Keurig was offering its K Cup cartridge system to select operations.
Evans was not the first OCS operator in the metro New York market to offer Keurig, but he was among the first. He became an authorized Keurig distributor in 1998, when the portion control concept was still fairly new.
As an authorized Keurig distributor, Evans received sales assistance from Keurig’s sales team.
“Because of Keurig, our industry has changed forever,” Evans said.
When Evans began offering Keurig, single-cup systems accounted for no more than 5 percent of its brewers.
Thanks largely to Keurig, single-cup now represents 70 percent of all brewers.
Around this time, the company also became a Starbucks preferred operator.
The improved delivery systems fueled OCS growth at the start of the new millennium. But the growth curve wasn’t smooth.
Everything was going gangbusters until the Twin Towers terrorist attack on Sept. 11, 2001.
The terrorist attack took an emotional toll that surpassed the business hit, Evans recalled. He feels fortunate that he didn’t lose any employees, but many of his customers did.
The company was not able to deliver product to many customers for several weeks following the attack because of security measures.
Evans, who was then running the company, reasoned that none of his three branches were operating at maximum efficiency. He didn’t feel he had the management depth to run all branches efficiently, so he decided to sell the Boston, Mass. and Pennsauken, N.J. branches in 2002 and 2003.
The company was still recovering from 9/11 when the recession hit in 2007. By then, single-cup had become entrenched, but many customers could no longer afford to spend as much money on coffee. Some accounts laid off 20 percent of their personnel.
Customers were looking to reduce coffee costs. Some even switched from single-cup systems to batch brew. Evans said less than 5 percent of the customers switched from single-cup back to batch brew.
As early as 2004, manual pod brewers were introduced as a less expensive option to the cartridge single-cup systems. Evans tested many of these units, but he didn’t feel they were reliable enough.
A big problem with the pod systems was that many of the pods were incompatible with many of the brewers.
In recent years, pod systems have improved, Evans said, but the cartridge units have since established strong customer loyalty.
Evans has high hopes for the Tassimo Professional from Kraft Vendng & OCS. The system’s bar code technology ensures proper water level, air and temperature, which deliver a high level of quality. The system offers one of the best quality cappuccino and latte products on the market.
The sheer variety of high quality OCS products and equipment enables the company to tailor offerings to individual customer needs, Evans said.
The homeowner side of the business has also created a growth opportunity.
Evans expanded into the homeowner single-cup business in 2004. He got the idea watching a friend sell car parts on Ebay.
After becoming an authorized Keurig homeowner distributor, Evans began selling boxes of K-Cups on Ebay. The response encouraged him to set up his own coffee products Website, www.coffeewiz.com. Consumers must register to use the site. Orders are sent by ground shipping.
The consumer Website marked Evans’ third Website following the main company Website and a Website for selling commercial coffee products to small offices, www.northeastcoffeeco.com.
The consumer Website, www.coffeewiz.com, has required a significant capital investment. His initial outlay was $100,000.
The consumer Website, besides offering extensive product information, hosts demonstration videos provided by manufacturers in addition to videos the company produced itself.
As location population losses ebbed in 2010, single-cup sales have rebounded for Evans. He noted that single cup placements rose 25 percent in the last year. This, coupled with Internet sales, has resulted in a l0 to 12 percent sales gain in the last year.