The Embassy Suites at Kingston Plantation in Myrtle Beach, S.C., was the chosen venue for the 59th edition of the Atlantic Coast Exposition (ACE) where operators and suppliers from all across the U.S. gathered to see and show new products, equipment and take part in educational sessions. Not only was the exhibit hall sold out three months prior to the events’ kick off, but it overflowed into pre-function space to accommodate exhibitors. Nearly 800 participants took part in this two-day convention that is the largest show of its kind on the East Coast. Attendance has grown over 10 percent each year since 2011 and this year noted the largest increase in operator attendance since the growth began.
On Thursday, meetings were held by the state vending associations that partner in ACE: NCVA (North Carolina VendingAssociation), SCVA (South Carolina Vending Association), and VAMA (Virginia Automatic Merchandising Association). There were three educational sessions on Friday that were part of the show fee entitled, “Marketing for Success, Making a Big Impact with a Small Budget, Invest, Innovate or Die – What to do When Everything is Changing, and New Products for 2013 and Beyond: Panel Discussion."
There were also two additional sessions for which operators could register. The first was a “training camp” for technicians and the second was an intense supervisor course by Ty Bello of Team@Work CoachShops. Other events that offered networking opportunities included a “Pepsi Halftime Show” (co-sponsored by Vendors Supply and Brokers Unlimited) and a competitive “ACE Tailgate Corn Hole Pool Party” sponsored by Mondelez International and 365 Retail Markets.
The Saturday MVP breakfast (sponsored by Vistar) gave us an inspirational keynote by Ty Bello who spoke to a packed house on how, “Technology Causes a VOID in Customer Service: Avoid the GAP.” Beforehand, awards were given to the following: NCVA Vendor of the Year: Chris Taylor, Canteen; NCVA Supplier of the Year: Lisa Kelley, Mondelez International; VAMA Vendor of the Year: Mark Matthews, HL Toms; and VAMA Supplier of the Year: Frank Weatherly, G&J Marketing. A plaque presented to Gaye Tankersley of Food Service, Inc. was given to honor her year-long commitment and passionate service as the 2013 ACE planning committee chair. The Lifetime Achievement Award was presented posthumously to Bob McTaggart and received by Gordon Vermillion. First place booth awards were given to companies in three different categories that embraced the show theme, showing creativity toward “Game On!
College Football - Tailgating”. Prizes went to: Single Booth – Mondelez International; Multi-Booth – Coca-Cola Consolidated; Mega-Booth – Brokers Unlimited. View photos.