Quarterly Meeting of the State Committee of Vendors
Friday, December 10, 2021
Chairman James Warth called the meeting to order at 8:30am. Vice Chairman Terri Lindstrom called the role.
The following individuals were present:
James Warth, Chairman
Terri Lindstrom, Vice Chairman
District Representatives: Kurt Ponchak, District 1; Colton Knight, District 2; Mitzi Bowen, District 3; Randall Crosby, District 4; David Stevens, District 5; Phil Hubbard, District 6; TJ McCormick, District 7; Sead Bekric, District 8; Orlando Ramirez, District 9; Daniel Ochoa, 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, Jay Payne, Region 3 Business Consultant; Anthony Arduengo, Region 4 Business Consultant; Rafaella Diershaw, Region 5 Business Consultant; Janet Chernoff, Administrative Services Consultant.
Licensed Vendors: Marylynn Giles-Robinson, District 3 Alternate; Patti Fulda, District 4 Alternate; Jose Quintanilla, District 7 Alternate; Edward Spence, District 9 Alternate; Woody Matthews; Patrick Martin and Stefan Mitchell.
Training Staff: Steve Moss and Angela Elgaard.
Trainees: Leroy Roberts and Jermaine Hicks.
Division of Blind Services: Robert Doyle, Director.
Welcome, Adoption of Agenda and Joel Rose Award – Jim Warth
Kurt Ponchak made a motion to adopt the agenda. Seconded by Phil Hubbard. Approved by voice vote. Jim Warth opened the meeting by asking the newly elected representatives and alternates to introduce themselves to the group. Seconded by Sead Bekric. Passed by voice vote without objection. There was a brief discussion about establishing criteria for the award including selecting a district representative that practiced the following: good communication, had a positive attitude and made sure that vendors had opportunities to fulfill the CEU requirement. Kurt Ponchak suggested establishing a minimum number of terms before a district representative would be eligible for the award. A work group will be created to provide suggestions to the Committee by the March 2022 meeting.
Alan Risk presented Vendor Years of Service Awards to those that were present at the meeting. These awards are usually given out at the Biennial. Remaining awards to those not in attendance will be distributed by the Regional Consultants. Joel Rose had been presented the Tom Spiliotis Award and an award for thirty years of service virtually prior to his passing. Also presented were BEP staff awards for ten years of service to Alan Risk, John Ahler, Greg Coon and Janet Chernoff. Terri Lindstrom and Kurt Ponchak were recognized with the Chairman’s Award presented by Jim Warth.
Minutes Review – Janet Chernoff
Kurt Ponchak made a motion to accept the minutes from the August 27, 2021 meeting. The minutes for the August meeting as well as two special meetings held in September and October were emailed to all members prior to the meeting. Sead Bekric seconded the motion. Approved without objection. Kurt made a motion to accept the minutes for the September 10, 2021 meeting. Seconded by Randall Crosby. Passed without objection. Kurt made a motion to accept the minutes from the October 1, 2021 meeting. Seconded by TJ McCormick. Passed without objection.
BEP Updates – Bill Findley
The pandemic has had a profound effect on the Business Enterprise Program (BEP). Facilities at military bases and at law enforcement locations were impacted only minimally. Post offices saw an increase in business. Other locations such as prisons and some food services were shut down completely. Things are getting better, but it is a slow process. In addition, 2021 has become the year of the great resignation with people leaving jobs. This has happened with the BEP program. Vendors who have had time off due to closed facilities have decided to retire. Some have left facilities because they believe that the business will not come back to its former level. Since March of 2020 sixteen vendors have left their facilities including the following three who passed away: Pauline Bush, Brian Britt and Joel Rose. Nationally, the program has been losing vendors since 2012, a concerning trend. This was true in part to the closure of large cafeterias as places moved away from this type of food service. According to Jesse Hartle from RSA report, there were only 1697 blind vendors from the FFY ‘20 Report and the number is still dropping. The Florida program has averaged about 120 active vendors for years. This year the program averaged 108 active vendors. Seven new vendors have been licensed so far in 2021 and one more should be licensed before the end of the year. It took some trainees longer to finish training since there was no hands-on training for almost a year.
A number of facilities are still on Type II contracts until it can be determined if they are viable as a Type I. Changes have been made as some are combined and others are transitioning to micro markets. Nationally the program has been impacted by the Federal vaccine mandate. The General Services Administration (GSA) that manages federal locations sent out a modification which included the mandate that they wanted FDOE/DBS to sign. Most vending routes have federal locations that fall under GSA. There was serious concern that by signing the modification which does support adherence to the president’s executive order on vaccine mandates could be problematic for vendors, employees of vendors, and companies which do repairs on vending machines. Director Doyle and vendor TJ McCormick joined the governor in a press conference and expressed opposition to the mandate, but not the vaccine. They contended that the mandate is too far reaching. The state of Florida joined other states in challenging the vaccine mandate. The mandate is on temporary hold as it works its way through the court system. The hope is that it will be nullified. Another concern nationally is the infrastructure bill. The bill says that the Department of Transportation (DOT) can designate transportation corridor charging stations which could include existing rest areas. Initially charging stations may increase vending sales but the concern is that it may result in a demand for more services at the rest areas which could lead to commercialization. The Division of Blind Services (DBS) does not have resources to build and operate service plazas similar to those on the turnpike.
Prior to the meeting Bill Findley emailed a spreadsheet comparison of the monthly business reports (MBR) for 2019, 2020 and 2021. April 2019 had sales of over two million dollars as compared to sales of $797,000 in 2020. Sales are trending up this year with sales of over $1.5 million in April and $1.8 million in July. Post office and rest area locations are doing great but most prisons are still closed. The program has $231,000 in the Bank of America account and $90,000 in the treasury account.
David Stevens reported that Coleman prison has changed its designation to green which is supposed to indicate a return to normal operations. It was red during the height of the pandemic and was changed to yellow in October. David is waiting for confirmation as it is unclear what the change means. Vendor Jim Gaudette received a request to fill visitor machines.
Recently Ray Richards, operator for the Type II for Facility 112, Collier County vending arrived to find his machines turned around and machines from another company in place. BEP has a contract with Collier County for this location that was signed in 1962. The contract is perpetual unless either party wants to cancel it and then they must give thirty days’ notice. Director Doyle reached out to the Lighthouse of Collier to see if they had a contact that could help us. A number of people in Collier County have resigned during the pandemic and the current staff did not know who to contact with the BEP. The Department of Parks and Recreation sent out the solicitation and our locations were included by mistake. Tony Arduengo is going down the week of December 13, 2021 to inventory the machines. We hope to get our locations back and may be able to add machines as the county prefers to deal with one vendor. The contract for the parks will still be separate.
NFBEI Subscription Renewal – Bill Findley
The subscription is $3500. As part of the subscription they have provided speakers at our Biennial at no charge to the BEP. In addition, they attend committee meetings to provide updates and provide a voice for the program nationally. Both Terry Smith and Nicky Gacos have done a lot to help the program including advocating for FRRP funds for the vendors. Kurt Ponchak made a motion to renew the subscription for 2022. Seconded by Colton Knight. Passed without objection.
Budget Report –Kurt Ponchak
Overall the BEP is in good financial shape. Kurt feels that we may need to consider asking for an increase in set aside from the Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA). He referenced CFR 395.9 from the rules regarding the use of set aside funds. He suggested that the budget subcommittee work with the agency to request the ability to increase set aside to make sure that the BEP can sustain activities. The BEP had some reserves to help with during the pandemic. Kurt suggested a long-term goal to maximize federal dollars and generate funds to help our state. He also expressed concern that the BEP is operating on a budget that is twenty years old. Kurt feels that the program needs a reserve to make sure that it has the funds it needs. He suggested a reserve of $250,000 for a rainy day fund. There was discussion about the logistics of raising the set aside amount and it was clarified that only a committee vote is necessary to increase the amount. Bill cautioned that it is important to be clear that asking for approval does not mean that the BEP will have to raise the set aside. Alan Risk suggested lowering expenses to create the reserve. Kurt said that if the program reduces expenses it may have problems matching the federal dollars.
Statewide Update – Robert Doyle
The Bureau Chief for the Rehab Center has retired and they are looking for qualified applicants. Hiring the right person is critical especially as they are rebranding the center. They are going to rename the facility to reflect their focus on training for careers. DBS is working with Daytona College on computer training and is looking at call center training. DBS is also working with the Lighthouse in Central Florida and Miami. One opportunity is to find qualified people to work on cruise ships. Other projects include working with companies like Firehouse Subs, an accessibility initiative and apprenticeships in DBS offices. The current state budget has monies for salary increases. They will be studying base salaries in advance of the eventual increase of the minimum wage to $15.00 per hour. Three hundred thousand that previously went to the older blind has gone to visually impaired children. There is no money in this year’s budget for older blind. DBS has been able to use reimbursements from Social Security to fund their services. DBS receives this money when they find employment for a client and they no longer need social security. DBS had to return $6 million back to the federal government because the funds were not spent. They plan to increase spending through salaries, money for students and for the Community Rehabilitation Programs (CRPs). DBS hopes to be able to get a team out in the field to do contract monitoring at the CRPs. Overall state agencies are travelling again and the Rehabilitation Council for the Blind is planning a meeting in Pensacola in February. John Ahler asked about how much is budgeted for DBS as a whole. Fifty-seven million in budget authority is designated for the Division and Robert confirmed that they have some flexibility to move monies to other sections. Daniel Ochoa asked about the availability of funds to make gyms accessible. Robert advised him that he can submit a proposal for their review.
RSVF Update-Woody Matthews
Randolph-Sheppard Vendors of Florida (RSVF) is a 5c nonprofit dedicated to helping the blind vendors of Florida. Over the last year they have restructured and have had an election. Randall Crosby was elected Second Vice President and new vendor Patrick Martin is Secretary. They also have a new constitution. They are working on a scholarship program and plan to give monies to visually impaired high school students to use for their education or start a career. Randall Crosby has a fundraiser “Run with a Vision” scheduled for January 8, 2022 in St. Augustine. Other goals of RSVF include increasing their membership to 100% of the vendors in Florida. Currently thirty percent of Florida’s blind vendors are members of RSVF. They also plan to work on mentorship and help the BEP to increase the potential operators and find new directions for the program. The organization has a website at RSVF.org. The website has a link for those who wish to donate to the organization.
Daytona Training Report – Steve Moss, Angela Elgaard
New trainee Leroy Roberts started in November and will move on to training in the snack bar on January 17, 2022. The snack bar has been expanded which will allow them to expand the micro market. Steve finished up with the last student who did part of her training via Zoom this week.
Type II Update – Maureen Fink
Currently thirty facilities are under Type II contracts. Nine of the thirty were awarded and the selected vendor needs to sign in. The BEP is determining viability of seven of the facilities. The Division is recommending that Facility 455, vending in the federal building in Miami be combined with Facility 117, Miami route. Facility 455 previously was a snack bar but the snack bar was closed and the location currently has vending only. Kurt made a motion to combine Facility 455 with 117, seconded by Orlando Ramirez. Passed without objection.
The operator of Facility 600, Hialeah vending route has indicated that he plans to leave in six months. Currently part of the route is being operated by another vendor as a Type II. The Division is recommending that the route be split between the two other Miami routes, Facility 117 and Facility 614. Two thirds of the route would go to Facility 117. This would increase the incomes of both vendors. The distribution has been discussed with both vendors and they are willing to take the additional locations. Phil Hubbard asked about the possibility of expanding the current facilities. The BEP has expanded them as much as we can. Kurt Ponchak made a motion to split Facility 600 between Facilities 614 and 117 as per the Division’s recommendation when the operator leaves. Seconded by Randall Crosby. Passed without objection. Sales at Facility 415, I-4 Rest area dropped when they eliminated car parking. Previously the facility had annual sales of over $136,000 and only had sales of $26,000 in 2020. The Division is recommending that it be combined with Facility 416 as one opportunity. Currently the same vendor is operating both facilities. Kurt Ponchak made a motion that Facilities 415 and 416 be operated by one vendor. Seconded by Sead Bekric. Passed without objection.
Chairman’s Updates, Projects and Concerns – Jim Warth
Jim Warth is recommending that the BEP policies and procedures be reviewed and updated. The policies were last reviewed in 2015. He would like the policy subcommittee to review and recommend updates within a year. Kurt Ponchak recommended taking the policies on section by section. He also suggested giving it to the work group that worked on the FRRP funds in June 2021.
A work group has met once to discuss concerns about the reimbursement process. Bill Findley feels that the current procedure for reimbursements is fine and recommends that no major changes be made. He suggested a separate document be created to provide guidance. Kurt Ponchak suggests that a blanket purchase order should be created for repairs. He feels that operators should only be reimbursed for things they handle themselves like sending a card reader off to be repaired. There was discussion about how monies would be distributed between Regions. Brian Ashworth expressed the opinion that it is unlikely that the service providers who do repairs would be interested in going through a procurement process. Sead Bekric feels that the current system is fine and that a separate document that provides clarification is a good idea. Other suggestions included provide a list of what is reimbursable and educating vendors, staff and trainees on how to do small repairs. Maureen said that we need to look at what is an essential repair. Updated lighting and graphics may not be necessary. Kurt Ponchak suggested having a deductible, but Jim Warth worries that that might result in inflated bills. Bill Findley feels that the vendors and staff need to be educated on the reimbursement process to make sure that everyone is on the same page. There needs to be consistency between vendors and staff.
Phil Hubbard addressed the group about comments he made during a recent work group meeting. He had indicated that he tried to have several repairs done at Kennedy Space Center (KSC) at the same time in part due the difficulty of gaining access to the property. He asked his repairman to put the repairs on separate invoices causing some vendors to express concerns that he was trying to circumvent the $400 rule. The rule applies to one piece of equipment and requesting separate invoices for different machines is not against the rules. The purpose of the rule is to make sure that we are not repairing equipment that should be replaced. Bill Findley confirmed that we encourage vendors to do multiple repairs on one trip as this saves the program money. Maureen Fink confirmed that the BEP has no problem with Phil requesting separate invoices for different machines. Phil requested that any vendor who has a question about something he says should contact him directly. There was a discussion about being good stewards of program funds and that the fiscal department is not always aware of what is reimbursable. Recent concerns about reimbursements resulted in the program asking for clarification of Phil’s remarks.
The Biennial Seminar was postponed in 2021. It was tentatively rescheduled but ultimately the committee voted not to hold it in November and to wait until the next Committee meeting to discuss alternatives. The Division is not recommending that it be rescheduled for 2022. Kurt Ponchak asked about the CEU requirement. The staff plans on doing a road show next year and Alan will post any opportunities for CEUs. There are numerous opportunities to get CEU credit virtually including the Mississippi State training. Kurt also expressed the concern that the Biennial is expensive. Phil Hubbard suggested that the BEP should plan for the next Biennial which would be held in 2023.
Jim Warth is concerned about the contact listing for vendors on the website. Recently vendors received emails that were purported to be from him. Kurt suggested creating a password for that section of the website and Greg Coon suggested that it be a hyperlink rather than a list. We will check with our IT department about options.
The following people volunteered for subcommittees: Grievance- Randall Crosby; Promotion and Transfer – Mitzi Bowen; Training – Colton Knight, Marylynn Giles-Robinson, Jose Quintanilla and Orlando Ramirez; Budget – Kurt Ponchak, Randall Crosby, Orlando Ramirez; Public Relations – Sead Bekric; Policy – Phil Hubbard, Colton Knight, Randall Crosby, Jose Quintanilla and Kurt Ponchak. Mitzi indicated she is willing to serve on any other subcommittee except Public Relations. Jose Quintanilla also indicated he is willing to serve on any subcommittee except grievance.
The Collier County agreement had been discussed earlier. Greg Coon explained that counties use a number of websites to put out their solicitation and that you have to be a paying member to get the notifications. Greg tries to monitor websites but it is easy to miss this solicitations if you do not know to look for them.
Marketing and Site Development – Greg Coon
For the State FY 21-22, 10 surveys have been completed July through November 2021, compared to 12 surveys completed for the same period in FY20-21. Fifty-eight vending machines have been installed in seventeen locations from July through November 2021, compared to 68 machines installed for the same period in FY20-21.
Installations for twenty locations are planned for the first quarter of 2022. Eleven permits are in process and four solicitations have been evaluated but no proposals have been submitted. Machines have been installed in multiple state parks which were pending throughout most of the pandemic. Contact has been made with twenty-four city governments regarding status of current city-wide vending contracts, future solicitations and to provide information about the BEP programs. The city of Deltona reached out to us as they are not happy with their current vendor. This will result in ten machines in four locations in Region 3. In Region 4 discussions of agreement with the Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport will resume in the coming months.
A number of VA projects will be coming on board in mid-2022 including two in Region 2 and three in Region 4. The BEP is looking to resolve issues with the GSA regarding vending locations in a new five story federal building in Orlando. They are not working with us and are placing unnecessary restrictions. We will be working with legal to resolve the problem. We are working to address concerns with language in a permit with NAS Panama City. Once resolved it may open up other opportunities.
Phil Hubbard asked about opportunities with Space Florida at NASA. Space Florida is in a gray area regarding our priority and Greg feels it is best to approach them through NASA as the building is on their property. Sead Bekric asked if it would help if more vendors had a disadvantaged business certification. Greg indicated it could open up more opportunities and would help with airport concessions. Sead also asked about opportunities in the private sector. Private locations are harder to get because the program does not have a priority. The BEP has a better chance with private locations where we have a personal connections through vendors or staff.
Note: The Regional report for Region 3 was moved to Friday afternoon.
Region 3 – Jay Payne
Jay confirmed that the status at Coleman Prison has been upgraded to green and that he is waiting for details on what that will mean for the vendors at the facility. Per the earlier vote Facilities 415 and 416 will be combined. Heather Saunders is currently operating both facilities. A complete rebuild is planned for Facilities 408 and 409 rest areas in Mims in 2022. Jay will keep the operators updated. Bill expressed concern as this was not included in information provided by the Department of Transportation (DOT). Washers and dryers are doing well in the state parks. Phil Hubbard is planning a workshop for vendors in Region 3 on March 4, 2022 to help with the CEU requirement. The air conditioning is now working in the Hurston building where Facility 378, Orlando cafeteria is housed. Jay is working with a new Department of Management Services (DMS) manager. They are short on staff at the building and are having issues with the elevators.
Business Analyst Report – John Ahler
Reimbursements for the period of July – November have increased 20% as compared to the same period last year. There were $77,456 in reimbursements in 2021 and $64,000 in 2020. The RSA report has been completed for the 2020-2021 federal fiscal year that ended on September 30, 2021. Gross sales in 2016 were at $21.9 million and were increasing every year until 2020. Sales were $12.9 million in 2020 for the period of January – October and sales are at $15.3 million for 2021 for the same period. Overall sales are improving as post offices and rest areas are doing well. Sales at food service operations are still down. Net proceeds to vendors have seen a similar trend. Net profits have been impacted by a decrease in labor costs (less staff working) and an increase in cost of goods. Vendors can now itemize their approved business expenses when they file their monthly business reports. There are ten options available including equipment fees and other business expenses. Operators should put device fees, internet for point of sales, micro market kiosks and locks under equipment fees. The category of other business expenses should only be used in special cases and with the approval of the Business Consultant or Operations Manager. A new facility category has been added to the MBR, micro markets. Currently the percentage for non-highway vending is used for these facilities.
The agreement with Cantaloupe (formerly USA Tech) will end December 2022. We currently have 2900 active devices on the account. Phil Hubbard asked about options for card readers and whether the BEP would be willing to look at other companies. Nayax is another company that provides readers. John suggested that the BEP could do a trial with a couple of vendors. The main concern would be the cost of replacing existing card readers. Jim Warth suggested inviting a representative from Nayax to a committee meeting.
Cantaloupe Update – Sead Bekric, Colton Knight
Colton Knight talked to Cantaloupe a couple of months ago about the Cashless Plus app and reports no new information. Sead Bekric says that the app is not accessible, and the program is only accessible on a desktop. He says that he is talking mostly to salespeople and not someone from technical support. Colton says that you have to pay more for Cashless plus and recommended that we ask for these services along with dedicated technical support when we renegotiate the contract. Nicky Gacos has spoken to them and the company also told him that the app is designed for route drivers. Nayax has a similar program at no additional charge and Colton suggested that we get a reader to test its accessibility.
Compliance Officer Report – Alan Risk
Alan had emailed new 2022 Coca-Cola “Exclusive Pricing Schedule” and “Shared Pricing Schedule” to everyone prior to the meeting. Some vendors mistakenly believed their prices had doubled on certain items. Alan clarified that the prices in question was for a 24-count case, not the 12-count case that most vendors receive.
Five vendors have completed their CEU requirement, seven have more than two CEUs, twenty-seven have at least one CEU and eighty-one have less than one CEU. CEU opportunities include the mini-Blast and Sagebrush. The BEP will pay for registration for one of the conferences. Road shows are planned for next year and there are a number of virtual opportunities to earn CEU credit. Seven new vendors have been licensed so far in 2021 and one more is expected to be licensed before the end of the year bringing the total to eight. Three of the new licensees have been awarded a Type I opportunity. The program only licensed four new vendors in 2020.
There has been one grievance hearing held since August 27, 2021 committee meeting. On November 16, 2021, a licensed vendor requested a grievance hearing regarding the Division’s decision not to award them a facility following the September selection cycle. A grievance hearing was held on November 30, 2021. The Board voted unanimously in favor of the Division. The Director concurred with the Board’s recommendation. A total of six requests for grievance hearings were filed in 2021. Two of the requests were withdrawn prior to a hearing, one hearing ruled in favor of the claimant, and the other three hearings ruled in favor of the Division.
In the September 2021 selection cycle seven facilities were advertised and all seven were awarded. Fifteen vendors applied and one withdrew prior to the exam. All of the remaining fourteen vendors qualified for an interview. Two vendors withdrew prior to the interview and twelve participated. Facility 273, Collins cafeteria was awarded to Wayne Mercer; Facilities 577-578, I-10 Panhandle rest areas were awarded to William Daniel; Facility 488, I-10 Baker county rest area was awarded to Marylynn Giles-Robinson; Facility 590, Jacksonville vending route was awarded to Natasha Ginarte; Facility 466, KSC snack bar was awarded to Steven Myers; Facility 433, I-275 Skyway rest area was awarded to David Wermuth and Facility 621, Fort Pierce vending route was awarded to Mark Ogden.
Selection Panel Elections – Alan Risk
Debby Malmberg’s term on the panel expires on December 31, 2021. She has indicated that she willing to continue to serve on the panel. Kurt Ponchak made a motion to nominate Debby. Seconded by Mitzi. Kurt made a motion to close the nominations and elect Debby by acclamation. Seconded by Mitzi. Alan Risk advised the group that each individual needed to vote. Ten members of the committee voted to reelect Debby Malmberg to the selection panel. Phil Hubbard voted no and David Stevens was not in attendance. Debby Malmberg has been reelected with a vote of 10-1. Currently there are four alternates for the panel. Two of the alternates, Shirley Smart and Mike Renaud have terms that expire this month. Kurt Ponchak recommended that their elections wait until the next meeting scheduled for March 2022.
The meeting adjourned for the day at 4:58pm.
Saturday, December 11, 2021
Chairman James Warth called the meeting to order at 8:30am. Vice Chairman Terri Lindstrom called the role.
Regional/District Updates – All
Region 1 – Brian Ashworth/Janet Chernoff
Eighty percent of the card readers have been upgraded. Bernie Kaiserian came over to help open the new micro market at Facility 632 at Burns Bldg DOT. The facility did $1200 in sales in the first week. The micro market at Department of Business and Professional Regulation (DBPR) is expected to open in January. An additional micro market is in process for the Capital Circle Office Complex (CCOC) and is expected to open in February. The facility will be advertised as a Type II in the next couple of weeks. Additional micro markets are planned for the Bob Martinez Center, FDLE and the Centre of Tallahassee. The market for the Centre was delayed by COVID and hopefully will be installed next summer. William Daniel was awarded the I-10 rest areas in Okaloosa and Holmes counties on a Type I. Richard Sawyer has said that he plans to retire in February 2022. Richard operates Facility 570, vending at the Revenue building. Kurt suggested adding this facility to CCOC. Brian will assess this facility and will make a recommendation based on that assessment.
Janet Chernoff reported that Wayne Mercer was awarded Facility 273, Collins Cafeteria. The cafeteria has been closed since September and another operator is running the vending on a Type II. The plan is for Wayne to take over the facility after the first of the year.
District 1 – Kurt Ponchak
Everything is going well in District 1. They had a district meeting on December 6 and talked about prices increases due to increased costs. William Daniel has made some price adjustments and Kurt plans to adjust his prices too.
District 2 – Colton Knight
Colton also held a district meeting and price adjustments was a point of discussion. Tony DaGraca told the group about an employee retention credit. He suggested checking with your accountant to see if you qualify for the credit. Patrick Martin recommended checking with your bank branch manager as they are up to date on the PPP monies.
Region 2 – Bernie Kaiserian
Keith Banta was awarded Facility 608, Gainesville/Lake City route and is in the process of taking it over from Natasha Ginarte. Keith was operating Facility 388 for David Wermuth. Natasha was awarded Facility 590, Jacksonville route and will be taking over from Marylynn Giles-Robinson next week. Marylynn was awarded Facility 388 on a Type II and will be taking over the week of December 20, 2021. She was also awarded Facility 448, Baker County rest area as a Type I and will take over after the first of the year. Marylynn relinquished her claim on Facility 424, Wellborn rest area on I-10 and it was awarded to the runner up Tammy Spain. The rest area is still under construction and was expected to open in February but there have been delays and the new opening date is April 17, 2022. In September twenty facilities in Region 2 had sales increase of 8% as compared to 2019. 97% have G10 card readers.
District 3 – Mitzi Bowen
The district has been quiet and she has received no input from the vendors.
District 4 – Randall Crosby
Randall had nothing to add.
Region 6 – Maureen Fink
A Type II is currently available for Facility 633, Miami Gardens post office annex. The selected operator will monitor sales to help to determine if it will be viable as a stand-alone facility. We are not sure when it will open and are waiting for them to install the electric. Facility 15, Dade County snack bars were closed due to building structural issues on July 16, 2021. The building has reopened and the operator has agreed to return. The first floor snack bar is scheduled to reopen on January 3, 2022. Jesus Villeda resigned from Facility 348, cafeteria in the Rhode building on October 24, 2021. Daniel Ochoa was selected as the Type II operator and took over on October 31 and reopened the facility on November 1, 2021. The two prisons are still closed but hopefully will reopen soon. The FAA said the space for the micro market is ready and Maureen will visit it next week to determine when to open.
District 10 – Daniel Ochoa
There have been no complaints or concerns in his district except for the ongoing problems with Coke and Pepsi deliveries. They need a Business Consultant.
District 5 – David Stevens
He is waiting for clarification on the status of Coleman prison. Vendors have been having issues with deliveries. They have had to find a work around either by carrying more product or working with other vendors.
District 6 – Phil Hubbard
His district is also having problems with deliveries. He has had problems with machine vandalism at KSC as someone is ripping off the antennas. The group made suggestions including high gain antennas or placing antennas inside machines when possible. Maureen will work on solutions to secure the antennas.
Region 4 – Anthony Arduengo
An upgraded drink machine was installed at the state park on Facility 272, Brooksville vending route and a machine at Discovery Cove at Homosassa was moved inside. This facility will be expanded with the addition of two outpatient clinics and a post office. Facility 161, west Tampa vending route has card readers on all machines and new glass fronts have been added. 70% of the sales on this route are cashless. This route is also being expanded with the addition of a VA location and the Lee Davis Center. Glass front machines are also being installed on Facility 500, Pinellas County route along with a new snack machine at the Sheriff’s Department. Facility 31, Hillsborough County snack bar reopened in June and sales are gradually increasing. The court schedule has changed and it is hard to predict which days will be busy. David Wermuth was awarded Facility 433, rest area on the Skyway Bridge and will take over on January 3. The floor at the facility will be redone and smart locks and smart plugs have been installed. The Sarasota-Bradenton airport will be added to Facility 555, Sarasota vending route in March. Tony will be surveying it next week. The operator is a Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) certified. David Alvarez will sign into the Collier /Lee County after the first of the year. Tony will be visiting Collier County on Wednesday to survey the location. Facility 380, I-75 rest area Northbound in Hillsborough has reopened. Facility 511, I-75 rest area Southbound in Hillsborough was closed for a month with no notice while they worked on the ramp. The facility has reopened but they are still working on the parking lot. A couple of drink machines will be installed in Colt Creek State Park. This will be the start of a route in Lakeland. The VA bed tower in Tampa is expected to have its first patients in June 2022 and we hope to install as soon as we can. The location is part of Facility 396, East Tampa vending route.
District 7 – TJ McCormick
Debbie Hietala has good days and bad days at her facility. The GSA cut back their staff by 50% in January at TJ’s facility. Vendor Jim Warth would like his machines that are fifteen years or older replaced. There was a short discussion that older machines are sometime better than the newer replacements.
District 8 – Sead Bekric
Sead welcomed David Wermuth and David Alvarez to District 8. Overall everything is good and sales are going up. Mary Hayes’ rest area has reopened. Ray Richard’s rest area closed for five days because of problems with a water pump. The new maintenance company is hard to get a hold of and they continue to have problems with spiders at their locations. Sead recommended contacting a warehouse manager when ordering to see what they have in stock.
Region 5 – Rafaella Diershaw
Mark Ogden was awarded Facility 621 as a Type I. Sales at this facility went up during the pandemic because it has a large number of post offices. Sales at the rest areas are up and should exceed 2019 sales in 2022. Facility 501, North Broward Route; Facility 257, Palm Beach County route; Facility 612, Broward Sheriff’s Office Cafeteria and Facility 352, Broward County Government Center snack bar will all be on the January 2022 selection cycle. The coffee kiosk at the FBI will be opening soon. Region 5 is also having problems getting products.
District 9 – Orlando Ramirez
District 9 mourns the loss of Joel Rose. They voted Edward Spence as his replacement as Alternate. Orlando shared the concern that vendors in his district were feeling bullied by calls and emails in advance of the recall meeting. Other concerns in his district are labor shortages and prices for Coke and Pepsi products. They feel that they should be getting better pricing and are able to get products cheaper from Costco and Sam’s.
Round Table Discussion – All
Sead Bekric feels that the Committee should try to address issues with Coca-Cola and Pepsi. He would like to get information on how much vendors are spending and suggested breaking out drink sales between Coke and Pepsi sales on the MBR to gather this information. He would like to reverse the trend and get better pricing from both. The group discussed how to gather information on purchases of Coke and Pepsi products. Rafaella suggested that sales data would be a more effective than purchasing information. Terri Lindstrom said that prices are going up on everything and vendors should adjust accordingly. Kurt Ponchak suggested service issues should be included in any negotiations. Both Patrick Martin and Sead Bekric suggested purchasing generic machines to give vendors more flexibility. Colton expressed concerns that this would increase costs for repairs. Jim Warth suggested that they should work on getting the data and putting together a survey.
Sead Bekric asked about getting equipment for trainees doing OJT such as ID mates or laptops. Bill Findley asked Sead to send him his suggestions.
TJ McCormick suggested setting up a vending machine training at the Rehab Center. Kurt agreed that this could help some of the vendors.
Colton made a motion to adjourn. Seconded by Phil Hubbard. Adjourned at 10am.