He saw coffee service as a business with low start-up costs, so he borrowed $500 and bought a used delivery vehicle from Coca-Cola and painted it brown. In 1982, he went knocking on doors selling coffee kits to offices that already had their own brewers.
An opportunity soon presented itself right in his own backyard. The city of Sunrise was building a sports park. Frankel, a baseball fan, volunteered to work as a little league umpire. He also asked if he could run the concessions stand. The park manager first said no, but soon changed his mind. He agreed to let Frankel run the concessions stand in exchange for a cut of the sales.
The concessions stand earned Frankel about $20 a night, which supplemented his burgeoning OCS business.
Frankel realized he had a lot to gain having high visibility in the community. He continues to train umpires, and acts as a visiting Santa Claus and Easter Bunny to children. He has won awards for his volunteer work.
Frankel's relationship with the city opened doors for him. The city itself became one of his biggest OCS customers once he was able to buy pourover brewers, on credit.
In the meantime, he was still on good terms with his former employer, the local Coca Cola bottler, and was able to turn this relationship into an OCS account -- one with 25 pourover brewers. "That was a big account," he recalled.
A lucky break puts him in vending
Frankel's entry into the vending business came about almost by accident. One day, he was cleaning the coffee brewer at a Budweiser plant, when the owner of the franchise called him into his office. Budweiser's parent company, Anheuser Busch, had recently formed a snack subsidiary, Eagle Snacks. The owner didn't like the fact that there were no Eagle Snacks products in the company's break room.
He told Frankel he'd sell him Eagle Snacks cheaply if he would place and service a snack machine. Frankel told him he couldn't afford a snack machine, so the owner offered to buy him one. Frankel was in the vending business. "He bought my first snack machine," Frankel recalled.
Having already learned the power of network selling, Frankel promptly approached Budweiser facilities in Hollywood and Miami and told them he was the "Eagle Snacks" vendor. They were more than happy to make him their vending operator. (Anheuser-Busch closed its Eagle Snacks operation in 1996, selling its trademark and brand name to Procter & Gamble Co.)
Network marketing continues
Frankel knew he could jump-start his vending business if the Coke bottler would loan him machines. He reasoned that his relationship with the city would give him some leverage with Coke, which still needed to be sold on loaning machines to third-party vendors.
Having been a Coke insider, Frankel knew the buzzwords Coke management wanted to hear: "City of Sunrise -- 100 percent Coke." Frankel was right; once Coke management heard these words, they agreed to provide him the machines.
Placing soda in the baseball park
Getting the city to let him place soda machines in the baseball park wasn't hard. The park manager knew Frankel's capabilities running the concession stand, and naturally welcomed the opportunity to bring in more revenue with soda machines.
Once Coke loaned him machines for the city park, they began loaning him machines for other locations as well."It was pretty exciting," he recalled.
Working from his garage, Frankel hired several family members in his emerging vending business, hence the name, Family Vending Co. His brother-in-law was his first full-time driver, his sister took over duties at the park concessions stand, and his grandmother-in-law became the controller.
1986: a focus on vending
In 1986, Frankel sold his OCS route to focus on vending. He moved into a mini storage warehouse where he took deliveries from Servitron (which was later acquired by VSA - now Vistar).
It was around this time Frankel expanded into food machines. With more warehouse space available, he attempted to package his own sandwiches on-site. He decided after about a year this was too labor intensive and switched to using all frozen-prepared food.