Culinary Ventures Vending (CVV) in Union, N.J. is dedicated to vending — specifically vending machines. The 23-route vending company, which serves the tri-state area of New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania, has declared a commitment to adding technology to its machines that places CVV ahead of the innovative curve within the vending industry and helps the company succeed in the highly competitive East coast market.
Co-owners Jack Yuppa and Tom DiNardo use some of the latest hardware and software the vending industry has to offer to run their business. This belief in innovation in business is especially interesting considering that DiNardo has avoided using a personal computer for as long as anyone can remember. “I, Tom DiNardo don’t turn on a computer,” he said, “but I can’t let that stop me from running my business.” This commitment to technology is shared by others at CVV.
“You have a bunch of dinosaurs in the industry that don’t want to become extinct,” Vikan Manoukian, CEO of CVV said. “Many of the operators want to stay in the dark ages, but Tom has the foresight to embrace the new technology.”
A recent example of CVV embracing technology is its announcement to install Crane Merchandising Systems Currenza Navigator boxes on 3,000 vending machines. Completed by the end of 2013, CVV believes the technology will better serve customers while also increasing sales and efficiencies in the entire operation.
CVV officially started as Culinary Ventures International in 1994 when DiNardo and Yuppa, along with three other individuals decided to purchase what was then Vendicraft. Each of the five partners had all been a part of the vending or food service industry, but had never owned their own business.
Yuppa recalls first getting into business with DiNardo. “Tom and I lived in the same town and he happened to be in the vending business as well,” Yuppa said. “It made sense for me to ask him to be partners and he agreed.”
The company began as a cafeteria service provider that dabbled in vending. It stayed that way until 2000, when it switched its focus to strictly vending. Two of the co-owners left and one retired, leaving Yuppa and DiNardo to run the operation, now called Culinary Ventures Vending, as president and vice president, respectively.
Early focus on technology
Not long after switching to vending, Yuppa and DiNardo adopted Crane Streamware vending management software to help run their commissions and inventory and help them track their products. By adopting Streamware they were also able to provide route drivers with handhelds, which allowed their drivers to more efficiently provide refunds and keep track of revenue after routes were run.
In 2006, Yuppa and DiNardo made the decision to hire someone to head up their march toward technological innovation. They hired Doug Longworth, a 35 year industry veteran, to be director of technology. He became responsible for operating CVV’s software systems and deciphering the data received from Streamware. It didn’t take long for him to make his presence heard.
In the spring of 2010, Longworth suggested that CVV begin pre-kitting on a few routes based on the forecast information they got from Streamware. According to Longworth, Streamware had built-in algorithms that would “forecast” the amount of product needed in a given machine. They did this for a few months and noticed a positive trend and wanted greater efficiencies, so in fall of 2010 they integrated LightSpeed into the Streamware VMS software. According to DiNardo, Longworth was instrumental in the implementation of LightSpeed.
“We originally went to pre-kitting because it was part of our VMS software,” Longworth said. “We quickly made the decision to use LightSpeed for packing orders because we had heard positive feedback across the industry.”