Automatic Merchandiser is pleased to announce this year’s recipients of our annual Pros to Know Awards. The esteemed awards program recognizes outstanding individuals whose accomplishments are moving the industry forward. This year marked the ninth time that readers nominated individuals and teams who have gone above and beyond to promote their companies in the vending, micro market and office coffee service industry.
The following individuals and teams have persevered through a slow recovery from the pandemic, rising costs, labor shortages, supply chain issues, elevating the workplace refreshment experience, and embracing new technology for the vending, micro market and office coffee service industry.
Senior Director of Product Marketing
Adrian Austin is responsible for the go-to-market strategy across the company’s entire product portfolio. With 8+ years in product management and marketing, Austin thrives on being able to communicate the benefits of technical products in easy-to-understand ways. Austin was instrumental in the rollout of Cantaloupe’s Remote Price Change tool (RPC), which directly addresses many of the challenges operators are facing regarding labor shortages and rising business costs. He is also an active member of NAMA’s Emerging Leaders Network. Alongside his product expertise, Austin has developed close working relationships with Cantaloupe customers, large and small. This gives him significant insight into the realities of operating a vending business and the challenges that operators face in today’s economy, which he then uses to guide the Cantaloupe product strategy to meet the needs of operators, now and into the future.
Senior Hardware Engineer
Invenda Group AG
Igor Baranovski works as a leader in product improvement and innovation. Invenda Group is now able to bring to the market an energy-efficient product – a new machine called the “Serbian Vending Machine” (SVM) designed by Baranovski. He identified a problem and, thinking out of the box, found a solution. Baranovski earned a master’s degree in mechatronics, robotics and automation, and he is currently completing his Ph.D. studies at the Department of Mechatronics, Robotics and Automation at the Faculty of Technical Sciences in Novi Sad, Serbia. He has participated as a researcher in national and international research projects and has published scientific papers in national and international journals.
J. Scott Bidding
DeMitri Chesapeake Sales Inc.
Scott Bidding has over 30 years in the industry, including sales roles with Service America Corporation (Canteen), Coca-Cola Enterprises and Vistar. Currently, he serves on the board of directors for Tri-State Automatic Merchandising Council. Bidding has also completed the NAMA Executive Development Program at Michigan State University. Celebrating 23 years with DeMitri Chesapeake Sales, he is the sales manager covering central Pennsylvania and he has taken on the responsibility of managing the sales team, increasing operator interaction and increasing facetime with suppliers.
Regional Sales Manager
Since 2019, David Barrientos has been Flowers Bakeries’ regional sales manager for the Northeast. He has played a pivotal role bridging the gap between sales and production. Barrientos has decades of experience within the industry, and he uses his experience to think outside the box and grow in new directions. He is instrumental in promoting Flowers Bakeries and shows operators and distributors alike the power of innovation and brand utilizing his products and knowledge of the vending industry.
As founder and CEO of Panoptyc, Mac Bolak has not only created a company that is helping thousands of operators catch theft, but he also continues to innovate and look ahead to the future and ways to improve the lives of micro market operators. Panoptyc uses cutting-edge AI software and smart cameras to decrease theft in micro markets and save operators time reviewing footage. Bolak, through Panopytc, has created plans and leveraged technology to meet different needs and price points across the size spectrum for both theft monitoring as well as visual assessment and analysis of stock and overall market health. As a young and determined visionary, Bolak knows the industry inside-out and is continuously looking to improve Panoptyc’s services while also exploring new opportunities within the industry. Panoptyc is in over 4,000 micro markets across the U.S., Canada and Europe.
Lindel Creed started in the vending industry many years ago as a service technician and advanced through the industry to work for machine manufacturers such as Lektro - Vend and USI. Creed has held positions in the industry such as operations manager for one of the largest refurbish centers in the U.S. before starting his own company, Vendweb.com, in 1999. He has also helped promote new concepts in vending such as age-verified dispensing systems. Vendweb.com offers services from vending machine supplier to personal assistance in coaching and consultation on vending topics.
Tom De Paola
Director of Client Relations and Sales
Dependable Break Room Solutions
Tom De Paola has 34 years of industry experience, having worked on both the supplier and operator sides of the business. His accomplishments include: Initiated seasonal promotions with a focus on specific services and developed promotions on office coffee service, ice machine leases, water filtration, holiday buying, and employee recognition. The promotional campaigns lead to new services with existing customers. De Paola also led a committee that analyzed the fresh food program by measuring current sales using a formula used in the restaurant industry to track menu performance. The result allowed Dependable Break Room Solutions to expand its selections to more premium offerings that are purchased at a higher volume without raising prices, and it reduced fresh food waste. He also helped develop and initiate a bottled beverage and premium offering of products for micro markets, which delivered higher margins for the company.
Northeast Regional Sales Manager
Ryan Fawns is regional sales manager for Vistar Northeast. His previous roles at Vistar include area sales manager and account executive. Prior to Vistar, Fawns held positions with Canteen, Quality Brokerage, and Vendors Supply. Fawns uses Vistar’s depth of product insight and availability to assist clients in keeping shelves full and profitable. He also helps clients navigate ongoing supply chain issues and shifting consumer trends. As a young, energetic and upcoming leader, Fawns is well-positioned to be a pillar in the industry.
North America Support Team Lead
Taylor Fletcher joined Nayax as support team member in 2018 and was promoted to North America support team lead in 2020. As front-facing support manager, he is keenly aware of the issues that customers face. Fletcher has worked with the onboarding and support departments to ensure that onboarding happens as smoothly and quickly as possible by improving backend automation of new Nayax accounts, enabling speedier setup by customers. In addition, he has worked to improve the implementation of new customers, ensuring they are able to begin earning money with Nayax products as soon as possible to alleviate any issues they might have felt due to delays in the supply chain. Fletcher has also contributed to the self-service troubleshooting portal that enables Nayax customers to easily address their own problems in their own time. Fletcher has both a B.A. and MBA from Franklin Pierce University.
365 Retail Markets
Justin Frazzini began his career at 365 Retail Markets in 2018 on the customer support team. In this role, he served as the liaison between larger operators and support, identifying and troubleshooting challenges. In 2019, Frazzini joined the account services team supporting 365’s largest strategic partner, gaining a solid understanding of their business drivers. Now as lead account manager, he operates from a strong passion and dedication to ensuring customer success. With his niche skill to provide keen consultation on the right products to suit customer needs, he has assisted 365’s clients in growing their customer base. He has also driven large complex projects that streamlined processes for his clients resulting in significant cost and time savings, solidifying his value not only to his clients but also to 365 Retail Markets. Frazzini is a graduate of Walsh College with a bachelor’s degree in business and a master’s degree in business management.
Director of Marketing
365 Retail Markets
As director of marketing for 365, Navreet Gill currently oversees the team that handles all marketing and communications activities for the company, including events, digital marketing, brand management and product launches. In her short time within the industry, Gill has established herself as a trusted and respected individual with operators, suppliers and internal colleagues. She consistently delivers great experiences through events, supports operators’ goals through communication and education efforts, and is depended on upon by many within the 365 organization to produce results while operating in line with company values. She is passionate about leading and developing team members to ensure collective success for both the team and the organization. As 365 continues to grow, Gill is leading event, marketing and communications activities across multiple brands to ensure 365’s growing product portfolio is positioned to promote growth and success for the company, operators and the industry as a whole.
Regional Sales Manager
Donald Haynes has worked for small vending operations since the 1970s, and as regional sales manager with JMA Brokerage, he represents his manufacturers to the best of his ability. He’s always looking out for the operators’ best interest in every endeavor that he takes. Haynes makes sure operators take advantage of innovation to accomplish their sales goals. He keeps abreast of the ever-changing industry and passes that info along to all customers so they have the latest facts and figures. He knows the vending, micro market and the coffee industry, having worked in operations, sales and purchasing.
Co-Founder and CEO
As co-founder and CEO of Gimme, Cory Hewett has continued to fine-tune Gimme’s technology offerings and improve customer support response times, which are now very high. Under Hewett’s leadership, the company’s continued product innovations have provided Gimme with a sustainable competitive advantage. Hewett is constantly looking for ways to improve technology solutions and customer satisfaction. Specifically, this year, Hewett helped Gimme receive a notice of allowance for a patent covering use of mobile reporting devices in a DSD environment and worked on migrating Gimme exclusively to the Google Cloud platform. He also continually looks for ways to give broader visibility to the vending industry in general. Hewett has been awarded multiple patents and copyrights by the USPTO and is active in both the vending industry and the Atlanta technology community. Hewett also mentors first-time and aspiring entrepreneurs through the Create-X organization.
Vice President of Sales and Marketing
All Star Services Inc.
Jon Holden has held various roles within All Star Services and currently serves as the vice president of sales and marketing. He has been in the convenience services industry for over 15 years, starting as a merchandiser for Coca-Cola Refreshments in Kalamazoo, Michigan. He briefly worked as a procurement manager for Vistar of Michigan, and shortly after, accepted a role as a customer service manager with All Star Services. All Star Services has taken a collaborative leadership approach to face today’s issues head-on and create and execute solutions as a team. Specifically, All Star Services has partnered with more “Made In Michigan” suppliers to not only bridge the gap with supply chain shortages but also provide its clients with innovative, locally made products. Additionally, All Star Services has implemented fresh/frozen pre-picking systems that have significantly decreased food waste numbers and increased client satisfaction through actionable sales data.
Director of Sales
Bridger Keally has been instrumental in bringing Panoptyc to almost 3,000 active markets across the country. To keep up with this growth, Keally aims to integrate with kiosk providers and other key industry partners to make Panoptyc’s services as seamless and accessible as possible for customers. Looking forward, he is focused on providing solutions for vendors outside of just micro market theft. He relishes the opportunity to meet with customers at conferences and site visits to explore their challenges and develop solutions. He is keen to better understand how operators interact with clients to find ways to create a standardized process. He works on building new products and features using cameras and Panoptyc’s software to help operators with improved theft detection.
Director, National Accounts
Burdette Beckmann Inc.
Mike Kelley joined Burdette Beckmann Inc. (BBI) in December 2015 in the company’s Northeast region, and he is now director of national accounts in the unattended retail division. At BBI, Kelley has played a vital role in the management of national supplier partners and brings a fresh approach to the unattended retail industry. He always sees ways to place the client first and maximize growth; he also finds creative solutions to solidify BBI’s partnerships. His forward-thinking strategies spark exciting conversations and ideas to implement innovation that will help BBI’s clients adapt to today’s challenges. Over the last 15 years, Kelley has demonstrated his deep commitment to the industry by participating in various advocacy events. He has been involved on the national and local levels, from the NAMA Emerging Leaders Network to the local state association Tri-State Automatic Merchandising Council.
Senior Manager of Education
National Automatic Merchandising Association (NAMA)
As senior manager of education, Eric Larson is responsible for the development and execution of a wide variety of programming, including webcasts, online courses and educational panels at trade shows. Through collaboration with volunteer speakers, Larson has prepared hundreds of in-person and virtual learning opportunities for NAMA’s members. In addition, highlights of his responsibilities include preparing NAMA’s semiannual Call for Speakers, reviewing supplemental learning materials, producing NAMA’s webcasts, managing committees and updating educational webpages through basic knowledge of WordPress and HTML coding. Larson is thankful for the collaborative spirit of the countless leaders who have volunteered their expertise in NAMA’s educational programming. Prior to working at NAMA, he served a variety of law firms. Throughout his career, he has been recognized for his outstanding client service. This mindset, a keen attention to detail and a principal value of integrity are the driving forces behind his work in professional development.
Michael Lovett is CEO of Capital Provisions, a breakroom foodservices provider in southern California, and serves as a partner at Legend Capital, an investment fund focused on the convenience services industry. Lovett’s work has included founding and serving operational roles at Vagabond, a technology provider, Legend Foods, an operator, and Capital Provisions. Prior to his time in the industry, Lovett founded CirrusWorks, a network performance optimization company, and Critical Network Productions, a telecom systems integration business that was acquired by Swisscom, where Lovett led the global enterprise solutions group. Lovett’s leadership is helping Capital Provisions become a successful operator in California, and this is a result of implementing a technology-first philosophy in the operations of the business. Capital Provisions also treats each member of the team as an important piece of the larger puzzle that is the unattended retail operation.
Business Development Manager
For over 40 years, Vince Lyons has successfully built businesses and consumer brands. Lyons was instrumental in helping to build the Gatorade business for the western U.S., and after a stint as a brand manager, he led the Gatorade business to new heights in the southern U.S. After working on the Gatorade business, he became a partner in Peachtree Vending in Atlanta, Georgia. He has had strategic relationships with Marriott Corp and Sodexo, helping grow the vending business. During his ownership in the vending business, Lyons joined the USG Board. Shortly after selling Peachtree Vending, he was put in charge of developing the vending and micro market channel for Ferrara Candy Company. Currently, Lyons is actively managing projects for Total Foods.
SVP, Refreshment Services Group
Tim McAra is responsible for the leadership of the company’s vending, micro markets and OCS services. He is a visionary, strategic senior business leader with a bias for action with over 15 years of success in leading strategic initiatives that optimize processes, ensure operational excellence, keep happy clients and drive performance and profitability. McAra has overseen a strategy to optimize every aspect of its vending, micro markets and OCS business. The changes he and his team have made and the tools they’ve implemented have allowed Continental Services to anticipate overall industry challenges. As an operator, McAra is keenly aware of what’s affecting his business today and what will likely become a challenge in the future. Instead of waiting to react, he has led his team at Continental Services to change processes, adopt the right tools and position themselves comfortably for the future.
Sr. Interior Design Manager
Five Star Food Service
Sarah McNabb joined Five Star in 2018 coming from a design firm that specialized in designing common spaces for branded and boutique hotels in Atlanta. She has taken on many custom projects working with Five Star customers to help them redesign their breakrooms, which include convenient food and beverage solutions in pantry, micro markets, coffee, dining and vending. McNabb has also customized Five Star’s market fixtures to be up-to-date with modern design aesthetics while optimizing functionality and efficiency for the consumer and operator. She was voted by her peers as this year’s Extra Mile award winner for Five Star. She is a 2017 graduate of the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga in interior design.
Director of Operations
Lindsey Nance joined CSG-NAM as an intern in 2014. She has worked her way up to team member, team manager, and her current role as director of operations. Her team successfully navigated the small company through a pandemic and has helped to restore CSG-NAM to 90% of its 2019 revenue. Nance brings energy and ingenuity to her position, and she has become majority owner of CSG-NAM. This has been made possible by her hard work, talent and personal investment. Nance also created an account mapping application that maps out the closest logistical distributors for end custumers, which has helped keep logistic costs down for CSG-NAM’s national vendor partners.
Founder and CEO
Kirby Newbury has been in the industry since 1978, starting out with Coca-Cola Bottlers in Ft. Myers, Florida. After years of experience also in bread, snack cakes, cookies and crackers, he entered OCS with Standard Coffee Service. He then returned back to his home city, St. Louis, and joined Midwest Wholesale Refreshment Service. In 1996, he gravitated to the new technology of the internet and co-founded DiscountCoffee.com, the first internet coffee service (ICS). He forged new territory with a homemade Microsoft Front Page website that brought the OCS industry to everyone’s door. This website has flourished for 25 years and continues to create a new shopping experience for office coffee customers. Newbury built a new ICS industry that developed into a recognizable office coffee experience for customers worldwide. He works with the younger generation by teaching the industry to high school and college level DECA distributive education classes.
Director of Retail Operations Support
Five Star Food Service
Laura Price joined Five Star nearly a decade ago, having served in capacities from supporting corporate operations of the company’s early micro market growth to helping launch business intelligence reporting software. In her current role, she oversees the corporate support for vending and micro markets, and she manages the backend of Five Star’s retail pricing program across micro markets and vending. Price also manages the team of support staff who are consistently monitoring cost changes and updating for optimization to ensure a fair retail price for the consumer while maintaining necessary margin for the company to meet expenses and revenue goals. She works with VMS providers and market technology providers to keep Five Star’s retail operational data accurate and up to date.
Vice President, Inside Sales
Bunny Proof is responsible for a team that works closely to support smaller vending operators. In her 12 years at Cantaloupe, she has built up a successful inside sales team and established industry relationships with thousands of vending operators. Proof inherently understands the small, independent operator. She knows what questions they have when they first start out in the industry. She knows their biggest concerns about capital investment to grow their businesses. She knows what their day-to-day routine looks like, whether they’re operating as a part-time or full-time business. And she knows all of this because she’s constantly talking to them, answering questions, giving advice, and helping them grow. In some ways, she operates as a one-woman support rep when someone needs troubleshooting help on a Cantaloupe device. Her participation gives operators a direct line of support to Cantaloupe when they need it and overall strengthens the small operator community.
OCSB Emerging Brands Group
Si Rawls has been in the industry for more than 23 years, with experience as an operator, distributor, sales, manufacturing and now as a business owner with OCSB. He seeks to understand the needs of the brands and customers, and he can quickly develop plans of action that bring the two together. Rawls has developed a unique, data-driven process that allows both brands coming into the channel and underperforming brands already in the channel to develop a focused go-to market strategy with a clear path to ROI. The process has proven to be repeatable and effective in shortening the sales cycle for brands that are looking to scale.
As an operations specialist at Gimme, Jonathan Raye has established an extremely high rating from Gimme’s customers. He is determined to keep the Gimme standards high, delivering on the commitment to 24/7 customer support, and he has played a critical role in Gimme’s sustained growth. Raye has a passion for new technology and is applying his skills to make technology in vending better. He says his ability to empathize with customers comes from his previous work in the healthcare industry where he learned that it was essential to put himself in clients’ shoes to best ease their frustrations. Raye has an electrical/computer engineering technology AAS degree from Chattahoochee Technical College and studies engineering in his free time.
Professional Vending Consultants Inc.
Marc Rosset is founder and president of Professional Vending Consultants, a specialized intermediary for acquisitions of convenience services operations. He is tasked by both buyer and seller to figure out the most realistic price, terms and conditions that will result in a smoother win-win transaction and transition of assets. PVC has represented more than 310 transactions with gross sales value of over $900 million since 1993. Rosset has played a key role in helping to establish industry-recognized guidelines for the value of operations in the industry. Employing extreme confidentiality, his involvement concerns not only price and terms but also in overseeing due diligence, contracts and final transition to help eliminate many of the misunderstandings and pitfalls that can happen in an acquisition between competitors.
Bad Ass Coffee of Hawaii
Scott Snyder is the CEO of Royal Aloha Coffee Company with over 35 years as an accomplished business owner, senior executive, marketing strategist and business consultant with a track record of transforming early-stage brands into category contenders and re-inventing existing brands. For Royal Aloha Coffee Company and the Bad Ass Coffee of Hawaii brand, Snyder’s vision for rebuilding the brand included an omni-channel sales approach focused on building the demand for coffee products served in franchise stores by promoting the brand’s memorable name and introducing unforgettable quality coffee products through complimentary sales channels led by comprehensive wholesale and e-commerce channels.
365 Retail Markets
Courtney Stephens joined 365 Retail Markets in 2014 as an account development specialist, and in 2019, she seamlessly transitioned into supporting several key customers, acting as an internal advocate for their success. Her keen ability to nurture relationships and build trust with her contacts and her strong problem-solving ability positioned her to take on an account manager role with a large national strategic partner. With a passion for producing successful outcomes no matter the task, she has excelled at being a valuable consultant that can match products and configurations to not only an operator’s needs but also the needs of their customers and end users. Stephens remains instrumental to her clients’ growth in the micro market industry, expanding business to several additional verticals. Stephens also played a significant role in forming 365’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion committee, and she is an active member of Women in the Industry (WIN) and Emerging Leaders Network (ELN).
VP of Product Development
As VP of product development, Mohammad leads the company’s technological efforts, including product, information technology and tech support. Mohammad works with technology partners to integrate Vagabond’s technology across multiple platforms to ensure more operators and consumers interact with Vagabond’s solutions. Mohammad consistently goes above and beyond to ensure Vagabond’s technology systems are humming. When an issue arises, he does whatever it takes to ensure his team resolves whatever may be happening so that Vagabond customers are unaffected.
Chief Operating Officer
Bonnie Trush started with Vagabond as operations manager in 2016 and moved up to VP of operations before becoming chief operating officer. Everything from human resources to accounting to customer service falls under her leadership, and she is integral to resolving challenges with suppliers, customers and partners. Trush has provided stability and a calming presence to the organization so Vagabond can help its customers perform effectively. She works hard to maximize Vagabond’s operation while simultaneously advocating for and helping Vagabond’s customers. Her leadership has resulted in Vagabond not losing customers throughout the pandemic and helping to strengthen the balance sheets of many customers by assisting them on doubling down on technology-first initiatives, including converting machines to micro market accounts. She was also recently chosen as one of Automatic Merchandiser’s top Women in the Industry award winners.
Steve Orlando, Co-founder and President
Troy Geis, Co-founder and Chief Executive Officer
Determining the perfect space, finding the right solution and getting everything ordered and shipped takes time that most businesses don’t have. With more than 8,000 micro market, pantry, OCS, business dining and café installations, Fixturelite’s experienced designers, project managers and industry experts take the work off its customer’s plate with a proven process. That same team understands what it is like to be in the operator’s shoes. The Fixturelite team consists of a group of former vending, micro market and OCS operators who serve as strategic partners to operators and their customers and start each project with the customer experience in mind. Fixturelite is a one-stop partner for a successful convenience retail environment.
Pot O' Gold Coffee Service
Larry Jones, President/CEO
Blake Jones, Vice President
Pot O’ Gold is the largest independent office coffee service in Washington state and has been in business since 1986. They have a team of 25 who are pros at what they do and have come a long way to be recognized as leaders in the industry. Pot O’ Gold is a small family-run business and plan to stay that way. They strive to keep installs to one or two per day to not overwork their tech team and to not put too much strain on routes. Pot O’ Gold is growing extremely fast since offices have started opening back up. Right now, they are 5% down from pre-COVID sales. “In the year ahead, we are going to try our best to stay ahead of the game as more people come back to the office and more of our customers come back.”
Smile Compostable Solutions
Michael Sands, CEO and Co-founder
Frankie Schuster, Co-founder
With co-founders Michael Sands and Frankie Schuster being members of ASTM International, US Plastics Pact, US Composting Council, Biodegradable Products Institute, Compost Manufacturing Alliance, and the Plant-Based Products Council, Smile Compostable Solutions has sustainability expertise and industry connections. As committee members, Sands and Schuster stay up-to-date on compost industry intricacies while influencing and advocating industry development. Through trade shows and industry awareness and outreach, the pair are positioning Smile and the industry for the significant challenges of today’s business climate. Smile offers a fully certified compostable turn-key pod system. Its patent-protected product is rigorously tested by independent third parties. Smile’s material easily composts and can be used across many food categories. “We are committed to helping companies with plastic and carbon reduction and offer a viable solution that works. Smile believes educating buyers and sustainability officers on the real opportunity of composting will be our biggest challenge in the coming year.”
CEO, Bona Fide Brewing Company
CEO, Imperial Companies
Trolley House Refreshments Team
Nolan Moore, Service Manager
Michael Fromal, Service Technician
Chris Reese, Service Technician