Quarterly Meeting of the State Committee of Vendors

Quarterly Meeting of the State Committee of Vendors
Embassy Suites, Jamaican Court
Orlando, Florida

Friday, December 2, 2016

Committee Chairman John Klindtworth called the meeting to order at 9:08 a.m.

The following individuals were present:
John Klindtworth, Chairman

District Representatives: Lourena Mellott, District 1; Mike Renaud, District 2; Terri Bowen Lindstrom, District 3; Patti Fulda, District 4; Mitzi Tyler, District 5; Jose Quintanilla, District 6; Woody Matthews, District 7; Tom Saunders, District 8; Joel Rose, District 9; Lilian Pemberton, District 10.

Bureau of Business Enterprise Staff: Bill Findley, Bureau Chief; Maureen Fink, Operations Manager; Alan Risk, Compliance Officer; John Ahler, Business Analyst; Don Meloy, Marketing and Site Development Manager; Brian Ashworth, Region 1 Business Consultant; Bernie Kaiserian, Region 2 Business Consultant; Greg Coon, Region 3 Business Consultant; Tony Arduengo, Region 4 Business Consultant; Jim Carper, Region 5 Business Consultant; Janet Chernoff, Administrative Services Consultant.  Region 6 Business Consultant, Alejandro Garcia was unable to attend.

Division of Blind Services: Robert L. Doyle, III, Director.

Licensed Vendors: Jim Anderson, District 6 Alternate; David Kaplan, District 9 Alternate; Todd Bowen, Jim Warth, Kathy Warth, Jim Lover, Retired; Dennis Horn, Georgia Kellogg, Debbie Hietala, Don Gerschick, Edward Spence, Kinesha Cole, Sead Bekric, Debby Malmberg, Jim Perry, Shirley Smart, Chuck Fickett.

Rehabilitation Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired:  Instructors, Steve Moss and Jill Richardson; Trainees, Amber Owen, Jeffrey Perkins, Charlie Richardson, Llars Copeland.

Guests: Nicky Gacos, NAMA President; Terry Smith, Blind Entrepreneurs Initiative;  Marion Matthews, Nancy Spiliotis, Jenny Spiliotis Wadley, Jenny Slavik, Joe Urbanek, Lorna Lover, Jack Kellogg, Chuck Hietala, Patty Gerschick, Sandy McMurtry, Kathi Perry, Bill Malmberg

In Memory of Tom Spiliotis – All

On October 3, 2016 Tom Spiliotis, Chairman of the Committee of Vendors unexpectedly passed away.  The Committee members in conjunction with the Division decided to devote the first hours the morning’s agenda to his memory.  Bill Findley sent out a special invitation to all vendors.  Tom Spiliotis’ daughter Jenny was the first to speak.  She read prepared remarks that chronicled Tom’s early life including stories of his youth and his college years.  Tom’s love for his family including the members of his Business Enterprise family was a theme that would be repeated throughout the morning.   Her remarks were followed by invocation by Alan Risk and comments by Bureau of Business Enterprise (BBE) Bureau Chief, Bill Findley. Bill spoke of his first meeting with Tom.  He told the group that Tom had been Chairman of the Committee of Vendors for 20 of the last 22 years.  Tom was honored by the Division and the Blind Vendors of Florida at the Biennial Seminar in 2015. Bill Findley spoke of Tom’s dedication to the program on both a state and national level and credited him with helping to maintain a good working relationship between the Division and the Committee of Vendors.

Several vendors spoke about their love for Tom and their appreciation for his commitment to the BBE program. They mentioned the improvements in the program in the last few years and the importance of keeping his legacy alive.  Vendors that spoke included Joel Rose, Dennis Horn, Jose Quintanilla, Jim Lover, Woody Matthews, Georgia Kellogg, Tom Saunders, Terri Bowen Lindstrom, Debbie Hietala, John Klindtworth, Mike Renaud, Debby Malmberg, Lilian Pemberton, Lourena Mellott, Don Gerschick, Jim Anderson and Edward Spence.  Lorna Lover and Chuck Hietala, spouses of vendors expressed appreciation for all that Tom did for their partners and the program.  Robert Doyle, Director of the Florida Division of Blind Services told the group that Tom Spiliotis’ influence will continue in the policies that he helped institute and in his legacy of commitment to the blind vendors in Florida and around the country.

Tom’s wife, Nancy spoke briefly about Tom’s love and dedication to both his family and his BBE family.  Nancy accepted a Lifetime Achievement award on Tom’s behalf presented by Nicky Gacos and Terry Smith, representatives from the National Association of Blind Merchants and the National Federation of the Blind Entrepreneur’s Initiative.  She was also presented tokens of appreciation by vendor Jim Perry.

BLAST – Nicky Gacos and Terry Smith

It has been proposed that the 2019 BLAST conference be held in conjunction with the BBE Biennial Conference and that the Florida program would be a sponsor.  The conference would allow operators to be exposed to national speakers and suppliers not available to the Biennial seminar.  There was a brief discussion about the role that the Florida Business Enterprise will have on a national level without Tom Spiliotis.  The Florida program needs to maintain the relationships that Tom built and committee members need to be more involved.  Over the past few years the Committee has voted to subscribe to the National Federation of Blind Entrepreneurs Initiative which assists vendors through training, technical assistance and advocacy.  Terry Smith has been an important resource for the program and spoke to the vendors at the Biennial in 2013 and 2015.  Recently Terry represented us in an arbitration with Eglin Air Force Base (AFB).  The subscription is $3500 for the year.  Woody Matthews moved that the subscription be renewed for 2017.  Seconded by Joel Rose.  Passed without objection by all members present.  The District 4 representative was out of the room during the vote.

Minutes of the August 2016 meeting – Janet Chernoff

A summary of the minutes was read.  The full minutes had been emailed prior to the meeting.  Joel Rose moved to accept the minutes.  Seconded by Mike Renaud.  Passed without objection.

Daytona Class – Steve Moss

The current class consists of Amber Owen, Charlie Richardson, Jeffrey Perkins, Llars Copeland and Chuck Fickett.  Class member Llars Copeland left for home to deal with a medical issue prior to the introductions.  Charlie Richardson was a vendor in the New York program for twenty years and was also the Committee Chairman.  He spoke briefly about the training and being an operator in New York.  Jeffrey Perkins is a returning student.  He left the training two years ago and has returned to finish.  Licensed vendor Chuck Fickett is at the center for more training.

BBE Updates – Bill Findley

Veteran’s Administration (VA) Locations

Progress with VA locations has been limited. Machines are scheduled to be installed in the outpatient clinic at the Panama City VA.  Other locations in the area include three VA clinics and a Navy clinic.  These locations are part of a new Panama City route which vendor Alton Palmore is currently operating on a Type II. No progress has been made with the Orlando VA.  The VA at Bay Pines was surveyed on September 13 and locations identified where the BBE could coexist with Canteen Services.  Permits have been submitted for VA review and a response is expected by December 9.

Military Contracts

Bill Findley, Don Meloy and Brent McNeal, Department of Education (DOE) Deputy General Counsel participated in an arbitration panel hearing at Eglin AFB on Tuesday, November 15th.  The arbitration is related to protest that the Eglin AFB is out of compliance with the Randolph-Sheppard Act.  Both vending and food service were addressed.  The program had previously submitted a proposal for the food service.  Although the bid for the food service may have been too high, the program argued that Eglin did not follow proper procedures during the process. 

As part of the settlement of the Tyndall AFB arbitration it was agreed that the program would receive vending on the base. The Air Force is not abiding by the agreement and the program may have to file for arbitration.  During a site survey a number of locations were identified, but the Air Force only offered the program a couple of those locations.  The contract for military dining at Tyndall AFB will come out in 2017 and the current partnering company that is operating it indicated that this opportunity should be under the Randolph-Sheppard priority.

The program has been working on a proposal for the Naval Hospital at Pensacola, but was not provided all the information needed.  Bill has requested a delay until we can get the information required for the proposal. Hurlburt Field AFB put out a pre-solicitation in early November and the BBE program believes that it should be under the priority of the Randolph-Sheppard Act. This has been communicated to the Air Force. Hopefully this will be acknowledged when the actual solicitation is put out.  The solicitation was supposed to be posted on November 23.

Florida State Parks

The program has been working with the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to get vending in parks in good locations where the program has a vendor.  Although the program felt progress was being made, DEP is not cooperating.  The General Counsel along with our attorneys will be representing the program at a meeting in a couple of weeks. 

Florida Department of Transportation

A number of operators with highway vending have or would like to have security cameras.  The Department of Transportation (DOT) has allowed security cameras for the short term but wants them removed once an issue is determined to be resolved. There is no statutory authority that allows the vendors to have cameras and the Division has done as much as they can.  John Klindtworth and Mike Renaud recounted stories about the lack of response by on-site security at the rest areas.  Bill Findley is keeping DOT apprised of any break-ins and has requested that rest area operators advise him when they have problems.


Bill Findley sent out a budget report to committee members via email prior to the meeting.  A total of $182,929.65 was deposited between July 1 and October 31, 2016.  This amount included $173,584.37 from set aside payments, monies from newspaper racks decals and third party vending income.  For the first four months of the 2016-2017 fiscal year the program is averaging $43,396.09 per month in set aside.  The bank balance as of November 1, 2016 was $190,113.31.  Overall the program is doing fine financially.  Some projects have been put on hold until the final costs on the Turlington building micro-market are determined.

Turlington Micro-market

The program spent $120,000 from last year’s budget and additional $280,000 from this year’s budget on the micro-market. We are still waiting for a determination on the $127,000 that was spent on the 16th floor renovations.  We were advised almost a year ago that the Board of Governors needed the space occupied by the coffee shop.  Vending was relocated there after the closure of the first floor cafeteria and was later removed due to OSHA concerns during the Turlington building cleaning project.  John Klindtworth requested an accounting of how funds for the Turlington micro-market were being spent and asked if the money came from the set aside account.  Monies for this construction did not come out of the set-aside account.

Type II Updates – Maureen Fink

Twenty-four facilities are under a Type II LOFA. Five will be on the January selection cycle and one was awarded on the September cycle. Two will be on future cycles.  Fifteen facilities are being monitored to determine viability and one is under special circumstance with the operator out on medical leave.

Reorganization of Miami Routes – Maureen Fink

Miami has four routes; Facility 600, Hialeah Route; Facility 117, Downtown Route; Facility 614, Doral route and Facility 584, Southern route.  Facility 584 has not developed and the main location, Community Health of South Florida has indicated that they want the vending machines removed.  The program does not have a priority in the location and they have their own vending.  Alejandro Garcia, Region Six Business Consultant approached the operators of the Hialeah and Downtown routes and they are not interested in expanding their routes.  Alejandro has recommended that the Southern route be added to the Doral Route as the operator is willing.  The operator of the Doral route is currently operating the Facility 547, Broward Route on a Type II and the operator may wish to apply for it on a Type I.  The reorganization will be revisited at the March Committee meeting.   

Reorganization of Tallahassee Routes – Brian Ashworth

The operator of Facility 502 has indicated that she would like to reduce her route to two locations, the main post office and the Capital Commerce Center. Brian is recommending she be allowed to operate these two locations and combine the rest of her route with Facility 602 which includes Citizen’s Insurance and two DEP buildings.  When the operator of Facility 502 is ready to leave the last two locations, those locations would be split between the two Tallahassee routes.  There was a brief discussion about establishing a precedent of allowing an operator to select which locations they want.  In this case the result will be an additional facility that would be available for an operator.  Mike Renaud made the motion to reduce Facility 502 to two locations and add the rest of the locations to Facility 602 contingent on signed agreement with the existing operator.  The operator will be made aware that the reorganization cannot be reversed. The motion was seconded by Woody Matthews.  Passed without objection.

Bill Findley advised the group that he had just received confirmation that allegations against the operator of Facility 495, Coleman prison had been dropped and the operator will receive clearance after attending recertification classes.  The operator had lost his clearance a year ago and his spouse and employee have been servicing the location during the investigation.

Marketing and Site Development Updates – Don Meloy

Since July 2016 there have been 16 surveys performed and seven agreements are waiting to be signed.  These agreements include four state parks; Delnor Wiggins Pass, Alafia River State Park, Weeki Wachee and Homosassa Springs.  Seven federal permits are waiting for signatures including the VA at Bay Pines and the Outpatient Clinic in Panama City.  Permits for Job Corp locations in Gainesville and Pinellas Park are awaiting signatures and surveys are planned for the Miami and Jacksonville locations.  Current projects include the Florida National Guard at Miramar, Florida State Hospital in Chattahoochee and the Sunland Center in the Marianna area. A number of vendors have given Don leads on locations including Woody Matthews, Jose Quintanilla and Joel Rose.  Don is also working to identify locations to expand the new routes at Panama City and Fort Pierce.  Don and Alan Risk have been working on an ITN for potential contractors to expand into the new market of inmate commissaries. 

There was a discussion about options with teaming partners and the possibility of a vendor partnering with a franchisee in a branded concept.  At the consultants meeting Nicky Gacos told the consultants about his partnership with Dunkin Donuts in New Jersey.  He handles the vending at his location and is point of contact.  A local Dunkin Donuts franchisee runs the food service and pays him a commission.

Business Analyst Report – John Ahler

The RSA 15 Report is about to be submitted for the 2015-2016 federal fiscal year.  Gross sales were $21,951,107 which is an approximately $800,000 increase over the previous federal fiscal year.  Average vendor earnings was $65,235 (after set-aside is paid) and median vendor earnings were $59,717.  The numbers have continued an upward trend for the last 3 years.  The RSA website has figures for Florida program and other programs around the country.  The reimbursement process has been clarified for the vendors and the BBE website was updated with current information.  The original $16,000 of outstanding reimbursements that were missing paperwork has been reduced to $3,500.  John Ahler is recommending that operators sign up for direct deposit.  The reimbursement amount has decreased.  In 2015-2016 $188,000 was reimbursed as compared to $205,000 for the previous year.  There was short discussion about reimbursements and which areas and types of facilities have the most reimbursements.  A cap on the amount that is reimbursed to an operator may need to be considered.  Forty-five monitorings have been done this year, and more will be scheduled in 2017.  John Ahler and Maureen focused on accurate reporting for the monthly report during the road show presentations.

Compliance Officers Report – Alan Risk

No new operators have been licensed since the August meeting.  Two trainees are expected to be licensed before the end of the year.  Five vendors have been licensed so far in 2016; James Robinson and Kevin Wheeler are operating facilities, David Wermuth was selected for a possible military dining opportunity, Kevin Nealey is waiting for an opportunity and Mark Ogden is not pursuing opportunities while dealing with a family issue out of state. There are four other active vendors who are currently unassigned.

Three facilities were awarded during the September selection cycle.  Facility 426, rest area on I-10 Eastbound Leon County was awarded to Kurt Ponchak, Facility 273, snack bar in the Collins Building Tallahassee was awarded to Carl Walker and Facility 612, cafeteria in the Broward Sheriff’s Office in Ft. Lauderdale was awarded to Laurel Lyew Sang.  Eight opportunities are currently expected to be posted on the January 2017 selection cycle. Sixty-one operators have fulfilled their CEU requirement, thirty-seven have at least two CEUs, ten have at least one CEU, and seven operators have no CEUs.  Alan has informed the regional consultants about the CEU status of their operators and they will follow up.  Overall it looks that those operators that have no CEUs have a plan to get them before the August deadline.

One grievance had been filed this year.  On November 8, 2016 a grievance hearing was requested by a licensed operator who disagreed with the Division’s decision to terminate their LOFA based upon customer complaints and continual operational deficiencies.  A grievance hearing was held November 21, 2016.  The grievance panel voted unanimously to uphold the Division’s decision and the DBS Director agreed with the panel’s decision.

Committee meetings and Biennial Seminar – Janet Chernoff

The contracts for the 2017 Committee meetings are being finalized. In August the committee voted to change the meeting dates to Thursday and Friday.  The meetings will be held at the Embassy Suites on Jamaican Court in Orlando on March 9-10, June 8-9, and November 30 – December 1.  The Biennial seminar is scheduled for August 18-19 at the Rosen Plaza Hotel in Orlando.  Ideas are being sought from the committee and all operators for sessions and vendors for the trade show.  We are also looking for a theme for the event.

Adjourned for the day at 4:50pm

Saturday, December 3, 2016

The meeting was called to order at 8:45 am by Chairman John Klindtworth.  John advised the group about the retirement fund that Tom Spiliotis had been working on and asked all the representatives to get a list of vendors who would be interested in joining the fund.  The fund will be named the Tom Spiliotis Retirement Fund in honor of the recently deceased Committee Chair. Representatives from MEP South that will manage the fund will come to the next meeting and will also present options to vendors at the Biennial.  Jim Warth explained more about the fund which would include retirement planning and insurance. 

Regional Status/District Updates

Region 1 – Brian Ashworth

Facilities 571 and 572, I-10 rest areas in Jefferson County are scheduled to reopen in May.  These facilities will be on the January selection cycle.  Facility 593, Tallahassee vending route will also be posted along with the other Tallahassee route. Machines will be installed in the Tallahassee VA and the Turlington micro-market on Monday, December 5th.  The opening of the micro-market for the Turlington is scheduled for January 24, 2017.   David Wermuth did a walk through with Brian at the Pensacola Naval Hospital in November.

Region 1 – Janet Chernoff

Wanda Feldsteen took over Facility 273, Collins Building snack bar on a Type II on November 2.  The facility will close on December 23 and reopen in March when building renovations are completed.  Carl Walker was awarded the facility in September and will take over when it reopens.  Trainee Colton Knight is assisting Wanda and she reports that he is doing an excellent job.  

District 1 – Lourena Mellott

Gerald Sanders resigned from his facility and Emmett Magee is operating it on a Type II.  Debby Malmberg said that Emmett is doing well and is able to do the combined routes in four days.  Lourena recently had surgery and was out of contact with vendors during her recovery.

District 2 – Mike Renaud

US Foods has offered to bring down vendors for a tour of their plant and a culinary class. They will pay for the accommodations.  Regional Consultants are also invited but would have to pay their own expenses.  Mike will check on the specifics. Greg Coon said that Sysco provides a similar tour.

There was a discussion about Pepsi prices in Region 1. Lourena and Debby Malmberg said the Pepsi prices are going up.  Buffalo Rock is the distributor for Pepsi and is not very cooperative. Lourena asked about the possibility of the program purchasing a generic drink machine.  The program does not have the resources at this time, but an operator can purchase a machine.  Woody Matthews confirmed that the program would still reimburse for repairs for an operator owned machine.  Both Coke and Pepsi products can be put in a generic machine.

Region 3 – Greg Coon

A Department of Children and Family office is being added to Facility 603, Ocala Vending.  A Transportation Security Administration (TSA) location has been added to Facility 586, Orlando vending route.  Renovations have been in process for Facility 403, Kennedy Space Center (KSC) snack bar since 2013.  The renovations are scheduled to start in mid-January after the plans are updated to remove an item of contention.  The facility will be on the January selection cycle and will be closed during the renovations and reopen with the selected operator.  Competition from gift shops in the space center continues to be a problem despite a recent meeting.  Bill Findley indicated that it will probably be February 2017 before the Division can focus on the problem.  Operator Phil Hubbard has reach out the NASA Administration every month and has been ignored.

District 6 – Jose Quintanilla

The only area of concern in his region are the problems with the KSC.

District 5 – Mitzi Tyler

Mitzi was asked if anyone else was not receiving expected checks from the RSA buying group.  Woody Matthews has been in contact with them and he asked to be given a list of vendors who are having problems.  The checks are emailed to the vendors and direct deposit was recommended as a possible solution.  Dave Kaplan asked if it was possible to get a breakdown of purchases from the RSA buying group.  Mike Renaud indicated that it is on their website.

Region 5 –Jim Carper

Facility 352, Broward County Government Center Cafeteria has had the highest sales ever thanks to the manager Laurel Lyew Sang.  Laurel has that facility on a Type II and was recently awarded Facility 612, Broward Sherriff’s Office cafeteria on a Type I.  She is running both facilities at this time. Guillermo Alvarez has been running Facility 547, Broward vending on a Type II for two months.  Vendor Bill McDermott has added card readers to his machines and now all the rest areas in Region 5 have card readers.

District 9 – Joel Rose

No concerns in his region.  He has changed products in his locations and is seeing a drop in sales as staff move out of buildings and more people are working from home.

Region 2 – Bernie Kaiserian

Bill Perret’s wife passed away and Bill spent some time in the hospital.  Bernie reports that Bill is committed to continue to operate his facilities. Heather Saunders has had the second best month of sales in her Type I, Facility 608 Tacachale vending route. Jim Parkman is officially celebrating fifty years as a licensed vendor.  DOT wants to install Sunpass only vending machines in the welcome center.  They will provide the machine.

District 3 – Terri Bowen Lindstrom

She is impressed with the new vendors, Heather Saunders, Mike McCrea and Ed Spence and thinks they are all good operators.

District 4 – Patti Fulda

Patti attended the BBE Road Show presentation in October and had a chance to meet some of the new vendors. Patti enjoyed the presentation.

Region 4 – Tony Arduengo

In October new operator, Kevin Wheeler has had the best sales in a year at his Type II Facility 272, Brooksville vending route.  Facility 605, vending at Tampa VA and DCF has seen the vending cut in half at the DCF location after a food service was installed.  Sales have increased with the installation of card readers, but the facility doesn’t have enough sales to be considered a viable facility.  Facility 615, Hillsborough County Center has seen an increase in sales after the machines were moved. The micro-market on Facility 396, RL Timberlake vending route will be closed for renovations for two more months.  The operator will have access to a commercial kitchen down the street so that he can prepare food for the market.  Machines have been added to Facility 555, Bradenton/Sarasota vending route. A second rest area at Alligator Alley is planned to be constructed and open by late 2017/early 2018.  The VA at Bay Pines and Job Corp locations are scheduled to be added to Facility 500, Pinellas County vending route.  

District 7 – Woody Matthews

The court rooms have been moved away from the machines at Facility 124, Hillsborough Courthouse vending.  It would require an amendment to the agreement signed by the county commission to move the machines.  District 7 meets regularly.

District 8 – Tom Saunders

The Skyway Bridge rest areas are scheduled for their rebuild in May 2017. Tom heard that they plan to do Facility 432 first.

Region 6 – Maureen Fink for Alejandro Garcia

Renovations at Facility 348, Rhode Building cafeteria including a wall needed to create storage and office space for the operator have been completed.  The shed at Facility 510, Krome Detention Center is being replaced.  Raiza Miranda is operating Facility 588, vending at Southern Command and FAA on a Type II.

District 10 – Lilian Pemberton

Everything is going well so far.  She is having problems getting calorie disclosure labels for her Pepsi machines.  Woody Matthews had a similar problem but received them after demanding them from his sales person.  Maureen confirmed that vendors may need to take a hard approach with sales people to get the labels they need.

Round Table – All

Woody Matthews told the group about a phone system he is using to handle customer comments and concerns.  The system is available through Freedom Voice and provides an 800 number which allows on-line access to messages, gives a text alert when a voice mail is left and will send a text with the content of the message to his phone.

Shirley Smart indicated that she would like to start a Florida chapter of National Association of Blind Merchants.  Interested vendors should contact Shirley.   Another consumer group is the Randolph-Sheppard Vendors of Florida.  Jim Warth is president. 

Robert Doyle, Director of the Division of Blind Services shared that the Division is seeking public input on the 2016-2020 DBS Strategic Plan.  The public is invited to participate in a conference call on December 12 or 13th.

Kathy Warth asked about a subcommittee for the 2017 Biennial.  The following vendors have volunteered to be on the subcommittee:  Kathy Warth, Lilian Pemberton, Don Gerschick, Joel Rose, Patti Fulda and Terri Bowen Lindstrom.  Nicky Gacos was suggested as one of the keynote speakers and representatives from the Tom Spiliotis Retirement Fund would also participate. Theme is needed for the seminar. 

Adjourned 10:10 am

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