New Jersey vendor tabs Florida operation to add dedicated OCS company

March 21, 2011
Culinary Ventures partners with Paramount Automated Food Services Inc. to launch OCS company in New Jersey.

Vending operators looking to expand into OCS usually consider two choices: starting their own OCS business or buying an existing one.

One well established vending company, Union, N.J.-based Culinary Ventures Vending, took a different approach. It partnered with an out-of-state operation experienced in OCS to launch its own OCS company. The out-of-state company handles the sales and administrative functions. So far, it’s worked out well.

Two years ago, partners Tom DiNardo and Joe Belasco, Jr. teamed with Pompano Beach, Fla.-based Paramount Automated Food Services Inc. to form Paramount Coffee Services. Paramount Coffee Services operates out of Culinary Ventures’ Union, N.J. facility but is managed by Paramount Automated Food Services’ offices in Florida.

Scott Guardino, general manager of Paramount Automated Food Services, is general manager of the new venture. Guardino divides his time between Union, N.J. and Florida.

The foundation for the new company came from Rolly Espinoza, operations manager, Peter Walsch, sales manager, and Joe Guardino, (Scott Guardino’s son) the route manager.

Dedicated OCS routes emerge

In two years, the company has grown to a handful of dedicated OCS routes in the highly competitive metropolitan New York City and northern New Jersey market. The OCS offerings include national brand fractional packs, private label fractional packs, single-cup systems, ancillary products and water services.

“A big ‘solicit’ has been for our own vending routes,” noted DiNardo, vice president of Culinary Ventures Vending.

DiNardo and Belasco didn’t have a lot of time to think about OCS when they bought Culinary Ventures Service Group Inc. in 1994. At the time, the company was primarily a manual feeding operation with some vending business. The partners, having extensive business backgrounds, decided shortly after buying Culinary Ventures Service Group they wanted to focus on vending, and in the first five years, they divested the manual feeding business.

By the time the company was fully focused on vending, many of their competitors already had a head start in OCS. As time passed, DiNardo and Belasco recognized that OCS was a growing business and they needed to be in it.

The partners knew Scott Guardino, and they realized he knew a lot about OCS. They reasoned that a joint venture with Guardino acting as general manager made a lot of sense. They launched Paramount Coffee Services in 2009.

Guardino, who has roots in the greater New York metropolitan area, commuted to New Jersey and oversaw the organizing of the OCS warehouse and vehicles. He hired onsite operations and sales managers for the New Jersey OCS business.

Guardino developed an OCS product list similar to the one his own company uses, including Paramount’s private label coffee.

An 8-person support staff is based in Florida, including the controller, purchasing manager and telemarketers.

The toll free service number on the New Jersey OCS company’s trucks is answered by service reps in Florida.

The New Jersey drivers carry route handhelds and the data is managed in Florida.

“It’s been hugely successful,” Guardino said.