Marco Beverage Systems offers operators a steady income flow with their sleek and stylish water system, FRIIA. Additionally, with the meteoric rise in cold brew consumption, Marco is well positioned with POUR’D to successfully partner with operators who seek a sustainable and easy cold brew solution.
Vending Market Watch contributing editor Bob Tullio recently caught up with Marco’s Matt Dudley to learn more about these inventive solutions. Established in 1980 in Dublin, Ireland, Marco Beverage Systems entered the U.S .market in 2008. Dudley is national sales director and has been with company since 2016.
“We’ve seen some nice growth in the US operator market”
BOB TULLIO: It’s obviously been an interesting couple of years for you, dealing with COVID-19 and the slowdown in office environments. Are you optimistic about 2022?
MATT DUDLEY: Absolutely. It’s incredible when you consider what Marco has accomplished during the pandemic. FRIIA, our hot, cold and sparkling water dispenser system, rolled out in March 2020, the week that the world shut down. Yet, we’ve seen some nice growth in the US operator market.
POUR’D, our cold brew system that utilizes bag in box concentrate or RTD (ready-to-drink) cold brew, rolled out in mid-2021 and is really starting to gain traction as operators begin to understand how POUR’D makes it so easy to get into the cold brew business.
Would you say that Marco is well positioned as office populations grow?
Without question. But while we did use this time to cultivate many great relationships over the past two years with office designers, cold brew roasters and operators, we also made several deals that will really come to fruition in the coming months.
“Scott Berman and his team at Canteen Vending like the FRIIA unit”
Like the relationship with Canteen?
That’s correct. You wrote about it 2021. Scott Berman and his team at Canteen like the FRIIA unit and we have enjoyed some success working with them in several markets. I know that Canteen is as excited as we are about placing many more FRIIA units as offices reopen.
Let’s talk about FRIIA. Why would an office manager want to have FRIIA, as opposed to a simple, traditional, water unit in their business?
First, offices are trying to entice their staff back and give them better experiences than they would get working from home. We know people are increasingly healthy conscious, and FRIIA gives workers access to fresh, healthy hydration and the ability to make several beverages from a single solution. Secondly, FRIIA is a space saver. FRIIA takes up very little space, about a four-inch square on the countertop. Plus - it elevates the image of a break room or wherever the client places a FRIIA unit. The sleek look, the style of FRIIA – that is what immediately attracts clients.
To what extent are your orders generated by office designers who are captivated after seeing FRIIA?
That happens all the time. In fact, most of our FRIIA sales have come because of being specified into a larger project by a designer. As you and I have talked about before, we have been placed into far more offices by designers than operators at this point. Far more, but we expect to see much more operator involvement in the coming months.
When a designer reaches out to you and wants FRIIA, does that create an opportunity for operators to supply the FRIIA, install it, maintain it and charge a rental for it?
“There are advantages to being part of our operator network”
There are, and we give those opportunities to operators who are working with us. With FRIIA, they enjoy ongoing rentals, filter maintenance revenue and often, it opens the doors to some huge office coffee service, vending or micro market businesses. There are advantages to being part of our operator network.
“POUR’D offers the same sleek and stylish design as FRIIA”
Let’s talk about Marco Beverage’s cold brew solution, POUR’D. What are the defining characteristics of this system?
POUR’D offers the same sleek and stylish design as FRIIA, but with the added benefits of being able to dispense cold coffee or syrups. So again, we have interest from designers and any clients who seek to elevate their breakroom experience.
But unlike most cold brew systems, POUR’D does not work with traditional cold brew kegs, correct?
No kegs, just RTD or bag in box concentrate.
“POUR'D eliminates the need for kegs and for CO2 tanks”
What is the significance of eliminating the kegs?
Where do I start? Kegs require refrigeration. Kegs are difficult to handle, hard on the environment and logistically expensive to deal with. Kegs and CO2 tanks are the No. 1 pain point that keeps operators out of the cold brew business.
POUR'D eliminates the need for kegs and for CO2 tanks. It enables the use of concentrates or RTD. It adds flexibility and takes away a lot of the cumbersome aspects of a traditional cold brew program.
“Another important relationship is with a company called BKON, a cold brew producer”
In order for POUR’D to become more widely used, you need to get cold brew makers on board. How is that process coming along?
Very well. Roasters are seeing the opportunity that comes with shelf stable RTD cold brew and bag in box concentrate. I’m sure you saw the recent announcement regarding our relationship with La Colombe. That was a nice step forward.
Any other roasters jumping in?
Another important relationship is with a company called BKON, a cold brew producer right outside of Philadelphia. They work with roasters in a way that has driven the growth of POUR’D. Café Intelligentsia for example, can send hundreds of pounds of roasted beans to BKON, who in turn, converts their beans into Café Intelligentsia cold brew and cold brew concentrate. BKON produces bag in box, so we have been working with them quite a bit.
“We are very serious about sustainability at Marco Beverage Systems”
Do you urge operators to sell POUR’D and FRIIA as a sustainable solution?
We are very serious about sustainability at Marco Beverage Systems. Our products are designed to be market leaders in energy-efficiency. Beyond that, we’re consciously improving our packaging, practices. and processes to be more sustainable.
With FRIIA, from an energy efficiency standpoint, it is about 22% more efficient than similar systems and most of that, comes from the hot water savings. Our hot water boiler uses vacuum insulation. It's basically like a coffee urn on the inside. You can put your hand right against the boiler when it's at full temperature and there is no heat loss coming out of it. It's about 70% more efficient just for the hot water side, than competitive products. Of course, FRIIA often eliminates single use plastic water bottles, walls of 5-gallon bottles and the massive carbon footprint that comes with it.
With POUR'D, we're very proud of the fact that it helps to eliminate single-use plastics and encourages people to reuse and reduce the amount of waste that results from it. POUR'D is absolutely better for the environment because eliminating kegs means that cold storage is no longer needed. Again, the carbon footprint is minimized because an operator is not transporting kegs and CO2 tanks.
“Cold brew is taking up increasing shelf space because the demand is there”
What do you say to operators who are reluctant to sell cold brew?
I say there is no longer a reason to miss out on the revenue opportunity. Look at the retail shelves. Cold brew is taking up increasing shelf space because the demand is there. Industry studies identify cold brew as the fastest growing product in coffee houses.
Do you see cold brew as a way for operators to find some of that lost revenue that will occur due to a decreased workplace population?
I would say that about both FRIIA and POUR’D. FRIIA delivers steady rental income and filter changing revenue whether there are 100 people or 50 people in the office. POUR’D is a new revenue channel for an operator who has avoided cold brew in the past. Plus, being shelf stable is critical because as we have seen, office populations can fluctuate from week to week.
“I say there is no longer a reason to miss out on the revenue opportunity”
If I’m an operator, what are the ideal locations for FRIIA and POUR’D?
We have enjoyed success in major markets on both coasts and we are seeing increasing interest in other areas, including Chicago and Texas. High tech, entertainment, finance and law are all attracted to FRIIA and POUR’D. Great candidates for our products include any company who is using a designer for their office, a company that is moving into a new space, a company that is asking you, “How can we elevate the experience to bring people back to the office?”
Is there anything new and exciting coming from Marco Beverage Systems this year?
I can’t tell you everything about it just yet, but we are working on a way to allow the end user to make cold brew coffee on location. It could be a game changer in the right locations.
How can operators learn more about FRIIA and POUR’D?
BOB TULLIO is a content specialist who advises operators in the convenience services industry on how to build a successful business from the ground up and advises suppliers on how to successfully connect with operators. Tullio’s YouTube channel, b2b Perspective, is designed to “elevate your business in two minutes.” Tullio is currently developing an online course, Leverage the power of LinkedIn to grow your business. Visit tullioB2B.com to learn more about VMW's contributing editor and his b2b services.