In a place like Silicon Valley, things are continuously changing, no matter the industry. For OCS provider Associated Services, the key to success has been to stay on top of – or ahead of – the newest trends in snacks and coffee service.
What began in 1972 as a one man company has now grown to become a competitive OCS business in the Northern California area. Associated Services was the creation of Hal and Diane Steuber who grew the company one customer at a time, and then through acquisitions. In 2005, after working in the company for two decades, Hal and Diane Steuber’s son, Tom Steuber, became president and has grown the company for the last 12 years.
A lot of the company’s success has been in its innovation. When it comes to coffee, the company looks at what the consumer wants. Single-cup has been the most popular with Associated’s customers, as it gives them the ability to have a coffee shop experience without leaving the office. There has also been a strong customer preference for large bean-to-cup machines. “These machines have helped us sell new business, but they are expensive and service-intensive,” said Tom Steuber, president of Associated Services. “Customers do like to get more of the coffee house experience. They like the [bean to cup] machines because they are seen to produce less waste and customers can choose from a wider variety of coffees since any beans can be used in the machine.”
Snacks push up sales
Though coffee has been the core of its business, it has seen much of its growth in its snack offerings. “By far our snack portion of our company has truly pushed our sales up dramatically with the ability to add snacks to our existing customer base and it makes it easier to get and retain customers because we are truly a one stop shop of all of your breakroom needs,” said Trish Schneider, branch manager at Associated Services. “We are always adding new products to the mix and removing slow sellers.”
The last year has been full of changes and steady growth for the San Leandro, CA-based company. The biggest change so far has been a switch to a new computer system. “It allows us to make information to everyone easier and faster,” said Schneider. “With more information at our finger tips it is easier to know what is happening quickly which allows us to respond faster to what the customers need.”
The quest for great employees
With change, however, come challenges. This year the company has had a problem finding and retaining the best people to service all of its new locations. “Training is an ongoing process to develop everyone to the peak performance,” said Schneider. Despite the challenges that come with running a successful business, Associated Services still focuses its business on its customer service. What has stayed the same year over year is the company’s core value of taking care of its business partners and its employees and trying to keep the family atmosphere that has made it so successful.
As the company heads into a new year, they are taking on the opportunity of adding on a lot of new products that are seasonal. “[We’re] adding local roasters and organic options to mix it up and add to an ever changing product line,” said Schneider. “With all of the wonderful folks here at Associated Services everyone brings something special and adds flavor to our mix, everyone is always looking to see the next great snack and coffee we have to offer and we encourage everyone to let us know what their favorite is. That way we have a lot of people looking and adding specialty items to our lineup.”
As far as 2018 is concerned, Associated Services is optimistic. There are two trends that are related, says Steuber. “Some clients, mostly tech firms, are providing a large variety of snacks and beverages for free to their employees. We’ve been successful selling to some of these companies, but we are worried that this will scale back when there’s an economic downturn,” he said. However, he believes that there is also a second trend. “Many other companies are starting to purchase some of these same items for their employees, which is building our allied sales to existing customers. I think this trend will be sustainable and it should enable OCS providers to build sales.”