Launching the business in 1991, partners Craig Kushner and David Gordon established the first operation to have DEX handhelds on all their routes. Technology has proven a big competitive advantage.
In 1991, business partners Craig Kushner and David Gordon started Monumental Vending, Beltsville, Md., with one vending machine placed in a hotel in Washington, D.C. Fourteen years later, Monumental Vending Inc. is one of the largest independent vending service providers in the Greater Washington, D.C. area with more than $10 million in sales, and continues to post double-digit sales increases annually.
"We are fortunate to have recognized from day one that the most important factor in any successful business, long-term, is having the right people in place and creating an environment that fosters employee dedication to performance," said Kushner, co-founder of the company.
"Our formula for success is fairly simple: Our people plus our technology equals better service and happier customers," added Gordon, co-founder.
As students of accounting, business management and economics at the University of Maryland, the pair came across various ideas about how to build a company.
One popular theory they chose to ignore is that small businesses should wait until a new technology has proven itself before investing in it.
Many business veterans believe that jumping too fast into a new technology may result in a longer learning curve, and that the investment makes more sense at a later time when the application is better understood. Many vending operators adhere to this philosophy today.
Kushner and Gordon, on the other hand, opted for the converse of this theory, which holds that the early adopters of technology are able to use it as a competitive advantage, in spite of a potentially slower learning curve. This theory made sense to them, given their philosophies and commitment to developing sustainable competitive advantages.
Recognizing DEX Benefits
Kushner and Gordon recognized the benefits that digital exchange technology (DEX) offered to the management of a vending operation. Monumental Vending is considered by many to be the first operation in the country to become "fully-DEXed," meaning they were the first to have all of their vending machines and routes tracking machine transactions via DEX handheld computers.
The company's early mastery of DEX technology not only gave them a competitive advantage, but also superior operating efficiencies.
Monumental Vending has set the standard for other operators throughout the country interested in adopting DEX technology. Sodexho Vending Services, LLC, one of the nation's largest vending management companies, uses Monumental Vending as a model operation in setting performance standards for its vending partners nationwide.
"Part of our job is accountability for our clients, and technology allows us to do that," said Mike Ryan, president of Fort Lauderdale, Fla.-based Sodexho Vending Services, LLC. "I look to them (Monumental Vending) as a flagship operation for anyone we're looking to do business with."
Kushner and Gordon were just getting started in their careers in 1991 in the Washington, D.C. area after graduating from the University of Maryland. Kushner earned a degree in accounting while Gordon majored in economics.
Kushner, working as an accountant at KPMG, relied on vending machines for sustenance when he was burning the midnight oil preparing tax returns during the tax season. He and his fellow accountants often became frustrated when the vending operator failed to keep the machines in the cafeteria stocked.
He began discussing the possibility of starting a vending business with Gordon, who was working in his family's construction company. They studied the vending industry and became intrigued.