MYRTLE BEACH, SC -The Embassy Suites at Kingston Plantation was the chosen venue for the 60th edition of the Atlantic Coast Exposition (ACE) where operators and suppliers from all across the US gathered to see and show new products, equipment and take part in educational sessions. The 60th anniversary diamond theme: “Hitting Grand Slams for 60 Years – ACE Diamond Anniversary” was evident all around the show. The exhibit hall SOLD OUT three months prior to the events and it overflowed into phase 2 and 3 meeting space that flowed off the main hall. Nearly 1000 participants from 26 states and Canada took part in this two-day convention that is the largest show of its kind on the East Coast. Attendance has grown over 10% each year since 2011 with 2014 seeing a 25% growth in overall attendance with a huge increase in operator attendance of 34%.
On Thursday, meetings were held by the state vending associations that partner in ACE: NCVA (NC Vending Association), SCVA (SC Vending Association), and VAMA (Virginia Automatic Merchandising Association). There were three educational sessions on Friday that were part of the show fee entitled, “Technology Interactive Forum: Are You in the Cashless Game? Learn What’s in Your League”, “Legislative Update: How Federal Regulatory Changes Affect You” by Eric Dell with NAMA and “Micro Markets: Today, Tomorrow and Beyond” with Brad Bachtelle.
Two additional sessions for which operators could register were half-day sessions: One, a “training camp” for technicians, and the second was an intense sales and marketing class with Denise Ryan of FireStar Speaking. Other events that offer networking opportunities include a “Pepsi 7th Inning Stretch Party” (co-sponsored by Vendors Supply and Brokers Unlimited) with special appearance by former MLB all-star pitcher, Tommy John, then a competitive “ACE Tailgate Corn Hole Pool Party” sponsored by Mondelez and MassMutual. New for this year were two very popular additions – the VendScreen Beer Garden and the New Product Showcase.
The Saturday All-Star breakfast (sponsored by Vistar) gave us a Keynote by Tommy John who spoke to the packed house about how competitiveness and commitment can lead to the top. Beforehand, awards were given to the following: NCVA Vendor of the Year: Rick Parker, Northwest Food Service; NCVA Supplier of the Year: Karen Foster, Vistar; VAMA Vendor of the Year: Shane Spikes, DeliMatic; and VAMA Supplier of the Year: Wayne Salmon of Vendors Supply. A plaque presented to Carl Moser of Cardinal Canteen was given to honor his year-long commitment and valued leadership as the 2014 ACE Planning Committee Chair. The Lifetime Achievement Award was presented to Alvin Huffman of Northwest Food Service. First Place Booth awards were given to companies in three different categories that embraced the baseball diamond show theme. Prizes went to: Single Booth – The Hershey Company; Multi-Booth – Coca-Cola Consolidated; Mega-Booth – Pepsi Bottling Ventures and PepsiCo Food Service. In addition, the committee presented plaques to the highest corporate sponsor level, “Grand Slam” whose generous contributions helped ACE 2014 “hit the ball out of the park!” Thank you to Grand Slams sponsors: Coca-Cola Bottling Company Consolidated, Pepsi Bottling Ventures, PepsiCo Food Service, VendScreen, and Vistar. Photos can be seen on the website.
ACE is an industry-only event and registration is open to anyone in the vending, office coffee or food service business, including those involved in contract food service in schools, colleges and hospitals. Additional information is available from the ACE office: Visit www.atlanticcoastexpo.com, email [email protected], or call 919-387-1221. The ACE Planning Committee began planning ACE 2015 on Sunday following the show’s closing.