Quarterly Meeting of the State Committee of Vendors

Friday, March 18, 2022

Chairman James Warth called the meeting to order at 8:35am. Vice Chairman Terri Lindstrom called the role.

The following individuals were present:
James Warth, Chairman
Terri Lindstrom, Vice Chairman

District Representatives: Alton Palmore, District 1 Alternate; 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; Janet Chernoff, Administrative Services Consultant; Mary Ellen Harding, Administrative Assistant. 

Licensed Vendors: Kash Ahmed, District 6 Alternate; Mike McCrea, Jim Anderson, Patrick Martin, Valerie James and Tammy Spain.

Division of Blind Services: Robert Doyle, Director.

Guests: Terry Smith, Director of Randolph-Sheppard Training and Technical Assistance; Melissa Smith; Board member NABM; John Murn, RSA Management Group; Laurie Ziegler, National Sales Director, Everline Products.

Welcome, Adoption of Agenda and Approval of Minutes – Jim Warth

Sead Bekric made a motion to adopt the agenda. Seconded by Mitzi Bowen. Passed without objection. Janet Chernoff read a synopsis of the minutes. The full minutes were emailed to all members prior to the meeting. Sead made a motion to accept the minutes as written. Seconded by Colton Knight. Passed without objection.

BEP Updates – Bill Findley

The Business Enterprise Program (BEP) staff met on Wednesday, March 16 and Thursday, March 17 to discuss projects and goals for 2022. Guests from the National Association of Blind Merchants (NABM) joined the staff on Thursday morning.

Some facilities like rest areas, post offices and vending routes are doing well. Routes with a number of federal locations are suffering as personnel is not returning to their buildings. The federal government was planning to transition to a smaller footprint with more staff working remotely. The pandemic sped up that process. The program set a goal for the calendar year of 2022 to increase sales by 6%. We have a goal of 75% of new vendors to complete twelve months in their first Type I facility. In the last few years we have exceeded that goal by having a 100% complete twelve months. The next goal is to put six new vendors in their first facility. Four new vendors have already signed into a facility in 2022.

The BEP would like to license four new vendors in 2022. This may be a challenge as there is only one person in training and only one candidate for the next class at the Daytona Center. Another trainee is scheduled to start on the job training in June. The group discussed the challenges of finding qualified applicants. Staff shortages in the Division along with the time and cost of getting an applicant through the training and into a facility has impacted the numbers. BEP consultants will be reaching out to counselors and will invite them to tour local facilities. We hope that this will encourage counselors to actively look for qualified candidates. Phil Hubbard suggested that the BEP cover some of the costs associated with training and placing a BEP vendor. He also suggested that District Representatives could meet with the counselors. There are already some vendors who present at local lighthouses or the Florida School for the Deaf and Blind. One of the goals for 2022 is to do six recruitment visits at District offices and two presentations at Community Rehabilitation Provider (CRP) locations. The public relations subcommittee is exploring options for promoting the program and the Randolph-Sheppard Vendors of Florida (RSVF) has started a scholarship and mentorship program to encourage students to consider the BEP as a career. The BEP is working with Communications on marketing materials to promote the program to locations and potential applicants.

In 2022 the program would like to open one new stand-alone facility and substantially build up three existing facilities, successfully reopen the two rest areas at Wellborn and add five new micro markets.  Other goals include installing card readers on 90% of eligible vending machines, acquiring three new city or county contracts, scheduling road show workshops with a total attendance of at least seventy-five people and reviewing and upgrading the micro market manual. We would also like to continue to work with kiosk companies to improve accessibility. The program also needs to hire qualified applicants for vacant positions. This may require upgrading the position or increasing the salary. The program would also like to add two additional Florida National Guard locations and place machines in one military installation.

Another ongoing concern is General Services Administration. In the past the BEP received notifications of all locations big or small. We would then have the opportunity to accept or refuse locations. The local consultant would survey the location and make a recommendation. As a rule we generally accepted locations with at least thirty people. The GSA is no longer sending us notifications for smaller facilities. They are not sending us any location that is less than 15,000 square feet or with less than 100 people. The program needs a reasonable solution to GSA concerns. They are not communicating with us or responding to our request to schedule a meeting.

The BEP currently has five vacant positions, two business consultant positions in Regions 5 and 6 and positions for an instructor and snack bar worker at the rehab center. We are also trying to hire an ops employee to assist in Region 1. To date we have no qualified applicants for any of these positions.

There are a number of low volume facilities throughout the state. The BEP is working with Type II operators in the hope that the building population will return and make these locations viable. The cafeteria in the Rohde building in Miami is closed and a vendor is servicing the vending. Orlando Ramirez is operating the Broward Government Center as a Type II and is reporting sales of $350 per day. He is hoping that the recently posted menus will help improve sales. The cafeteria in the Claude Pepper building in Tallahassee has been closed while the building renovates their roof. One option for this location is a coffee shop with grab and go. The facility has a large kitchen than could be used to prepare food for local micro markets. One of the local suppliers in Tallahassee advised us that they could no longer supply our micro markets. TJ McCormick suggested looking at Dandy Foods.

On Tuesday, March 15, 2022 the BEP met virtually with the Department of Transportation (DOT). Prior to the meeting a survey was sent out to rest area vendors to gage their response to the electronic lock program. Overall the response from vendors was positive. The purpose of the pilot program was to give DOT staff and contractors access to storage space while maintaining the security of the facilities. Maureen Fink will begin outfitting the rest of the rest areas after July 1. Vendors will be trained on the use of the locks and smart plugs and how to get the most out of the equipment. DOT is also now allowing vendors to install cameras in store rooms.

Another subject under discussion at the meeting was news racks. Some of the news racks at rest areas are not being stocked, are in poor repair or are not properly secured. Consultants have been inspecting them when they are at rest area locations for visitations and is advising the state office of any concerns. The number of racks have been reduced over the last couple of years and are down about fifty percent. The DOT is also addressing issues with truck parking. In an effort to expand parking they are looking at removing some picnic shelters. The DOT is also looking at expanding available weigh stations and will add signage to encourage trucks to stop. They want to add vending to these locations. They are also looking to reopen previously abandoned rest areas on I-4 to increase available truck parking. A number of rest areas are on the schedule for a complete rebuild. The Marion County northbound, Sumter County Northbound, Brevard County Southbound, South St. Johns County Northbound and Southbound are scheduled to be rebuilt within the next five years. The meeting was an indication that DOT is making an effort to work with the BEP. In the future we may ask for more notice on smaller projects such as parking lot and ramp repairs and for additional signage.

Budget Report – Bill Findley

As of March 1, 2022 the program has $302,622.58 in the Bank of America account. The Treasury accounts used to pay the bills has $64,390. A spreadsheet of expenditures was emailed to Committee members prior to the meeting. There is some concern that not enough money is being spent and that could impact federal match. The BEP plans to purchase swipers for card readers and could also purchase the electronic locks before the end of the fiscal year in June. The program could also recode some previous expenditures so that funds are coming out of the set aside account.

National Update – Terry Smith

Two subjects that are being discussed on a national level are the electric charging stations and unassigned vending on federal property. Terry also addressed concerns about accessibility of micro markets. Three years ago the National Association of Blind Merchants (NABM) started working with micro markets on accessibility. They connected with Three Square Market when they were rewriting software. The other two micro market companies are not addressing the issue as quickly as they would have to adjust existing software. There is a lot of activity nationally as cafeterias are being replaced with hybrid micro markets.

A number of states have hundreds of thousands in income from unassigned vending. They are using the monies to run programs and provide benefits to vendors. The Randolph-Sheppard Act was designed to employ visually impaired people and federal permits require that a blind vendor be assigned to the location. In order to be in compliance some states are assigning blind vendors to facilities that are being serviced by a third party. This is not an issue in Florida as the BEP program has minimal unassigned vending.

Initially the NABM was against electric vehicle charging stations as there was concern that it would lead to commercialization at rest areas. Nationally the Department of Transportation has concluded that charging stations are vending machines and can be installed at rest areas if a priority is given to a blind vendor. In May the Department of Education will issue a notice of interpretation that the charging stations are vending machines. The states will have to have a plan in place by August 1, 2022 but do not have to identify where they plan to place the charging stations. States cannot use federal funds to buy vending machines but they can use state dollars and use that money as match to draw down federal dollars. States may look to third parties to pay for the stations.  Electric charging stations cost about $100,000 for a single outlet and $200,000 for a station with four outlets.

There are a lot of issues with the Department of Defense (DOD) resulting in a number of arbitrations being filed. Often a State Licensing Agency (SLA) will submit a proposal for military dining in the competitive range and will not be awarded the contract. The DOD is not following the law in part because they believe the program will cost them more money. NABM has asked the Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA) to provide policy guidance.

NABM has not had a BLAST conference in person since 2018. They had hoped to schedule one for December 2022 but a number of vendors still have closed facilities or facilities with lower sales and cannot afford to travel. The Vistar show is scheduled for September and a regional meeting is planned for Iowa. The next BLAST will be held in 2023.

Sead Bekric asked about partnerships with chain restaurants such as Dunkin’ Donuts or Subway. Terry suggested contacting Nicky Gacos if the program is interested as he has some connections with chain restaurants. Phil Hubbard warned against having chain restaurants in a closed environment as customers get tired of having limited options. Terry was also asked about getting training on Robert’s Rules of Order. NABM has previously done this type of training and are looking into offering it on their website. Terry also mentioned that he and Nicky Gacos are doing a podcast. They have done two episodes so far on the history of the Randolph-Sheppard program.

Statewide Update – Robert Doyle

The Division of Blind Services (DBS) is looking at ways to utilize partnerships with banks to provide funds for match. Banks are looking at ways to put money back into their communities. DBS has had a situation where money has been returned to the federal government and RSA has reached out to discuss why the Division is not using the funds. Part of the reason for this is that the Division has staff vacancies and staff is traveling less. The CRPs are also not working at full capacities. The Division has the expectation that spending will increase with pay increases and with increased travel. As of July 1 salaries will be increased to fifteen dollars an hour for any staff below that level. There is also a planned increase of 5.38 percent for state employees in the budget. It was recently announced that the Commissioner of Education is leaving and this will mean a shift in leadership. Previously the Division was under Eric Hall who left a few months ago. The Division is now under the leadership of Senior Chancellor Henry Mack. Brent McNeal who previously worked for the Office of the General Counsel is now in charge of the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation. The Information Technology (IT) team is being realigned and will report to the Division of Technology. The BEP database RSVP needs to be updated and discussions are planned over the next year on how to proceed. Neither the Daytona Rehab Center nor the Talking Book Library have a Bureau Chief. Robert and the Deputy Director, Trina Travis travel to Daytona regularly to check on things. The Center is focusing on continuing education and job training including call center and CompTIA training. The DBS budget will be the same as the previous fiscal year with no additional funding for the older blind. The Division is working on partnerships which may help move funds to programs for the older blind.

Sead Bekric asked whether there was a BEP vendor on the Florida Rehab Council for the Blind. Currently there is not, but Robert agreed that it would be a good idea. Interested vendors can apply for appropriate vacancies through the Governor’s Office. There was also a discussion about options for low yield facilities. Robert suggested that vendors reach out to local DBS offices to find opportunities for staff through their work experience. This may encourage them to apply for the program. Everyone agrees that more exposure to the program through work experience should help garner more applicants. Orlando has had four people do work experience in his facilities and said that none were interested in the program as they were not interested in the responsibility of operating their own business. Valerie James told the group that new vendors are not interested in food service and that the program needs to change its business model to attract applicants.

RSA Buying Group – John Murn

John Murn talked about a number of opportunities available through the RSA Buying Group. These include food carts that can be used inside facilities. The RSA Buying Group would provide the cart and training at no charge and would be paid by the advertising on the cart. He also talked about digital marketing and private locations that may be an opportunity for BEP vendors. In response to questions about rebates, he told the group that they are rebuilding their website to make it more user friendly.

Everline Products (Bugslide) – Laurie Zeigler

Laura did a demonstration of her product which is used to remove bugs from windshields. She believes it would be a good addition to the product line offered in snack machines at rest areas. Laura provided samples and information to interested vendors.

Daytona Training Report – Bill Findley

The training staff did not attend today’s meeting. There is one trainee and he will finish up classroom training on March 25. Another trainee is expected to start in late April.

RSVF – Colton Knight, Randall Crosby

RSVF hosted a successful fundraiser, “Run with a Vision” in early January. They raised $6400 for scholarships and awarded one scholarship at the event. Seventy people registered for the run. The event was supported by the St. Augustine Chamber of Commerce and was covered by local media. A number of BEP vendors contributed to the fundraiser and were listed as sponsors on the t-shirt. A scholarship check for $1000 was awarded to Wylan Way. Wylan plans to apply to the program after he completes his associate degree at Daytona State. Wylan will be working with BEP vendors this summer as part of RSVF’s mentorship/internship program.

Chairman’s Updates, Projects and Concerns – Jim Warth

Jim turned the floor over to Mitzi Bowen who will be reporting on the Finance, Budget and Audit subcommittee and the Policy and Procedure subcommittee meetings. The subcommittees’ chairman, Kurt Ponchak was unable to attend the meeting. Mitzi reported that the Finance subcommittee had prepared a letter to the commissioner asking for help in filling the two vacant consultant positions. They suggested reclassifying the position or increasing the salary. Janet Chernoff read a draft of the letter to the group. The letter outlined the contributions that vendors make to Florida’s economy and advised the commissioner of the importance of the support provided by the consultants to the success of the vendors. Robert Doyle told the group that the Division would need legislative authority to reclassify the positions and that could not happen before next year. He suggested waiting to see the impact of the current plan to raise salaries. Maureen was concerned about staff morale if the salary was only raised for the consultants in the southern part of the state. Overall the group appreciated the subcommittee’s support of the BEP staff but felt that the letter would not have the intended effect.

Mitzi reported on other issues discussed by the Finance subcommittee. They looked at the option of leasing vending machines but were concerned about the associated costs. They are also looking at raising the set aside level so that the option is available if needed and are looking at other options for card readers. The Finance subcommittee is also looking at using purchase orders or a service contract to pay for repairs rather than the reimbursement system. Sead Bekric is not in favor of this plan. Some facilities are remote and it could cause a delay if a vendor has to wait for the consultant to make arrangements. He believes that the reimbursement system is not broken and that this would be taking a step backwards. Phil Hubbard agrees and feels that vendors need to take more responsibility and repair their own machines. Phil, Orlando Ramirez, TJ McCormick and David Alvarez’s son attended training at Crane. Phil feels that we need to find more qualified repairmen. Bernie also reminded the group about the issues that the program had with the moving contract with Browning. Greg Coon told the group that food services also have repairs and a delay could mean loss of product or sales. Overall the Committee members and the agency are not in favor of this plan. The subcommittee will be looking into procurement and return on investment and would like to put together a panel to review the viability of new or existing facilities. They want more vendor involvement in these decisions.
The Policy and Procedures Subcommittee plans to meet every other Wednesday. They plan to review the manual in sections and make recommendations on what needs to be changed or updated. The subcommittee also believes that there should be more active participation between the agency and vendors on machine placement. Mitzi gave the example of a rest area vendor who would prefer to have a generic drink machine instead of his ice cream machine. Another example is the ice cream machine at Facility 503 that is not working. The operator believes it would be better to replace it with a snack machine. There was a discussion about standardization and whether all rest areas should have the same equipment. Alan Risk advised the group that per the LOFA the SLA has final authority on the type of equipment at a facility. Both Mitzi and Colton Knight feel that the operator should have more say in the type of equipment or set up of a facility. Colton is worried about an operator having to sign a thirty-six month contract with Three Square market. He would like to have the option of changing if they do not provide the accessibility that they have promised. John Ahler told the group that facilities have to be set up for ease of transfer between operators. Robert Doyle told the group that active participation is for major decisions and individual decisions should be between the vendor and SLA. Bill Findley advised vendors that they should contact their Business Consultant or District Representative when they have concerns about the individual machines.   

Sead Bekric reported on the Promotion and Transfer subcommittee. The subcommittee chairman, Jim Gaudette was unable to attend the meeting. The subcommittee has met a couple of times and suggests that the selection panel be trained to make sure that they are in compliance with the Sunshine Law. They are also recommending that vendors who qualify for an interview be sent to a District office to answer the five questions. Their answers can be recorded and played for the selection panel. They have also discussed the consultant questionnaire and recommend modifying it. Sead also suggested that the cards that panelist use to score should have their names on it rather than numbers.

There was discussion about the five questions. Orlando Ramirez questioned making the change and Alan Risk confirmed that no one has asked to observe the selection interviews. Alan uses numbers on the cards because they are done in advance and there have been last minute changes in the panelists. The information on who the panelist are and how they scored an applicant is available upon request. Phil Hubbard asked if the interviews could be recorded so that future applicants could review them. Alan responded that that would be logistically challenging and that there was no requirement that the meeting be recorded. Sunshine Law only requires that minutes are taken.

Type II Update – Maureen Fink

Twenty-five facilities are under Type II LOFAs. Six were on the January selection cycle, eight will be on future selection cycles, two are scheduled to be added to another facility and the Division is recommending that two more be added to existing facilities and are determining viability on seven facilities. The discussion and vote on combining facilities will be done with the regional reports.

Marketing and Site Development – Greg Coon

Thirty surveys have been completed through February 2022. Additional surveys are scheduled for March including the City of Palm Bay and several GSA locations. As of March 1, 2022 for the state fiscal year 2021-22, seventy-two vending machines and one micro market have been installed. Sixty-seven additional machines are scheduled to be installed before the end of the fiscal year including ten locations that are ready to be installed immediately. Three solicitations were evaluated at the beginning of 2022 but the program elected not to pursue these opportunities. Greg is working to make contact with the CW Bill Young Armed Forces Reserve Center, as well as; reestablishing contact with the Florida National Guard. We will be pursuing USPS locations as we develop new routes in previously underserved areas. There are thirty potential locations statewide.

Since the December 2021 meeting, Greg has made contact with twenty-four city governments. The agreement with the City of Deltona has been completed and ten machines will be installed this month. An agreement with Sarasota-Bradenton Airport is also pending. Challenges include GSA notification issues which the program is looking to resolve. They are not notifying the program of locations under 15,000 square feet or those having less than one hundred employees. They are also not contacting the SLA early enough in the process and are not providing satisfactory space for the vending. The Division of Disability Determination contacted us about vending at a location in Jacksonville but may have private vending at four other locations. We are asking legal for some assistance in pursuing these opportunities.

Region 3 – Jay Payne

Steven Myers signed into Facility 466, snack bar at Kennedy Space Center (KSC) on February 8 and seems to be doing okay. The operator of the other snack bar at KSC, Facility 403 is having trouble finding staff as business picks up. Machines are being added to Facility 497, KSC vending route at a construction trailer. KSC is going to Stage 1 status as of April 1 which means staff are going to back to their offices. The operator of Facility 285, Daytona Beach vending route is doing well with laundry machines. Income from them is 25% of her sales. Rest area cleanings will be scheduled.

District 5 – David Stevens

There are no real issues in District 5 except the supply problems that everyone is experiencing. Vendors are purchasing items from Sam’s Club and working with other vendors. In January the Coleman prison changed it status back to red and now it is yellow. They were in green status in December but David was never given the go ahead to fill machines. Vendors in prison vending in California have gone back to work. Tennessee prisons have reopened but have lower sales.

District 6 – Phil Hubbard

Everyone is okay in District 6. He has reached to the operator of Facility 403 about getting help in the summer. The new operator will reach out if needed. There is new construction at KSC and vending has been installed at the construction trailer.

Business Analyst Report – John Ahler

John is reminding operators about itemizing their approved business expenses when they do their MBR. He makes sure that they are reporting them properly. Vendors should not be using the designation of other approved expenses unless it is approved by the Business Consultant or Operations Manager. The data will be useful when gathering information on costs like liability insurance.

The swipers on the card readers will need to be replaced. The older swipers are not EMV compliant. The credit card companies will start charging a fee for any reader that is not in compliance but Cantaloupe will not be passing this fee on to the vendors. The contactless feature will be turned off on August 1. The swiper will still work even if this feature is turned off. The program will need to purchase about 500 swipers at a cost of $100 each. The service contract with Cantaloupe will end December 2022.

There was a discussion about using Nayax for card readers. Their prices are slightly higher but they offer more options. Their customer service is supposed to be better. John suggested that we buy some Nayax readers to try out. One option is to let a vendor purchase the readers and reimburse them. At the very least Cantaloupe will know that we have other options. Colton uses the Cashless Plus system offered by Cantaloupe and pays an extra two dollars a machine. Nayax does not charge extra for this service. Nayax has speech and a built in alert system and also speaks in Spanish. Visa and MasterCard will be raising their rates for larger purchases but rates for smaller purchases of five dollars or less will go down.

Sead made a motion to purchase the swipers for readers. Phil Hubbard questioned whether a motion was needed as the consultants have already started this process. The motion was withdrawn. Colton Knight, Sead Bekric, Terri Lindstrom and Mike McCrea all volunteered to test the Nayax readers. Jay Payne suggested Heather Saunders or Jim Anderson from Region 3.

Compliance Officer Report – Alan Risk

One hundred fifteen vendors are required to achieve CEU compliance for 2021-2023. Fifteen vendors have achieved compliance, eighteen have at least two CEUs, Twenty-three have at least one CEU and fifty-nine have less than one CEU.

One vendor has been licensed since the December 2021 meeting for a total of eight for 2021. No new vendors have been licensed in 2022. There have not been any Grievance hearings since the December 2021 meeting.

Six facilities were advertised on the January 2022 Selection Cycle including three non-highway vending routes, two cafeterias and one snack bar. Nine applicants took the exam on February 23, 2022 and eight of the applicants qualified to interview. Interviews were conducted on Monday and Tuesday of this week at the Tampa DBS office. The Division is currently awaiting the Selection Panel’s report and recommendations.

The Department of Education Contracts and Procurement Office required the cancellation of the vending machine contracts as the two contracted companies could not supply the machines timely and/or at the contracted rates. The Division will have to go through the procurement process for the new contracts and is putting together an evaluation panel.

The meeting was adjourned for the day at 5:15pm.


Saturday, March 19, 2022

Chairman James Warth called the meeting to order at 8:35am. Vice Chairman Terri Lindstrom called the role.

Regional/District Updates – All
Region 1 – Brian Ashworth/Janet Chernoff

Two machines have been installed at the Tyndall Air Force Base which is part of Facility 620, Panama City vending route. A micro market was installed at the Department of Professional Regulation (DBPR) as part of Facility 502, Tallahassee Vending Route on February 14, 2022. Facility 632, micro market at Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) has average sales of $5,500 per month. The operator of Facility 534, Pensacola FCI has taken a leave of absence and the facility will be managed by Emmett Magee. The facility is just starting to reopen. The micro market planned for Facility 545, Bob Martinez Center is not moving forward as renovations of the space have ceased. Facility 485, micro market at Southwood is scheduled to open later in April. The micro market equipment has been removed from Facility 470, Fort Knox and the facility has been converted back to vending only. The contract has been cancelled for Facility 587, vending at Blackwater Correctional Facility. This is a private prison and the program does not have a priority.

The food service at Facility 320, Claude Pepper has been closed temporarily and the program will review its status once the construction in the atrium is completed. The vending is being serviced by Wayne Mercer who is the new operator of Facility 273, Collins building snack bar. Wayne signed into the location on January 31 and is working on reopening the food service.

District 1 – Alton Palmore

All is well in District 1.

District 2 – Colton Knight

New vendor Patrick Martin and Colton Knight have been helping vendor Jason Carpenter with his facility. Colton has reached out to new vendor Wayne Mercer. Colton has opened two micro markets in Tallahassee at the FDOT and DBPR locations.

Region 2 – Bernie Kaiserian

The two rest areas in the Wellborn area are still under construction and contract is scheduled to end on April 28, 2022 but it may be this summer before they reopen. The micro market on Facility 608, Gainesville-Lake City route is being converted from Parlevel to Three Square. Keith Banta is operating this facility as a Type II. One hundred and forty card readers will need to be upgraded and should be installed by the end of May. A location at the Division of Disability Determination will be added to Facility 590, Jacksonville vending route operated by Natasha Ginarte. Twenty-two of the twenty-six facilities in Region 2 saw increased sales in January.

Facility 145, snack bar in the Federal Building had average sales of $17,000 a month prior to the pandemic. In 2021 sales were $12,000 for the year. Josh Kimrey has been operating the facility as a Type II. Originally the plan was to convert it to a micro market but the GSA does not know when staff will be returning to the building nor has the budget to renovate the space. We are recommending that the location be added as vending only to Facility 513, Jacksonville Downtown vending route also operated by Josh Kimrey. Colton Knight made the motion to add Facility 145 to Facility 513. Seconded by Alton Palmore. Passed without objection.
District 3 – Mitzi Bowen

Mitzi had nothing to report.

District 4 – Randall Crosby

Randall reported that District 3 and 4 are planning a joint meeting.

Region 4 – Tony Arduengo

The program is recommending that Facility 630, Charlotte County vending be added to Facility 555, Sarasota/Manatee County vending route. Facility 630 is expected to do $30,000 a year in sales and will never be viable as a Type I facility. The facility has thirteen machines in ten locations. Facility 555 has $152,000 in annual sales. Gary Ernneus is operating both facilities. Sead Bekric made the motion to combine Facility 630 with Facility 555. Seconded by Colton Knight. Passed without objection.

Facility 634, Polk County vending route is a new facility with two machines in a state park. The program would like to take all of the locations from Facility 396, East Tampa vending route that are east of Branch Forbes road and add them to Facility 634. This will include two weigh stations, the Plant City Courthouse, a family services location and NOAH in Polk County. The operator of Facility 396 has agreed to the transfer. Sead Bekric made the motion to add the specified locations from Facility 396 to Facility 634. Alton Palmore seconded the motion. Passed without objection.

Two VA outpatient clinics are scheduled to be added to Facility 272, Pasco-Hernando vending route along with a post office in Zephyrhills and thirteen other post offices. Two IRS locations and an army location in Pinellas Park will be added to Facility 500, Pinellas County route. A jury services location and the Rosa Parks bus station along with a DJJ location will be added to Facility 112, Collier/Lee County vending route. New vendor David Alvarez took over this route earlier this year.

District 7 – TJ McCormick

TJ is still waiting for staff to come back to their offices. The mask mandates were stopped but then returned with increased cases. The office at 1313 Tampa Street has reopened but sales are still down 30%.

District 8 – Sead Bekric

District 8 is very busy and is seeing an increase in sales. Facility 436, Post office in Fort Myers is seeing a 39% increase. Prices have been increased at the interstate due to increase costs. Vistar raised their minimum order to $1200. Sead contacted their Kissimmee office and they agreed to reduce it back to $750. David Alvarez is settling in and his son attended the Crane training. Sead is assisting him with issues with Coke and Pepsi. Sead is having issues communicating with the new rest area maintenance company.

Region 5 – Maureen Fink

Four facilities from Region 5 are posted on the current selection cycle. Maureen is looking into third party options for the food service. There are two potential applicants for the program from the West Palm Beach office. Maureen will be visiting Region 5 next week and plans to meet with each of them.

District 9 – Orlando Ramirez

One rest area vendor is asking for a sign that informs customers that the location is run by a blind vendor. Maureen said that she would order the signs. Vendors with non-highway vending have asked if gas could be an approved business expense. Everything else is fine except for the prices increases and supply issues that are plaguing all the vendors.

Region 6 – Maureen Fink

Facility 15, snack bar in the Dade County Courthouse has reopened again. It opened for a couple of days in January and then closed and reopened on March 7. The operator is currently running it by herself as the employee she hired did not stay. Facility 348, Cafeteria at the State Regional Service Center in Miami was not awarded on the current selection cycle. Currently the location is vending only and we are looking for a third party to run the food service. The micro market for the FAA will hopefully open in April. We are waiting on cameras for the facility. Changes in building management has caused delays. Sales at facility 633, vending at the Miami Post Office Annex are going up steadily. There are five machines and the facility is still under construction. Twenty-seven card readers will need upgrades.

District 10 – Daniel Ochoa

Vendors in District 10 are concerned as prices have increased by 20% and rent is up by 35%. Some of the vendors are worried about sales and are asking for new locations to be added to their facilities as they have no other opportunities to increase sales. Region 6 needs a Business Consultant.

Public Relations Subcommittee Report – Tammy Spain

Prior to the meeting Tammy had emailed possible logos to Committee members. The Public Relations subcommittee is working on three ideas to help promote the program to potential applicants and locations that might be interested in using the BEP for services. This includes signage with a logo, a promotional video and BEP website. Bill Findley feels that any plans need to be approved by DBS and Department of Education (DOE) but agrees that it is a good idea. Jim Warth volunteered to set up a meeting with Robert Doyle to discuss it. Bill Findley also advised the group that DBS wants to use BEP rather than BBE that has been used previously. He also feels that this is a good time to work on this as program has a better relationship with DOT. Tammy will rework the logos to say BEP.

Tammy is also researching companies to get better prices for products and has talked to Frito-Lay about a pilot program. She will send the information to committee members.

Round Table Discussion - All

Phil Hubbard has had problems with machine vandalism at his facility. He has advised both security and his consultant about the problems. Some options include moving the machines to a location where cameras can be installed, locking the machines together to reduce access or putting the machines behind a cage. The program would pay for the cage if that is deemed necessary.

Orlando Ramirez recently attended a Crane training. He is looking to see if they could offer a class in Florida. Orlando asked the other District Reps to check and see who would be interested in attending a class. It was suggested that the class be held at the Rehab Center in Daytona. Orlando also suggested that the Business Consultants might want to attend. Alan Risk said that machine training could be included as part of the vending machine contract. Daniel Ochoa asked for suggestions for Crane repairmen in Miami.

Colton Knight made a motion to adjourn. Adjourned at 10:00am.


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