Category Archives: Affiliates

USConnect Reaches Milestone

We’re growing!

USConnect now has over 40 affiliate members serving 100 U.S. metropolitan areas.

“The affiliate coverage area is vital for USConnect’s success; we want to provide a consistent, employee-focused, connected level of service for national accounts,” says Jeff Whitacre, CEO. “Our national account program is so effective because employers see significant value in making vending, food service, and micro markets an extension of their employee benefits.”

USConnect

The USConnect family of affiliates provides employee services via a connected network of vending machines, food service, and micro markets as well as providing cashless convenience, loyalty, and promotional services via the proprietary USConnect OneCard. The USConnect OneCard also allows for instant refunds to its customers and detailed reporting to manufacturers.

Jeffrey Lee, General Manager of Kinney Vending, a company that recently signed with USConnect, states, “We are an independent, family-owned business guided by our family values for three generations. We are looking to compete in a market of giants who do not hold the same values. USConnect has given us the competitive advantage we need by allowing us to connect with other businesses that share the same values while still allowing us to maintain our independence.”

USConnect has been conducting regional sales and operational seminars to educate the affiliates on the plethora of services provided. Seminars are scheduled for Cincinnati, Chicago, New York, Atlanta, and San Diego. To find out more about these seminars, visit www.usconnect.biz.

USConnect plans to complete its affiliate network expansion by mid-2016.

Cantaloupe Systems Enables Apple Pay Acceptance on All Seed Cashless™ Installations

Cantaloupe Systems, the vending industry’s premier provider of cloud-based, mobile technologies and a strategic supplier of USConnect, recently announced support for   Apple Pay, the new contactless payment capability of Apple’s iPhone 6 smartphones.

Apple Pay will be supported by all machines running Seed Cashless™, the fastest growing card and mobile payments solution for vending. Accepting Apple Pay will require no hardware upgrade and no additional cost to vending operators utilizing Seed Cashless.

Apple Pay uses Near-Field Communication (NFC) technology to communicate securely with the Seed Cashless card reader. Leading Android mobile payment apps like Google Wallet and Softcard® also use NFC. Seed Cashless has always included NFC capability in every card reader, and Seed Cashless cloud services are optimized for mobile transactions. This means that Seed Cashless operators don’t have to worry about expensive upgrades to enable mobile payments. Instead, mobile payments will just work on Seed Cashless.

Apple Pay

Although Seed Cashless supports a wide range of mobile payment options, Seed Cashless also accepts traditional magnetic stripe credit or debit cards. This flexibility ensures that consumers can gradually migrate from plastic to mobile at their own pace, and ensures that operators capture the maximum possible cashless sales during the gradual transition from card to mobile payments.

To use Apple Pay, consumers will need an iPhone 6 device with the software update that Apple released in October 2014. Cantaloupe Systems expects operators to see significant payment volume from Apple Pay starting with the 2014 holiday season.

Affiliate Profile: CC Vending, Inc.

CC Vending, Inc. services New York City and the surrounding counties, including Long Island, Northern New Jersey, and Lower Connecticut.  Founded in 1989, it is one of the original members of USConnect and was a VMI member prior to that. We chatted with Tim top-header_01Fitzgerald of CC Vending about the trends that he sees emerging in their region.

Q. What trends do you expect will have an impact on  your future business?

A. Regulations regarding products are going to affect trends. Packaging and labeling laws will have an impact on everyone: the manufacturer, the operator, and the consumer. The use of cashless payments will continue to increase, and we are also planning a heavy campaign with our clients to sign people up for the USConnect programs.  We also expect that clients will continue to ask for more healthy choices, but the ultimate consumer will continue to purchase traditional snacks.

Q. How does CC Vending distinguish itself in its market?

A. Technology, definitely—In our market, we are known for our use of technology. There is no other company in the metro New York area using telemetry or cashless on a large-scale basis.  We are also closing in on 4,000 SEED devices and 1,000 cashless units in the field.

We are also known as the exclusive provider to both New York City Public Schools and the New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation.

Q. What products are popular in your region?

A. Wise and Utz salty snacks are popular here, but I don’t see them often outside the metropolitan area. We have also rolled out a number of beverages developed specifically to meet the nutrition standards for the New York City Public Schools.  These products, made specifically for us, include Sonu, Lazy Town, and our newest brand, 2B Beverages.  We operate 2500 beverage machines in about 1000 NYC schools, and are expanding these offerings to other districts and health care facilities.

Q. To your customer, how would you summarize what your business is about?

A. CC Vending today is about the same ideas as when we started our business with one machine.  We listen to our customers and deliver what they want. Why just meet their expectations when you can exceed them?

 

 

 

A conversation with Scott Meskin of Black Tie Services

Staying ahead of  the competition—and the snow!

Q. Tell us a little about Black Tie Services.black tie services

A. We are known for our high quality food, which is made fresh every day in our commissary. We’ve been in this business for 25 years and part of USConnect for over a year.

Q. What region do you serve, and what are the local favorites?

A. We work in Maryland, D.C., Northern Virginia, and Western Virginia.  The local favorite sandwich is a Hot Corned Beef and Swiss, and the Half & Half—iced tea and lemonade—is also popular.

Q. What makes your company stand out from its local competitors?

A. Our fresh food program puts us out front. No one in our market can offer anything even close to what we offer in fresh food. Our customers tell us that they are impressed with how delicious our salads and fresh sliced meats taste. All of our food is made fresh daily and to order for each machine or micro market. Our Chicken Salad wrap is the most-requested item we produce, along with our first-cut corned beef brisket on rye with Swiss.

scott-meskinQ. What trends do you see emerging in 2014?

A. Cashless vending is where I see the biggest opportunity for growth. We are in the process of upgrading every machine in the field with cashless technology. Our cashless transactions are increasing monthly, and in a few years, I expect that cashless sales will be more than 50% of our revenue.  We have always strived to be a leader in new trends and technologies, and we will soon be one of the first all cashless vending companies in the Northeast.

Micro markets are also a growth segment for 2014. Customers love the concept, and sales are being led by our fresh food program. About 35% of our micro market sales are fresh-made food items produced in our kitchen.

Q. Your motto is, “We specialize in service to customers deserving the best.” How do you live up to that motto?

A. This past February, the weather reports were calling for a foot of snow on Monday, and a good customer called my cell on Sunday afternoon.  They knew their employees who would be snowed-in Monday morning, and they needed to feed them. Was it possible to have 475 boxed lunches delivered on Monday morning?

I had our commissary build the order, even though I didn’t know if we could get our trucks on the road the next day.  On Sunday night at 8:30 pm, one of my dedicated Operations Managers made the delivery. The customer was thrilled and impressed with our level of service. We always try to go above and beyond what is expected of us.

 

 

Scott Meskin is the President of Black Tie Services, LLP. 

 

 

A Chat with CRH Catering Company: Focusing on Fresh Food and Customer Service

Q. Tell us a little about CRH Catering Company.

A. CRH was formed in 1968 in Connellsville, Pennsylvania, and has since become one of the largest vending companies in the area.  We service the Mid-Atlantic Region including Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Western Maryland, and Virginia.  We have always been a family-owned and operated business, and we are now entering our third generation.  We crh cateringare an original member of the USConnect family.

Q. What are some of the favorite products in your region?

A. In Central Pennsylvania, we sell a wide variety of Turkey Hill Tea, from regular lemon-flavored tea to pomegranate tea.  In our commissary, the most popular regional item is our Ham BBQ sandwich.

Q. What would your customers say you are best known for?

A. We are best known for the quality of the fresh food that is produced in our commissary.  Most of the food on our menu is made fresh daily.  We are also one of the few vending companies that do not operate on a “cycle menu.”  Our commissary menu has close to 100 items, all of which are offered 365 days a year.

Q. What trends do you see emerging for 2014?

A. I think that the biggest trends for 2014 will be the continued growth of cashless vending as well as micro markets.  In the next five years, 90% of our machines will be equipped with credit card readers.  We are also seeing opportunities in micro markets right now, as more customers see the benefit of having a market in their workplace.

Q. What makes your business stand out from others in your area?

A. Our open lines of communication with our customers as well as our investment in the latest technology help us stand out.  The promotions and rewards program offered through the USConnectMe card is unlike anything being offered by any of our competition in the area.

Q. Can you share an example of how this has helped grow your business?

A. Last year, I was invited to a meeting with the manager and superintendent of a new correctional facility that was opening in our area.  I assumed it was a pre-bid meeting, but when I arrived, they wanted to find out how quickly I could get 25 new machines for their facility.  They decided to give CRH the contract instead of putting it out to bid because they were so pleased with CRH’s products and service at another local correctional facility.

Keith Cordaro is the Regional Manager of CRH Catering Company.

 

Winter Affiliate Meeting a Success in Tampa

On February 6th and 7th, USConnect held its Winter Affiliate Meeting in Tampa, usconnect winter affiliate meetingFlorida. Representatives from 23 of the current affiliate companies took part in the
meeting. Twelve of USConnect’s strategic supplier companies also attended, for a
total of over 70 attendees.

Meeting sessions focused on vending machine connectivity, social media interaction, branding initiatives, micro markets, cashless vending, consumer promotions, and national account sales. Supplier sessions showcased the industry-leading
technologies used by the affiliate companies, including cashless vending and the
USConnect Rewards Card. Additional sessions included presentations by the
strategic suppliers on strategic planning and digital marketing. Attendees also had
the opportunity to learn about new products, including the new, custom-roasted
coffee, Route 66.  route 66 coffee

Carmen Gorniak, USConnect’s registered dietitian, discussed The Right Choice program and the need for a continued emphasis on healthy vending and premium, fresh food choices for micro markets and dining venues.   Meeting attendees also heard an update on the rapidly expanding national account sales program, with the signing of three major national accounts representing over 100 facilities nationwide.

Want to learn more about USConnect and discover the nation′s only wireless integrated food service network? Request more information here.

 

Technology, Customer Service, and Coney Island Hot Dogs

Talking with Jeffrey Smith of All-Star Services

Q. How long has All-Star Services been in this business?

A. We have been incorporated since 1963—that’s 50 years.  We’ve also been involved with USConnect since the beginning. Our company was a member of VMI (Vend Marketing Institute) where several of the conceptual marketing

Jeffrey Smith - President/CEO of All-Star Services in Port Huron, Michigan

Jeffrey Smith – President/CEO of All-Star Services in Port Huron, Michigan

concepts were created, such as “Sprout,” “The Right Choice for You,” and “The Right Choice for Earth.”

Q. What trends do you see emerging for 2014?

First, cashless vending is a key component.  Our sales have continued to grow in each location as we install devices on all of our machines.  Second, the concept of loyalty rewards is becoming accepted as our customers are constantly looking for means for savings and value.  Third, we see the growth continuing with the micro-market concept.  Where we have installed the retail sites, our sales have increased considerably, especially with regard to fresh food sales.

Q. What about your business makes you stand out from others in this field?

A. Our business strives to blend the benefits of cutting edge, industry-leading technology with outstanding and dedicated customer service.

Q. Would you share an example of how you’ve used technology to grow your business?

A. Recently, we were able to sit down with a customer and analyze up to the minute sales reports in an effort to modify the machine offerings to best suit their preferences.  This meeting allowed us to expand space on products that were in high demand, and offer different selections in place of the products that were performing at a lower level.  This use of technology to enhance our customer service allows our customers to see that their feedback is heard, discussed, and implemented into our service model.

Q. And finally, what are the local favorite food and beverage choices for your clients in southeastern and mid-Michigan?

A. Coney Island Hot Dogs, which are hot dogs with a chili sauce, onions, and mustard, and Faygo beverages, particularly “Red Pop.”

 

Jeffrey Smith is the President/CEO of All-Star Services in Port Huron, Michigan.