Automatic Merchandiser is proud to present the 2022 Most Influential Women in Convenience Services Awards. We recognize these individuals who have made a positive impact on the convenience services industry or their organization. This award is a celebration of their achievements and spotlights the most influential women who are shaping the future of the industry. We appreciate everyone who submitted a nomination for a colleague deserving of this award.
Congratulations to the 2022 Automatic Merchandiser Most Influential Women in Convenience Services award winners!
Co-chair, Labor and Employment Service Group, SmithAmundsen LLC
At SmithAmundsen, Heather Bailey is co-chair of the firm’s Labor and Employment Practice Group and the fourth woman owner of the firm. She spearheaded and serves on the firm’s Committee for Diversity and Inclusion, helping to recruit, retain and mentor attorneys and staff of all backgrounds. For more than 21 years, Bailey has concentrated her practice in employment and labor counseling and litigation. Through her practice, she’s become a leader in the vending industry and a go-to advisor for employers/operators. Her counseling on day-to-day operations has helped those in the vending industry gain success and avoid legal pitfalls. She has served as an employment and labor Knowledge Source Partner of NAMA since 2003, offering operators complimentary guidance and speaking at various NAMA Shows, Fly-Ins and state council meetings throughout the years. Bailey is also involved in community events and organizations. For the last 15 years, she has participated in the annual Chicago Polar Plunge to raise money and awareness for the Special Olympics. She also serves on the Advisory Council of the Illinois Restaurant Association, is a past president of the Professional Women’s Club of Chicago, and is an EC member of ProVisors, where she is now the diversity, equity and inclusion liaison and host for the Women’s Affinity Group.
Founder/Owner, Well-Bean Coffee Roasters
Melissa Brown is a self-made entrepreneur, receiving her inspiration to become a roaster while visiting coffee farms in Nicaragua on a ministry trip. Beginning with only a passion and a few setbacks, she evolved from a campus-based coffee cart to a full-fledged, high-quality roaster and OCS, vending, micro market and pantry operator. After selling her route business, Brown continued to build her roasting business while making time to contribute to industry educational sessions as a charismatic presenter and panelist at NAMA events. She is always eager to help operators, suppliers and brokers, providing valuable input.
CEO, Translucent LLC
After years in mid-level management positions at some of the largest companies, Patty Closser decided to start Translucent. The vision for the company was to help operators be successful in markets and technology and learn how to take their operations to the next level. As Closser always says, “It’s all about the operators!” She is deserving of this award as a most influential leader in our industry.
Operations Manager, Gimme
Lindsay Easter has been awarded one of the Most Influential Women in Convenience Services because of her ability to put herself in the shoes of operators. Empathy is one of Gimme’s core values, and it is where Easter excels as a customer success/service employee. Even though she is new to the industry, Easter is experienced and talented in her ability to talk to anyone, and customers feel heard when working with her. She also loves this industry and is passionate about bringing new technology to improve this space. She goes above and beyond to understand convenience service operators from every role within the organization, from owners to route drivers to service techs and sales. An example of this is getting up at 3 a.m. to answer support calls, or one step further, in riding along with a route driver at 3 a.m. during product deployments. Plus, she’s a coffee lover, so she’s always excited to be a product tester for the operators who make their own brand of craft coffee.
CEO, Nayax LLC
Carly Furman has been an integral part of Nayax since she joined the company in 2014 as chief financial officer of Nayax’s subsidiary companies at its R&D headquarters in Israel. Due to her hard work, in 2016, Furman was asked to relocate to Hunt Valley, Maryland, where she established Nayax’s North American office, serving as CEO since then. Furman has been responsible for growing Nayax’s North American customer base to almost 11,000 unattended business operators, making the North American branch the largest Nayax subsidiary. She has also had a global reach, being heavily involved in taking Nayax public, as the company made its debut on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange in 2021. She has worked hard to ensure that North American merchants and consumers have access to the latest payment technologies, such as APMs when using Nayax’s solution. She has pushed for EMV (Europay, Mastercard, Visa) compliance, recognizing its importance and educating the market on this topic. Furman has a B.A. in economics with an emphasis on accounting from the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB), and is a registered CPA.
Vice President of Sales for the Vending, Office Coffee, Military and Campus Segments, Vistar
Jamie Guadagnino has recently been promoted to vice president of sales for the vending, office coffee, military and campus segments. She began her career at Vistar in customer service and has held several positions within Vistar, including purchasing, customer service management, sales management, national account management and operations general manager. Currently, Guadagnino is the president at Vistar Arizona. She has grown throughout the company, exceeding at each level.
Managing Director, Bulk Vending Systems
Julie Hurran has led from the front during the last couple of testing years at Bulk Vending Systems from Brexit to Covid. She supports women in vending, and 80% of the management at Bulk Vending Systems are women, which is a massive achievement in a male-dominated industry. She is an inspiration, a rock of support to all who work for her, and a role model.
Owner, Kane’s Distributing
Lorna Kane grew up in the vending and convenience industry. She bought Kane’s Distributing from her parents when they retired in 1999. She has maintained a tight-knit community at her company despite challenges during the COVID crisis. With the first lockdown in 2020, Canadian businesses were forced to keep their doors shut unless essential, but Kane’s Distributing was deemed essential because it sells PPE products. Kane’s innovative, entrepreneurial mind has helped keep the company thriving, as she was the impetus for them to diversify and move into other industries such as micro markets. She also decided to partner with Nayax and shift to more cashless payment solutions.
Owner, Lorraine Magnussen Sole Proprietor
While attending Lynchburg College, Lorraine Magnussen worked part-time in the restaurant industry. Throughout her career, Magnussen dealt with vision impairment, and in 1986, she joined the Virginia Randolph-Sheppard program. She has managed many convenience businesses in numerous secure federal facilities. Her success is all about her employees. She is a member of various associations for the blind and is helpful to many Randolph-Sheppard Vendors. She has served the Pentagon personnel for 20 years.
Account Executive C-Store, Burdette Beckmann Inc. (BBI)
Ashley Marcellus is an account executive for the C-Store channel at Burdette Beckmann Inc. (BBI), a national sales agency established in 1955. BBI provides innovative solutions centered on short-term strategy, long-term growth, and unique capabilities in omni-channel and traditional segments. With trade shows cancelled due to COVID-19, the company was faced with new challenges without the opportunity to showcase items in person. Marcellus created a virtual trade show vehicle called “BBI’s Early Access Box” for manufacturers. This took the company’s trade shows and business to the next level by literally “thinking outside the box.” Marcellus was able to pivot to help BBI clients maximize their experience successfully. She introduced the BBI Early Access Box, offering a sneak peek at manufacturer’s items and deals in virtual trade shows. It included product samples, deal sheets and links to short videos of each manufacturer’s items and deals. It is inspiring how Marcellus tackled a problem and created a unique way to advance and thrive during unprecedented circumstances. Due to her ingenuity, the entire Southeast C-Store team was able to partake in a virtual new way of conducting business and achieve sales. Marcellus led a traditional sales process into a brand-new novel and creative idea with finding an innovative solution.
President, First Class Vending
Michelle Marsh has played an integral role in taking First Class Vending to where it is today. Her dedicated leadership has allowed the company to continue to pursue its goals and keep true to its values. As president, she cares about her employees and her employees’ families. She isn’t afraid to tackle any issue – from employee retention to product availability. She feels very strongly that all the employees in the company, from warehouse to management, are an integral part of the team. She has a unique perspective that she brings to the company when it comes to contracts, hiring and best practices. She provides encouragement, passion and kind-heartedness. Prior to becoming president of First Class, Marsh worked as an advocate in the field of domestic violence. She is passionate about helping others to become the best version of themselves. Through community partnerships, First Class has been able to provide opportunities to men and women re-entering the workforce. Marsh believes that happy employees are the heart of a successful business. She helps empower employees to be stronger and achieve their dreams, no matter their past, and she gives back to the community through volunteer work, donations and events.
Beverage Specialist, PrairieFire Coffee Roasters
As a beverage specialist at PrairieFire Coffee Roasters, Angela Robuck has learned the lingo, functionality and even ability to install some of the coffee equipment herself in new accounts. She is eager to learn, motivated and driven to be the best at what she sets out to accomplish each day. Among her account team, she is the only female out of seven members, and Robuck outsold all of them in 2021 and was named the company’s beverage specialist of the year. She provides excellent communication to her customers and has built long-lasting friendships due to her professionalism and hard work.
Vice President, Human Resources, Five Star Food Service
Peggy Russell serves on the senior leadership team for Five Star Food Service, Canteen’s largest franchise. Since 2007, Russell has successfully guided the company through two recessions and a pandemic. Today, her team supports a growing base of just over 2,000 employees located in eight states. Russell is a leader and advocate for diversity, respect and fairness in the workplace. She is highly committed to her practice, holding an MBA and maintaining multiple certifications through SHRM and HRCI. Russell currently serves as a founding board member of Five Star’s nonprofit 501c3 foundation Feeding the Future, which raises money to donate to local food banks creating meals for kids facing hunger.
Micro Market Specialist, Empire Vending, LLC
Sandy Schoenthaler has been referred to by many as a hurricane in this industry and with good reason. She first joined Empire Vending as a consultant in 2019 when it landed its first micro market and quickly realized that the energy and atmosphere at the company matched her incredible ambition, and she decided to join full-time. Since then, Schoenthaler has helped lead the company to become a major hitter. She continually puts her best foot forward. With her dedication to this industry, she is influential to many, but most importantly, to strong women everywhere like her.
Vice President of Customer Operations, Cantaloupe Inc.
Sarah Shelton has been in the convenience services industry for 12 years, working closely with customers and operations teams to ensure they are taken care of – from onboarding to support. As technology and the industry have evolved, Shelton has continued to strive at making sure that the company is optimizing every step of the customer journey along the way. She started with Cantaloupe, formerly USA Technologies, in 2011 where she first worked on the marketing team, and throughout the years, she has worked across all customer-facing business units, including revenue, support and customer success. Shelton has proven that she serves not only as an inspiration but also as an advocate to other female leaders within Cantaloupe. In her role today, while she may be behind the scenes ensuring processes are streamlined, the sales team is enabled to sell, and customers are getting a simple and easy experience every time, she continues to make a tremendous impact. Shelton is truly an inspiration to the employees at Cantaloupe and deserves the recognition as an influential woman in convenience services.
Founder/CEO/Chef, Koala Kolache
Vatsana Souvannavong is a visionary who has leveraged leading-edge vending technology in a new way. She customized a Bake Xpress robotic hot food vending kiosk to function as a bakery ATM, allowing her to meet her customers’ requests for longer open hours and more locations. Koala Kolache is able to open new locations throughout Texas without the capital required to build out a new storefront or find employees. Souvannavong has highlighted the possibilities of the latest vending technology and elevated the perception of vending foods to unprecedented levels. She taught herself how to make award-winning pastries and promoted them by donating her products to local schools and events, a commitment to community that she continues to emphasize throughout her business. She also served a need in other sites like local hospitals where round-the-clock foodservice is needed but not possible. Also, the new vector of her business is sustainable even during the unpredictability presented by COVID or other challenges.
Vice President of Marketing, Cantaloupe Inc.
Elyssa Steiner has been an innovator in the convenience services industry since her early days with Avanti Markets. Steiner now serves as the vice president of marketing at Cantaloupe Inc. where she has raised the bar on creating impactful programs to empower sales and give customers the tools they need to succeed. She embodies the perfect mix of creativity, responsibility and humility, while inspiring everyone she works with to do their best. She is a wealth of industry knowledge and has helped lead the way for the adoption of disruptive technologies across the industry. In a traditionally male-dominated industry, Steiner exemplifies what it means to be a female leader and powerhouse at Cantaloupe. She is truly passionate about this industry, demonstrated through her advocacy and leadership within NAMA and helping to push the industry forward. Steiner is a true leader who goes above and beyond to enable customer success and is absolutely one of the most influential females in the industry.
Chief Operating Officer, Vagabond Inc.
Bonnie Trush started with Vagabond as operations manager in 2016 and moved up to VP of operations before becoming chief operating officer. Everything from human resources to accounting to customer service falls under her leadership, and she is integral to resolving challenges with suppliers, customers and partners. She has organized every detail of multiple NAMA Shows for Vagabond and has helped close strategic commercial relationships to increase revenues. Trush has provided stability and a calming presence to the organization so Vagabond can help its customers perform effectively. She also brings joy and positivity to every interaction she has, even when times are stressful.
Co-CEO, SOS Group Inc.
Susanna Twarog cofounded SOS to transform people’s perception of vending through design-first machines and product curation. With market expansions expected this year, Twarog is working with leaders across corporate America to redefine how people access health and wellness essentials on-the-go. Her inspiration is rooted in an obsession over the lack of access and functional design (especially for women) in places where we work, play and travel. It started as a frustrating moment on a trading floor and has expanded to something so much bigger. Twagog says she loves a challenge – and the naysayers drive them to think even more ambitiously.
Regional Vice President, Canteen
Lynne Verschueren started in the industry in 1982 as a route driver and was one of a few female route drivers at that time. When she was pregnant, she continued to work full-time and ran the route right up until a week before giving birth. Her hard work was noticed, and she was promoted to customer service manager in the Portland, Oregon, branch, overseeing multiple route drivers and managing client relationships. She was promoted to district operations manager, where she helped mentor several managers, and in 2020, she became regional vice president over all Canteen operations in Oregon and Washington. Her positive attitude, calm demeanor and work ethic make her an outstanding leader.
EVP of Corporate Development and Operations, 365 Retail Markets
Brittany Westerman joined 365 Retail Markets in 2015 working on cross-functional strategic projects, including acquisitions and integrations. By combining her strong academic background in engineering and business administration from the University of Michigan with her keen grasp of convenience services industry, Westerman has taken on increasingly challenging roles at 365 Retail Markets. In her current role as the EVP of corporate development and operations, she is involved in defining the strategy for growth and evaluating new opportunities to expand the product offerings to 365’s customers. During the height of the pandemic, as the whole world was grappling with supply chain issues, Westerman and her team quietly worked with several suppliers, finding alternate sources to keep the products rolling out from the assembly line helping operators throughout the convenience services industry in keeping lights on for their clients. Through her direct involvement in evaluating new opportunities for M&A and overseeing post-transaction integration, Westerman has been instrumental in fueling the growth of 365 and the overall technology footprint in the convenience services industry.
Telesales Manager, Burdette Beckmann Inc. (BBI)
Tammy Whittemore is telesales manager at Burdette Beckmann Inc. (BBI), a national sales agency established in 1955. Whittemore has earned the respect of her clients and direct reports by delivering the desired results. She is professional and takes ownership in the performance of her team. She has built quite the network of connections within the industry. 2021 certainly was a challenging year, but Whittemore consistently provides direction and leadership to the team. She works closely with each of BBI’s AEs and field team on the day-to-day business to include improving productivity, sales training and support along with client expectations, scorecards and business reviews. Even with the loss of one of Whittemore’s direct reports, she maintained her focus with the team and was supportive to his family. She always supports management and works to improve the telesales process and streamline and onboard new clients. Once Whittemore is given a task, she immediately takes control and responsibility of the process to ensure a successful outcome.
Product Manager, 365 Retail Markets
Mallory Wonoski is an eight-year veteran of 365 Retail Markets. Having started as a graphic designer in the marketing department in 2014, Wonoski had a front row seat to the evolving product expansion of 365 early on. This provided her with a wealth of product knowledge that eventually led her to join the product management team of 365, becoming the mobile product manager. In that role, she spearheaded the creation of the 365Pay mobile app, which required alliances to be formed across the convenience services industry. Her efforts and partnerships ushered in the first accessible consumer app in the industry with 365Pay. Wonoski also contributed to the launch of the NanoMarket tablet, the PicoCooler, the PicoVend and PicoVend mini and later, PicoMarket and PicoMarket+. Wonoski received a B.A. of mass communications from Rochester University and User Experience Certification from the University of Michigan, and she joined the Emerging Leaders Network (ELN) as part of her commitment to NAMA and the industry. She was also featured as part of the inaugural 40 under 40 in 2021 by Automatic Merchandiser. Wonoski is an annual attendee of the NAMA Show and NAMA’s Coffee, Tea and Water event, representing 365 Retail Markets.
Canteen of Coastal California