Quarterly Meeting of the State Committee of Vendors

Embassy Suites, Jamaican Court
Orlando, Florida

Thursday, March 8, 2017

Committee Chairman John Klindtworth called the meeting to order at 8:40 a.m.

The following individuals were present:
John Klindtworth, Chairman

District Representatives: Alton Palmore, District 1 Alternate; Wanda Feldsteen, District 2 Alternate; 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. District 3 was not represented at the meeting.

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; Alejandro Garcia, Region 6 Business Consultant; Janet Chernoff, Administrative Services Consultant.  

Licensed Vendors: David Kaplan, District 9 Alternate; Daniel Ochoa, District 10 Alternate; Todd Bowen, Mike McCrea, Paulette Williams, Troy Arthur, Jose Formoso, Ron Light, Jim Warth.

Rehabilitation Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired:  Instructor, Steve Moss; Trainees, Amber Owen, Charlie Richardson, Doug Wright and Joaquin Del Rio.

Guests:  Tasha Doan, Denise Holmes

December Meeting Minutes – Janet Chernoff

A synopsis of the minutes of the December meeting was read.  A full copy of the minutes was emailed prior to the meeting.  Joel Rose made a motion to accept the minutes as written.  Seconded by Jose Quintanilla.  Passed without objection.

BBE Updates – Bill Findley

The Bureau of Business Enterprise (BBE) program currently has four military contracts; Camp Blanding Joint Training Center, US Army Special Forces Operations School at Key West, Naval Support Activity at Panama City and the Naval Hospital in Pensacola. 

The hospital in Pensacola is operated on a Type II LOFA by new licensee David Wermuth.  The original announcement for this facility indicated an October 2016 start date and also asserted that the existing contract could not be extended.  There was a delay in the award and David took over the facility on February 1, 2017.  The Division has decided to put the facility on the selection cycle in May 2018 which will allow David to operate the facility on a Type II through the remaining 8 months of this year’s option and first full option year which will end in October 2018. 

Alton Palmore and his teaming partner Blackstone Consulting have put together a corrective action plan to address recent issues at the Panama City location.  On site management has been overly critical and recently sent a report to Jacksonville implying that the contract was in trouble.  A representative from Blackstone will be spending time at both the Panama City and Pensacola locations.  A five star inspection is being done today, Thursday, March 9 and Alton has every expectation that the report will be good. Alton Palmore assured the committee that despite the recent problems the location is doing well with good food and good service.

The contract for Key West is in its fourth year with one more option year left. The program hopes to be awarded the contract once this one is finished in 2018.  There is a proposal that eleven military dining facilities throughout the county including Key West will be awarded on one contract.  If that happens hopefully another state would take the lead and put together a proposal for all eleven facilities. The agency could continue to operate the facility under that contract. 

The agency did not win the arbitration for Eglin Air Force Base (AFB) for either the food service or vending.  The decision indicated that the agency’s challenge was too narrow for the vending and that it needs to be challenged on a broader scale.  At Tyndall AFB, the agency plans to file for arbitration for lack of cooperation with the vending in the settlement agreement that was reached a couple of years ago. In a survey of the facility a number of sites were identified but Tyndall only offered the program a couple of locations. Military dining opportunities were listed on the current selection cycle for Hurlburt Field and Tyndall AFB.  If the solicitations for both do not include a Randolph Sheppard priority the agency will file a protest and that should stop the solicitation until the issue is resolved.

The agency continues to make minimal progress with the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) in Florida State Parks.  The Commissioner’s office has agreed that the Division can go to Governor’s office to explain the situation.  The program would request that all new contracts with concessionaires indicate that the BBE program would get the vending and that all those contracts not have the non-compete clause.  The program would want to have the option of using a third party in areas where there is no licensed vendor.  The program would also want to investigate existing contracts to see if there is out clause that would allow us to do the vending. 

Café 325, Turlington micro-market had a grand opening on January 23, 2017 and everything has gone well due in part to the hard work of Brian Ashworth, Maureen Fink and vendor Mike Renaud. Fresh food is being provided by operator Steve Docie.  Sales are increasing daily and are expected to continue to increase as customers learn the system.  The expected income for a vendor is between $60,000-$70,000 per year.  The program has two other micro-markets, one in the George C. Young Federal Building and a second as part of the route operated by Jim Warth.  We have been talking to the City of Tallahassee about the possibility of a micro-market. 

There was a brief discussion about the high price of the Turlington micro-market as well as other construction projects.  The program is required to work with Department of Management Services (DMS) on all projects which sometimes results in higher costs.  Michael Ouzts with General Services will be replacing Greg Davis as our point of contact on projects.  Hopefully he can assist us in keeping costs under control in the future. 

The Kennedy Space Center (KSC) snack bar is scheduled to be renovated with an expected cost of $170,000.  Funds have been allocated and the renovations will provide a more appealing atmosphere which should result in increased sales for the operator.  Direct competition from the gift shops has been an ongoing problem which is a violation of the Randolph-Sheppard Act.  The program plans to make this issue a priority soon and will get the legal department involved.  The focus will be to get the gift shop to stop selling products that are being sold at BBE facilities.

Tom Spiliotis received one of the Successful 75 awards at the Division of Blind Services (DBS) anniversary celebration in Orlando.  Nancy Spiliotis accepted on his behalf.

The program surveyed the existing facilities at Bay Pines and identified several locations that vending machines could be placed.  On December 20th we received their reply which yielded only one location at the Eye Clinic.  The program plans to file for arbitration regarding the other locations that the Veteran’s Administration (VA) previously indicated we could have.  We have asked the legal department whether we should install the two machines in the Eye Clinic. We have not filed for arbitration yet for the location in Orlando. 

Recently the Deputy Director of the DBS, Antionette Williams left to take another position in Department of Education (DOE).  DBS Client services has a number of vacant positions in the state and district offices.  Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA) will be monitoring DBS in April.  The BBE program will only have a small part in this review.   

Bill Findley emailed budget information to committee members prior to the meeting. Set-aside paid by vendors in the state fiscal year 2016-2017 through January 31 (seven months) was at $294,298.06. The Bank of America account which receives set-aside and all other 3rd party income payments was at $326,066.40 as of January 31. Overall program finances are in good shape.  The program is waiting on military payments and having sufficient budget authority is always a concern.  Bill Findley reported later in the meeting that three military payments had been received.

There was a short discussion about replacement of aging vending machines.  Maureen recommended that operators keep a repair log on each machine to help the program know when to replace a problematic machine.

Type II Updates – Maureen Fink

Twenty-six facilities are currently being operated under a Type II LOFA.  Six are being offered on the January selection cycle and four more will be on future selection cycles.  One was awarded on the September cycle and the selected operator will take over the end of this month. The program is determining viability on fifteen locations.  This includes a route in Pensacola that the program is proposing to combine with another route and a military dining facility that was awarded as a Type II because the program initially did not have time to go through the regular process. There was discussion about the viability of Facility 599, Lake City vending route.  In combination with Facility 608, vending at Tachachale it is a viable location and the current vendor is willing to service both facilities.  The over fifty mile drive between the locations makes it problematic to combine them on a permanent basis. 

Combination of Facility 286 and 609/Region 1 Updates – Brian Ashworth

The program is recommending that Facility 286, Pensacola vending route be combined with Facility 609, Pensacola NAS vending route.  The combined route would have 34 stops and total sales of $170,000.  There are no other locations to add to either route and the area has no unassigned operators or prospective applicants for the program.  Emmett Magee is operating both routes and is doing a good job. Alton Palmore moved to combine Facility 286 with Facility 609.  Seconded by Woody Matthews.  Passed without objection by all members present.

The micro-market in the Turlington building is up and running.  The operation requires a lot of work with the computer to input inventory and work with the web application.  The Jefferson County rest areas are expected to open up in mid-April and mid-May.  Renovations at the Collins building were completed in March and plans are in process to renovate the Larson building serving line.  Local vendors in the Pensacola area reached out to welcome and assist new operator David Wermuth.

Realignment of Miami Routes – Alejandro Garcia

The program proposed that Facility 584, South Miami route be combined with Facility 614, Doral route at the December meeting.  The decision was tabled with a plan to review it at the next meeting.  There has been a request from the building management of Community Health of South Florida, Inc. (CHI) to remove our machines.  This location provides half of the sales for Facility 584 and without the location the route is no longer viable.  Don Meloy and Alejandro Garcia have tried to negotiate with building management but a recent change in staffing has resulted in an uncertain future for the location.  In September 2016 the Type I operators of the three other Miami routes signed off on a plan to reconfigure the four Miami routes into three routes.  Two of the three managers indicated that they were not interested in expanding their facilities.  Lilian Pemberton recommended that the affected operators be approached again as she wants them to have another opportunity to expand their businesses.  Maureen will meet with the operators in April and the committee will revisit the issue in June.

Signage for Highway Vending – Joel Rose

An operator in Region 5 expressed concern about proposed signage for her rest area vending indicating that a blind operator is responsible for the location.  These signs are part of the contract with the Department of Transportation (DOT) and all rest area vending locations should have them.  David Kaplan indicated that the maintenance company has been removing the contact information stickers from his machines.  Maureen will speak to them and will explain the federal requirement to have this information on all vending machines.  

Crane Machine Repair Guidelines – Alejandro Garcia

Crane vending machines have a two year warranty on parts and 90 days on labor.  Bill validators and coin mechanisms need to be sent to the company.  It is recommended that an operator have spares on hand.  There is concern that repairmen are doing repairs that operators should be able to do themselves.  One option is to not reimburse for vendor level repairs but the problem is how to determine what repairs a vendor should be able to do. 

Daytona Training – Steve Moss

There were a total of seven students in the class in January, one has left and four will be finishing classroom training and starting OJT the end of March.  The other two students are scheduled to finish classroom instruction in May.  The students asked committee members and staff for advice on what they needed to do to be successful in the program.  The committee members told the trainees to be willing to relocate and take on food service. They also advised the trainees to take ownership of your business, not to be afraid to ask for help and to pay their taxes, bills and staff before taking money for themselves.

Marketing and Site Development Updates – Don Meloy

Since July 2016 twenty-five surveys have been performed and seven proposals, eleven federal permits and six agreements have been submitted.  Four agreements have been completed since the December 2016 committee meeting, one agreement is pending and four are waiting to be signed.  Agreements for Delnor-Wiggins Pass State Park, Palm Beach County Transit, Department of Children and Family (DCF) in Ocala and Alafia River State Park have been signed.  An agreement with the PEO-STRI Army Training Center in Orlando was signed and the program is working on acquiring the vending in a larger facility next door at NAVAIR.  Other federal permits in progress are for Job Corp locations in Miami, Jacksonville, Gainesville and Pinellas County Center and a USDA Horticultural Research center in Fort Pierce. 

Projects in process include Florida National Guard, Florida State Hospital in Chattahoochee, Secret Service in Miami, Silver Springs, Weeki Wachee, Werner-Boyce Salt Springs, Grayton Beach, Sunland Center, City of Tallahassee, NOAA Aircraft Operations and MacDill AFB.  The program is continuing to look for locations to expand the routes in Panama City, Fort Pierce, Brooksville and St. Augustine.

Business Analyst Update – John Ahler

Forty-eight monitorings were done in 2016.  The monitorings focused on correct reporting of sales and expenses, nontaxable sales and tax rates. Operators are advised about the necessity of doing a monthly inventory in order to do an accurate monthly report. The monthly report was reviewed line by line during the BBE road show.  Operators should periodically review and be aware of monthly report figures even if they have an accountant doing the report.  They should communicate with their accountants to be sure that they are aware of BBE requirements and are filling out the report correctly.  The report will be updated in the near future to include a comment section that will allow vendors to note any circumstances that effected their sales.  The report will also automatically populate the ending inventory into the following month’s beginning inventory to help avoid errors.

John emailed a reminder to all vendors that the annual report for corporations need to be filed by May 1 to avoid a penalty.  Operators also need to be aware of expiration dates for Department of Business and Professional Regulation (DBPR) licenses for food service, food machines and ice cream machines to avoid a late fee. Sales and set aside is trending upward and reimbursements have decreased.  Direct deposit is recommended to help expedite reimbursement payments.

Florida DOT Updated Rest Area Agreement – Bill Findley

The program’s agreement with DOT is being updated.  The current agreement says that the program is responsible for the security of our equipment but DOT has only permitted cameras for limited time period when there has been a problem at the location.  Only seven operators currently have cameras and the program is questioning whether to make this an issue.  We have been informed that the surveillance tapes from the cameras should be held for 30 days in case there is a problem.  Different DOT regions seem to have different standards regarding BBE facilities.

Biennial Seminar – Janet Chernoff

Eleven vendors are confirmed for the trade show along with Nicky Gacos as keynote speaker.  CareerSource, Representatives from MEP South and Hillard Goldsmith will be among the speakers.  We have four vendors along with the members who previously played in a band with Tom Spiliotis that plan to participate in BBE has Talent on Saturday night.  The “Tom Spiliotis” award was discussed along with a criteria for the awardee.  John Klindtworth indicated that the award should only be given to a vendor in extraordinary circumstances and that the award did not have to be given out at every seminar.

The Committee had voted to move the meeting to Thursday and Friday in August 2016.  This was done because recent changes in the wage and hour laws made it problematic for BBE staff to work on a Saturday.  The law was challenged and this is no longer an issue.  The committee was asked if they wished to return to the previous meeting schedule of Friday and Saturdays for 2018.  The group decided to return to the previous schedule with a vote six in favor, two in opposition, one abstaining and one District that was not represented at the meeting.

Compliance Officer Report – Alan Risk

Seven new vendors were licensed in 2016.  Three have been awarded facilities.  Currently there are five active unassigned vendors and all participated in the January selection cycle.  Twelve opportunities were posted, thirty-four vendors applied and twenty-eight vendors took the test. Seventeen vendors were interviewed.  The rankings have been submitted by the selection panel and the selected applicants have three days to sign their decision forms.  The final determination of the awards should be ready by next week. 

Seventy-three vendors have completed their CEU requirement, twenty-nine have two or more CEUs, five vendors have less than two and seven vendors have less than one CEUs.  Alan will provide a list of vendors who need CEUs to district representative upon request. 

One grievance has been filed since the December meeting.  The complainant argued that he had not been supplied the requested equipment for the exam.  The complainant requested a CCTV and it was not included in the information given to DBS staff at the test location.  Alan Risk had emailed the complainant to confirm the arrangements for the test but the complainant did not respond.  The DBS staff took steps to make the accommodation after the error was discovered but the complainant elected not to use the equipment as he would have had to move to another desk.  The panel agreed with the agency decision.

Tom Castillo from Coca-Cola indicated that the price should be stable in all outlets and reimbursements processed within the next three weeks.  Coca-Cola is reorganizing and locations from east of Tallahassee to Key West will all be under one company.

Vendor’s Retirement Fund – John Klindtworth

Jim Warth spoke about the Tom Spiliotis Retirement Fund for Blind Vendors.  A committee including Jim Warth, Woody Matthews, Sead Bekric and Mitzi Tyler have been working on this fund which is available to vendors, their spouses and their employees.  Options will include accidental death, family benefit programs, financial planning services, an IRA option, 401k option, multiple employer option and supplemental pension plan.  Liability insurance is also going to be added.  Participation is voluntary and participants can decide which options are best for them. Information was emailed to vendors and the representatives will be at the next committee meeting and at the Biennial Seminar.

Adjourned for the day at 4:50p.m.

Friday, March 9, 2017

Committee Chairman John Klindtworth called the meeting to order at 8:40 a.m.

Regional Status/District Updates – Regional Consultants and District Representatives

District 1 – Alton Palmore
An inspection was scheduled for Facility 617, military dining at the Panama City NAS and he expects to get the Five Star rating.  Everything else is good well in District 1.  David Wermuth recently took over Facility 622, military dining at Pensacola Naval Hospital and the committee approved combining the two routes operated by Emmett Magee earlier in the meeting.  Lourena Mellott is doing well but was unable to attend this meeting. 

District 2 – Wanda Feldsteen
Food service locations in Tallahassee are still recovering from the holidays.  Collins was reopened on March 7 and sales should return to previous levels once people return to the building.  Carl Walker is scheduled to take over the end of March.

Region 2 – Bernie Kaiserian
Two locations have been added to Facility 590, City of Jacksonville vending route.  A digital menu board is going to be installed in Facility 33, Duval County snack bar.  Twenty credit card readers will be installed in a number of the facilities and there will be some movement as a result of the selection cycle which may allow the consolidation of some smaller locations.

Region 3 – Greg Coon
The operators of Facility 378, Orlando Cafeteria and Facility 416, I-4 Rest Area tendered their resignations.  These locations are on the current selection cycle.  Mitzi Tyler will continue operate Facility 416 until the transition and Dennis Horn is operating the Facility 378 on a Type II.   Renovations are scheduled for Facility 378 during the 2017-2018 fiscal year starting July.  Locations are being added to Facility 586, Orlando route.  Renovations have been approved for Facility 403, KSC snack bar and hopefully those will start soon. 

District 5 – Mitzi Tyler
All is quiet in District 5.

District 6 – Jose Quintanilla
No concerns from area vendors.

Region 4 – Tony Arduengo
Machines are being installed in the state parks and the VA.  Locations at Weeki Wachee and Homosassa will be added to Facility 272, Brooksville route.  The VA has made space for our machines at the Tampa locations but not at Bay Pines.  Vending sales at the Department of Children and Family (DCF) in Tampa have gone down since over the counter food service has been opened.  The micro-market on Facility 396 has been renovated and is scheduled to reopen soon.  Additional locations are also be added to this facility. Facility 615, Hillsborough County Center is not viable as a stand-alone facility and will need to be attached to another facility. This will be addressed at the next meeting.

Bill Findley updated the group on rest area renovations.  DOT has started on their long range plan that covers up to the next fifty years.  Plans are in place for St. Johns, Baker, Hillsborough, Marion and Sumter counties rest areas over the next several years.  Two new rest areas are scheduled to be built in Charlotte County.  We expect that there will be one major project per year over the next five to six years.

District 7 – Woody Matthews
Woody holds a district meeting at his place at least once a quarter and has no issues to report at this time.  Woody was awarded Facility 571, rest area in Jefferson County and his route will be available on a Type II.

District 8 – Tom Saunders
No news from the operators in District 8.  Tom is still waiting for a start date on the renovations for the rest areas on the Skyway Bridge.  He recently found a large quantity of change in the door of his AMS outsider machine and advised other operators to check their machines. 

Region 5 – Jim Carper
Five post offices have been added to routes in Broward County.  An agreement to do the vending at Palm Tran was signed in October but the location neglected to give required 90 days’ notice to the company servicing the facility causing a delay.   A location has been added to the Fort Pierce vending route and the program has taken over vending in Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) building in Broward.  A Fourth District Court of Appeals location will be added to Facility 257, Palm Beach Route.  Locations on Facility 617, Broward Law Enforcement Vending route will be split between the two Broward routes as the route currently is not large enough to be a viable facility.  If more locations become available the Division reserves the right to reactivate this facility.

District 9 – Joel Rose
Three post offices were added to his route. Nothing else to report

Region 6 – Alejandro Garcia
A location has been added to the downtown route.  He is working with Don Meloy to acquire locations at Job Corp, Secret Service and CHI.  He has seen an increase in sales in Region 6 due to the hard work of the vendors and recent renovations.  Region 6 has the top sales per facility.

District 10 – Lilian Pemberton
She has a new storage facility at Krome and she has seen an increase in detainees at the facility as a result of the new immigration laws. 

District 4 – Patti Fulda
Everything is going well.  An operator at an I-95 rest area north has requested a sign indicating that it is that last rest area before Georgia.  This would be a DOT decision.

Round Table – All
Woody Matthews has been working with vendors that have been having trouble getting their refunds from the RSA buying group.  The group now has a customer service representative to help the vendors.  Vendors registered with the buying group can access their website with their user name and password. 

Bill Findley informed the group that he had just received an email that confirms that Facility 619, military dining at Panama City NAS had received the Five Star rating as a result of the recent inspection and is qualified to compete at the next level. 

Meeting adjourned at 9:45am.

Return to top of page

DISCLAIMER: Links on the Florida Division of Blind Services (DBS) website that are directed toward websites outside the DBS, provide additional information that may be useful or interesting and are being provided consistent with the intended purpose of the DBS website. DBS cannot attest to the accuracy of information provided by non-DBS websites. Further, providing links to a non-DBS website does not constitute an endorsement by DBS, the Florida Department of Education or any of its employees, of the sponsors of the non-DBS website or of the information or products presented on the non-DBS website.