Quarterly Meeting of the State Committee of Vendors

Friday, December 8, 2023

Chairman Randall Crosby called the meeting to order at 8:30 am. Vice Chairman Kurt Ponchak called the role.

The following individuals were present:
Randall Crosby, Chairman; Kurt Ponchak, Vice Chairman; Mitzi Bowen, State Committee of Vendors Recording Secretary.

District Representatives: Alton Palmore, District 1; Patrick Martin, District 2 Alternate; Mark Turner, District 3; Randy Shuster, District 4; David Stevens, District 5; Phil Hubbard, District 6; Jim Warth, District 7; Sead Bekric, District 8; Orlando Ramirez, District 9; Antonio Gonzalez, 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; Not Present, Region 4 Business Consultant; Alecia Brown, Region 5 Business Consultant; Not Present, Region 6 Business Consultant; Mary Ellen Harding, Administrative Services Consultant.

Division of Blind Services: Robert L. Doyle, Director.

District alternates/Licensed Vendors: Natasha Ginarte, District 3 Alternate; Kash Ahmed, District 6 Alternate; Ed Spence, District 9 Alternate; Mike McCrea, Jason Carpenter, T. J. McCormick and Luquarn Moses.

Rehabilitation Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired: Training staff: Angela Elgaard, Anita Claus-Rodriguez, and Tina Fearnley. Trainees: Sam Weaver and Frank Simon.

Guests: Terry Smith, National Association of Blind Merchants; Nicky Gacos, President - National Association of Blind Merchants; Ed Birmingham, First Vice President - National Association of Blind Merchants; Anita Simon, Wife of Student.

Roberts Rules/Parliamentary Procedure – Kurt Ponchak

Everyone is being asked to recognize the Chair before speaking to maintain order and out of respect to uphold the parliamentary process. When a motion is seconded it can be open for discussion. It doesn’t necessarily mean the rep seconding is in support of the motion. Frito Lay sent sample XVL chips. They are for the upcoming CEU event in January.     

Motion to adopt the agenda – Jim Warth. Seconded and move to amend – Kurt Ponchak. Seconded – Patrick Martin. Amendment to change the discussion time regarding net profit expectations and create a work group regarding micro markets. Agenda adopted without objection. Motion to accept the minutes from the last committee meeting held on October 9, 2023 as written – Patrick Martin. Seconded – Alton Palmore. Minutes accepted without objection. 

NABM Presidents Award – Nicky Gacos

Bill Findley was presented with the NABM Presidents Award during the committee meeting. The next BLAST event will be held in Nashville TN the month of November 2024. 

BBE Updates – Bill Findley

Staff update - Sharon Jadoo, Region 6 Business Consultant has resigned her position and it will be advertised shortly. Region 1 is in need of some assistance mainly due to military contracts. The agency plans to add a Business Consultant position pending approval. Our Administrative Assistant resigned a while ago. Interviews will commence next week to fill the position. David Chappell is our new attorney, and he is learning our program well. He believes our position with regards to military contracts is correct.

Vending and Food Service at FL Panhandle Air Force Bases. Tyndall AFB Food Service. A food service solicitation for Mess Attendant Services has been posted. Tyndall Contracting has stated it is a non-Randolph-Sheppard opportunity and only small businesses can apply. Our DOE attorney, David Chappell is attempting to communicate with Tyndall to explain to them that the R-S Act does apply. We are considering filing for arbitration and possibly following that with an injunction to stop the solicitation. The FL DOE is the SLA for Randolph-Sheppard and is not considered a small business.

Tyndall AFB Vending. DBS currently has 12 machines at Tyndall and hopes to acquire more by the end of 2025 as the reconstruction continues at the base following a hurricane.

Eglin AFB Vending. Attorney David Chappell is waiting for Eglin leadership to get back with him to set up a meeting with us to discuss the list of 131 vending machine locations we have submitted to them. Eglin appears to be dragging their feet when initially they were eager to get this matter resolved to avoid the arbitration which will happen during the first quarter of 2024 if we are not satisfied with their response. They will no doubt reject some of the 131 and there will be some that we will not want. We have not seen every location. Out of this list we hope to acquire enough good spots for 50-55 machines.

Hurlburt Field Vending. Hurlburt Field is right next to Eglin. Following a site visit we have submitted a permit for the placement of 21 machines at Hurlburt. We are waiting on their response. Eglin and Hurlburt would be combined to make one vending facility with about 70 vending machines.

Negotiations went well at the West Palm Beach County Courthouse. Ryan Akeley is meeting his rent obligation which is believed to be 3 percent of sales. The division has caught up on the past rent that was owed. The rent used to be $1,700 a month.

The agency and Steve Moss are looking to modify training in Daytona. If possible they want to get the timeframe down to 16 weeks. They are also expanding the current micro market to improve that aspect of training.

We are moving away from Bank of America to make set aside payments. The new bank will be Wells Fargo. December MBR’s cannot be filed until January 16th when the new banking information is in place. The only thing a vendor will need to do when the change occurs is add their bank account number and routing information. That only needs to be done the first time. Vendors will need to contact their accountants.

Motion to renew our NABM membership at the cost of $3,500 – Kurt Ponchak. Seconded – Patrick Martin. Passed without objection.

Budget Report – Bill Findley, Kurt Ponchak.

A copy of the report was given to district reps prior to the committee meeting. Set aside collected in the last four months is roughly $234,000. At this rate we will have over $600,000 which exceeds our budget spending authority. As of November 1st we had $490,000 in our bank account. If we were to acquire either Tyndall or Eglin we would have to ask for additional spending authority.

Motion to approve a $15,000 budget for the purpose of CEU training this fiscal year – Kurt Ponchak. Seconded – Jim Warth. After discussion it was decided the funds would be used for speakers. Yes votes. Randall, Kurt, Alton, Patrick, Mark, Randy, David, Jim, Sead, and Antonio. No votes. Phil and Orlando. Motion passed 10 to 2.

DBS/DOE Updates – Robert Doyle.

It would be a good idea to have some Sunshine Law training and refreshers since we have so many new and returning members on the committee. We have a new commissioner of RSA, Dante Allen. He was appointed yesterday and will remain until elections next year, unless retained. Our consultants have received raises after approval from the legislature. The increase was between 8 and 35 percent. Hopefully the raises will result in better recruitment and retention. DBS received $3,300,000 back from Social Security for successfully placing individuals in employment opportunities. There are concerns about how committee members and vendors are treating each other. There have been interviews conducted and Robert is in the process of reviewing the results. After the review there could be some verbal and written notices to certain individuals. Recommendations have yet to be determined. The feds are monitoring state agencies. It is anticipated there will be findings in the fiscal/budget area and policies. The draft report should be ready by the end of this year. The plan is to present the findings at the next committee meeting. There is a misunderstanding on the $1,000 threshold for equipment purchases. Kurt asked if maybe the funds could come from another appropriations fund rather than from federal dollars. It will take some time. Meetings are being conducted to determine a fair dollar amount of maintenance support to persons in OJT.

Type II Update – Maureen Fink.

A copy of the report was given to district reps prior to the committee meeting. There are 29 type II’s. 7 will end as vendors sign into their type I contracts. Some type II’s may be combined after evaluation and consultation with the committee.

Marketing and Site Development – Greg Coon.

So far 30 site surveys have been done. 19 are state or federal properties. Some key locations are TSA at the  Melbourne Orlando International Airport and additions to the Polk County School District. From July to November, 46 vending machines have been installed. 154 were installed this calendar year. A new VA clinic is coming to Tampa. Other future installs include VA clinics in Jacksonville and Daytona Beach. Questions arose regarding the ability to acquire contracts in the private sector. The agency does not have the staff to pursue such contracts but is willing to look into opportunities that vendors bring to their attention. It is recommended vendors reach out to their Chamber of Commerce.

Motion to resume the agenda once CEU training with Terry Smith is complete – Kurt. Seconded – Patrick. Passed without objection.        

Daytona Training Report – Training Staff.

There are currently 2 students. Both have vending experience from other states. 

Business Analyst Report – John Ahler.

RSA report highlights include vendor net proceeds have risen by 12.9%. Average vendor earnings are up 16.8%. That’s $13,500 from the past year. Florida has gone from 120 vendors in 2019 to 104 this year. 45 monitoring reviews were completed since January. The recent observation is not many vendors are doing a monthly inventory. It is anticipated the committee will discuss viability of locations and machines at the next meeting. If low volume machines can be moved or removed that will be done.  RSA report data is available to all vendors from the website. Data is available from other state programs as well.      

Compliance Officer Report – Alan Risk.

December MBR’s cannot be filed until January 16th. Several attempts have been made to get approval for surveillance equipment through procurement and our contract administrators. It has been decided we will hire a consultant to evaluate our equipment needs. Once the consultant determines the appropriate equipment for rest area, a solicitation will go out. 108 vendors need to acquire CEU’s this term. 14 have already met their requirement. Since June there have been 3 grievances and 1 administrative hearing request. Grievance 1 – Violation of LOFA. The board agreed with the division’s decision. Grievance 2 – Type II selection. The board agreed with the division’s decision. The director overturned the decision prompting the administrative hearing request. The request was later withdrawn. Grievance 3 – Type II selection. The board agreed with the division’s decision. It is currently awaiting director’s approval. 6 facilities were on the September selection cycle list. There were 16 applicants with 12 testing. 10 scheduled for interviews. Of 7 applicants that interviewed, 5 were awarded facilities. 6 vendors were licensed to date in 2023.

Training Report – Maryellen Harding.

3 trainees will complete OJT and become licensed by the end of the year. 3 are in class with 1 stepping away temporarily due to a family emergency. They will return in March. 8 people are in various stages of enrolling in the March of 2024 class. For the 2025 Seminar the Rosen is only available from August 14th through August 17th. Another option is Caribe Royale Orlando which is willing to match Rosen’s price. It was suggested we check into Loews Royal Pacific Resort as well. Dates were established for future committee meetings. Motion to approve selected dates – Kurt. Seconded – Jim. Passed without objection. Motion to discuss conducting committee meetings excluding agency staff – Phil. Seconded – Sead. The conversation consisted of reps deciding whether to have Thursday evening meetings versus virtual meetings in advance with committee reps and vendors only. Motion to table discussion – Patrick. Seconded – Randy. Passed without objection and Mark not present.            

Regional/District Updates – All

Region 1 – Brian Ashworth. Donna Galley is operating a type II for facilities 578 and 579 after the passing of William Daniels. Stefan Mitchell was awarded facility 632 after the September selection cycle. The Jefferson county rest areas are up and running after several plumbing issues. The Jackson county rest area is still without water and has been since 2018. Restoration will not start till the summer of 2024. A new micro market (facility 320) opened at the Claude Pepper building.
Sales need to be analyzed for 6 months before placement decisions can be made. Colton has cameras installed at his facility that are using AI. It offers reports and videos on the back end as well. There are several issues with facility 361 (Turlington Micro Market). For example, air conditioning and the roof/ceiling always leaks during heavy rains. Debbie Malmberg is retiring after 44 years of service. Her I-10 Welcome Center rest area will be on the January selection cycle list. She wishes to continue serving on the selection panel in the future. The agency recommends merging facilities 609, the Pensacola route and 534, the Pensacola FCI into one. Recent data shows sales anywhere from $80 to $2,500 per month at 534. Emmett Magee services both now. Motion to accept the agency’s recommendation – Kurt. Seconded – Patrick. Passed without objection.

District 1 – Alton Palmore. Nothing to report.

District 2 – Patrick Martin. Meetings are planned for next week with DMS regarding the continuing issues at the Turlington building. There are elevator issues in addition to the roof leaks and air conditioning. The facility could use a new coffee machine. Patrick asked about the status of computers being given to persons in OJT. They now have them. Patrick asked about the status of Tyndall. A vendor was chosen some time ago to accept the facility though it is not available to us yet. That vendor is still willing to accept when it is available.

Region 3 – Jay Payne. Facility 403 (KSC) reopened in May 2023 and has been operated as a type II. It will go out as a type I in January. Facility 479 I-75 rest area will change over to a type II operator next week. There are issues with repair personnel getting badges for Coleman prison. They are in the process of getting rid of some older machines and switching some around. Coke has been asked to replace some of their machines. 4 locations and machines are being added to facility 635. The vendor at facility 378 Hurston Bldg cafeteria is having trouble getting security clearance for some of his employees.

District 5 – David Stevens.  David expressed concern regarding his purveyor’s difficulty accessing his facility (Coleman) to do repairs and replace machines. He has reached out to his Coke rep. They advised they need to see their machines before determining replacement.

District 6 – Phil Hubbard. A new building at KSC opened up called RFPF. It will operate for 7 months. There are 2 large buildings being added to KSC property to look into. Jay and Phil are working on downscaling nonproductive locations. There may be machines available to relocate in the future. 1 vendor expressed transportation challenges to Phil. 1 vendor requested Phil to mention they no longer wish to attend seminars at the Rosen.

Region 2 – Bernie Kaiserian. A changeover will take some time at the Sheriff’s Office due to security clearance requirements. A vendor was selected for rest area facility 445 for a type I. 446 is now on a type II and will be on the selection cycle bid list in January. A vendor was selected for facility 504 and will take it over in January. A new VA Clinic is being added at the beginning of the year to Kevin Nealey’s route. The Sunpass Pros are being purchased in mass quantities at the I-95 Welcome Center Rest Area. There is a temporary hold on selling them as a thorough investigation is being performed. They are being sold up north where tolls are much higher.

Overall sales are up over a million dollars for the year in Region 2 Net profit is up over $300,000.  

District 3 – Mark Turner. The district is active and communicating well. Some vendors discuss issues on Facebook and through phone chat. 

District 4 – Randy Shuster. Nothing to report.

Region 4 – Maureen Fink for Tony Arduengo. A VA Mental Health Clinic is awaiting machines to be installed. Coke has finally removed empty machines that have been sitting outside the DBS office. A newly licensed vendor will be taking over facility 627 at the beginning of the year. 7 new locations including 4 DCF will be opening once machines are installed.

District 7 – Jim Warth. As soon as machines are available for some locations more facilities will be up and running.

District 8 – Sead Bekric. Some FDOT signage is going up that will alert the public about vending at some rest areas. The district is testing new equipment. 3 Red Bull machines have been installed. Sead is testing a new European coffee machine. It is roughly the width of a change machine and offers an 8 oz cup. Between Sead’s Red Bull and new coffee machine his sales are up over 50%.

Region 5 – Alecia Brown. 3 facilities added additional locations. 621 – Ft Pierce vending added the Department of Health in Vero Beach. 501 – IRS in Plantation added the Department of Children and Families in Ft Lauderdale. 429 – I 95 SB Rest Area Martin County picked up Jonathan Dickinson State Park. We continue to look for ways to maximize facility growth and identify underperforming locations. Facility 612 will be on the January selection cycle bid sheet. Orlando signed into facility 430 back in August. Arthur Johnson was conditionally awarded facility 547 after the September selection process pending clearance at FBI and TSA at the airport. No changeover date is set at this time.

District 9 – Orlando Ramirez. The opening of Brightline has impacted some rest areas with a decline in highway traffic. Brightline is a train traveling between Miami and Orlando. A vendor asked why we have to separate drink from snack sales on the MBR. A vendor commented they haven’t received their rebate check from RSA for over a year.

Region 6 – Maureen Fink. Southern Command is getting a hybrid micro market. Customers can purchase multiple items in 1 transaction, yet there is no need for security that comes with traditional micro markets. There were issues with Lilian Pemberton’s new storage unit. The floor was buckling under product. It has since been repaired. There are delays with Pepsi repairing or replacing equipment. 1 building got a refurbed glass front purchased by the agency to satisfy the customers.

District 10 – Antonio Gonzalez. Vendors are asking why there are lengthy delays for repair reimbursements. Bill advised there are still vacant positions, but over time has been improved. A vendor asked if they could sell frozen food from their van while running the route. The quick answer was no, but the vendor will be advised to discuss possibilities further with the agency. The Miami Federal Detention Center was shut down for 3 years. Therefore, many machines were no longer operational. Progress is being made to remedy the situation.

Motion to postpone the remaining agenda to the following day – Jim. Seconded – Unknown. Passed without objection.    

Saturday, December 9, 2023

Chairman Randall Crosby called the meeting to order at 8:30 a.m. Vice Chairman Kurt Ponchak called the role. All present excluding Jay Payne, Greg Coon, and Tony Arduengo.  

Kurt asked for patience from everyone while our new committee adjusts to the proper parliamentary process. The motion to table the prior day’s agenda was handled improperly. Steps are in place to prevent mistakes, though they will still occur on occasion.

Motion to Adjourn at 10:30 a.m. - Kurt. Seconded – Patrick. Passed without objection.

Selection Panel – Alan Risk.

Darryl Brinton’s term on the selection panel along with 2 alternate positions expire December 31st. It was suggested we stagger the alternate positions in the future.

Motion to open the floor for selection panelist nominations – Mark. Seconded – Phil. Mark nominated Darryl. Antonio nominated Lilian Pemberton. Her willingness to serve could not be confirmed. He changed his nomination to Alton Palmore. Alton was asked if he would resign his position on the committee and he said yes to avoid any possible conflicts of interest. Motion to close nominations – Kurt. Seconded – Phil. Prior to voting Kurt asked Alton if he would resign his position on the grievance panel. Alton stated yes. Votes for Darryl - Randall and Mark. Votes for Alton - Kurt, Alton, Patrick, Randy, David, Phil, Jim, Sead, Orlando, and Antonio. Alton was elected 10 to 2. Motion to open the floor for alternate selection panelist nominations – Kurt, Seconded – Phil. Mark nominated Todd Bowen. Sead nominated Debbie Hietala. Her willingness to serve could not be confirmed. He changed his nomination to Joey Garcia. Antonio nominated Lilian Pemberton. Randall nominated Antonio. Orlando nominated TJ McCormick. Motion to close nominations – Kurt. Seconded – Patrick. Votes for Joey – Randall. Votes for Todd – Kurt, Patrick, Mark, Randy, and David. Votes for Lilian – Alton, Jim, Sead, Orlando, and Antonio. Votes for TJ – Phil. Vote Count – 5 for Todd, 5 for Lilian, 1 for Joey, 1 for TJ. Runoff election 1. Votes for Todd – Randall, Kurt, Patrick, Mark, Randy, and David. Votes for Lilian – Alton, Phil, Jim, Sead, Orlando, and Antonio. Votes – 6 to 6. Runoff election 2. Votes for Todd – Randall, Kurt, Patrick, Mark, Randy, David, Phil, Jim, Orlando, and Antonio. Votes for Lilian – Alton and Sead. Todd was elected 10 to 2. Antonio and TJ withdrew from running. Runoff election 3. Lilian was elected unanimously at 12.              

By-Law Discussion – Kurt Ponchak.

Jim Anderson asked his rep to inquire with the committee regarding the elections process as stated in our by-laws. Kurt thinks they should be amended to remove the word simple from the phrase simple majority. Other discussion included the option of saying half or 50% plus 1 for example. A mechanism needs to be in place to break any ties. Kurt suggested creating a work group to address specific recommendations in amending the by-laws. This would include the 3 amendments regarding voting methods that did not pass at the Biennial Seminar 2023. Motion to create by-laws work group – Kurt. Seconded – Phil. Passed without objection.

Special Projects – Kurt Ponchak.

Kurt suggested creating a work group to make recommendations for evaluating facility maintenance and establishing a schedule. Motion to create facility maintenance work group – Kurt. Seconded – Phil. Passed without objection. The agency suggested creating a work group specific to micro markets. Motion to create micro market work group – Kurt. Seconded – Patrick. The following will participate in the group. Kurt, Jim Warth, Luquarn Moses, Patrick Colton, Jason Carpenter, Brian Ashworth, Tony Arduengo, Randall, and Phil. This group will work on micro market standards and net profit expectations. Passed without objection. Motion to create a work group on net profit and business expenses and assign to Finance, Audit, and Budgeting – Kurt. Seconded – Mark. Passed without objection. Randall appointed Kurt as the subcommittee chair. Jim was asked to serve on the committee. Bill will appoint someone from the agency to participate.

Round Table Discussion – All.

TJ McCormick asked if we could incorporate some type of machine equipment training in Daytona to allow for more technician availability and hopefully lower costs. A response to this was vendors should try to assist each other with repairs if possible. It was recommended the topic be added to the next committee meeting. Randy asked about machines that aren’t producing sales compared to the cost of repairing them. He is having issues with his coffee machine that is doing 4% in sales compared to the others. Bill stated FDOT has concerns with the wording some vendors have used on their signs notifying the public that cameras exist. FDOT is creating uniform language all rest areas will use in the future. Mark inquired about whether there is a procedure to end committee meetings at certain times. It was explained if we specify an end time it can only be changed with a motion and passing vote. Motion to establish and state an end time for future committee meetings on agendas – Phil. Seconded – Jim. Passed without objection.  

Meeting adjourned at 10:00 a.m.

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