Accepting new ways of doing things can be difficult in established companies, but for industry newcomers, learning what's new comes more naturally.
In today's changing market, newcomers are learning the latest equipment, and because of this, they are sometimes able to get a jump on their older competitors, even in a highly competitive market like Chicago.
Case in point are Michael Klong, 27, and Randy Nasatir, 28, who have managed to chisel a niche for their company, Classic Vending Inc., by only placing new equipment, by offering multi-temperature food machines to smaller population accounts, and by constantly making themselves available to clients. Their youth and enthusiasm have paved the way for a successful journey in full-line vending.
Youth is on their side
"Our youth is an advantage," said Klong. "Clients have the ability to deal with the president and the CEO directly, at any time." This is reflected in the Classic Vending philosophy: "We are big enough to service large corporate accounts, yet small enough to handle our clients' individual needs. We understand that no two clients are alike, and we are committed to providing for each of our client's unique circumstances."
Vending was in his blood
Klong and Nasatir, friends since kindergarten, worked at Klong's mother's one-route sticker and bulk vending route over summers while in high school. Klong expected to work with his father in the trucking industry after earning a degree in business management. Nasatir earned a degree in communications.
But after a job interview in front of a firing squad of truck union workers, Klong decided to go back to his roots and work in the industry he grew up with -- vending. Fresh out of college, he did not wish to work with potentially hostile employees.
In 2000, the young men borrowed money and bought Klong's mother's sticker and bulk vending route. Nasatir handled operations while Klong handled the sales and bookkeeping. They eventually decided to hire an experienced bulk vending driver so they could both devote all of their time to sales.
Full-line expansion possibilities
In the process of developing the bulk vending business, the pair came across full-line opportunities. "We found that the (full-line) vending business was not as saturated as bulk," said Klong. They decided to explore full-line vending as an area in which to expand.
"In the beginning, we did not obtain any vending accounts from our bulk vending accounts. We started (full-line) vending with a couple of very small businesses, and endured a great deal of failed sales pitches while honing our sales skills," said Klong.
"They were really two separate kinds of business, (bulk and full-line vending); however, it did teach me to be aggressive when it comes to new business," said Klong.
New machines in every account
Classic Vending targets all size accounts and has won contracts from schools, hospitals, financial institutions and insurance agencies. After earning their first few clients through strong sales presentations, they have found it easier to win new accounts by giving potential clients the names of existing clients as references.
"Once we secured the first few accounts, it was a good stepping stone for others," said Klong.
Klong found that some clients were just not happy with the older machines and the lack of product choice offered by their current vending operators.
With financial backing from their parents and a bank, they pitched their first full-line vending account and promised the newest machines and product. They learned that promising new equipment is a key to winning an account. "The machines from three years ago look like the machines from 20 years ago," he said. Most of their competitors use a lot of older equipment.
Used equipment just didn't work