CTW 2014 First Impression - WOW

Nov. 13, 2014

Dallas, TX, has hosted quite possibly the best NAMA CoffeeTea&Water show I have ever attended. One key indicator was that on Wednesday, the tradeshow floor was packed with exhibitors and attendees. OCS providers were there to see new equipment and interesting products and the manufacturers did not disappoint. Among the new products, I saw more bean-to-cup machines on display that featured branding, high-definition touchscreens and different brewing techniques. They were also smaller in size and more accessible. 

ADA compliant brewers

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) got an overhaul a couple years ago and as a result, most of the new equipment produced must meet height restrictions and other guidelines specified in the act for use by people in a wheelchair. Coffee brewers are no different. I saw a few machines where there was a button around 40 inches that when pressed, allowed a user to operate the touchscreen (which was often higher up) with a cursor. 

Another trend presented at CTW was the focus on smaller footprint equipment. Whether it's to fit into an office with less counter space in the breakroom or because space is at a premium, both new brewers and on-demand hot beverage machines were built to take up less room.

Products offer new sales opportunities

From new coffee roasters to machines that make specialty drinks with crushed ice and drink mixes, there were many opportunities I saw at CTW that allow for operators to expand their OCS SKUs. Attendees were shown how products could expand sales at existing accounts. Additionally, they were encouraged to look at different industries and to educate themselves to become a subject matter expert (SME) on the products they sell.

Learn before selling

The education sessions at CTW were terrific. The topics were varied and topic experts as well as OCS peers gave presentations, answered questions and provided insight. There was so much to learn, but the one takeaway I got was how important it is to educate yourself about the product you sell. Operators really need to become SMEs. It's not just about how coffee is sourced or brewed, however that will certainly help in the selling process with customers. It is also about how an OCS business operates and what technologies exist that could increase efficiencies in order to become more profitable even as margins are squeezed by cost increases and competition.

The growth in CTW is no doubt due, in part, to the strength of the coffee business. Annual revenues are at a 10-year high, but it’s also the dedication of the operators in this segment that keeps this show a ‘can't miss’ opportunity. I am already looking forward to CTW 2015…which, rumor has it, will be in Washington D.C. 

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