State Committee of Vendors
Orlando, FL - May 8, 2009
Mr. Spiliotis called the meeting to order at 9 A.M. and announced that it would be a one-day session a result of budgetary constraints.
Mr. Spiliotis called the roll in the absence of the vice-chair, John Klindtworth.
District One - Debby Malmberg; District Two - Jim Warth; District Three - absent; District Four - Dan Angelicola; Districts Five and Six - absent; District Seven - Tom Saunders; District Eight - Gyorke Alger; District Nine - Joel Rose; District ten - absent
With six districts reporting a quorum was established.
Representing the Agency were Mike Elliott, Kathy Murphey and Gene Newcomb. Chuck Fickett was present as a guest.
The minutes of the previous meeting were approved without objection.
There was a general discussion of plans for the Biennial Seminar. It was reported that the Agency plan to initiate electronic filing of the monthly business report is on track and that this needs to be a topic for a break-out session. Mr. Elliott will help to co-ordinate this. He also reported that the Agency intends to completely eliminate the use of snail mail for vendor communications by January 1st, 2010.
Mr. Elliott reported that the VR department will receive $5 million in stimulus funding and that there is an additional $2 million available for Independent Living if DBS can match that sum. It would be used for employment, training etc. he expects that some of this money will come to DBS and will investigate the possibility of using part of it to purchase the eport card readers for use at highway rest areas. The operators would be responsible for any service fees charged by the company. Additionally, part of this money will be used to facilitate the transition to electronic filing of the monthly business reports.
The Agency has been approached about the possibility of installing ATMs at highway rest areas. Mr. Spiliotis stated that the committee has always opposed this for security reasons, saying that the theft potential is very high. Mr. Elliott agreed with this position.
Mr. Spiliotis presented a comprehensive report on his experience with the USA Technology debit/credit card readers he is using at his rest area. The company provides many services and the monthly fees are reasonable. He believes that over time this technology will become widespread in the vending business. The question of using stimulus money to purchase them was raised. Mr. Rose stated that he believes each vendor should make the decision to purchase or not and that the vendor should be responsible for the cost, not the Agency.
Ms. Alger moved to encourage vendors to take advantage of this technology on their own. Mr. Saunders seconded and the motion carried unanimously.
A discussion ensued as to whether or not the use of cold food (sandwich) machines at highway rest areas is appropriate. Applicable law approves hot and cold drinks and packaged snack products. Exclusions are not enumerated. In the early 90s some highway vendors decided to purchase ice cream machines, sales improved at these locations, the FASTCORP vendor proved to be extremely reliable and very few problems have ever occurred.
Mr. Spiliotis pointed out that in the event an ice cream machine loses power long enough to melt the product this is immediately apparent upon opening the machine. The packaged products no longer resemble their original shape and cannot be refrozen and vended. This is not the case with packaged sandwiches or other cold food products such as fruit cups, puddings etc. They look fine but can cause food poisoning if eaten. An incident of this kind at one location will become widespread knowledge thanks to the instant communication now readily available to everyone and this will hurt every vendor, not just the one with the problem machine.
Mr. Spiliotis then reported that he had recently learned thirdhand that a pilot program with a cold food machine was in place. He contacted Mr. Elliott and the project was immediately reversed. Neither Mr. Elliott nor Ms. Murphey was aware that this action had occurred; it was a miscommunication on the part of the consultant. Until the Committee and the Agency agree to a policy that protects every vendor no cold food machines will be placed at any highway rest area.
Mr. Spiliotis stated that the Interstate program has been the most successful element of the BEP, mainly because it has a simple standardized format. The food service component varies from one facility to the next according to the individual managers inclination. Although we dont want to suppress initiative, neither do we want to create a policy that will result in the same problems that plague the food service locations.
Mr. Spiliotis further stated that it would be inadvisable to bring DOT into these discussions or enter into negotiation with that Agency. They are looking for new sources of money and we could end up paying for such things as electricity, trash pick-up and possibly even be charged rent.
Mr. Elliott stated that he favors looking into adding cold food machines to the approved equipment at the rest areas with the following conditions: operators would be required to maintain valid Safeserv certificates; product would have to be bought from approved companies, all products would be required to display expiration dates. He also felt that both DOT and DOA should be contacted, an idea with which Mr. Spiliotis disagreed.
Mr. Rose said that this subject should be tabled until more information is available.
Mr. Fickett, the operator who had the sandwich machine installed at his rest area, gave some preliminary projections on sales and profitability but said that a pilot would need to be in place to determine the viability of the scheme.
Mr. Spiliotis reminded the committee and Agency that when DOA inspects food service locations a hand sink is required. Mr. Fickett said he had been told otherwise and Ms. Murphey said that requirements appear to vary with each individual inspector.
Ms. Malmberg said that the investment in these machines might not be warranted if it required the elimination of another profitable machine. Mr. Fickett said that the machines can be configured to serve a variety of products, including candy items and that different sections of the machine can be configured for different temperatures. Mr. Fickett added that the machines would need to be serviced on a twice daily basis.
Mr. Spiliotis asked the facility development sub-committee to be actively involved in the process of investigating this possibility. The sub-committee is comprised of the Chair, Don Tuell, Valerie James and tom Saunders, with Shawn Worthy and Chuck Fickett as consulting members.
Ms. Murphey stated that the Consultants must involve the District Reps in activities and problems in their regions, and also that it is inappropriate for managers to bypass their Reps. She said that the Reps are the Agencys best allies and must be involved in decision making situations. Mr. Spiliotis agreed, stressing the need for communication between the Agency, Reps and vendors.
Mr. Rose asked who a manager needs to contact about starting a new business opportunity. He was advised to email Mr. Elliott and Mr. Spiliotis for an evaluation of the proposal and a determination of whether stimulus finds could be used.
Ms. Murphey reported on training. Eleven recruits are awaiting OJT, and three or four are in the classroom phase.
As of June 30 Aramatic will take over management of the Capitol cafeteria. DMS would like a month-to-month contract, a proposal that DBS has rejected.
At the request of one of her constituents, Ms. Alger brought the subject of a temporary reduction in the net profit requirements for food service and non-highway vending operations. After lengthy discussion it was the consensus of the Committee that this action would not be well advised and that managers need to make adjustments to adapt to the current business climate. Ms. Murphey agreed, saying that business managers need to be able to adapt to changes in the economy and make whatever adjustments are necessary to remain profitable.
Mr. Spiliotis mentioned that both Coke and Pepsi have exclusive pricing options available to BEP vendors and gave an overview of these.
Round table discussion
All is well in District 7. All is well in District 9.
The round table was interrupted for a grievance report by Mr. Newcomb and Ms. Alger. One ongoing grievance in which the Grievance Board upheld the Agency decision went to a 120 hearing and the hearing officer upheld the Agency decision. A grievance is pending in District 8 resulting from a LOFA cancellation.
In District 4 the VA facility in Jacksonville is ready to reopen. There is a possibility of a new small snack bar with vending in Hilliard County.
Ms. Malmberg from District 1 requested a modification of the policy with regard to storage rental as a set aside offset. She asked for a motion to include highway rest areas that have no storage. Mr. Warth offered the motion, Mr. Rose seconded and the motion carried unanimously.
Ms. Malmberg also asked if the Agency or the committee could provide any assistance with the Pepsi pricing situation in the panhandle. There is no Pepsi distributor in that area and the product must be bought from a distributor in Alabama at significantly higher prices than other vendors pay. Mr. Spiliotis said that he would attempt to negotiate with the distributor.
Mr. Warth reported that there has been one LOFA cancellation in District 2 but that otherwise all is well.
Mr. Spiliotis expressed his thanks to all Committee members and Agency staff for their help and co-operation during the last two years and said he hoped to see everyone at the Seminar in August.
The meeting was adjourned at 2:45 P.M.
Gyorke Alger, Secretary