As sales slowly rebound, OCS operators should focus carefully on NAMA Show solutions

April 18, 2023
OCS operators should focus on finding profitable solutions that will serve them well as the office recovery takes shape.

While OCS operators are reporting increased office populations on both coasts (the middle of the country is somewhat slower to catch up), the industry remains challenging. With this backdrop, OCS operators should approach the 2023 NAMA convention floor with a focus on finding profitable solutions that will serve them well as the office recovery takes shape.

Focus on client needs

Paul Tullio, of Five Star Food Service in Atlanta, said that before attending the NAMA Show, operators should take “the temperature of their clients,” considering what their clients are asking for. “What can I provide to meet the needs of my clients going forward? That is the key question to ask as you plan for the NAMA Show,” said Tullio. “Look for additional opportunities that will increase satisfaction and sales at a location. Possibly, explore your clients’ water program and see if you can add a sparkling unit, or sparkling flavored water, which is becoming increasingly popular.”

Focus on ice

Ryan Kelly, chief marketing officer of Easy Ice, believes that OCS operators should take a long look at ice and water equipment at the NAMA Show, because the opportunity continues to grow, particularly in the area of workplace ice machines. “Ice machines were just a luxury add-on in offices, but now, we are hearing from operators that the interest in workplace ice is greater than ever,” said Kelly. “Large facilities and premium office locations now consider ice an essential part of a workplace refreshment program.”

Easy Ice offers operators a subscription program that is designed to mitigate the high cost of ice machine acquisition and service. “While there is great opportunity in the ice space, operating in that channel can be painful for operators, with a slow ROI and ongoing service challenges,” said Kelly. “Our program, which will be showcased at the NAMA Show, eliminates the pain, frees up financial resources and provides immediate positive cash flow.” Easy Ice co-sponsored “Turning Water into Gold,” an Automatic Merchandiser webinar that I moderated on Tuesday, April 18. It will be available for free, on-demand viewing.

Focus on premium water systems

Borg & Overström, a leading provider of premium drinking water dispensing solutions, was also a sponsor of the April 18 webinar, as the company is in the process of a North American product launch. Richard Gibbon, vice president of business development, notes that the opportunity for high-end, point-of-use water systems is exploding in North America, especially for attractive and affordable equipment. “We are design-led innovators who make advanced and sustainable drinking water dispensers. We currently deliver a remarkable experience globally, working with selected operator partners who need premium equipment for their clients,” said Gibbon. “We are looking forward to cultivating and exploring valuable relationships with operators at the 2023 NAMA Show.”

Focus on brands

Matthew Marsh, of First Class Vending in Las Vegas, thinks operators would be wise to focus on coffee brands, particularly brands that will generate interest with coffee service clients. “Everyone has bean-to-cup brewers – but what is new and exciting that we can bring to our clients from a coffee standpoint?” asked Marsh. “Coffee brands that excite our clients, whether it is organic or an up-and-coming name, that is something to look for at the NAMA Show.”

Focus on availability

Dan Welsh, owner of World Cup Coffee in Oregon, agrees that certain brands can open doors for OCS operators. “If you are in a sales presentation, sitting down across the table from a prospect, and your catalog has the same thing as everyone else, like Starbucks and Peet’s, it’s not going to motivate the prospect,” said Welsh. “But if you can present a name brand that has unique appeal and extreme freshness, from the roaster to the account in just a few days, that's a quality level and a service level that can really help and define you as an expert in the OCS business. We are looking for brands that can do that, but they must be readily available. The excuses about supply chain problems do not cut it anymore with customers.”

Focus on minimal maintenance

Jon Holden, vice president of sales and marketing at Michigan-based All Star Services, said operators need to find solutions that will minimize maintenance on bean-to-cup brewers. “One of the main challenges we see with bean-to-cup machines is that there isn't the population on site to get the throughput on those machines to keep them working without issue. This means that someone from either our team or the client team must do daily maintenance,” said Holden. “We will be looking for bean-to-cup solutions that are easy to clean and deal with, just a couple buttons to push, and you are all set.”

Focus on support

Pascal Ferland, marketing supervisor for Evoca North America, said that Holden is right on target in seeking simple bean-to-cup maintenance. “It’s a crucial aspect of the business, and it is something that operators should focus on as they evaluate new equipment,” said Ferland. “In today’s labor context, the machine itself is only part of the equation, and operators should be looking at how the manufacturer surrounds its products: customer support, parts availability, online resources, etc. One thing that is often overlooked is connectivity, but how valuable is it to be able to manage your assets from your office chair, like with our Sophia platform? Very, very valuable.”

Focus on expert advice

Any operator who seeks to maximize their success at the NAMA Show in Atlanta should check out Automatic Merchandiser’s Vending & OCS Nation podcast, hosted by me. April’s Vending & OCS Nation episodes offer several ideas for operators, courtesy of some giants of the industry, on how to make the 2023 NAMA Show in Atlanta a huge success. I also provide two other key content offerings.

First, some great tips on where to eat in Atlanta. Plus, each podcast provides a guaranteed way to succeed as an operator – actions I have taken in the past that absolutely work.

Featured in April’s podcasts: Arthur Siller, Judson Kleinman, Debbie McGaw, Paul Tullio, Dave Carrol, Linda Saldana, William Mandile, C.J. Recher, Evan Jarecki, Easy Ice, Borg & Overstrom, Everest Ice & Water Vending and more.

See you in Atlanta!


Bob Tullio is a content specialist, speaker, sales trainer, consultant and contributing editor of Automatic Merchandiser and He advises entrepreneurs on how to build a successful business from the ground up and specializes in helping suppliers connect with operators in the convenience services industry – coffee service, vending, micro markets and pantry service specifically. 

Subscribe to Automatic Merchandiser's new podcast, Vending & OCS Nation, hosted by Tullio and designed to make your business more profitable.

Also, check out Tullio’s b2b Perspective Channel, which has developed a loyal YouTube following.

Tullio delivers this promise to any company that hires him for a 30-minute or 1-hour Zoom call: "One short session with me will elevate the performance of your sales team.” 

About the Author

Bob Tullio

Since selling his business in January of 2017, Bob Tullio has been an active industry consultant at focused on content creation, strategic planning, sales training and business development. In addition to serving a growing client base, he has written over 50 columns and features, providing operators and others with an inside look at how he helped build a successful business from the ground up.

Phone: 818 261-1758

Email: [email protected]


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