Conference Call for Covid-19

On Wednesday, March 18, 2020 the Committee of Vendors met via conference call to discuss COVID-19 and a strategy to help BBE vendors. In attendance were:

Jim Warth, Chairman
Terri Lindstrom, Vice Chairman

District Representatives: Kurt Ponchak, District 1; Mike Renaud, District 2; Mitzi Bowen, District 3; Randall Crosby, District 4; David Stevens, District 5; Phil Hubbard, District 6; Jose Quintanilla, District 7; Sead Bekric, District 8; Joel Rose, District 9; Lilian Pemberton, District 10.

Bureau Staff: Bill Findley, Bureau Chief; Maureen Fink, Operations Manager; Alan Risk, Compliance Officer; John Ahler, Business Analyst; Janet Chernoff, Administrative Services Consultant; Brian Ashworth, Region 1 Business Consultant.

Licensed Vendors: Colton Knight, District 2; Alternate; Mark Turner, District 3 Alternate; Phil Bluschke, District 5 Alternate; Chuck Fickett, District 6 Alternate; TJ McCormick, District 7 Alternate; Mary Hayes, District 8 Alternate; David Kaplan, District 9 Alternate.

The meeting was called to order at 4:02. Janet Chernoff called the role. Jim Warth opened by telling the group that the purpose of the meeting is to discuss the closures due to the virus and ideas for helping affected vendors. Kurt Ponchak made a motion to open the discussion. He made a second motion to suspend the payment of set aside for the monthly reports filed for March, April and May 2020 for all licensed vendors in facilities and to reevaluate the situation at the May committee meeting. Seconded by Joel Rose. Joel Rose asked if the program can afford to not collect set aside for three months. Kurt answered in the affirmative. He referenced his report at the March committee meeting when he said that the program would have enough funds by March and any monies collected for the rest of the state fiscal year would be surplus. Kurt also said that the program would probably be spending less than planned over the next few months. Kurt said that this would allow vendors to make payroll and keep their facilities running. They could put the cash back in the business. Joel suggested that the budget be reviewed to make sure that there is enough money. Jose Quintanilla asked about reimbursements if set aside payments were suspended. Reimbursements should not be affected. Kurt told the group that he would still want vendors to pay set aside on their February report and that would give the program enough money to cover expenses through the end of the fiscal year.

Bill Findley told the group that there is $306,000 in the bank account as of March 18, 2020. There is $62,500 to pay bills and additional $42,000 in set aside is expected from February sales. Maureen Fink confirmed that there is enough in the budget to pay for reimbursements through the end of the fiscal year.

Sead Bekric asked how the committee and the program could help operators whose facilities have closed. Kurt Ponchak told the group that the Florida program has no policy at this time for fair minimum return and that the program may wish to develop a policy and discuss how to fund it. The committee members called a vote on suspending the payment of set aside for the months of March, April and May 2020 and to review its status at the May meeting. Passed without objection. Alan Risk told the group that their decision to suspend set aside payments needed to be approved by the RSA. Both Jim Warth and Bill Findley indicated that they were told that the RSA would approve this plan.

Kurt Ponchak made the motion to expand the rules regarding net profit expectations for March, April and May 2020. He said that sales will go down and that vendors may have to pay more labor to make sure their locations are clean. Seconded by Phil Hubbard. Jim Warth said the main concern is to make sure that vendors do not lose points during a selection cycle. Bill Findley confirmed that the program could calculate net profit without including the months of March, April and May. Maureen said that will also be harder for vendors to control costs as business declined. The group discussed the situation and said that it is evolving and that the status of locations could change without notice. There was brief discussion about getting product and Colton Knight told the group that he was told that Coca-Cola would be only stocking high demand products. Another concern was that Coca-Cola may be giving priority to larger accounts. Maureen Fink said that the program will be monitoring closures and that consultants and vendors should work together. Vendors who are closed could sell product to other vendors in their area. The members took a vote on not including the months of March, April and May in the net profit expectation for the year. Passed without objection.

Kurt Ponchak made a motion that the committee appoint a small group to make decisions on behalf of the committee in case the committee were not able to meet. There was general disapproval of the suggestion. Kurt Ponchak withdrew the motion.

Jim Warth recommended that a subcommittee be formed to put an emergency preparedness plan in place. He said that he would work with the committee and the Division on this in the near future. Mike Renaud asked about vendors who are losing money if they remain open. He told the group that there are food service locations that are not making enough money to stay open. Bill Findley told the group that individual operators need to contact building management and the program before deciding to close. Facilities will be evaluated on a case by case basis. Chuck Fickett asked about how to handle a situation if product is contaminated or an employee is sick. Mike Renaud confirmed that there is no way to test to see if inventory is contaminated. Joel Rose asked about inventory loss if a building closed and Mike Renaud asked if a vendor could write lost inventory off on their working capital.

Maureen said that any credit for lost inventory would depend on the program budget and recommended that vendors have a good inventory of any lost product. She also said that it is important to work together to help each other and that vendors in closed facilities should try to sell inventory to other vendors. The vendors discussed the impact of the crisis on older vendors with health problems and new vendors who are just starting out. Sead Bekric asked about using the committee’s treasury account to help vendors in need. He felt that vendors who are doing well should help those who are struggling.

The Division confirmed to the group that vendors still need to file their monthly reports even if they are not paying set aside.

Adjourned at 4:45pm


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