Goodbye, 2016: The Best & The Worst Of This Year

Dec. 15, 2016

When I look back at 2016, I find many good moments and some not-so-great ones. Here are some of those specific to our industry – the news and information that readers found most enlightening, thought-provoking and industry-changing.

The best

2016 was great in a lot of ways. Vending revenues grew this year to $20.9 billion, the highest they have been in six years. And operators are investing more in VMS solutions and technology.

Beyond that, there were also many cool products that were launched this year as well, such as the PepsiCo Hello Goodness Machine, U-Select-It’s Evoke Series and Parlevel’s Micro Market Solution, just to name a few. (Believe me, I just named a few! Go check out more cool products introduced this year here.)

Technology providers and manufacturers had a fantastic year as well. PayRange announced early on this year that it signed up its 1,000th vending operator and Vengo Labs successfully negotiated a $2 million deal with Shark Tank stars Kevin O’Leary and Lori Greiner.

Many vending operations had a lot to celebrate, too. The Konop Companies, Inc. celebrated 70 years of service this November and Champion Vending in the New York market starred in the blockbuster movie “Demolition”. Five Star Food Service, located in Chattanooga, TN, reached a milestone by opening its 500th micro market (which I’m sure has grown since then!) and Majestic Vending and Services, Inc. was awarded the Phoenix Awards: Outstanding Small Business Disaster Recovery from the U.S. Small Business Administration.

Other notable happenings included the success of the OneShow, ACE and CTW, all of which saw increased numbers and participation this year. This year’s Fly-In in D.C. was also great for our industry, with participants meeting with a record 81 percent of the U.S. Senate and 30 percent of the U.S. House of Representatives.

The worst

Some not so great things happened this year as well. We came into 2016 with skepticism surrounding EMV and chargebacks operators had been experiencing. Some operators were receiving thousands of dollars in chargeback fees with no clear answer. Though this seems to have affected a small number of people, the high fees were cause for concern for many.

Sadly, as with every year, there were plenty of vending crimes to put a damper on things in 2016. Thieves in Utah used a hand truck to steal a vending machine; in California, a Randolph-Sheppard operator servicing vending machines at two rest stops dealt with theft and damage to the machines for more than three months; and Andrew Waldman, owner of Dayton, OH-based Classy Amusement & Vending, lost thousands of dollars for months due to thieves picking the locks on his vending machines.

And there are even more regulations out in 2016 that are affecting the industry including Paid Sick Leave and Employee Pay Data. (Read more about that here.)

The deadline to comply with the U.S. Food and Drug Calorie Declaration on vending machines has come and gone. Some operators are struggling to provide calorie counts to consumers on or near vending machines and meet the regulation specifications efficiently and affordably.  

The industry also lost many wonderful people in 2016 including:

  • Michael Houseknecht, Former Co-Owner of Loose Ends Vending;
  • Dale J. Dardis, owner/operator of SGRC and Halo Vending;
  • CAVC leader Don Phelps;
  • Retired NAMA Director of Public Relations Walter Reed;
  • Former NAMA Chair Kenneth Nowak;
  • Lofton Little, former vending operator and TMVA president; and
  • Mark Hendrickson of First Class Vending 

Final thoughts

Just a few weeks ago a federal judge blocked the DOL’s overtime pay rule that was set to go in place Dec. 1. But the battle isn’t over yet. What’s going to happen in 2017 is beyond anyone’s guess but this subject will surely be back again.

Lastly, there were A LOT of acquisitions this year – in fact, there were so many that I couldn’t possibly write about all of them. This means more consolidation for the industry, but it is also great for those looking to grow and those looking to exit the industry. 

How did 2016 go for your business? Are you hoping to have another year like this one or are you ready to say “goodbye” and turn a new leaf? Let us know by sending us a tweet @VendingMagazine or send an email to [email protected]