Ben Ginsberg Embodied The Entrepreneurial Spirit

Ben Ginsbergs passing marks the end of an era in vending and coffee service. Ben embodied the entrepreneurial spirit that guided our industry for many years. He launched American Automatic Merchandiser with the late D.L. Mike Michael in 1958. This was a major growth period for vending, and Ben chronicled the work of many entrepreneurs who gave this industry its highly personal character.He maintained that independent streak over the years. After selling American Automatic Merchandiser to Harcourt Brace Jovanovich in 1986, the trade publishing company where Gloria Cosby and I cut our teeth, Ben launched his second magazine in 1991, Sunbelt Vending & OCS, which later became Vending & OCS. He used his magazine as a platform to continue to observe the industry he loved.I knew Ben mainly as a competitor. He was tough but fair.When I was new to the industry, Ben was more than well established. It was intimidating at first to face him as a competitor, due to his longer seniority. But he did not abuse his seniority in any way that I was aware. He was personable and respectful.I will never forget when a group of food manufacturers asked Ben to organize a meeting to discuss ways to improve food vending. Ben, playing an organizational role in this gathering, specifically invited me, a competitor, to attend. I viewed this as his acceptance of me personally, and it made a lasting impression.Bens magazine focused on the industrys personalities. His perspective was unique, and it represented the era in which he grew up.He shied away from conducting industry research, which became more important as vending and coffee service matured.As the industry evolves, it becomes more dependent on professional business management. We see this happening in many ways. More college educated people are managing vending companies. More sophisticated management software has emerged, requiring special skills. Not to mention the changes that new technology is bringing.The old entrepreneurial spirit continues, but under the prism of sophisticated management practices.For many of us, Ben Ginsberg embodied that entrepreneurial spirit.

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