Manufacturer Rep of the Year: Shanme Dalton, Territory Sales Manager, Mars Drinks North America

Single cup and sustainability top Shanme Dalton’s list of today’s most important topics in the coffee service side of the vending industry. But offering products that meet these two needs isn’t enough for the Automatic Merchandiser 2012 Manufacturer Representative of the Year. Dalton is also dedicated to supporting the operators. “They’re my partners,” she said. “I succeed, when they succeed.”

Dalton was new to the coffee business five years ago when she joined Mars Drinks North America as an account executive in Atlanta, Ga., from Sara Lee Foods. She has found her work with Mars Drinks exciting and varied. Dalton’s job may include going on sales calls with operators, cold calling, reviewing quarterly sales and arranging operator trainings. “It’s always evolving depending on the needs of our customers,” Dalton explained.

Increased single cup demand

Single cup is relatively new in the Atlanta market. Therefore, Dalton does a lot of training sessions discussing options and selling strategies for that OCS segment, but it’s definitely growing. “I see that (trend) continuing due to the convenience and choice it gives people,” said Dalton. She helps operators determine where the Mars Drinks system would be a good fit.

Revival of sustainability

Another recent trend Dalton has noticed is renewed interest in sustainable products. There had been a big push for “green” until two years ago when she saw companies cutting costs. “And unfortunately sustainable products are more expensive,” said Dalton.

Recently, however, Dalton has gotten more requests for information about the environmental impact of the company’s products.

“To help companies address these sustainability concerns,” said Dalton, “we (Mars Drinks) do so much on our end to make sure we offer a sustainable solution.” Dalton cites Mars Drinks’ energy efficient brewers, and a new Freshpack recycling program. “Now customers can send packs in, instead of them going into a landfill,” explained Dalton. “The coffee is used as compost, and the laminate is repurposed and used by manufacturers to create new products … like sidewalk pavers and merchandiser parts.” In addition, Dalton explains that the Mars manufacturing plant is a zero waste facility. “This is information they (operators) can put in their back pocket,” said Dalton.

Partnering with operators

Serving a large area, Dalton spends a lot of time traveling and on the phone, but remains dedicated to the operator. “It’s important to me that my distributors (operators) know I’m there to support them,” she said. “It doesn’t matter if I’m not in the same state.”