Quarterly Meeting of the State Committee of Vendors

Embassy Suites, Jamaican Court
Orlando, Florida

Friday, August 24, 2018

Chairman James Warth called the meeting to order at 8:31 a.m. Vice Chairman Alton Palmore called the role.

The following individuals were present:
James Warth, Chairman
Alton Palmore, Vice Chairman 

District Representatives: Georgia Kellogg, District 1; Mike Renaud, District 2; Terri Lindstrom, District 3; Darryl Brinton, District 4; David Stevens, District 5; Phi Hubbard, District 6; Sead Bekric, District 7; Steve Barnes, 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; Brian Ashworth, Region 1 Business Consultant; Bernie Kaiserian, Region 2 Business Consultant; Greg Coon, Region 3 Business Consultant; Tony Arduengo, Region 4 Business Consultant; Alejandro Garcia, Region 6 Business Consultant; Janet Chernoff, Administrative Services Consultant.

Licensed Vendors: Kurt Ponchak, District 1 Alternate; Woody Matthews, District 2 Alternate; Mike McCrea, District 3 Alternate; Jim Anderson, Region 6 Alternate; David Kaplan, Region 9 Alternate; Shirley Smart, Jennifer Hobbs, Mitzi Bowen, Tom Saunders, Dennis Horn, Jose Quintanilla.

Rehabilitation Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired: Instructors, Steve Moss and Jill Richardson; Trainees: Tammy Spain, Brenda Nicely-Meade.

Guests: Patty Hubbard, Ronald Hobbs, Marion Matthews, Lamar Ward and Danny Murphy of the Tom Spiliotis Retirement Fund.

Review of the June 2018 Minutes – Janet Chernoff
Janet Chernoff read a synopsis of the minutes. The full minutes had been emailed to all Committee members. Joel Rose moved to accept the minutes. Seconded by Phil Hubbard. Passed by voice vote.   

The group discussed card readers and whether the device fee should be an approved business expense on the monthly business report (MBR). The agency wants to offer this for operators that have card readers under the state umbrella account. Mike Renaud expressed concern that the deduction would only be offered for readers under the state account. He was also concerned about Bureau of Business Enterprise (BBE) staff being able to view a USA Tech report without the vendor’s knowledge. No motion was made regarding the device fee as an approved business expense.

BBE Updates – Bill Findley
Jim Carper, Region 5 Business Consultant retired the end of May and Don Meloy, Marketing and Site Development Manager retired the end of July. Greg Coon has been recommended for the Marketing position and Jaime Payne, snack bar trainer has been recommended for the Region 3 Consultant position. Sarah Escobedo has been recommended for the Region 5 Business Consultant position. The other snack bar trainer, Danny Strain has taken another job within DBS at the Rehab Center and Angela Elgaard and Agnes Kardos have been recommended for the two open positions. Both of the new snack bar trainers have food service and training experience. Employment packages have been submitted for all the candidates and are awaiting final approvals.

On July 31, 2018 there was a meeting in Tallahassee with the military staff from Camp Blanding. The Chief of Staff of the Department of Education (DOE) along with the Director of the Division of Blind Services (DBS) Robert Doyle and General Counsel Brent McNeal attended the meeting. The funding designated to pay the contract at Camp Blanding has ended and the military is using funds from other sources. They want to use uniformed staff to do all of the services under the contract except janitorial. The amount of training done at the camp is expected to be reduced in the coming months which will result in a reduction in meals served. The military has requested to be released from the contract, but the program is reluctant to set a precedent that could impact relationships with other Federal military departments. The program believes the military should follow proper procedures and bring the issue to the US Secretary of Education. The current operator, Ed Spence was awarded the military dining at the Pensacola Naval Hospital and will sign in when the Type II contract ends in September. Camp Blanding will be put out as a Type II.

The Commissioner’s office planned a conference call with the base commander of Tyndall Air Force Base (AFB) concerning the arbitration panel’s decision in favor of the program. The call did not occur and the Office of the General Counsel believes it is time to take the issue to Federal Court. An arbitration panel has been assembled for Hulbert AFB and a prehearing meeting is scheduled for September with a potential hearing date in October. The operator that was recommended for this opportunity has accepted another facility and the program may have to re-advertise the opportunity. The Key West contract was extended to January 2019. The program would like to directly negotiation the new contract but may have to participate in a competitive bid. 

A meeting was held on June 21, 2018 with the management of NASA concerning the issue of direct competition from the gift shops with program vendors. NASA believes that they are not competing with the vendors because the products are not sold in vending machines. NASA also indicated that the monies from the sales go to the employee benefit fund and that profits are minimal. A letter was sent reiterating the program’s position that NASA is violating the law by selling products in direct competition with program vendors and the program is awaiting a response.

Budget Report – Bill Findley and Kurt Ponchak
A copy of budget and expenditures for the state fiscal year of 2017-2018 along with budget and expenditures for July 2018 were emailed to the committee members prior to the meeting. Just before the June meeting the BBE learned that it did not get the budget authority requested for the Pensacola Hospital military contract. Budget authority in the amount of $233,750 was moved to the BBE from Client Services to help cover the payment. That still left $800,000 to be paid out of 2018-2019 budget. Kurt Ponchak met with Robert Doyle, Director of DBS and Mitchell Clark, Operations and Compliance Bureau Chief. Robin Goldstone Garcia, DBS Deputy Director and Bill Findley participated in the conference via phone. Kurt was concerned about the accuracy of documentation and indicated that documents provided did not match the Appropriations Act. Kurt believes that a budget amendment would be the solution to the shortfall. He also requested that the DBS Director attend the next Committee meeting to explain the situation to its members. Kurt plans to continue to follow up on the issue and hopes for a commitment from the Division on a resolution of the problem by the end of this year. In the interim the program is going ahead with all planned projects. Maureen Fink and Robin Goldstone Garcia are working together to get the prior approvals necessary to purchase equipment for BBE facilities. RSA did not approve funds for the Hurston building renovations and the funds from another account, approved by Director Doyle, have been designated for the Hurston remodel.  Pressure has been put on the RSA from programs throughout the country regarding the problems caused by prior approval requirement. Previously the RSA indicated that they would not consider reinstating the waiver but they may be wavering,

Type II Updates – Maureen Fink
Maureen emailed a list of Type IIs to the Committee prior to the meeting. Twenty-five facilities are on Type II LOFAs. Five the facilities were awarded on the last selection cycle and will be transitioned soon. Twelve will be posted on future bid sheets. Eight facilities are being monitored to determine viability. Two of the eight facilities, Citizen’s Insurance in Tallahassee and George C. Young Courthouse are expected to be added to existing facilities. Three facilities, Panama City vending route, Tampa VA vending and Lake City vending have expired LOFAs and will need to be re-advertised.

Tallahassee Route Reorganization – Brian Ashworth
The program recommends that Facility 602, Citizen’s Insurance vending be combined with Facility 502, West Tallahassee vending route. Facility 502 was recently awarded as a Type II after the previous operator accepted another opportunity. Combining 502 and 602 will bring the facility more in line with the sales garnered by the other Tallahassee route. Card readers are being added to machines on Facility 502 and are expected to increase the sales by 20%. The two facilities would be combined after Facility 502 is awarded as a Type I. Mike Renaud made a motion to combine Facilities 502 and 602. Seconded by Phil Hubbard. Passed by voice vote.

Other Topics Discussed
Representatives of the Tom Spiliotis Retirement Fund asked for the Committee’s help in contacting vendors. District Representatives can include a presentation by fund representatives in a CEU event.

There was a brief discussion about a series of break-ins at rest areas on I-75. Sead Bekric has spoken to the affected operators and have asked them to send copies of police reports to Bill Findley. Bill will share the reports with the Department of Transportation.

Daytona Training – Steve Moss, Jill Richardson, Trainees
Snack bar trainer, Danny Strain has left for another position in the Center and the other trainer, Jay Payne has been recommended for the Region 3 Consultant position. Two replacements have been recommended and their paperwork is in process. Jill Richardson will retire in November and her position will be advertised. Trainee Tammy Spain will begin on the job training in late September and is interested in food service. The other trainee, Brenda Nicely-Meade was in the Virginia program for 25 years before relocating to Florida.

Viability of Vending Routes – Joel Rose
Joel believes that a vending route needs sales of at least $200,000 to be viable and is concerned about the vendors that are awarded smaller routes. Viability of locations can change and it takes time to develop a new route. The program will continue to monitor all its facilities and will take action if a facility is determined not to be viable as a stand-alone. Actions include combining them with other facilities or finding a third party.

Business Analyst Report – John Ahler
The program has purchased 645 card readers and they are being installed in machines throughout the state. Once all the state owned readers are deployed other state owned readers and readers owned by interested operators will be merged under the state account umbrella. To ensure that banking information is secure, the vendors will only have limited access to the umbrella account and will have to call USA Tech to make some changes. Readers under the state account will not have activation or transfer fees.

John did fifty monitorings in the 2017-2018 fiscal year. John has been focusing on accurate reporting. Vendors need to confirm that the correct numbers are going to their accountants and should reconcile their cash and credit transactions with the roll up reports. Vendor sales are up .5 million in the state fiscal year 2017-2018 over the previous year.

Vending Machine Tracking Survey – Sead Bekric
Sead Bekric wants to negotiate better pricing with Coke and Pepsi. He is requesting that a survey be sent out to get a count of all vending machines. Janet Chernoff prepared a draft of the survey and sent it out prior to the meeting. Committee members suggested that generic drink machines and soda fountain machines be added to the list. Another benefit of the survey is to create a data base of all machines to facilitate transitions. John Ahler will be asking vendors about the number of machines and locations they have as part of his monitoring. Woody Matthews made a motion that the survey be sent out to all vendors. Seconded by Mike Renaud. Passed by voice vote. The survey will be sent out next week and will be open until September 14, 2018.

RSA Buying Group – Mike McCrea, Terri Lindstrom
Mike and Terri have been responding to vendor concerns about the promptness and accuracy of rebates received from the RSA Buying group. Mike has spoken to vendors in twenty-six other states and indicated they have similar concerns. The RSA website is not JAWS friendly and does not provide enough information to users to determine if payments are accurate. There are also concerns about the security of the website as users have been able to access other accounts. Mike talked to John Murn of the buying group to discuss these concerns. He has also reached out to Adam Gaffney and Freedom Scientific to see if they can assist with the accessibility issues. Dennis Horn addressed the Committee as a friend and business associate of John Murn. He expressed concern about the topic and questioned whether the Committee meeting was the appropriate forum for the discussion. Dennis explained that the RSA Buying group coordinates the rebates and has no control over the amount paid. He also indicated that it is the vendor’s responsibility to provide accurate information. There is also a question of the percentage of the payment that goes to the vendor. Dennis Horn indicated it was 60% and Mike McCrea said that he had been told that the vendor received 70%. Mike will continue to try and get better accountability and accessibility from the buying group.

Compliance Officer Report –Alan Risk
One new vendor has been licensed since the June meeting for a total of seven for the year. Six of the seven vendors have been awarded a facility. Five facilities were posted on the May 2018 selection cycle. One of the facilities did not receive any applicants. Eighteen vendors applied, fourteen took the exam and nine applicants were interviewed by the selection panel in July. Facility 446, I-75 south rest area was awarded to Troy Arthur; Facility 519, US Post Office vending in Miami was awarded to Maria Reynolds; Facility 603, Ocala vending route was awarded Tom Loveday and Facility 466, Kennedy Space Center (KSC) snack bar was awarded to new licensee Kash Ahmed.

One hundred and twelve vendors are required to achieve CEU compliance for 2017-2019. Twenty-five vendors have three or more CEUs; 49 have at least two CEUs; 27 have at least one CEU and eleven have less than one including seven vendors who have no CEUs. District Representatives can request information on CEU status for vendors from their area.

One grievance has been filed since the last meeting for a total of five in 2018. The claimant was recommended by the Selection Panel for an opportunity. The Division did not concur with the Panel’s recommendation based on operational deficiencies during the period just prior to the interviews. On July 24, 2018 the claimant requested a grievance hearing and it was scheduled for August 2, 2018. Documentation was forwarded to the claimant on July 27th and to the panel on July 30th. The claimant withdrew his request on July 31, 2018.

The Florida Administrative code is being reviewed to remove any duplications. The Division has elected not to include the use of threatening or discriminatory language as a minor infraction. This will still be considered a major violation. Kurt Ponchak asked if it had been clarified if the fifteen days allowed to correct a minor infraction has been designated as calendar or business days. It has not been designated in the rule. There is an open position on the policy subcommittee as one of the members has resigned from his facility and the program. Mitzi Bowen was added to that subcommittee.

Grievance Panel Election – Alan Risk
At the June meeting the second open position on the panel was not filled as neither candidate received two thirds of the vote needed to be elected. The election for the empty position was postponed until the August meeting. Vice Chairman Alton Palmore elected not to participate in the vote in order to be a tie breaker if needed. Woody Matthews made a motion to open the nominations. Seconded by Joel Rose. The vote was done by secret ballot and each District Representative was allowed to nominate only one nominee. Georgia Kellogg nominated Kurt Ponchak. Sead Bekric nominated Mike Renaud. Joel Rose nominated David Kaplan and Alton Palmore nominated Jose Quintanilla. Phil Hubbard made a motion to close nominations. Seconded by Darryl Brinton. The candidates had a chance to tell the committee why they should be elected to the panel. One candidate received five votes and the rest received two. Alton broke the tie which resulted in a runoff between Kurt Ponchak and David Kaplan. Kurt was selected for the grievance panel.

2019 Meeting Dates – Janet Chernoff
The Florida BBE program will not be hosting the 2019 BLAST. An appropriate venue had not been identified in part due to the concern that Orlando had been overused for other NFB events and it was determined that there was not enough time to secure a location in another city. It was mutually agreed that 2021 would be a better time for Florida to host the conference. The 2019 committee meetings will be held at the Embassy Suites on Jamaican Court March 8-9; June 21-22 and November 15-16. The Biennial Seminar will be held on August 23-24 at the Rosen Plaza Hotel.

Georgia Kellogg made a motion to adjourn for the day. Adjourned at 4:12 p.m.

Saturday, August 25, 2018

Chairman James Warth called the meeting to order at 8:35 a.m. Vice Chairman Alton Palmore called the role.

Regional Status/District Updates – Regional Consultants and District Representatives

Region 5 – Maureen Fink
Alejandro is working with the operators at Facility 612, Broward Sherriff’s Office (BSO) Cafeteria, Facility 352, Broward Government Center snack bar and Facility 257, Palm Beach County vending route. Renovations are planned for Facility 352 and Facility 612 will be on the September selection cycle. Lilian Pemberton is operating Facility 625, the second Palm Beach County route. Sales are being monitored for both routes and a decision will be made whether to recombine them. The route(s) will be on the January selection cycle. Mark Ogden will sign into Facility 621, Ft Pierce vending route next week.  The air conditioning at Facility 429, Martin County rest area will be replaced on Monday.

District 9 – Joel Rose
He has a CEU event planned with Pepsi for his district. He is having problems with his coffee machine at a VA location and indicated difficulties getting older Crane machines repaired.

Region 1 – Brian Ashworth
Whiting Field in Milton called the program about doing the vending. The location has 18 coke machines. It has been awarded at a Type II to Emmett Magee and will be monitored to determine sales. The program has been working on the possibility of a vending facility at the Florida State Hospital at Chattahoochee. Several factors including the commission and location make it questionable where the facility will be a suitable location for a BBE vendor. Two new vending enclosures have been installed at the rest areas in Jackson County. The snack bar at Facility 470 at Fort Knox in Tallahassee has been closed and Tony DaGraca is temporarily servicing the vending. The program plans to convert the location to a manned micro-market. Facility 485, cafeteria at Capital City Office Complex in Tallahassee has been partially closed for renovations.

District 1 – Georgia Kellogg
All is quiet with her district.

District 2 – Mike Renaud
There have been problems with the air conditioning at his facility.

Region 2 – Bernie Kaiserian
The operator of Facility 145, snack bar at the Federal Building in Jacksonville left the facility in late June. Darryl Brinton is operating the location on a Type II and the facility will be on the September selection cycle. Mitzi Bowen will be signing into Facility 424, rest area on I-10 at Wellborn on August 28, 2018. Both Facility 424 and 425 are expected to be closed for renovations in 2020. Troy Arthur will sign into Facility 446 on Thursday, August 30. The coffee shop on Facility 513, Jacksonville vending route is averaging $450-$500 per day in sales. The program is expects to begin installation of the micro-market on Facility 599, Lake City vending route in October. The operator will pay a 5% commission to DOT and the program hopes that this will open the door to other DOT locations. David Wermuth has taken over Facility 616, St. Augustine vending and has added card readers to locations at the VA and the School for the Deaf and Blind.

District 3 – Terri Lindstrom
Todd Bowen’s rest area will be closed for renovations. It will open temporarily for the Labor Day weekend.

District 4 – Darryl Brinton
New operator Jeff Estebo and new to area operator Randall Crosby are both doing well. The sales at Facility 218, vending route operated by Kevin Nealey are higher than projected.

Region 3 – Greg Coon
Sodexo, a food services company is bidding on the contract to provide services for Daytona State College and has reached out to the program about doing the vending. There are thirty-five machines including coffee and snack machines. Seventy-five percent of the machines are on campus and the rest are at satellite locations. The current machines are twenty years old and do not have card readers. The program should know by October if Sodexo wins the contract. If the program gets the location it would be added to Facility 285, Daytona Beach vending. Don Meloy had surveyed some Highway Safety and Motor Vehicle locations in Daytona and Greg will follow up. Facility 378, Hurston building cafeteria has been closed for ninety days for renovations as opposed to the thirty days originally estimated. One reason for the delay was a problem with the flooring. A representative from the manufacturer is coming next week to assess how to fix the problem. The facility is expected to reopen within the next three weeks. The operator of 403, snack bar at the Operational Support Building at KSC is doing $21,000 in monthly sales as compared to the average monthly sales of $14,000 reported by the previous operator. Fifteen machines will be installed in a new building at NASA which will be part of Facility 497, KSC vending route. A snack and drink machine were installed in another location on the route, the space life lab. Previously the building had asked for the machines to be removed because they were providing snacks for sale in their breakroom. Overall NASA is growing and the business is improving. A post office was added to Facility 603, Ocala vending route.

District 5 – David Stevens
No news from the members of his district. He continues to have issues with getting clearance for vending repairman at his location, Coleman Federal Correctional Facility.

Region 4 – Tony Arduengo
The Weeki Wachee location on Facility 272, Brooksville vending route has had record sales. A drink machine is scheduled to be installed at the kayak launch location. Visitors can access this location without entering the park. The program is working with Lee County on acquiring county wide vending. The vending may be added to Facility 180, Ft. Myers route, or it may be considered a separate facility in order to acquire sales figures to determine stand-alone potential. Vending at Lover’s Key state park will also be added to this route. Ray Richards has signed into Facility 482, new Alligator Alley rest area. The location has not opened but hopefully it will be open by next week. The other rest area, Facility 481 is expected to close for a month or so for renovations. Facility 511, I-75 rest area in Hillsborough County is scheduled to be closed in December for renovations to the parking lot. Facility 433, Skyway Bridge rest area is expected to reopen in November. Once it is reopened, the other rest area, Facility 432 is expected to close for renovations.

Bill Findley advised the group that an alternate plan for infrastructure improvements has been proposed in Washington DC and does not include rest area commercialization.

District 7 – Sead Bekric
His district had a meeting via conference call and had an interesting discussion. Recently a number of the rest area vendors in his district had problems with break-ins. Vendors inquired about the downtime for machines that were damaged. Tony Arduengo is waiting for assessment from the repairman on the damaged machines. If needed the program can replace a machine if it cannot be fixed in a timely matter.

District 8 – Steve Barnes
Steve is available to assist Ray Richards with his facility. His rest area is scheduled to be closed for renovations.

Region 6 – Alejandro Garcia
The hood system at Facility 612, BSO cafeteria needs to be replaced. The location has two systems and the operator is only using the equipment under the one that is working. The agreement for this facility expires December of this year and will need to be renewed. The new lease agreement for Facility 15, Dade County Courthouse snack has been in process for over a year. Facility 348, State Regional Service Center cafeteria in Miami needs a new air conditioning. Coffee machines and a food machine in the employee breakroom have been added to Facility 510, Krome Detention Center. Credit Card readers have been added to machines in the lobby. Maria Reynolds has signed into Facility 519, Miami post office vending. New machines were added to Facility 588, US Southern Command and card readers have been added to machines in the garrison building. The contract for Facility 606, military dining at Key West has been extended until January 2019. The program plans to pursue a new contract and the facility will be on the September selection cycle. The renovations for Facility 156, snack bar in the Dade County Justice Building were projected to be completed today.

District 10 – Lilian Pemberton
The operator of Facility 156 expressed concerns about the length of time that it took to complete the renovations at his facility. It caused a financial hardship for him and his employees and he felt that the renovations were not done in a timely manner. Several factors impacted the renovations. The building would not allow work to be done during the day and the facility was still serving a limited menu which caused the work to take even longer. In addition problems were discovered once the work was started which further delayed the project. Closing the facility would have expedited the work and the program plans to do that with future renovations of this size. Maureen Fink will be meeting with the contractor to discuss how to better facilitate future projects.

Round Table Discussion – All
Thomas Saunders reported that he is able to access the reports from his card readers as well as the ones owned by Don Tuell. Bernie indicated that the readers will be transferred to the new operator next week which should solve the problem. The new operator will need to pay transfer fees as these readers were owned by the operator. Sead Bekric asked why operators are paying transfer fees. There are number of readers, both operator and state owned that are not under the state umbrella account. It will take a while to transition those readers.

Georgia Kellogg asked about CEU events. A schedule of road show events is being worked on and will be announced soon. Alton Palmore encouraged the district representatives to have district meetings and also encouraged members to speak to the representatives from the Tom Spiliotis retirement fund.

There was a brief discussion about options of collecting data on sales of Pepsi and Coke products to help negotiate better pricing. Coke has pricing for program members but there is no agreement in place. The Committee would have to negotiate directly with Coke as the Division cannot do it for them. Members suggested doing a monthly survey or adding a line item on the monthly business report to collect the data. Bill encouraged the members to purchase directly from Coke or Pepsi and only to purchase from other sources in an emergency. Mike McCrea asked the District Representatives to talk to their vendors about the RSA buying group and let him know about any issues or concerns.

Adjourned at 10:18am.

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.