MYRTLE BEACH, SC - The Embassy Suites at Kingston Plantation was the chosen venue for the 64th edition of the Atlantic Coast Exposition (ACE) where operators and suppliers from all across the US gathered to take part in educational sessions, see and show new products and equipment. The theme: “Kick Up Your Spurs at ACE 2017” produced many country and western looks across the venue. The exhibit halls were packed – each room filled with booths and exhibitors spoke of the increased operator traffic and excitement about the show. Participants from 32 states and Canada took part in this three-day convention that is the largest show of its kind on the East Coast and for the second year in a row, attendance has topped the 1000 mark!
On Thursday, meetings were held by two of the state vending associations that partner in ACE: NCVA (NC Vending Association) and VAMA (Virginia Automatic Merchandising Association). This year there were two optional sessions: One on Leadership on Thursday and Friday morning offered a OSC training. As always, there were three educational sessions on Friday which were included in the show’s registration fee. Sessions were: Legislative & Policy Session by Sheree Edwards from NAMA; Vending Technology with Panelists moderated by Patrick Shaw and an extended MicroMarkets Session with Panelists led by Scott Halloran.
Other events that offered networking opportunities included a twinkling “ACE Ho Down Party” with special entertainment by western performer and trick roper, Loop Rawlings; Saturday was the “ACE Corn Hole Pool Party” and throughout the week, a country saloon provided beverages for the thirsty attendees.
The Saturday ACE Trailblazers Awards Breakfast gave us a moving and inspirational Keynote by Keni Thomas – Army Ranger in the Black Hawk Down mission related to Operation Restore Hope – said to be the best ACE keynote speaker in many years. Beforehand, awards were given to the following: NCVA Vendor of the Year: Jo Dee Jolley, Canteen Vending; NCVA Supplier of the Year: Randy Quirk, Pepsi Bottling Ventures;; and VAMA Supplier of the Year: Michael Frye, Southeast Vending Services. A plaque presented to Mark Matthews was given to honor his year-long commitment and valued leadership as the 2017 ACE Planning Committee Chair. The Lifetime Achievement Award was presented to Tim Bailey, President, Mid South Division Canteen Vending. First Place Booth awards were given to companies in three different categories that embraced the Kick Up Your Spurs show theme. Prizes went to: Single Booth –The Hershey Company; Multi-Booth – Crane Merchandising Systems; and Mega-Booth – Pepsi Bottling Ventures. In addition, the committee presented plaques to the highest corporate Diamond level sponsors whose generous contributions make ACE 2017 a success. Thank you to ACE Diamond sponsors: Coca-Cola Bottling Company Consolidated, Pepsi Bottling Ventures, PepsiCo Food Service, USA Technologies and Vistar. Photos can be seen on the website.
In an effort to make contributions beyond the show, ACE held a Silent Auction to benefit Breast Cancer Research plus suppliers donated a truck full of remaining products from the show to the local food bank – Community Kitchen of Myrtle Beach.
ACE is an industry-only event and registration is open to anyone in the vending, office coffee or food service business, including those involved in contract food service in schools, colleges and hospitals. Additional information is available from the ACE office: Visit www.atlanticcoastexpo.com, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 919-387-1221. The ACE Planning Committee began planning ACE 2018 event on the Sunday following the show’s closing. Next year’s dates are October 11-13 at Embassy Suites Kingston Plantation.