Manufacturer Representative of the Year: Elyssa Allahyar-Steiner, VP Sales and Marketing of Avanti Markets

Dec. 5, 2013

Let’s just say it runs in the family. For Elyssa Allahyar-Steiner, the vending industry is in her blood. Growing up as the daughter of Chris Allahyar, director of vending for AdvancePierre Foods, Allahyar-Steiner found her passion and place in the industry early on. Voted 2013 Readers’ Choice Manufacturer Representative of the Year, Allahyar-Steiner believes that helping operators succeed is her first priority. “For me, it’s not about selling a kiosk,” she said. “It’s a lot of educating and teaching operators. I make sure I give them all the tools to succeed.”

Allahyar-Steiner received her bachelor’s degree from the University of Washington in Tacoma, Wash., and began working for Avanti Markets N.W. as a sales representative selling Avanti kiosks. Six months into her position, Allahyar-Steiner was asked to transfer to the company’s corporate headquarters and oversee the 50 micro market operations Avanti Markets had at the time. “When I started, the micro market concept was so new,” explained Allahyar-Steiner. “Most people didn’t know what a micro market was.” Little did she know, Allahyar-Steiner was at the forefront of an entirely new concept, a concept she would soon help define.

Explaining the micro market concept

Having previous sales experience has helped Allahyar-Steiner define the micro market concept while keeping the end-user in mind. She believes her role is more than that of a manufacturer representative; it is also being a consultant and educator. During her three years at Avanti Markets, Allahyar-Steiner has introduced the micro market to operators and educated both operators and clients on the benefits of the concept. Doing so has paid off to the tune of more than 190 operators jumping on board with Avanti Markets, an increase of more than 100 percent in the last three years.

In her nomination of Allahyar-Steiner, Lynne Plante of Florida Fresh Vending in Tampa, Fla. said, “Elyssa is a leader in the micro market field. Her dedication to grow this very important segment of the vending industry through education, innovation, hard work and positive attitude is second to none. We are so fortunate to have her support and desire to help us succeed.”

It’s about relationships

From the very first phone call, Allahyar-Steiner’s most important job is to have a good relationship with her clients. “It’s about guiding them in the right way and it comes back to the relationship you build initially,” she explained. “I try to build that relationship with the operators. I understand where they are currently at with vending and a direction that they need to be thinking about for their future.” Recognizing that the vending industry is tight-knit, Allahyar-Steiner believes having a good relationship with operators is the best way to promote the business and the product.

Micro markets are the future

Coming into the industry less than 5 years ago, Allahyar-Steiner has big hopes for the micro market concept. She believes that the operators who jump on board in the beginning are going to be the ones in 5 to 10 years who will easily have 100 or more markets already deployed. “Micro markets are certainly the future of this industry and it has become a successful avenue for many operators already because they are changing the break room experience,” she said. Micro markets give everyone in the industry the opportunity to grow and increase sales, said Allahyar-Steiner. “I have operators tell me that micro markets put the fire back in their drive to grow their business.”