Manufacturer of the Year John May

July 22, 2014

John May is excited to be building Sara Lee Coffee & Tea's presence in the refreshment services industry, and given his first-hand knowledge of OCS as an operator for many years, few are in a better position than he is to make this happen.

May, western region manager for the Sara Lee Coffee & Tea Inc.'s specialty division, is a 35-year OCS industry veteran and the 2010 Automatic Merchandiser Manufacturer of the Year.

Working from his Seattle, Wash. office, May is excited about bringing Sara Lee Coffee & Tea's line of coffees and cappuccinos to market, along with the liquid-based Douwe Egberts single-cup machine.

May entered the business on the operations side working for the Clearwater, Fla. Hav-a-Cup Coffee Service branch. He remembers dressing up the sales staff in Juan Valdez costumes, which attracted the local media.

After helping establish Hav-a-Cup Coffee Service in Clearwater, Fla., May joined the late Stuart Daw in establishing Nationwide Gourmet's Clearwater, Fla. operation.

From Nationwide Gourmet, in 1984 May seized an opportunity to move to the West Coast and took over managing Professional Coffee Service in Los Angeles. Three years later, after the passing of that company's owner, John Tuggle, May sold that company to Secretary Coffee in Southern California and stayed on as a regional manager until that company was acquired in the early 1990s by Japan-based Daiohs Corp., which renamed the company First Choice Services.

In 1992, May moved to Spokane, Wash. to launch The Coffee Man, where he stayed for 12 years before selling the company to Coffee Systems Inc.

Java Trading Co., the Renton, Wash.-based roaster, then recruited May as national sales manager, overseeing 20 distribution centers.

Four years ago, Sara Lee Coffee & Tea Inc. recruited him for the same role with their company.

May has found that commitment to service is the foundation for success, no matter what side of the OCS business you are in. "Never back away from what you've committed to do," he said. "That's been my success."

He is excited to be part of Sara Lee Coffee & Tea, which has undergone reorganization in the last year in its specialty coffee division. He said the company has pared its offerings to its top selling products, and has established one price list for all commercial customers. His responsibilities include office, foodservice and business and industry customers.

On the vending side, he is excited about the promise that the Douwe Egberts single-cup brewer has shown in the Avanti Markets self-checkout system.

Avanti Markets' unique self-checkout kiosk system allows patrons to choose from hundreds of products at convenience store pricing. Customers can pay for their purchase with cash, credit cards, debit cards, or with

Avanti Markets value key tags.

The Douwe Egberts machine can serve the customer a cup of coffee in the Avanti Market.

"You can put in an on-demand system without somebody there having to make it," May said.

May continues to love the business as much as ever. "I like drinking a quality cup of coffee," he said. "I like the people in our industry. They are hard working, honest, nose-to-the-grindstone people."