Mike and Jodi Glimpse didn’t know much about vending when they decided to get into the business in 2005. Hence, the Phoenix, Ariz. husband-and-wife team made some mistakes that a more experienced pair would have avoided.
At the same time, not knowing what to expect allowed them to take on accounts that many experienced operators would have shied away from, such as school accounts with strict nutrition requirements.
Today, their company, Camelback Vending, is one of the fastest growing vending operations in greater Phoenix. The company has taken a leadership role in serving education accounts with some of the most restrictive nutrition rules in the country. Camelback Vending also uses remote machine monitoring on all of its machines, an investment that many more experienced operators would not have made. As a result, the company has been able to offer a higher level of service than many of its competitors.
It has also given them the ability to operate more machines with fewer routes than in a traditional vending operation.
Hanging on the wall in their office is a quote from Steve Jobs, founder of Apple Computer, “Stay hungry, Stay foolish.”
Mike and Jodi Glimpse, who are in their mid 30s, have proven that vending continues to offer a viable business opportunity to committed entrepreneurs, thanks to the new innovations in both products and technology. They are on track to achieve their 5-year goal of $5 million in revenues.
NOVICES IN VENDING, BUT NOT IN SALES
While they were new to vending, the Glimpses were accomplished business people, and they brought a high level of business savvy when they bought a small route back in January of 2005.
Each of them spent close to 15 years at Cutco, a cutlery manufacturer that sells direct to consumers nationwide. The Glimpses met each other while working for Cutco during college.
Mike was already a division manager overseeing 49 Cutco offices before he was 32. They were making good money and were on track to retire by the time they reached 40, but Mike wanted to spend less time traveling and more time with Jodi and their three young children.
Like many young couples in their position, they began looking for ways to make money that would allow them to have more time at home.
FORAY INTO VENDING BEGAN WITH BULK MACHINES
In 2001, Jodi came across a bulk vending business opportunity at a local home show. She decided to invest $50,000 to buy about 150 U-turn machines. She placed 40 machines in three months, each of which averaged about $25 in monthly sales. In one year, she was up to 130 placements, and was netting more than $30,000 annually while only working one day a week.
At this point, Mike decided to leave his fast-paced executive role as well. They reasoned that the bulk vending business would allow a sufficient income if they could place 2,000 machines. They had the capital to cover the investment, and the sales skills to achieve the placements. The downside was they would have to hire people and then trust them to collect the quarters.
After further research, they learned that full line vending machines have electronic meters and therefore provide better accountability. They decided to try full line vending.
They hooked up with a locator who promised to help them get their business off the ground. Working with this locator, they invested in some glassfront snack machines and were able to get some placements.
ONE STEP AT A TIME
It didn’t take long for the Glimpses to decide they didn’t need the locator. Instead, they hired one of Mike’s office managers from Cutco, Amanda Salazar, as a telemarketer to line up sales appointments. “Our saving grace was that we had capital to cover up our mistakes,” Mike said.
They began picking up accounts slowly, placing snack and soda machines. One day, while picking up product at Vistar, Mike saw a notice for a small ice cream vending route for sale on the bulletin board. He didn’t know much about ice cream vending, and after talking with some colleagues, he was unsure whether or not this was a viable business.