Southeastern Vending Association Meeting Reveals Several Truths About Our Industry: Do You Have What It Takes To Succeed?

Are you committed to success? Do you know what it takes to be successful in business?These might sound like simple questions, but the Southeastern Vending Association (SEVA) annual meeting in Destin, Fla. last week made me realize these questions are not as simple as they sound.About 250 people, mostly vending operators from throughout the Southeast, showed up for this event. It wasnt a party. It was a conference consisting of industry education and a chance to network with colleagues. It was a mid-week event, which didnt lend itself to a weekend vacation.It was encouraging to see there are still operators who find it worth their time and expense to attend a conference in a difficult economic time such as the present.Business gurus unanimously agree that ongoing education and networking are pivotal to success.Taking time away from work isnt something anyone takes lightly these days. The return on investment for education is long-term. Students of business know that long-term thinking is important for success. The fact that people in our industry are taking a long-term view is encouraging.The SEVA presentations addressed legislative issues and challenges such as school nutrition restrictions, and attendees discussed them in a positive way. Many operators seemed to recognize that with every challenge, there is opportunity.One big opportunity nowadays is cashless vending. I moderated a presentation on cashless vending sponsored by Apriva Vend, Bank of America Merchant Services and MEI, partners in the National Automatic Merchandising Associations new cashless vending initiative.The legislative update from Ned Monroe, NAMA senior vice president of government affairs, was sobering. Monroe covered a host of issues that vending has to address: currency changes, vending machine reach height requirements, and calorie disclosure. He also gave a very clear and detailed summary of the new health care mandate, which affects all industry members and their customers.There was also a session on meeting school nutrition restrictions, where operators from different states shared experiences on meeting this challenge.Its easy to be upbeat when times are good, but its when times are difficult such as the present that we find out if we have what it takes to maintain an outlook that will encourage our colleagues, as well as ourselves, to succeed. Despite the challenges, our industry remains full of opportunity. For those who are committed to it, conferences and conventions play an important role, providing education and networking. Success in any business today demands these things.

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