Celebrating the small business

Many great businesses have started in the garage. Disney, Hewlett-Packard, Google, Mattel. They were all launched by men and women with an entrepreneurial spirit and shoestring budgets. With hard work and dedication these small businesses grew to be some of the biggest companies and are all well-known, household names. To me, this is not unlike many vending companies. I’ve lost count of how many successful vending operators started small, in a garage or a basement. Many of them are now large, multi-state companies in the second or third generation of owners.


Honoring the small operator

This first issue of 2014 is dedicated to small, start-up operations. If you are new, welcome. You will find great information in this issue including tips from a vending veteran that will help you manage your first employees — route drivers.


Having vision

Most prosperous operators have one thing in common — vision. Regardless of size or age of the company, this is what drives an operation forward. It’s a key element to our success story for this issue, All Star Vending & Coffee Service in Twin Cities, Minn. The company was started in 1987, but the current owner is revitalizing the small operation started by his grandfather. With an eye towards growth, he’s reacting to consumer trends, leading with social media, bringing the consumer back to the machine and providing the same service his grandfather’s customers expect.

If your operation is no longer small, congratulations. We celebrate how far you’ve come. There’s plenty in this issue to interest you as well, from the newest products to understanding the overtime exemption laws. Don’t miss “Are you paying your drivers correctly?” about overtime compensation written by Heather A. Bailey, Esq., a partner with SmithAmundsen LLC and a NAMA Knowledge Source Partner LE.


Outlook optimistic

I looked back five years to see the size of operations in the industry. In 2009, we reported that 75 percent of the vending operators did less than $1 million in revenue. The last report showed that number to be 61 percent. Where did the other operators go? Well, the percentage of medium, large and extra-large operators grew by an average of 4 percent each. Success in vending is attainable.

The economy is showing growth and unemployment is in decline, allowing me to feel optimistic that we will hold our own this year. I can’t wait to meet all of you who, in 2014, will grow out of your garage.