What convinced Moore to come on board was the Bridgeforth brothers’ honesty and integrity in how they run and operate a business, along with their longevity and success in the industry. From talking with them, Moore realized the brothers understood that vending is a capital-intensive business and state-of-the-art equipment is needed to provide the best possible service.
Moore also knew that Sure Bet Services would not be tied to any particular beverage brands. Because the company owns its own vending equipment, Sure Best Services is not limited in its ability to offer all the brands the consumer wants to buy.
Royal Crown Bottling Co. produces primarily Mountain Dew and Cadbury Schweppes brands. While most of the beverage machines are Dr Pepper branded machines, Sure Bet Services is free to provide whatever products the customer wants, Moore noted.
Customers Decide on Beverages
“When we go to market, we offer the best product in every category,” Moore said.
In 2004, Sure Bet Services acquired Shade Vending, a 2-route operation in Martinsburg, W.Va. The operation moved to the facility in Charles Town that Sure Bet Services shares with Royal Crown Bottling Co.
“We identified what we considered to be the largest local operator in the area and we negotiated a buyout of their operation,” Moore said. “It gave us immediate penetration into the market we were going to serve.”
With Moore on board, the company was ready to make its mark, operating as an independent profit center from the bottling company.
The first order of business was to make sure the existing accounts were being well served. In its first year under Moore’s direction, there were about 40 accounts. Sure Bet Services ended up replacing nearly all of Shade Vending’s equipment with new machines.
The next step was acquiring new accounts. Moore had honed his sales skills selling equipment and providing customer service support to all sizes of vending operators. He had also negotiated machine sales with national beverage product manufacturers.
Sure Bet Services’ first customers were mainly small blue-collar locations, lumber yards, nurseries, automotive service centers, along with some offices and nursing homes. These accounts ranged in size from one to three machines.
Support of Parent Company Crucial
As Moore brought more customers on board, they hired and trained drivers. The support of the parent company was critical. Royal Crown Bottling Co. provided good starting salaries and benefits. The company also had good screening procedures.
After one year, Moore hired Melinda Snow as the operations manager. She previously held a similar position at another company, and was experienced in inventory control.
Moore said Sure Bet Services had an advantage in being the only independent operator that did not rely on beverage machines provided by the major brand bottlers. Independent vendors that use machines from the major brand bottlers are typically limited in their beverage selections.
“We have the one-stop shop,” Moore said. “As we established that (presence) and built relationships, the business has taken us to larger locations.”
Sure Bet Services was also hitting the market at a time when many of the beverages in Royal Crown Bottling Co.’s portfolio were gaining popularity with customers. The company has the distribution rights to several nationally advertised brands such as Snapple, Ocean Spray, Glaceau, Arizona, Yoo-hoo, Orangina, Nantucket, Stewart’s, and others.
Moore’s experience on the equipment side also familiarized him with milk vending opportunities. In his previous position as an equipment manufacturer, he had been involved working with dairy organizations in developing milk vending programs.
Milk Vending Opens Doors in Educational Accounts
“I had seen the opportunity to use milk to get in the schools where we (the independent vending industry) previously had no exposure,” Moore said.
Sure Bet Services partnered with Shamrock Farms, a milk processor, in offering dedicated milk machines. The milk offering allowed Sure Bet Services to win school accounts, which also opened the door to provide snacks and soda.
Schools represented a challenge, due to the nutrition restrictions that began to emerge. West Virginia in particular has some of the strictest nutrition standards in the country.