In trying times like now, who is there for you?

As chairman of NAMA and a long time member, I believe it is time to review some of NAMA's achievements as the industry faces a challenging time.

Since I was first invited to attend a NAMA expo in 1980, I have come to realize the value that the association offers its members.

The NAMA Foundation was established in 1982 to exclusively provide for charitable, educational, and scientific purposes and to provide public information regarding the vending, OCS and food services industries. In 1999, it created the Endowed Professorship at The School of Hospitality and Business at Michigan State University. Each year, NAMA awards several Foundation Scholarships to students.

EDUCATION PROGRAMS APLENTY

NAMA is proud to have created many excellent education programs for members. Some of those include the Quality Coffee Certification Program, Vending 101, Executive Development Program, Supervisor Development Program, continued education, industry updates through our “In-Touch” Magazine, food service and technology pavilions at our Expos, Emerging Leaders Program, and our latest addition, the Coffee Summit held last February in Cherry Hill, N.J.

Knowledge Source Partners provide information to our members, mostly free of charge. We have experts available on labor, security, nutritional and financial issues, just to name a few.

NAMA has also joined forces with many university partners to further enhance our industry's exposure to educators and our future work force. Michigan State University, Washington State University, St. Joseph's University, Georgia State University, and the University of Las Vegas have all been important partners with NAMA.

The very successful and popular MSU Executive Development Program has educated hundreds of NAMA members and their staffs since the program's inception in 2000. In the fall of 2007, Washington State University launched a small self-run vending program on campus to further enhance our industry's presence and credibility within their teaching curriculum. Georgia State was an important launch pad for our Emerging Leaders Program.

The NAMA Certified Executive (NCE) designation is another NAMA-created benefit for members to further show their credibility as an industry expert. Those that have taken the challenge to obtain this designation are certainly proud of it and their peers most certainly take notice of it.

ENDOWING THE FUTURE

The Capital Campaign/Endowing the Future is an area that I believe we can all be most proud of. When the call went out, our membership responded and raised $5 million to support some very important issues. The issues determined by the NAMA board of directors were continued education, consumer research, and the most noteworthy “Balanced for Life.” The Balanced for Life program has quickly become a widely recognized standard and with the recent introduction of “Fit Pick” within that program in late 2007, the Balanced for Life program has received national and international attention.

NAMA's continued work in this area both at the state and national level has continually saved our members hundreds of millions of dollars each year.

CURRENCY AND COINAGE ISSUES

Currency and coinage issues are probably one of the most unnoticed areas of NAMA's work, but in all actuality they are one of the largest cost saving benefits our membership
receives. NAMA's successes in this area include the introduction of the dollar coin, halting the redesign of the dollar bill, and most recently, very important input toward the writing of the legislation for the 2007 Coin Modernization Act.

This industry is in a challenging time, our country's economy and financial markets have much uncertainty, business operational and product costs are increasing like we have never seen before, followed by shrinking bottom lines and energy costs that are out of control. Obviously, it is a time for assessments in all areas of your operation.

Jim Brinton, NCE, is president of Evergreen Vending in Seattle, Wash. and is the chairman of the National Automatic Merchandising Association.

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