Quarterly Meeting of the State Committee of Vendors

Friday December 2, 2022

Chairman, James Warth Called the meeting to order at 8:15 AM. Vice Chairman, Terri Lindstrom called the roll.

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

District Representatives: Kurt Ponchak, District 1; Colton Knight, District 2; Marylynn Giles-Robinson, District 3 Alternate; Randall Crosby, District 4; David Stevens, District 5; Phil Hubbard, District 6; T.J. 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; Sharon Jadoo, Region 6 Consultant; Mary Ellen Harding, Administrative Assistant; Steve Moss, BEP Instructor; Anita Clas-Rodriguez, Senior Rehabilitation Specialist.

Licensed Vendors: Alton Palmore, District 1 Alternate; Kash Ahmed, District 2 Alternate; Jose Quintanilla, District 7 Alternate; Sophia Faldonie, Licensed Vendor; Mike McCrea, Licensed Vendor.

Division of Blind Services: Robert L. Doyle, Director

Visitors:  Arthur Johnson, Trainee.

Findley:  RSA will not approve expenditures under $1,000 because they consider them supplies. This might disallow reimbursements under $1,000. Findley will be on a call with NCSAB (National Council of State Agencies for the Blind) at 2:00pm and will give a report about the call at 3:15pm.

Motion to allow Region 4 to be 1st on the agenda this afternoon made by Kurt Ponchak. Bill will have a conference call with NCSAB today and would like to add a conference call report to the agenda at 3:15pm. Seconded by Colton Knight. Adopted unanimously.

Motion to adopt minutes from August 22. Seconded by Colton Knight. Adopted unanimously.

BEP Updates – William Findley, Bureau Chief
Staff Updates:  Anita Claus Rodriquez, a second classroom instructor, will be in attendance today. We have two people who have been recommended and paperwork is being processed for the Administrative Assistant II in Tallahassee and Vending Specialist for the Rehab Center in Daytona. There are no candidates at this time for the Region 5 Consultant position. Also, there are no candidates at this time for the Region 1 OPS position. 

FDOT.  We amended the draft agreement as a result of the July meeting asking for surveillance cameras. FDOT (Florida Department of Transportation) denied the request explaining that upper management said no. Currently FDOT will allow cameras for 30 days upon request after a vandalism event and an additional 30-day extension upon request. Concern was expressed regarding safety among the rest area vendors. DOE (Department of Education) and FDOT are still in talks regarding cameras at rest areas. The Committee needs to inquire of Director Doyle today about the status of the camera request with FDOT. Hubbard asked about the use of personal body cameras. There have been incidences with vendors where their personal safety was threatened at their facilities. Cameras would protect the vendors and the travelling public. The second issue was regarding the advertising. It was suggested we could go to electronic advertising and eliminate the mess caused by paper publications in the newsracks.

Weigh Station Vending:  We are not going to proceed with this until we get movement on cameras at rest areas.

Legal Issues:  Don Gerschick made good money at the Palm Beach County Courthouse and paid $1,600.00 a month in rent. During the pandemic the courthouse contacted BEP via email stating the rent had been suspended and they were working on a rental abatement amount. We recently got a notification from them asking for $45K in back rent. BEP received no notification that rent needed to be paid or would resume. The current foot traffic in the building is 40% below pre-pandemic levels. Ryan Akeley is trying to contact people in the building. If we had known we needed to pay 100% of the rent going forward we would have exercised our 90-day option to leave the facility. We are working with Palm Beach County to see how to proceed. This may become a legal matter if they do not pull back on their position. If we leave the courthouse, we may need to offer Ryan Akeley an administrative appointment to the #403 snack bar at the Kennedy Space Center, formerly operated by Sandra Marecki.

Eglin AFB. Nicki Gacos and NABM (National Association of Blind Merchants) are preparing a lawsuit against the AAFES (Army & Air Force Exchange Service). We will continue on our track with arbitration if necessary and Nicki and Terry will continue to work with AAFES for a resolution. Ponchak:  Do we have experienced counsel? Can we procure experience counsel? Director Doyle says we have not had any conversations at this point with general counsel.

Budget Report – Kurt Ponchak and Bill Findley
Ponchak:  We are on pace and in a good position for the rest of the year barring any unexpected major events for the remainder of the year. Set-Aside is in a good situation. Next year we should be back to pre-pandemic levels for Set-Aside. It is expected that we will collect around $530K for the year. We are collecting on average around $40K per month.

Findley:  We are in good shape and there are also monies in the bank we can draw from. All October reports are in. Total sales for ten months of the calendar year are at $19M in sales and maybe close to reaching $23M in sales for the calendar year. 

Type II Update - Maureen Fink
We have 22 Type II’s right now. One will be on the January selection cycle. We need to make decisions about some of our facilities because of the changing climate in our businesses. Some facilities which were viable are no longer viable. We need to talk about combining some facilities and wait for others to reach the point of viability. A third party is running the State building in Miami and our vendor is providing the vending. Findley:  We should talk with building management at Rhode to see what is going on with the building population. When we put food service out for bid no one applies for the facility. We are going to talk to the third-party vendor to see what his numbers are with sales. There is more competition around the facility currently (Publix and Chick-fil-A). Ponchak:  Asked about BEP expanding opportunities for blind vendors through VR (Vocational Rehabilitation). Is there a way to partner with VR to benefit VR clients and blind vendors? Hubbard:  Asked if we could consider convenience stores, food trucks, car washes, or stationary trailers. Ponchak:  Could we set something up after the holidays to discuss expansion of the program? Doyle:  There are opportunities for our Blind Vendors with VR. One possibility is can we explore a partnership with VR and our blind vendors to keep some facilities from going away. Sophia Faldonie:  Inquired about the 22 Type II facilities that are open and the availability of those facilities to licensed vendors. Fink: They currently have operators. When they come up for renewal they will be advertised. Faldonie:  Asked if vendors could get a copy of the Type II list. Fink:  Will provide a copy of all Type II’s to all vendors.

Statewide Update - Robert Doyle Director, Division of Blind Services
Hurricane Ian:  Lighthouses in Palmetto, Ft. Myers and Manasota were most impacted by the storm. Cost of repairs at Manasota will require rebuilding the facility. Daytona and Orlando were also hit and had closures. Teams were out of the office for about one week. We reached out to all clients in damaged areas to determine if they needed additional services from the agency. We are working with the Lighthouses to determine if we can piggyback with private donations they are getting to receive more federal match. We have had meetings with Lighthouses and RSA to determine how to use donations to get matching federal dollars to draw down.

Doyle attended the Council of State Administrators of Vocational Rehabilitation (CSAVR) and National Council of State Agencies for the Blind (NCSAB) conference in San Antonio. The big focus at the conference was a concern with states nationally failing to spend federal dollars. DBS vacancies are a contributing factor for our spending. It is critical problem for us, and we weren’t doing as much travel and spending on salaries. RSA will do a monitoring next year to see what their funding and spending is and based upon a number of criteria they will determine what states will be monitored next year. He believes Florida will likely get monitored next year. It has been 5 years since the last monitoring.

Rehab Council:  We have a new member on the Rehab Council, Sead Bekric. The council is full for the first time in a long time as 19 of the 20 seats are filled. The Council’s primary focus is on employment programs within the agency and Business Enterprise is all about employment.

Communications:  We lost our DBS Communications Coordinator about two weeks ago but will move forward with communication efforts. We are working with Moore Communications, which is a company that does communications for several other state agencies. We have put some dollars with Moore Communications for three programs:  1) the general employment program, 2) the residential rehab center, working on rebranding and a computer training program CompTIA kicking off next week with four individuals instructed by a Daytona State College professor 3) Business Enterprise Program (BEP). Our goal is to help reach some private employers about the program. Regarding the logo, the DBS logo should be used, or one that is substantially similar to it.

There has been discussion with the Department of Education about the surveillance camera issue. We understand the OSHA approach and are working political and collaborative channels in an effort to resolve the issue. We are hoping to get an agreement through collaboration, cooperation and communication. Some counties in the State may require cameras which might help us with FDOT. We completely understand the need for safety surveillance and cost. 

Ponchak:  In June we talked about increasing the spending authority in the Rehab Trust Fund and Grants and Donations. Has that been put into the LDR this year? Director:  There is no specific request to increase spending authority at this stage. As an Agency, if we don’t spend what we have now they will not allocate additional dollars. Ponchak:  2 issues rejected by FDOT. The first is cameras and security at rest areas. We are requesting 24-hour security at all rest areas. Committee members would like, as individuals, to write FDOT or the governor about this issue. Regarding newsracks we would like to have digital advertisement rather than paper publications. Asked the Director when he thought it would be appropriate to ask about cameras and digital advertising. Director Doyle discussed the expectation of there being future meetings with FDOT. Bekric:  The Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) says we are solely responsible for security but says we can’t use cameras. Is it possible to get someone higher in FDOT to help resolve the security issue before we begin writing letters? Doyle:  We are working on that currently. Findley:  OSHA will only defend employees not contractors, so it is not a good path for this matter.

Fink:  Asked where we are in the effort to upgrade consultant positions. Doyle:  It is part of a larger package they are working on to get the reclassification completed. 

Randolph Sheppard Vendors of Florida:  Randall Crosby & Colton Knight
Knight:  RSVF is undergoing some restructuring. The organization is filing for their own 501C-3. Will be doing a membership drive and electing leadership to the organization. The name will be changed to Florida Randolph-Sheppard Vendors and do a dba to rebrand.  Trying to establish trust in the organization with the vendors. 

Crosby:  Targeting toward the Biennial Seminar. We are rebuilding and focused on fundraising. Doing the second annual Run with a Vision which will be January 7th at the Florida School for the Deaf and Blind. We currently have $1,500 in donations. Will send out mass email next week about event.  Jim Perry has been working to establish relationships with companies for sponsorships. Last year we had 70 people registering and participating and will build on that for this year. Raised $6,400 last year and gave scholarships to 3 high school students. 

Randolph-Sheppard Vendors of America. The Sagebrush convention is coming up on February 6th-10th. Several vendors are attending. Patrick Martin will chair the panel discussion about food trucks. The deadline for the agency to pay the registration fee is December 16th. 

Accessibility Issues and Updates:  Colton Knight and Sead Bekric
Pilot trial with Nayax Card Readers was assessed in three areas:  Onboarding, Customer Service and Accessibility. Nayax has some good features with reading reports on the iPhone, their apps are accessible and Excel is very good because you can scroll down row to row and column to column for every machine. The Nayax website is exceedingly difficult to use. Was able to run 2 or 3 reports. Other reports CS analysis can be done if you are computer savvy. Seed is much quicker and can run all his reports. Onboarding – signing on with Nayax requires a sighted person. Takes them 10-20 days to approve your application with Nayax. Met with Nayax, they are requesting us to purchase 1,000 card readers to make it accessible. With customer service for Nayax you don’t get a live person for anything other than the machine. He is not against Nayax but it needs work. Both Nayax and Cantaloupe can do the job. Cantaloupe can provide audible reporting. The customer has fewer problems. Nayax doesn’t have a paid reconciliation report that can be run by vendor. Both companies process payments but for some there is a one-week lag in payment but once you get started the payments keep coming. Bekric transferring card readers is difficult. Onboarding is difficult.

Bekric:  ID Mate is no longer made for card readers. The difficulty is getting bar code information. There are two apps that are good. SuperSense is amazing as it reads your documents and has an extremely fast processor when it comes to reading bar codes. It is faster than ID Mate. Can identify objects such as chairs or trashcans, etc., and can read QR codes.  Will also convert PDF files and make them readable. Seeing AI, a free app made by Microsoft, reads barcodes. 

We have been looking into indoor navigation for the blind. GoodMaps is an app that enables blind individuals to get around easily in a building. We are working with the Rosen to allow GoodMaps to set up tags in their facility. It might be good to have the GoodMaps system at the Daytona Training Center. 

Reimbursements:  Mary Ellen Harding
Fuel charges on reimbursements are not reimbursable by the State. If a repair person needs to get a fuel charge reimbursement please ask them to include it in their travel cost to ensure they will be paid by the State. 

60-day filing period for reimbursements. Try not to go beyond the 60-day period when filing for reimbursements. 

Delayed reimbursements. Sending reimbursements by snail mail slows them down tremendously. If you have a way to scan in your invoices and email them to Fiscal that is the most expedient way to get reimbursed. Also, if you sign up for automatic deposit you will get your reimbursement much faster via EFT into your account. 

ITB and RFP:  Alan Risk
ITB was issued on Nov 2nd. Technical responses were to be returned on Nov 14th. ITB responses were due by 2PM on December 2nd and should be effective by December 15th. There are 4 separate awards for the ITB:  Card reader without chipcard insert, 2-piece with chipcard insert, one piece unit with chipcard, one piece unit with chipcard and voice interaction. This is a one-year ITB which can be renewed for an additional year. 

The service agreement with Cantaloupe expires 2 days after the ITB takes place. We need to renew with Cantaloupe. We have been working on this for several months and per the advice of legal counsel we will wait until the ITB is completed.

RFP for purchase of vending machines. We cancelled the contract with Crane because prices went very high. So, we put it out for bid and had only one company bid. We have now put it out for rebid. There are 15 different machines on this bid. The deadline for questions was November 30th and there were no questions submitted. Due by January 3rd. Evaluations will be all month of January. The award will take place on February 3rd. 3 agency people and 4 vendors are on the panel. We can address an extension with Anita when we get back to determine if we can extend the question period. We have no way of knowing who is interested in bidding. 

Chairman’s Updates, Projects and Concerns:  Jim Warth
NABM Annual Subscription:  Ponchak moved to renew the annual subscription. Seconded by Colton Knight.  Subscription cost:  $3,500.00.  Passed unanimously.

Food Trucks:  Other opportunities for innovation and expansion. Property managers are actively inviting food trucks on to properties. This seems like a violation of the Little Randolph-Sheppard Act. We need to explore a way to open conversation with building managers about inviting food trucks.  Vendors should become more active in the request for hot food with building management and should ask management to express the need/desire for hot food. Explore the possibility of food trucks contributing a percentage of sales to a vendor. One thing to consider is having a stationary food trailer. Patrick Martin says the food trucks block off the parking lot and front door.

Ponchak:  What about a stationary truck? Can language be inserted into a contract to disallow food trucks on state property? An idea is to partner with food trucks rather than investing in a food truck. Ramirez talked with over 65 food truck owners and asked them about coming to a location and paying commission. They all said no. Ahler:  Vendors could partner with local restaurants or food trucks to sell hot food once a month or once a week. 

Subcommittee Reports and Discussion:  Kurt Ponchak
Ponchak:  Policy and Procedure Combined Subcommittee. The Subcommittee has finished the initial draft and is working on amendments. They are considering public meetings. The Subcommittee would like to begin discussions with the agency about changes to the manual.  Will start that after the holidays. 

Training, Retraining and Upward Mobility Subcommittee. There was a meeting on November 21st. We are working on speakers, possibly Coke, Pepsi and Vistar. Planning to have a session on parliamentary procedures (Roberts Rules of Order). Willing to consider suggestions for speakers. Speakers should be related to running our businesses. We are trying to raise funds and have sponsors for refreshments during breaks and a banquet. Would like to try to work out a budget with Bill Findley. Bekric:  Asked if there will there be an accessibility and business instruction CEU unit? Discussion about vendors contributing toward cost of banquet. GoodMaps will be contacted about mapping the Rosen for the event. Seminar dates are August 3-6, 2023, at the Rosen Hotel in Orlando.


Training and Candidate Update:  Mary Ellen Harding

In Training

We have 5 candidates in process to enter the February 6th class and 7 additional candidates in various stages of application. Two candidates are under 34 and meet the Strategic Plan goal.

Training Staff Update:  Steve Moss
New Employee, Anita Claus-Rodriguez. Has a bachelor’s degree in Business and was a teacher for 21 years. Student Arthur Johnson is present and going through the BEP for the second time. Expressed his gratitude for being able to rejoin the program and is looking forward to being an asset to the program. With the call center training starting they are talking about doubling up in the dorm rooms. There is a new Bureau Chief at the Center. There are a total of 30 dorm rooms. The maximum number of students we could take is 10 if we have both teachers in service. 


Marketing Site Development:  Greg Coon



Business Analyst Report:  John Ahler
RSA Federal report almost completed.  We have all the numbers now from vendors and will finalize the report.

For the federal fiscal year gross sales were at $21.9 million. Gross profit to vendors was a little over $12 million. Labor costs for the vendors dropped because vendors are trying to do a lot more themselves. Set aside Levy for the current Federal Fiscal Year went up from $426K to $538K - almost pre-pandemic numbers. Our record high was around $560K in FFY 2019. By the end of this calendar year, we should be in the $545K-$550K range with collected set aside. Net profit to vendors was up. Important to note is right before the pandemic average vender earnings were at $73K, this year vendor earnings are at $78K. We have fewer vendors currently and have some facilities that have been consolidated and vendors are having to take on more within their region.

We are down $12K with reimbursements for the state fiscal year compared to the last State Fiscal Year.

Ahler should complete 50 monitorings by the end of the calendar year. Issues found include vendors are not reporting cash sales on machines that don’t have card readers or they have card readers but the machines are so old that they are not capable of reporting cash.

In addition, sales on laundry equipment need to be logged and recorded each month.  Another issue is vendors are not reporting cost of goods sold because vendors are not keeping receipts or thermal receipts fade and can’t be read. Receipts are not being handled in a way that preserves data.

Some vendors have a route but no labor. Labor costs need to be reported. It is important to develop a legacy for the facility that allows future operators to know the actual costs of running a facility.

Every vendor should be buying Coke and Pepsi from the truck, not another supplier. It should not be expected that Coke or Pepsi will repair machines if vendors do not buy product from them. Findley:  It is ethically wrong to buy products exclusively from Sam’s or Costco when Coke and Pepsi are providing the machines. If you can’t get product from Coke or Pepsi then do what you need to do to fill your machines but try first to get product from Coke or Pepsi. 

The shutdown of non EMV devices started Dec 1 so if you don’t have EMV compliant bezels on your device only the swiper function will work on your card readers. 

Conference Call Report and BEP Updates:  William Findley, Bureau Chief
Electric Vehicle Charging Stations. U.S. Department of Education (USDOE) is unable to provide guidance to the states until after the first of the year. No states’ plans will allow for Electric Vehicle (EV) charging stations at any rest areas. No state plan includes specific locations as to where EV changing stations will go. USDOT would like plans to include rest areas. Florida Department of Education (FDOT) has said no the EV charging stations so far. We are currently more focused on the security camera issue with FDOT because our new agreement is coming up soon. Nothing positive to report on the EV situation.

The Federal Office of Management and Budget has been trying to determine the difference between equipment and supplies. Supplies are defined as purchases less than $1K unless they are supplies for a new facility or location. If, however, they are supplies for less than $1K for an existing location then it is believed they would need to be paid for by vendors, use State dollars or find some other funding source.

Some thought this already went into effect on October 1st and others thought not. They will be putting this on the Federal Register and looking for input. Input should be provided by vendors and the SLA. It was stated that if your state has a clear definition that anything can be considered equipment (no differentiation between supplies and equipment) we could submit that definition and get past the $1K requirement. OMB’s suggestion was to work with your state government to change the definition of supplies and equipment. Findley recommended we continue to do business as we have always done it for now.

Compliance Officer Report:  Alan Risk
CEU report. To be on pace to receive your 3 CEU’s you should have 1.875 CEU’s. Out of 108 vendors required to get CEUs we have 69 who are on pace and 39 who are not on pace including 6 who have 0 CEU’s. CEU’s are available on the Mississippi State Website. Will copy rep on CEU emails.

One new licensee since the August Committee Meeting, Sophia Faldonie. One who is ready for licensure upon verification of a couple of things. We have had 2 licensed in 2022.

Grievance Report – One request for a grievance on September 9th. The hearing was held on September 16th. The Board agreed with the Type II panel’s decision with concurrence from Director Doyle. 

Selection Cycle Update – The Gainesville Lake City Vending route was the only facility in the Selection Cycle - Jennifer Zavala was recommended but declined the facility.  The Facility was awarded to Keith Banta the runner up. 

Selection Panel Member Election – Valerie James 3-year term expires on January 1st. Valerie James has indicated she would serve again if elected. The person nominated must have signified a willingness to serve.

Colton Knight made motion to open the floor for nominations. Seconded by Kurt Ponchak. Discussion about advanced notification of elections. Colton Knight nominated Valerie James. Ponchak moved nomination be closed. Seconded by Daniel Ochoa. Valerie James was elected by acclamation. It was suggested the Committee may want to consider electing another alternate for the Grievance Panel. Kurt Ponchak asked that electing two alternates be added to the agenda for the next meeting. 

Region 4:  Tony Arduengo
Facility 396, East Tampa Route we installed 8 machines at the Bed Tower at the VA Hospital. It is not yet fully staffed. There have been four new Hillsborough County locations and just surveyed another location which is their traffic facility. With Facility 634, which is the Polk County Vending Route we have Polk County School Headquarters where we are installing machines on December 9th & 10th. In the first quarter we are looking to add 4 post offices and a State building to the 634 facility so that will be a good start for that new facility. Facility 272 the two VA outpatient clinics got held back again. The one in Zephyrhills has a tentative date of sometime in February and the New Port Richey VA should be sometime in the first quarter, but we did add the Brooksville Outpatient Clinic and will be adding 3 post offices in that area.  At Facility 500 we added 2 IRS locations and will be adding two VA locations next week.  Hillsborough County snack bar is back to pre-pandemic levels. Facility 627 is trying to offer hot food on a limited basis. Facility 112 which is the Collier and Lee County vending route we will be adding DJJ in Lee County.  Facility 555 Airport is doing well.

Districts 7 & 8: T.J McCormick and Sead Bekric
McCormick: It is quiet in the district. There is some agitation about Coke/Pepsi price increase. Debbie Hietala wanted to know if the 18-week in person training could be moved to online training for some portion of the training. Debbie wanted to mention a company that designs educational online courses for the blind. Their employees who design the courses are blind. The company is Cluesive.com. Maybe offer the ServeSafe portion online. Findley:  Part of the 18-week training is observing how students interact with classmates and the public and also assessing their mobility. We would not consider more than a third of the class work to be online.

Bekric:  Hurricane Ian hit District 8 hard. Lee County especially. Everyone is good and back on track. One vendor complained he is getting replacement machines that are older than machines he had before the hurricane. A drink machine at Facility 482 was vandalized. Coke would not repair his glass front and gave him a stacker. Pepsi and Coke don’t have new glass fronts and don’t want to put refurbished glass fronts at rest areas. Currently we can’t get control boards for older machines which need to be refurbished. Facility 112, David Alvarez, had vandalism at his facility (Rosa Parks Bus Station) with one of his machines. He would like to put padlocks on his machines. Cages might also be a solution.

Region 3:  Jay Payne
Two installs:  One at Lake Baldwin State VA Nursing Home and a combo machine at the Department of Corrections.  FDOT at Sanford and Deland locations installations are coming up. IRS in Orlando is moving to another location on December 5th. Recently had two retirees, Sandra Marecki and John Kalivoda.  Change over for Snack Bar 403 was completed, and Phil Hubbard took over vending temporarily while snack bar is closed. KSC is scheduling work for that building and it is not known when snack bar could reopen. Facility 479 Type II was awarded to Steve Schneider. We experienced some delays with the City of Palm Bay. Once the machines are transferred over to us we will complete the installation. Facility 461 Sumter County Westbound is expected to open in February. 

District 5:  David Stevens & Phil Hubbard
Stevens:  Coleman reopened at the end of July. It has been a slow reopening but November seemed to pick up.

Hubbard:  All good. Steven Myers wants to know why he was not moved over to Sandra Marecki’s facility. It is going to be closed down by KSC for work in the building. We were able to reopen LCC Micro market. It has been a tremendous hit with about $33K in sales in 3 months. The one downside is we have been told we will not be able to get security cameras. Two other facilities at Kennedy want micro markets but he would not recommend it because they would not be behind locked doors.

Region 2:  Bernie Kaiserian
Wellborn rest areas should open on Monday. George Colson retired after approximately 35 years in the program. Jim Gaudette took over Colson’s facility by being awarded a Type I. Keith Banta won a Type I on Gainesville vending route and is about to hit his first year in the program this month. We closed the food service at Facility 564 Blount Island. Hugh Mansfield will continue to do the vending. It is exceedingly difficult to get and retain employees for this location. Terri and Randall’s rest areas, Facilities 406 & 407, have completed restroom renovations and are open. We added two machines to VA for the Facility 525 vending route, a mental health facility and there will be two more machines at a clinic across the parking lot. Also added two more machines in Alachua County facilities management building.

We have taken a few machines out of a couple of locations. We took two out of IRS and are working with the Army Corps of Engineers to remove 6 to 8 machines. Someone was buying large quantities of Sun Passes at Jim Parkman’s rest area. The person owned a car rental company and was buying the passes to put in rental cars. The Roadshow Training will be in Jacksonville on Tuesday, Dec 6. 

Districts 3 & 4:  Marylynn Giles & Randall Crosby
Giles:  Everything is good.
Crosby:  Everything in District 4 is good.

Region 1:  Brian Ashworth
At Highway 231 Welcome Center Facility 528 we swapped out 2 AMS outsiders. The Welcome Center is still closed with no plans to reopen. In Tallahassee at Facility 470 and 502 we installed the first two smart coolers; one at the Tallahassee City Hall and one at Ft. Knox. Colton’s has sold $330 since November. We would like the smart coolers to pay for themselves in one year. We did a survey at Eglin AFB which produced little. At Facility 620, Shannon Shelton’s Type II Panama City vending route we installed 1 new snack machine at Tyndall Air Force Base (TAFB). Surveyed 3 new spots for a couple of DCF offices on the Panama City vending route. Debbie Malmberg’s Facility 488 is still experiencing parking lot renovations which continue to affect her sales. Facility 534 Pensacola FCI is still partially reopened. There are 4 vending machines in the visitation room. October sales increased to $2,400, which is a good sign. Facilities 579-580, Shannon Shelton’s rest areas are still using porta.potties. This has dropped his sales 70%. Facility 441 Larson Cafeteria is currently being run as a Type II by Mike Renaud and will close during the holiday break and will be renovated as a micro market eventually. At Facility 545, Bob Martinez Office Complex Aka Twin Towers opened a micro market on Monday. Patrick Martin is running it as a Type II and it is doing really well. Facility 485 CCOC micro market, Patrick Martin will complete his first year at that facility and it will be on the January Selection Cycle.


Districts 1 & 2:  Kurt Ponchak & Colton Knight
Ponchak:  No problems to report. Not a lot of participation on our call this time.

Colton Knight:  No complaints. Jason Carpenter is asking to have the air conditioning turned down at his facility as it gets to be 90 degrees in there after 5:00PM. Food trucks are affecting sales at some facilities.

Region 5:  Maureen Fink
Facility 508 the rest area in Weston at Alligator Alley has intermittent water issues and would like porta.potties. At Facility 429 Southbound in Palm City/Stuart the operator is resigning at the end of the year. We will be doing a changeover on December 29th and it will be on the January Selection Cycle. Facility 501, after one year, is moving to a new IRS location on December 9th and everything needs to be moved so movers are scheduled.  At Facility 257 we have added two locations; one in Palm Beach County and one at Belle Glades Senior Center.  We have 3 more coming on in January; two in Jupiter and one at DEA in downtown West Palm Beach.  We have discussed Facility 469 Palm Beach County Courthouse and are watching rent situation. The agreement says if we vacate the property we will need to remove all equipment which will include the counters we put in 6 years ago.

District 9:  Orlando Ramirez
One vendor had a question about MBR and snack/soda reporting. One vendor got a coffee new machine and the new coffee machine has more repairs than his old machine. Vendors are concerned about the Pepsi price increase. A coffee machine has been installed at the FBI Miramar and it still has a few hiccups. We are trying to get vending machines for the outside area at Broward County Sheriff’s Office (BCSO) where construction is going on. Also trying to get electric service to the construction site.

Region 6:  Sharon Jadoo
Facility 597 Miami Airport has been awarded to Paola Espinoza. She has an employee who works in the airport and is familiar with the facility. Facility 614 is doing very well. Daniel Ochoa at Facility 519 just got a great storeroom. There is a changeover coming in January with Jean Auguste retiring.

District 10:  Daniel Ochoa
Everyone is happy because we have a new consultant. We have a new vendor Paola Espinoza. All is good. The new storage room is great, he loves it.

Meeting recessed at 5:00PM.

December 3, 2022

Meeting Called to Order @ 8:30AM
Roll Call by Mary Ellen Harding
Jim Warth
Kurt Ponchak 
Marylynn Giles 
Randall Crosby
David Stevens 
Phil Hubbard 
Kash Ahmed 
T.J. McCormick 
Sead Bekric 
Orlando Ramirez   
Daniel Ochoa
Bill Findley
Maureen Fink
Mary Ellen Harding
Alan Risk
John Ahler
Brian Ashworth
Bernie Kaiserian
Sharon Jadoo

Kaiserian:  Some public relations people were taking video at the newly reopened Wellborn Rest Area.

Ponchak:  Would like us to consider moving hotels because this hotel is difficult to navigate.  Would like to see if Rosen Plaza would give us better rates. There is no food on-site in the event of bad weather. We should consider different locations around the state giving an opportunity for vendors to attend the committee meetings. The Embassy Suites is very accommodating to the vendors. 

Drink machines and scoring for accessibility. Asked Alan if they asked for the scoring on the RFP to be on each machine rather than overall. There is a checklist for each machine that the companies will fill out for accessibility. If no companies bid on the RFP we can still buy machines.

Bekric asked what can we do to get Cantaloupe to go to Seed Live from Cashless Plus? ITB closes next week. Ahler will inquire with Andrew about what the average transaction is to see if we can get a better rate.

Warth asked for help forming a corporation. We are required to keep a $2,500 minimum balance with the bank to avoid fees. Warth is going to ask Mitzi Bowen, Terri Lindstrom, and Kurt Ponchak to be on the account.

The Subcommittee for the Biennial will be planning the preponderance of the event with the assistance of the SLA. The Subcommittee for the Biennial wants to get sponsors and collect donations for the Biennial. The group has decided to buy bags and T-Shirts. Who spends the money? The Committee directs the way the money is spent but the corporation with three members (board of trustees) will pay for event related expenses through the corporation Blind Food Service Managers of Florida, Inc. Warth has always paid the fees for the Blind Services Food Managers of Florida. The corporation will be a 501c3.

The Committee is considering negotiating with Coke and/or Pepsi for better pricing. We should discuss this at the Biennial Seminar to get all vendors on board. Hubbard stated we have more leverage with the distributor. Ponchak said we should have Coke Florida set up a query to see how much we purchase. We can collect the Coke and Pepsi machine sales through Cantaloupe. Ochoa stated vendors need to be more responsible with accounts.

Bekric believes there should be follow-up on a statewide pricing team. Volunteers for a team to explore with Coke and Pepsi are Steve Schneider, Will Grignon, Jim Gaudette, Kurt Ponchak and Joey Garcia.

Ponchak work on the Policy Manual is being completed.  Ponchak is encouraging everyone to read/review the manual once it is completed. 

Adjourned @ 9:45AM


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