Quarterly Meeting of the State Committee of Vendors

Embassy Suites, Jamaican Court, Orlando, Florida

Friday, March 8, 2019

Chairman James Warth called the meeting to order at 8:32 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; Mike McCrea, District 3 Alternate; Darryl Brinton, District 4; David Stevens, District 5; Jim Anderson, District 6 Alternate; 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; Greg Coon, Marketing and Site Development Manager; Brian Ashworth, Region 1 Business Consultant; Bernie Kaiserian, Region 2 Business Consultant; Jaime Payne, Region 3 Business Consultant; Tony Arduengo, Region 4 Business Consultant; Rafaella Diershaw, Region 5 Business Consultant; Janet Chernoff, Administrative Services Consultant.

Licensed Vendors: Kurt Ponchak, District 1 Alternate; David Kaplan, Region 9 Alternate; Randall Crosby, Debby Malmberg, Victor Rosario, TJ McCormick

Rehabilitation Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired: Instructor, Steve Moss and trainees, Natasha Ginarte and Kyle McCreath

Guests: Patty Crosby, Bill Malmberg and Lamar Ward, Tom Spiliotis Retirement Fund; Dave Gallagher, Brisk Coffee Roasters

December Minutes Review – Janet Chernoff
Janet read a synopsis of the minutes from the last meeting. A full copy was emailed to members. Joel Rose made a motion to accept the minutes. Seconded by Sead Bekric. Approved by voice vote.

BBE Updates – Bill Findley
Bill Findley spoke briefly about the relationship between the Committee of Vendors and the staff of the Bureau of Business Enterprise (BBE). The relationship has been a good one with both parties working toward the betterment of the vendors in the Florida program. The BBE staff and the committee are not working together like they have in the past. The two parties do not have to agree on everything and discussion between groups with opposing views is healthy. The current discord is not good for the program. Newer vendors may not be aware of the changes that have been implemented over the last eight years. Improvements have been made in the application and training process with assessment and exit interviews that have resulted in a better quality of trainees and an improvement in the training. The current operations manager spends the majority of her time in the field as opposed to the previous operations manager who worked mostly from the office. The compliance officer follows up on issues in a consistent and timely manner. LOFA monitoring has been added and the business analyst also acts as a business coach for new and struggling vendors. A sixth consultant position was added to assist with the southeastern part of the state. A marketing and site development position was added to assist with expansion of the program and provide more opportunities for the vendors. The actions taken with the USA Tech umbrella are designed to improve the service to the vendors as previously it could take months to transfer the readers from one vendor to another. The reports are monitored to assure that vendors are reporting correctly and equipment is working properly. Incorrect reporting can impact all vendors as it impacts set aside amounts. Bill reminded the group that they are there to represent all the blind vendors in the Florida program.

Retirements and promotions have impacted the BBE over the last several months. The agency recommended three applicants for the Region 5 Business Consultant position. The first candidate was approved but did not respond to calls or emails. The second candidate accepted another position before final approval was received. Rafaella Diershaw was recommended and approved and started in late February. A candidate for the Region 6 Consultant has been recommended and approved in time to start on April 1. Susan Morrison, BBE Administrative Assistant was promoted and interviews for a replacement are in process. The Florida Department of Education (FDOE) has a new Commissioner, Richard Corcoran and a new Chief of Staff, J. Alex Kelly. Suzanne Pridgeon was promoted to Deputy Commissioner of Finance and Operations.

Officials with the FL National Guard contacted the Governor’s office regarding the Camp Blanding contract and made known their desire to terminate it without cause. This prompted the Governor’s Office to call a meeting with the FDOE General Counsel Matt Mears and Deputy General Counsel Brent McNeal. Blanding was discussed as were other legal matters related to military contracts. The Randolph-Sheppard Act was explained related to the rights of the blind to have a vending facility at military bases. The attorneys with the Governor’s office understood the circumstances and stated they would support whatever actions the FDOE General Counsel decided to take regarding these issues.

The Key West contract has been extended twice until March and the program has received a notice for a bridge contract. The current operator has become non-communicative and has not filed the last two monthly reports. Antonio Gonzalez was selected for this opportunity on the September selection cycle and the bridge contract will have him as the operator. There has been no word on request for arbitration for Eglin Air Force Base (AFB). Recent information indicates that the military plans to rebuild Tyndall AFB. The regulations are clear that the program should get the vending when there is new construction. The Office of the General Counsel has reached out to them and is prepared to go to court if necessary. An arbitration hearing was held for Hurlburt AFB on January 9-10, 2019. The Air Force brought in a top attorney, Marcia Bachman and Bill Findley was called as a witness. Terry Smith was also brought in as witness via phone. The program selected Susan Gashel to be on the arbitration panel. Ms. Gashel previously participated in the Tyndall AFB arbitration. The Air Force argued that the location is not covered by the Randolph-Sheppard Act because the Air Force provides workers and manages the facility and only uses contract workers for menial tasks. The contract workers cook and do food preparation which appears to be more than the menial tasks attributed to them. The group discussed the parameters needed to make a facility a Randolph-Sheppard opportunity. A favorable outcome would allow the program to participate in the process and would not guarantee that it would be awarded the contract. If allowed to participate the program would have to go through the selection process to choose an operator as the previous operator selected has accepted another facility.

Mike Renaud suggested the committee recognize Brent McNeal, Deputy General Counsel with DOE for all of the work he has done on the program’s behalf. It was also recommended that he be invited to speak at the Biennial Seminar in August.

The BBE staff held their annual kick-off meeting in Tampa on January 17-18, 2019. One objective of the meeting was to review the goals and accomplishments for 2018 and set new goals for 2019. The goals for 2019 are as follows:

  1. To achieve gross vendor sales of $23,000,000
  2. To have 75% of eligible operators remain at their first facility for 12 months
  3. Place eight new vendors in their first facility
  4. Conduct three DBS District Office recruitment presentations and two CRP presentations
  5. Establish two new stand-alone facilities and substantially build up two smaller facilities to make them viable for a blind vendor
  6. To have a successful opening of Facility 433, Skyway Bridge Rest area
  7. To have a successful opening of Lee County micro market and vending 
  8. To complete snack bar remodel at Broward Government Center, Ft. Lauderdale
  9. To have  card readers on 50% of all BBE facility vending machines
  10. To add a college or university location
  11. To conduct a successful Biennial Seminar in August
  12. To have a 100% of vendors who intend to continue with BBE complete 3 CEUs
  13. Complete a vendor micro market training manual
  14. Work out reasonable solution at NASA regarding direct competition with BBE vendors by the gift shops
  15. To have the BBE be fully staffed and trained
  16. To pursue and add non-Randolph-Sheppard priority locations (including private)

Bill Findley emailed a worksheet of the BBE expenditures from July 1, 2018 to February 18, 2019 to all committee members. As of January 31, 2019 the Bank of America (BOA) set aside account had a balance of $284,126.10. The State Treasury set aside spending accounting had a balance of $101,646.09. There will need to be a transfer of funds from the BOA account into the Treasury account soon to cover bills as the program nears the closeout of the state fiscal year. There are no issues or concerns regarding the set aside account and the program has sufficient funds coming into the account to cover expenses. Kurt Ponchak, member of the finance, audit and budgeting subcommittee has been working with other subcommittee and committee members to improve their understanding of the budget. He asked about whether a budget amendment would be requested to get additional spending authority to cover the military contract payments. The program has sufficient monies and only the spending authority to cover military contracts has been a concern. Payments for the Blanding and Pensacola contracts have been lower than planned. If the program keeps the Key West and Blanding contract until June there will not be sufficient budget authority to cover the payments unless an amendment is requested. An alternative is to delay payments until the next fiscal year when monies can be moved from another funding category. Bill Findley reiterated that the program is in good financial shape and currently receives between $40,000 - $50,000 per month in set aside.

Type II Update – Maureen Fink
There are nineteen facilities on Type IIs. Four are on the current bid sheet including two that will be combined into one facility and three that will be on future selection cycles. Facility 432, I-275 rest area on the Skyway Bridge will be closed for a complete rebuild once the other Skyway Bridge rest area, Facility 433 reopens. Facility 604 will become part of an Orlando route. The program is still determining viability on six facilities, three facilities have vendors that started within the last two months and one is under special circumstances with an operator impacted by last year’s hurricane. Lilian Pemberton asked about the status of Facility 455, Miami snack bar run by Daniel Ochoa. The facility had declining sales after the building mandated the shutdown of the griddle. The facility was closed during the government shutdown that started in January and has not been reopened. Daniel indicated that he was no longer interested in running it on a Type II as the location is no longer supporting itself. The program has not been able to find an operator willing to take the location on a Type I. Jesus Villeda has agreed to run it on a six month trial to assess its viability. He will supplement the snack bar fare with hot food from his Type I facility. The program will make a determination after that period on the status of the location and has made no long term commitment to the building.

Working Capital Discussion – Finance Subcommittee
The subcommittee is still reviewing this subject and will discuss it at a future meeting.

NFBEI Subscription Renewal– Bill Findley
The subscription has a cost of $3500 and the payment has been approved by the committee for the last five years. Benefits of the subscription includes support of the program on a national and state level. Terry Smith and Nicky Gacos have been a valuable source of information. Both have spoken at the Biennial Seminar at no cost to the program as part of this subscription. Joel Rose voted to renew the subscription for 2019. Seconded by Jim Anderson. Passed by voice vote.

Tom Spiliotis Retirement Fund – Lamar Ward
Fund managers have been talking to vendors and revamping their offerings to make them more in line with vendor requirements and can customize the plans for individual vendors. They have been working with district representatives and have presented at district meetings.

Daytona Beach Training – Steve Moss, trainees
Steve reported that the students have taken a field trip to Orlando. The two new snack bar instructors are settling in and are happy to have students. Maureen is waiting for the Rehab Center to approve the use of a small conference room for the new micro market. Natasha Ginarte asked about the requirements to install a micro market in a location. Building population and interest as well as security are factors in a decision to install a micro market. Kyle McCreath asked about the relationship between the agency and the vendors. Jim Warth explained how the committee works in conjunction with the agency.

Business Analyst Report – John Ahler
Data has been complied for the first quarter of the federal fiscal year that runs from October to December 2018. Sales for the first quarter were $5,626,124.43 and up over $224,000 as compared to the same period in 2017. Profits are up $131,000 for that period and vendor earnings are up $119,650.

John has done 34 monitorings since July 2018 and should have fifteen more completed by June 2019. He has done three coaching sessions with new operators. One issue that he is noticing is that vendors have decided to not use accountants. He strongly recommends the operators use accountants and other strategies to make sure that they reporting accurately. It is important that vendors make sure their accountant understands the program and its reporting requirements. Some operators have had problems with paying sales tax and have a tax lien. The Department of Revenue can freeze a bank account if a vendor has an outstanding debt and has not made arrangements to pay it. It is the role of the program to make sure that vendors are reporting accurately and can back up those reports with verifiable information.

John did a coaching with new operator Josh Kimrey. Josh signed into Facility 145, snack bar in federal building in Jacksonville the beginning of January right before the federal shutdown. The location is clean, organized and well stocked but Josh will need to win the building population back. John suggested doing some promotions and a possible open house. Jeff Estebo, operator of Facility 239, cafeteria in the Jacksonville Sherriff’s office has had months with sales of $30,000 or more and sales are expected to be a $100,000 higher for the year than originally projected. There was brief discussion about locations in multiple counties and their requirements. Different cities and counties have different requirements in regards to taxes and permitting and every operator is responsible for determining the requirements for their locations.

Brisk Coffee Roasters – Dave Gallagher
Brisk Coffee is minority owned and has been around for fifty years. They do custom roasts for restaurants and packaged coffees for retail sales. The company would be able to provide pricing for BBE vendors.

Card Reader Guideline Updates – Policy and Procedures Subcommittee
This discussion has been tabled until a future meeting.

Marketing and Site Development Updates – Greg Coon
The program had hoped to partner with Sodexo on the vending at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. The outlook is not promising as the equipment at the university is relatively new and Sodexo does not want to surplus it. Partnering with this company is an interesting challenge and the program will continue to look at options. The program came in second with their proposal for the Volusia County vending. The company that was awarded it offered a 26.25% commission. The program continues to evaluate solicitations and is only responding to those that make financial sense. Recently the program did not respond to a solicitation by Pinellas County because of the way it was posted. Pinellas reached out because no one had responded and the program may be able to directly negotiate with them. A meeting is scheduled for March 15, 2019 and may yield a stand-alone facility. The micro market in Lee County is operational and the permit is in process for the vending.

Vending has been installed in the Tallahassee City Hall location and a second agreement for a location at the StarMetro bus hub is in process. Each department in the City of Tallahassee has their own agreement and the city wants to simplify them. Vendor suggestions as well as good service help the program to expand. A number of agencies are planning to relocate to the Centre of Tallahassee facility including Department of Children and Family (DCF), Department of State and Department of Health. Two thousand state employees are expected to move there eventually and it is projected to be a stand-alone facility and may be a good location for a micro market. Greg Coon, Brian Ashworth and Bill Findley plan to meet with the leasing company for the property.

Other opportunities that are being explored include the vending at the RA Gray building in Tallahassee, Highway Safety and Motor Vehicle locations and a DCF location in Deland. Tony Arduengo met a contact with Power Home Remodeling Group which led to a location in a private company. The company was named the best workplace for millennials by Fortune magazine. Greg is also looking for locations to expand the Ft. Pierce route and reviewing GSA notices to determine which locations would support vending. The group briefly discussed VA locations. The Tampa VA has been working with the program but the VA in West Palm Beach has been less responsive. Their assistant director has indicated a willingness to schedule a meeting.

Greg spoke to Miami Lion’s Club about the program in February and believes vendor involvement in the local business community will help the program grow. He is also working on the quality assurance portion of his position also known as the Site Operations Assessment Review (SOAR). He has done three reviews with vendors Dennis Horn, Darryl Brinton and Larry Miller. The quality assurance review focuses on ways to improve the operation of successful operators. It differs from what John Ahler does which is assisting new or struggling operators in his role as business coach.

Selection Panel Elections – Alan Risk
The terms of selection panel member Debby Malmberg and the two alternates, Shirley Smart and Mike Renaud expired on December 31, 2018. All three have confirmed that they are willing to remain on the panel. Darryl Brinton nominated Debby Malmberg for the panel. Seconded by Lilian Pemberton. Mike Renaud moved to close the nominations. Debby was voted in by acclamation. Mike Renaud was nominated as alternate by Georgia Kellogg and the nomination seconded by Joel Rose. Steve Barnes made a motion to close the nominations. Voted in by acclamation. Shirley Smart was nominated as alternate by Mike Renaud, seconded by Joel Rose. Steve Barnes made a motion to close nomination. Shirley Smart was voted in by acclamation.

Compliance Officer Report – Alan Risk
Two vendors were licensed in 2019, Brenda Nicely-Meade and Tammy Spain. Eleven vendors were licensed in 2018 and ten of the eleven are currently operating facilities. Three facilities are posted on the current selection cycle including one rest area and two vending routes. Eleven vendors applied, one withdrew and one failed to show up for the exam. Eight of the nine vendors qualified for the interview phase with the selection panel which will be held on March 11, 2019 in Tampa.

Sixty-eight vendors have completed their CEU requirement, thirty-one have at least two CEUs, four have at least one CEU and six have less than one CEU.

No grievances have been filed since the December 2018 committee meeting. Eight grievances were filed in 2018.  Five grievance hearings were held and the others were withdrawn. The Grievance panel voted in favor of the Division on three hearings and in favor of the claimant on two hearings. One of the panel’s rulings in favor of the claimant was overturned on the basis of Florida Administrative Code.

Section 3.5, Outstanding Debt Prohibition of the policy and procedures has wording indicates that working capital from a current facility may need to be paid off prior to a vendor applying for another facility. The group briefly discussed outstanding working capital and options that would allow a vendor on a payment plan to apply for an opportunity. The group also discussed striking the words “current facility” from the existing policy. Mike Renaud made a motion to strike the words “current facility” from the policy. During the discussion Kurt Ponchak voiced the concern that the edit would not mesh with language in 4.5 of the policy. Mike Renaud withdrew the motion. The policy and procedures subcommittee will review the wording and make a recommendation.

Creating a Contract Subcommittee to negotiate with Pepsi and Coke – Sead Bekric
Sead has spoken to Coca-Cola about expansion of the program and wants the vendors of Florida to be able to get better pricing. He said that Coca-Cola would be providing three pricing proposals. The hope is if Coca-Cola lowers their prices, Pepsi will do the same. There was a discussion about BBE vendors’ relationships with Coca-Cola and Pepsi and whether the committee could sign a contract with either company. Darryl Brinton, Sead Bekric, Mike Renaud, Steve Barnes and Joel Rose will be on the subcommittee to investigate this further.

John Ahler recommended that the committee members look at reconfiguring some of the districts as some have more members than others. Bernie also mentioned that rule indicates that food service should have equal representation on the committee. Maureen Fink in conjunction with the regional consultants will come up with a proposal and present it at the next meeting. If any redistricting is done it should be done before the district elections this summer. The elections were discussed and Bernie Kaiserian recommended that nominations be done via conference call. The vote will be done via a survey link.

Road Shows/Biennial Seminar 2019 – Janet Chernoff
The BBE staff did presentations in West Palm Beach and Miami in December 2018. Lilian Pemberton arranged a holiday meal for vendors and staff during the break in the presentation. Presentations were done in Ft. Myers and Tampa in mid-January 2019. There was a good turnout at the Ft. Myers presentation and two potential applicants for the program attended. The committee made suggestions about sessions and speakers for the 2019 Biennial. Jim Anderson suggested the speaker that spoke about millennial customers at BLAST. Terry Smith and Brent McNeal were also recommended as well as a presentation from USA Tech, training on AMS machines and talks from a representative from the local lighthouse and local politicians.

The meeting adjourned for the day at 4pm.

Saturday, March 9, 2019

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

Region 1 – Brian Ashworth
Jennifer Hobbs was awarded Facility 470, Ft. Knox micro market on a Type II and the facility opened on March 4, 2019. Colton Knight has signed into Facility 502, Tallahassee vending route which includes the new Tallahassee City Hall location. Emmett Magee has been operating new Facility 626, Whiting Field on a Type II since September 2018.

District 1 – Georgia Kellogg
Joe Bragg is operating Facility 545, snack bar at the Martinez building and Marylynn Giles-Robinson is operating his one open rest area, Facility 528 on a Type II.

District 2 – Mike Renaud
A new snack machine was purchased for his rest area and he has rearranged the machines which have resulted in a 20% increase in sales. He has been assisting Jennifer Hobbs with the micro market. Mike warned the group that some rest area vendors have problems with theft. The perpetrators have used a system called fishing and it works on the 2600 series of bill validators. He has made the other rest areas operators aware of the problem.

Region 2 – Bernie Kaiserian
Josh Kimrey signed into Facility 145, federal building snack bar the beginning of January just prior to the federal shutdown. He did the vending only the first month and now that the snack bar is open he is seeing an improvement in the sales. Facility 388, NAS Jacksonville is on the current selection cycle. Sales have improved over the last year due to new machines and installation of card readers. A DOT location was added to Heather Saunders facility and post office locations are being added to Facility 616, St. Augustine route. Jeff Estebo, operator of Facility 239, Jacksonville Sherriff’s Office cafeteria is doing well and sales are expected be about $100,000 higher for the year than predicted.

District 3 – Mike McCrea
Nothing to report.

District 4 – Darryl Brinton
The two new operators, Jeff Estebo and Josh Kimrey seem to be doing well.

Region 3 – Jaime Payne  
The micro market in Facility 604, George C. Young Federal building is scheduled to be moved to the Daytona Rehab Center to be used for training. The Naval warfare training location has asked for the card readers to be reinstalled on the vending machines and we are looking at options that will satisfy their security requirements. The new Kennedy Space Center Headquarters is finished and machines will be installed. A décor remodel is planned for Facility 378, Orlando cafeteria and includes digital menu boards.

District 5 – David Stevens
Everyone in his district is getting close to fulfilling their CEU requirement.

District 6 – Jim Anderson
Everything is going fine.

Region 4 – Tony Arduengo
Facility 272, Brooksville has been expanded with the addition of the Weeki Wachee kayak launch location. The Pasco VA will also be added when construction is complete and facility is operational in 2020. A private location, Power Home Remodeling is scheduled to be added to Facility 396, Hillsborough vending route. The second micro market has been opened at Facility 427 in downtown Tampa operated by new vendor TJ McCormick. The micro market location on Facility 428, the new Lee County route is open and the agreement for the rest of the vending was amended and is awaiting signatures. The Lover’s Key State Park location is scheduled to be added to Facility 180, Ft. Myers routing and will hopefully be up and running in time for the busy season. Facility 433, Skyway Bridge vending is scheduled to open in a couple of weeks and machines will be installed the week of March 18. The other Skyway Bridge location, Facility 432 will close once 433 is open for a complete rebuild.

District 7 – Sead Bekric
The operator of Facility 360, rest area at I-75 South in Pasco is having problems with the air conditioning and is concerned about her product as the weather gets warmer. Operators are asking about security cameras as DOT has cameras. There are only cameras at the Zephyrhills locations and they are not operational. Some locations have cameras to sense the amount of available parking.

District 8 – Steve Barnes
Everything is fine. Ray Richards is operating Facility 482, the rest area across the road from his facility.

Region 5 – Rafaella Diershaw
Vendor Ron Light is retiring and Facility 430, I-95 rest area was awarded on a Type II to Bill McDermott. The changeover is scheduled for March 29. Orlando Ramirez has signed into Facility 612, Broward Sherriff’s Office (BSO) Cafeteria. He is also operating Facility 352, Broward County Center snack bar on a Type II. Maureen Fink is taking Rafaella around to meet the vendors and the regular visitations will resume in April.

District 9 – Joel Rose  
Joel hosted a luncheon for the operators so that they could meet Rafaella. Orlando Ramirez is doing well at BSO. Joel utilized his garage as well as those of his employees during the government shutdown as his main location was unavailable.

Region 6 – Maureen Fink
Facility 455, federal building snack bar was closed during the government shut and the program is planning reopening it on a six month trial with another operator. The program will monitor the location to determine if it is viable and make a determination about its status. Facility 510, Krome Detention Center has had a good year and has seen an increase in sales. All of the Miami routes that have added card readers to their machines have seen an increase in sales. The route without readers had a decrease. The agency will work with the operator to get readers installed if they cannot afford to pay for the work and get reimbursed.  The new Region 6 Consultant is scheduled to start on April 1.

District 10 – Lilian Pemberton
Lilian expressed her appreciation to Maureen for all her assistance during the last few months. She hopes that the vendors in her district will work well with the new consultant. She held a CEU event last week and reported that only one vendor in her district had not completed their CEU requirement.

Round Table – All
Alton Palmore encouraged all the representatives to talk with the vendors in their district. Alan Risk reminded them that BBE staff can set up a conference call for them. Joel Rose reminded everyone about their responsibility to the vendors and that they should be advocating for them and not themselves. The committee and staff are here to help the BBE vendors and it should be done in a friendly and open way. Lilian recommended that the committee recognize the most improved vendor at the Biennial.

Adjourned at 9:24 am.

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