Speagle is pleased with the results of the Multi-max® machines. His goal is to have these serviced by his OCS division, given the fact that office accounts currently comprise about half of all accounts.
Specialty coffee revives OCS
Specialty coffee has created new opportunities for OCS, Speagle noted. As a preferred Starbucks provider, the company has some of the Starbucks Interactive single-cup machines. This has proven to be a good selling tool in some accounts.
While the Southeast is not one of the strongest specialty coffee markets in the country, the market is growing. At the present time, OCS is the fastest growing part of the business for Piedmont Vending.
Speagle has been pleased with the success of the Flavia and Keurig portion pack systems. He also has an interest in the manual pod brewers, which he thinks give him an opportunity to increase his sales in accounts that are too small for the portion pack brewers.
The OCS division received a boost in 2001 when the company introduced the Pure 1 water filtration system. Speagle was initially attracted to the fact that the point-of-use cooler eliminated the liability that 5-gallon bottles incur, but at the same time created the impression of a 5-gallon bottle.
Future rests in small accounts
The biggest long-term challenge Speagle sees is servicing small accounts profitably. He thinks the company may have to revive cooperative service vending, whereby a location operates its own machine and the vending operator simply delivers product.
The company's current strategy is to improve profitability in the existing market. The local economy has improved in the past year as some of the telecommunications employers are beginning to expand again, noted John Speagle, executive vice president.
The company launched an informational website in 2001, but it does not look to the website as a marketing tool at this time.
Rick Speagle, president, said he thinks that growth opportunities through acquisition in the existing market are limited at the present time.
Focus on training
To strengthen profitability, the company is in the process of introducing the National Automatic Merchandising Association's route driver certification for its drivers. The first step, certifying the route supervisors, has already been completed.
The drivers have also been equipped with Blackberry personal digital assistants to be able to e-mail service issues to the service department. This will ensure rapid response to service issues. The drivers also have cellular phones.
As a third-generation operator, Aaron Speagle has recognized the importance of mastering the skills that established the company as a market leader, along with the importance of educating himself about new operating concepts. He recognizes that a dedicated staff is essential to providing high quality service, but at the same time he realizes that business conditions are requiring some new business models.