DESTIN, FL -- The Southeast Vending Association has begun planning for its next annual convention on the heels of its successful 2012 six-state event held here in August. The 2013 conference, which runs from Aug. 7 to 9, will return to Florida's Sandestin Golf & Beach Resort, a popular venue that attracts scores of industry professionals from throughout the Southeast for a lively mix of education, networking, entertainment and family fun.
The six SEVA state associations include the Alabama Vending Association, Automatic Merchandising Association of Florida, Georgia Automatic Merchandising Council, Mississippi Automatic Merchandising Association, Tennessee Automatic Merchandising Association and Vending Machine Operators of Louisiana.
The 2012 conference, held from Aug. 8 to 10, was highlighted by a comprehensive overview of new initiatives from the National Automatic Merchandising Association, presented by NAMA chief executive Carla Balakgie. NAMA regional legislative director Sheree Edwards updated members on legislative challenges facing the industry, and emphasized the importance of grassroots organization and action in government relations.
Keynoting the event was legendary Nascar driver and sportscaster Kyle Petty, who delivered an inspirational address and hosted a "meet and greet" for participants.
Dr. Michael Kasavana, NAMA-endowed professor at the School of Hospitality Business, Broad College of Business at Michigan State University (E. Lansing), brought industry members up to speed on "Trends in Vending Technology," including new customer interfaces, machine formats and back-office tools designed to enhance operator business efficiency.
A panel of OCS veterans shared their insights on the state of the coffee industry and how operators can continue to grow top-line sales and margins. Panelists included Howard Chapman of Royal Cup, Vic Pemberton of Pepi Foods (Bainbridge, GA), Craig Nelson of US Roasterie and Brent Toevs of Marley Coffee. Industry veteran Geoff Paul of Excelso Coffee Co. was the moderator.
Vistar's Terry Touchton moderated a discussion on the growing adoption of micromarkets, during which Donnie Pemberton of Pepi Foods, Marc Whitener of Refreshment Solutions (Norco, LA), Scott Plaisted of Southern Refreshment Services (Tucker, GA), Mike Laurer of Aramark (Philadelphia) and Paul Van Vleck of Burdette Beckmann (Hollywood, FL) shared their experiences with the emerging unattended retail model, including selecting locations and products, merchandising, and selling the concept to prospective customers.
Rounding out the educational programming was a lively round of recreational and social events, including the annual Wilbur Langston Memorial Golf and disco night.