STATE COMMITTEE OF VENDORS
ALTAMONT SPRINGS, FL - FEBRUARY 23-24, 2007
Mr. Tom Spiliotis, Chairperson, called the meeting to order at 1:25 P.M. on Friday, February 24th and asked Mr. John Klindtworth, Vice-Chair, to call the roll.
- District One - absent
- District Two - Valerie James
- District Three - Don Tuell
- District Four - Bill Perrett
- District Five - Phil Bluschke
- District Six - Jim Anderson
- District Seven - Paul Prescott
- District Eight - Gyorke Alger
- District Nine - David Kaplan
- District Ten - absent
- Michael Elliott, Bureau Chief; Kathy Murphey, Operations Director
Ms. Murphey introduced Kathleen Crosson, the newly appointed Administrative Consultant.
Gallery - Charles and DJ Hackney, Raquel Falero, Jesse James, Jim Warth, Bonnie Prescott, Mike Macomber from Aramatic and Michelle Macomber, Operations Manager for Aramatic Florida.
Motion was made and seconded to approve the minutes of the previous meeting. The minutes were approved without change by voice vote.
Mr. Joe Mancini from Lasko Foods gave a presentation of the company?s new line of vending soluble coffee products. He would like to explore the possibility of marketing these products to the Florida BEP vendors.
Mr. Elliott reported on changes in the administrative leadership of the Department of Education. Mr. Craig Kiser will retire as Director of DBS for health reasons in May. Ms. Stephanie Wilson, Deputy Director, will serve as interim Director until a permanent replacement is appointed. Mr. John Winn has retired as Commissioner of Education and the new Commissioner, when named, will make the appointment.
The BEP has applied for the Sterling Award for governmental excellence.
On behalf of Mr. Newcomb who was not yet present, Ms. Murphey presented the draft policy for exit inventories. This was in response to the committee initiative accepted by the Agency at the November, 2006 meeting to create and implement a transition strategy for management turnover.
The new policy ensures that facility equipment shall remain in place, that copies of all product invoices shall be available at time of inventory and shall be used for price verification, that the inventory shall be extended and totaled immediately at the end of the count, that the outgoing and incoming managers or their representatives shall be present until the inventory has been completed and working capital forms signed by both parties, and that the Business Consultant or other qualified Agency representative shall be present until all items listed herein have been completed.
After discussion Ms. Alger moved to adopt this policy. Mr. Prescott seconded and the motion carried unanimously. The Agency will notify all vendors via written or electronic memo.
Mr. Elliott was asked if this policy would be included in the BEP Policy Handbook. He responded that the Handbook is due for a thorough review and update. The Policy subcommittee will work with Agency staff to accomplish this task.
The usual training issues were discussed. The need to ensure consistency in OJT evaluations was stressed by both Ms. Murphey and the Committee. Ms. Murphey raised the possibility of using the Selection interview process as a "final check" to evaluate an applicant?s readiness to manage a specific facility.
Ms. Murphey reported that she and her staff are working to help managers of small snack bars improve their sales. One technique is the creation of seasonal and holiday sales promotions with special menu items. The manager?s use of these promotional items is voluntary.
Another training element that is often ignored is that of employee training. Employees must be taught exactly how each food item is prepared and presented. Portion control must be established. Ms. Alger stated that private enterprise does an excellent job in this respect, citing Subway and Arby?s as examples.
Mr. Spiliotis stated that ideally the BEP would establish one central training location, but conceded that there are many practical obstacles to this. Not all trainees can leave their home and family for an extended period of time. However, we must stop using inexperienced and unsuccessful managers as OJT trainers just because they are conveniently located. Ms. Alger mentioned that good managers are not automatically good teachers. Ms. Murphey added that BEP needs to provide more support to trainers.
Ms. James asked why we are concentrating so heavily on food service training when most of the trainees are only interested in vending and we are trying to close as many food operations as possible and convert them to full vending.
Mr. Spiliotis suggested that perhaps we should return to the practice of requiring certification for the different types of BEP facilities and incorporate that element in the Selection process. He also suggested that we consider the option of training specific persons for problem locations rather than advertising those facilities on the availabilities postings.
Mr. Hackney stated that people who demonstrate a "victim mentality" should not be accepted for BEP training.
Mr. Anderson asked if BEP recruits are required to take any business management courses prior to entering BEP training. The answer was no.
Mr. Spiliotis stated that training recruits must be motivated to succeed and crazy enough to keep at it. All present echoed this sentiment.
Ms. Murphey suggested using the administrative appointment option for filling vacancies in problem locations. Mr. Elliott agreed and also asked if we can?t get a qualified manager to take a food service facility could it then be converted to full vending. All agreed that this should be an option but that it is not appropriate in every case.
Ms. James asked if the Tallahassee facilities that are repeatedly advertised vacant are operating successfully under Aramatic management. Mr. Macomber replied that they are not.
Mr. Elliott asked for a motion to authorize him to work with building managers in unsuccessful food service facilities to either convert to full vending or close them entirely. Mr. Spiliotis tabled this to the Saturday session so that the Policy subcommittee could draft a comprehensive motion.
Mr. Perrett introduced the subject of combining facility #561, a small vending operation in the Jacksonville electrical Authority building,, with #513, the downtown Jacksonville vending route. JEA has been operated on a Type II LOFA since it was opened to determine if it can be operated as a stand-alone facility. Its sales in 2006 were approximately $56,000 and its net profit was approximately $12,000.
Mr. Perrett moved to combine these locations and Ms. Alger seconded the motion.
Mr. Elliott stated his opposition to this proposal. He said he preferred to advertise it on the May posting, saying he expects that no vendor will accept it and that then it would be attacked to #513.
After lengthy discussion Mr. Klindtworth called the roll. The motion carried by unanimous vote. Mr. Elliott stated that the Agency would consider the Committee?s recommendation.
A proposal to combine Facility #396, located at the Federal Courthouse in Tampa, with #474, the Tampa Postal route, was introduced. The Courthouse was formerly a cafeteria that is being converted to full vending. The Postal route is based at the Riga building, which is being closed. The closure will result in loss of 60% of sales and all storage. Ms. Murphey indicated this combination will take place without Committee action.
Ms. Alger moved to approve this combination and Mr. Bluschke offered a second. Mr. Klindtworth called the roll and the motion carried unanimously.
Mr. Anderson asked about adding the seven machines at Patrick Air Force Base to his Interstate rest stop facility. Their sales are insufficient to allow the location to function as a stand-alone facility. Mr. Spiliotis stated that creating a precedent for adding machines to highway locations could have negative consequences. No action was taken.
Mr. Spiliotis introduced the subject of the rest stop facilities in Madison County. He reminded the committee that the Agency had agreed to separate these if and when the DOT developed them into two full fledged rest areas. DOT has done so and the Agency has taken no action.
Mr. Spiliotis and Ms. Alger gave a brief report on the upcoming Seminar to be held at the Rosen Plaza in August of this year. He suggested that a new venue for 2009 be found. There will be several business oriented workshops offered on Friday and Saturday. We will be looking for a speaker to address the vendors. The food show has been cancelled.
Mr. Spiliotis recessed the meeting at 5 P.M. and reconvened the assembly at 8:30 A.M. on Saturday, February 24, 2007. Mr. Klindtworth called the roll. All committee Reps and Agency staff in attendance the previous day were present. Mr. Leslie Francis represented District Ten. Mr. Gene Newcomb, BEP Compliance director, was present.
Reading for the Policy subcommittee, Ms. Alger offered the following motion, seconded by Mr. Bluschke: "the Committee requests that the SLA work closely with building managers in food service locations with substandard sales and profitability in order to facilitate their conversion to full vending. In the event conversion is not acceptable to a building manager, the Agency shall then consult with the Chairperson of the State Committee of Vendors to determine if the facility performance records indicate that it should be closed. Upon mutual agreement that the facility is not viable the Agency shall terminate its contract with the host Agency for that facility."
Mr. Klindtworth called the roll and the motion carried unanimously.
Mr. Spiliotis asked Mr. Elliott to look into a different venue for the May meeting and beyond. Mr. Elliott agreed to do so.
The next item was a lengthy discussion about defective equipment and poor customer service on the part of Crane National. The refrigerated snack vendor and hot drink vendor are the two pieces causing most of the reported problems. Mr. Prescott read a memo from Tom Saunders detailing the problems with his new refrigerated snack, now on its third compressor. Mr. Warth reported that he has the same machine with the same defect. Ms. James also has one of these machines in the Tallahassee FCI and it too had a defective compressor. Crane does not manufacture the compressors but is fully aware that they have problems. All of these are under warranty, but the labor cost must be fronted by the vendor and reimbursed by the Agency. A suggestion was made that Ms. Murphey should negotiate with Crane to help defray the cost of installing the replacement compressors. She and Mr. Elliott agreed that this would be a reasonable request. Mr. Anderson opined that Crane should maintain a back-up supply of this part to shorten the down time our operators experience when the compressor goes out. Mr. spiliotis agreed.
Mr. Spiliotis suggested that BEP vendors be allowed to purchase parts directly from Crane to expedite their delivery. Ms. Murphey agreed and encouraged all vendors to open an account with Crane. She has had discussions with Stan Benton and he will present our concerns to Crane?s board of Directors.
It was reported that Crane has bought several vending machine companies. These include AP, Standard and Dixie Narco, the company that manufactures FastCorp machines.
Mr. Fickett reported dissatisfaction with the bubble front Crane hot drink vendor and questioned the need for our using a sole source contract. Although the reasons for this practice have been discussed in Committee several times, Mr. Spiliotis detailed them again, stressing that having uniform vending equipment is a vital element in the success of our full vending operations, both on and off the highway.
Mr. Spiliotis stated that nearly all vendors now use the bubble front hot drink machine and that it is a generally reliable piece of equipment, although in some locations heat and humidity will cause problems. He suggested that Mr. Fickett contact Jeff Schubert to investigate his machine, stating that he knows more about this machine than anyone else. He further stated that if the machine does in fact have a problem the Agency will reimburse the cost of the repair.
The discussion of training issues resumed. In response to observations of inconsistencies in final evaluation techniques, the Agency will include a qualified staff person as a final step in assessing a trainee?s readiness for licensure.
Mr. Tuell asked for clarification as to the criteria for licensure. Ms. Murphey said this is an area that needs work and that the Agency will consult with the qualified trainers to develop field test for all skill elements. Evaluations will take place in the facility where the prospective licensee has done the OJT. The addition of an Agency representative is expected to help avoid situations in which the trainee claims a poor evaluation is based on personality conflict with the trainer.
Mr. Spiliotis stressed the need for continuing support after a trainee is licensed and placed in a facility, saying that new managers face an overwhelming number of management details.
Mr. Prescott stated that the BEP needs to upgrade its technological capabilities. He would like to have available to all managers and trainees a disc containing all BEP forms and other business information. Mr. Spiliotis agreed and added that we should be able to file our monthly business report online and pay set aside in the same way. Mr. Elliott agreed but said that the software in use by the Tennessee SLA is not currently accessible in a format we can use. Mr. Spiliotis will discuss the problem with Paul Lewis in hopes of achieving a resolution.
Mr. Spiliotis asked Mr. Prescott to chair the Tech subcommittee and appointed Mr. Saunders in absentia to serve on same.
Mr. Hackney suggested including payroll companies and accounting serve firms as part of the training at Daytona. The Committee agreed that this would be useful and the Agency agreed to implement this feature.
Mr. Newcomb presented more information re the transition strategy agreed to at the November, 206 meeting. As part of each Selection round successful applicants who have indicated acceptance of a business opportunity will receive a letter from the Compliance office detailing all business obligations and legal requirements that must be met before they may enter into a management contract (LOFA) with DBS. Accepting licensees must provide proof of compliance by a date specified by the Agency of the offer of the facility will be withdrawn and the next highest ranked applicant will be offered the opportunity. The BEP Consultants will be required to provide any assistance needed by the licensee to complete this step. Additionally, the incoming vendor will spend at least one full week at the accepted facility in order to facilitate a smooth transition.
Ms. James mentioned that outgoing managers are not always co-operative or helpful and asked how that situation should be handled. Ms. Murphey responded that in such cases the Consultant must take a pro-active role in supervising the transition.
Ms. Murphey also stated that we must implement and enforce existing policies in addition to creating new ones to ensure that new managers are prepared to take over the reins of management.
Mr. Elliott said that an outgoing manager?s lack of co-operation should be documented by the Consultant and suggested that it be used in the Selection process.
Mr. Spiliotis opened the floor for a round table discussion.He said he would like to know how the Reps communicate with people in their district.
Mr. Bluschke said that he doesn?t call everyone in District Five on a regular basis but that the managers in the district do call him if they have any problems.
Mr. Spiliotis reported that the machines at Southern Command have been removed and that although the inmate compound machines at Coleman FCI have been removed the two facilities remain highly profitable.
Mr. Prescott reported not much activity in District Seven. He does not plan to run for Rep this year, and the current Alternate, Mr. Tom Saunders has indicated he will do so.
Mr. Kaplan reported that the small snack bar in the Plantation Courthouse has been closed in accordance with plans reported by Mr. Rose at the last meeting. Two vending machines are scheduled to be installed in the building.
Mr. Tuell, District Three, said that he talks with his constituents by phone and speaks frequently with new managers. He said that all Committee members should commit to helping new vendors.
Ms. James said that she has good communication with the District Two managers and that she has an excellent relationship with her Alternate, Kathy Graham. Mr. Elliott added that Aramatic is breaking even in the four locations it currently manages in Tallahassee.
Mr. Perrett said he contacts the District four managers after every Committee meeting. He reported that building management in the County Courthouse are dissatisfied with our vendor and want that person removed. He also reported problems with the large Jacksonville route because the new vendor is not prepared to run an operation of that size. The Agency will take immediate action.
A new snack bar/deli with vending is underway at the military shipyard at Blunt ISLAnd.
Mr. Anderson said he needs to communicate more often with the people in District Six, but most of them are experienced managers with few problems. He reported that negotiations to regain the County contract have proved fruitless because the County wants an unreasonably high commission. A suggestion to create a postal route in District Six was made. This will require intensive research and legwork to determine if it is feasible.
Mr. Warth brought up the Belcher substation in Clearwater. This was lost many years as a result of bad management and the Postmaster claims that the location does not meet the 100 full time employees requirement. Mr. Warth is sure that it does. Mr. Elliott and Ms. Murphey will renew efforts to regain this location.
Mr. Anderson reported that a building where we had to close a snack bar because the population was moved out is now scheduled to re-open. He suggested that we investigate the possibility of opening another facility. Ms. Murphey said she will research this.
Ms. Alger reported that she hasn?t been in close contact with most of the District Eight managers recently, but if there is a problem she does hear about it.
Mr. Prescott said there are no major problems in District Seven.
Mr. Francis reported that three vendors in District Ten are retiring. They are Jose Perdomo, James Perkins and Francisco Cabeza.
Mr. Fickett asked if BEP has the right to engage in hybrid business opportunities, such as adding convenience store items to food service locations. This has been tried in the past with mixed results. We did have a very successful gift shop in the lobby of the Capitol Building for many years.
Mr. Warth told the Committee that the last Selection round had been held in a non-ADA compliant hotel. Mr. Newcomb had already been told of the problem and has taken appropriate steps to ensure it will not happen again.
Mr. Spiliotis and Mr. Hackney reported on an exciting new project they have been researching. This is the addition of debit/credit card readers to their vending machines at the two I-4 rest stop facilities. They believe this would increase sales and be an incentive to people who don?t carry cash as well as to foreign tourists. As with any service, there are fees involved and this is a major part of their research. USA Technologies appears to have the best package at present. Ms. Murphey informed the Committee that Kathleen Crosson has also been researching this system and she will work closely with the vendors to speed up progress.
Some of our cafeterias have already included credit card readers to their operations. Ms. James has done so and reports excellent results and increased sales. It is likely that adding this technology to all types of BEP facilities will have a positive effect.
There being no further business, Mr. Spiliotis adjourned the meeting at approximately 12:30 P.M.
Gyorke Alger, Secretary