Vending Operator of the Year: David A. Kwarciany Jr., D&S Food Services Inc., Menomonee Falls, Wis.

Dec. 4, 2008
David A. Kwarciany Jr. knows the way to run a successful business is to be good to employees, offer top quality and ask for what’s needed to remain profitable.

David A. Kwarciany Jr. knows the way to run a successful business is to be good to employees, offer top quality service and consistently ask for what’s needed. That’s how, as vice president, he’s helped grow D&S Food Service Inc. from a small vending company started by his father into a multi-million dollar independent that remains competitive in the Milwaukee, Wis. market. “When I became vice president, we were relatively insignificant in our market,” said Kwarciany, the 2008 Automatic Merchandiser Vending Operator of the Year. “I saw a lot of opportunity.”


One opportunity Kwarciany saw was to invest in the company itself. “We have never stopped reinvesting in our company,” he said. Even in slow times, such as 2008, Kwarciany still plans to reinvest and grow the business.

Another key strategy Kwarciany believes in is being a good employer to employees. Although D&S has experienced soft sales, it has not yet reached a point where Kwarciany has been forced to reduce the workforce. “Our goal will always be to try to keep all of our people,” Kwairaciany said.

For Kwarciany, the biggest strategy to getting through this tough economic climate is to look at the cost of doing business: labor, vehicles, production costs, etc. He plans to reexamine all of his operating costs and keep them in line with sales projections.

Having been working at D&S since childhood, Kwarciany knows it inside and out. “I’ve worked in the family business from a very young age; it was my part-time job; it’s what we did as a family,” he said.

The vending business was run out of the Kwarciany family house then, and when he was eight, Kwarciany became the warehouse manager (the title he gave himself) of the basement and garage storage areas. The coin counter was in the closet and ham salad sandwiches were his mother’s recipe. Through the years, Kwarciany continued to assist the business in a variety of roles. “As in the case with most small family owned vending businesses, (I wore) all the hats at some time or another,” said Kwaricany. He fixed machines, filled machines, delivered machines, searched for customers, learned computer programs, and more.

The biggest change for D&S was probably that under second generation ownership (Kwaricany and three of his siblings), the company added a number of foodservice related businesses that diversified its customer base. The company now includes vending, catering, corporate dining, OCS and banquet services.


Kwarciany understands the industry has changed. In the past, there was more fun at the association gatherings, even among competitors. “There was more business to go around,” said Kwarciany. “Our customer base was more manufacturing; now it’s more service industry based.”

The result has been a more competitive environment. In the coming year, Kwarciany admits to a possible slow down due to decreased business, but he plans never to stop investing and growing the business.

Already D&S has moved from strictly vending to a full foodservice business in order to become a one-stop shop for customers. The commissary has been a huge part of D&S’s success. It has been a point of difference that has allowed D&S to target healthy eating with its “Keep Your Balance” initiative, a mix of nutritional guidelines. D&S computes the nutritional facts of its recipes with a computer program, then provides that information to the customer.

Other business opportunities D&S won due to its commissary is the senior meals program for Milwaukee County, which provides seniors with meals for weekends, holidays, to-go lunches, etc.

With the abilities the commissary provides, event and corporate catering were logical next steps. The Davians Banquet and Conference Center was built to bring in more diversified customers. It’s a 9,000-square-foot facility adjacent to D&S’ corporate office and available for public functions. It was named the number one place to hold a wedding for the Metropolitan Milwaukee in 2007, by WISN-TV.

With larger margins available in catering and banquet services, D&S grew into a stronger business. It’s a single company for a wide range of foodservice needs.


Another area Kwarciany has invested in is cashless equipment, both debit and credit cards readers. “We use cashless payment systems in some accounts,” said Kwarciany. “Some are very successful and some are marginal.” Currently, the company is looking at a payment system program for a client that would allow a card system that deducts money from employee paychecks.

Father most shaped his career

Though maintaining a good father-son relationship while working through childhood was sometimes challenging, Kwarciany said that without a doubt, the most influential person in his career was his father, David Kwarciany Sr. David Jr. describes his dad as someone who was always working multiple jobs at once. “He always worked two jobs as far as I can remember and it was during that time when he started his third job … D&S Vending,” which David Jr. continues as vice president with many other people at his side.

It’s a tribute to Kwarciany that he has spent his life in vending and continues to help lead D&S into the future. He strives to provide a high quality product and high quality service. And it shows, as D&S continues to be a successful independent that proves the one-stop-shop approach can be a competitive advantage.

Profile: D&S Food Service Inc.
Headquarters Location: Menomonee Falls, Wis.
Founded: 1958
Owner: Second generation Kwarcianys (four children)
Number of Routes: 34 vending, 2 OCS, 16 corporate dining accounts
Number of Employees: 240
Annual Sales: not revealed