Old Navy stores, and we've been supporting the Gap's expansion into China." Custom work involves machines that match location decor, using logos and other graphics, along with specialized dispensing mechanisms that can vend unusually sized products.

According to Olson, the company will continue to provide the same quality and innovation for which OK was known. It will continue to support existing OK equipment in the field. OK began manufacturing machines in Salt Lake City in 1992.

For its factory operations, the new OK will attempt to implement "lean" manufacturing principles by reducing waste and expenditures on resources, while optimizing equipment quality for operators. "We want to incorporate more lean practices than OK has done in the past," Olson observed. "I spent 20 years in the aerospace industry, so I'm bringing some manufacturing practices from that experience to do things more efficiently."

Among OK's new equipment offerings is the Rattler, a 48" high "zig-zag" vending concept with a small 16" x 16" footprint. The pint-size bulk machine can vend ball gum, high bounce balls, capsules or candy. "The Rattler is our first new amusement vender, Olson said. "We would like to try to come up with new equipment at least once a year."

OK Manufacturing, bulk vending, coin-op
SMALL WONDER: OK Manufacturing’s Bob Olson and Steve Halliday show off new Rattler bulk vender during Amusement Expo in March. The "zig-zag" machine is the first new bulk vending offering from OK since the company’s employee buyout last year.

Upgrades to OK classics will bring back Gravity Hill with a new look and maybe some other modifications. Gravity Hill is a coin-in/prize-out device featuring side-to-side rocking controls that players use to maneuver a ball up the side of a mountain, against gravity.

Timeless OK gumball equipment that is back on market includes the Road Runner (58"), Junior Giant (64"), Jumbo Giant (79") and Armadillo, along with the pinball-style Splat Ball and interactive Gumball Falls. Also available is the Ziggy Zig Zag, which can vend 45mm. and 49mm. bounce balls, 2" capsules or 2" gumballs

A new website -- gumball-depot.com -- is the online home of the reincarnated OK Manufacturing. Gumball Depot is based at 2340 S. 900 W., Salt Lake City, UT 84119; tel. (800) 748-5480

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