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State Committee of Vendors

Orlando, Fl - Minutes: May 9 and 10, 2008

Mr. Spiliotis called the meeting to order at 10 A.M. on Friday, may 9th.

Mr. Klindtworth called the roll.

Attending were:

Steve Schneider, District One; District Two absent; Don Tuell, District Three; Bill Perrett, District Four; Phil Bluschke, District Five; Randall Crosby, District Six; Tom Saunders, District Seven; Gyorke Alger, District Eight; Joel Rose, District Nine; Ken Moore, District Ten.

Agency staff:

Mike Elliott; Kathy Murphey; Gene Newcomb; Kathleen Crosson; Darryl Lane; Bernie Kaisarian; Raquel Falero; Maureen Fink; Chanel Chevalier

Guests:

Les smith from Sysco Systems; Victor Rosario; Jim Warth; Jose Formoso; Michelle Macomber; David Kaplan; Melody Stewart; Craig Kiser

The minutes of the previous meeting were approved without objection.

Secretary’s note:  To make finding motions easier I have listed them separately  as items in Appendix 1 after the text of the minutes. The motions are in both the main body of the minutes and as a separate addendum.

Mr. Kiser, the Executive Director of the Blind Services Foundation, presented an update on fundraising activities aimed at creating an endowment fund to eliminate the need for DBS to receive Legislative funding. Two major events are scheduled in November and several committee members pledged their assistance.

Mr. Kiser is also working to secure vendor representation on the Rehab Council. Another topic discussed during his presentation was the need to pursue the DBS signage project approved last year. He also suggested that we could host a legislative breakfast as part of the 2009 Seminar.

Mr. Kiser would also like to set up a meeting with the head of the State Park system to look into the possibility of regaining the concessions at these locations. Mr. Spiliotis will contact Steve Ritacco and work on this project.

Mr. Spiliotis introduced the subject of formulating an action plan to improve the quality and profitability of our food service outlets. He stated that while our vending operations are generally all similar to one another and easily managed by any vendor, the same is not true with the food service locations. Each one is different from all the others and this is the major problem that needs to be solved. He then introduced Mr. Les Smith, a representative of Sysco Food Systems.

Mr. Smith gave a detailed presentation of the ways his company can help retail outlets meet their goals. Sysco owns five operating companies in Florida and has distributors in every area. They can provide the same products to all vendors and also provide assistance in menu formatting, pricing and other areas of operation. These resources are free to the customer.

Several committee members voiced support of this approach and said that creating uniformity in our food service sector would be beneficial. Mr. Spiliotis added that in order to maximize the benefits of creating a standard code for food service we will need to teach it from the beginning at the Daytona center and continue through OJT.

Ms. Murphey expressed her support of this approach and will contact Les Smith soon to start working on a plan.  This will include identifying at risk snack bars, contacting successful managers and asking for their input and to meet in July with all information gathered to ask Sysco’s help in developing menu plans that would achieve uniformity while still allowing for regional and ethnic specialties. Another step will be to work with the Daytona staff to get our students working in the snack bar as soon as we have a plan.

Mr. Spiliotis added that over time we will be able to convert the equipment in snack bars to make it the same in all outlets.

Mr. Kaisarian added that when it comes to food service Sysco is the expert and we should take at least 80 percent of their advice. Mr. Spiliotis agreed and said that he intends to pursue this initiative ASAP and will be contacting vendors in the near future for their assistance.

The next guest speaker was Mr. Mike Ustaitis of G and J marketing, a brokerage firm supplying packaged snacks, candy and sandwiches through VISTAR. They are offering promotional prices on many items and we can get the discount from VISTAR.

Mr. Spiliotis asked Mr. Schneider for a report on facility #522, five small rest areas in District One. These were previously part of the late Richard Lovette’s route and have been managed by Debby Malmberg since January, 2008 in order to get separate information on each location. Mr. Schneider presented the sales figures for each location and other information including geographical factors, available suppliers etc. After full discussion Mr. Schneider made the following motion, seconded by Mr. Saunders: to establish three new facilities, these being Milton East and West; Crestview East and Ponce de Leon; and Crestview West. The motion carried by unanimous roll call vote and the new rest areas will be advertised on the May 15th vacancy announcements.

The Committee expressed its huge thanks to Debby Malmberg for managing these locations in addition to her own facility.

Mr. Spiliotis asked for an update on training activities.  Ms. Murphey reported that Michelle Macomber is now the full time Training Director at DOE and that an Aramatic employee has been hired to manage the facility. There are currently four trainees at DOE and two Daytona graduates will soon report to DOE for their OJT. New lesson plans will be introduced to reinforce the training from Daytona.

A hot drink vendor will soon be added to the equipment at DOE so that the students will learn how to use and maintain it. The committee recommended against installing a soft-serve ice cream machine.

The snack bar on the 16th floor of DOE was converted to a grab and go. This is proving to be a failure and the outlet will probably be converted to full vending.

Mr. Spiliotis spoke of inconsistencies in the application of BEP training policy. He stated that not all recruits are required to follow the same procedures. Ms. Murphey responded that adhering exactly to the prescribed sequence creates delays in getting new people into training. Mr. Elliott added that sometimes classes are kept too small and that he will look for ways to solve that problem. Another improvement will be to have Steve Moss come to Tallahassee to give the module CLEP tests.

Mr. Spiliotis said that he appreciates the efforts made by the Agency to resolve these problems but that he still believes a consistent approach to training is the only way it should be done. We need to follow the process outlined in the Policy Handbook. Mr. Elliott asked him to convene the training subcommittee and draft some proposals.

Ms. Murphey reported that the 10-question Consultant Survey approved by the Committee and the BEP will be implemented with the May, 2008 selection round.

Mr. Spiliotis opened the subject of allowing extra credit points to applicants who have taken a distressed facility and turned it around. Mr. Newcomb and Mr. Elliott informed the committee that such a policy is in place, written in 2001. This was before the current selection protocol was introduced and may need to be reworded. This was referred to the Transfer and Promotion subcommittee. On the subject of a penalty for abandonment of facility, Mr. Newcomb reported that it is in place, an automatic 25-point penalty and no performance points allowed.

Some questions about finances were raised. One was how to be sure those vendors and other contractors to DBS receive payments.  The only way that any person or company can be paid is by being registered on myfloridamarketplace.com. Another question raised was about the IRS Form 1099, as several vendors have received letters about this form. Mr. Elliott made it clear that vendors do not receive a 1099 for repair reimbursements or any other payment by the Agency. If anyone receives such a letter they should call Mr. Elliott.

Mr. Elliott has met with two staff people in the DOE fiscal department to look for ways of recouping debt owed by vendors when they can be located. If they are under LOFA and not repaying their debt the LOFA can be cancelled. The Department of Revenue would be the likely Agency to go after deadbeats.

A suggestion to create a repayment plan formula was made but Mr. Elliott said this should be done on a case by case basis. He also stated that any debt less than $5,000 should be repaid in less than two years.

The working capital shortfall policy agreed to by the committee and the Agency takes effect on May 15th, 2008. It does not apply to those occurrences prior to that date.

The Agency will ask the Consultants to determine appropriate working capital levels for the facilities in their regions and if necessary help the managers develop a plan for paying down excessive levels. Mr. Rose suggested that a formula based on average sales would be a good way of approaching this.

Mr. Spiliotis recessed the meeting at approximately 5 P.M. and reconvened at 9 A.M. on Saturday, May 10th. Mr. Klindtworth called the roll and with the exception of Ms. Falero all attendees from the previous day were present.

Mr. Elliott presented a state of the Agency report.  As a result of legislative action the DBS budget was cut by 1.4 million dollars for this fiscal year.  Three positions were eliminated, none in BEP. There will be a loss of Federal funds but the amount is not yet known.

The subject of DBS signage, previously discussed and approved was brought up. We need to follow up on this, as only two vendors have asked the BEP for financial help in purchasing the sign. Mr. Elliott said that if the committee mandates participation in this initiative they will pursue it.

Mr. Rose moved to require DBS signage at all BEP locations using the wording previously approved. Mr. Bluschke seconded and the motion carried by voice vote without dissent.

Mr. Elliott received a memo from the State Attorney General’s office stating that BEP vendors are not permitted to dispose of State property.  He will send a notice of this to all vendors.

Mr. Elliott is working with Randall Baker at DMS to close cafeteria operations as they become vacant and convert them to snack bars or full vending. He also reported that DMS wants background checks for all vendors and their employees. Mr. Elliott said that DBS cannot be financially responsible for this as Florida law prohibits it. He is opposed in principle to mandatory background checks as a problem of many years ago could keep a person from working in a DMS building. He said that if DMS decides to go forward then that Agency should bear the cost.

The OPPAGA audit raised a question about how DBS determines if monies owed by vendors are being repaid. We may need to bring back the practice of field audits. Mr. Spiliotis said that if this is necessary the committee must be fully involved. He will ask Jim Warth and Dan Angelicola to work together on developing a fair system. He further stated that this would need to be done by DBS, not outsourced because the cost would be prohibitive. He suggested that DBS send a memo to all vendors to remind that that they are required to keep and report accurate data.

Mr. Spiliotis introduced the idea of making a one-year term mandatory for first-time Type I LOFA holders, saying that we need to find a way to reduce the frequent turnover at many facilities. He also said that new managers need to make a commitment both to the program and to staying in a location long enough to learn how to become a good manager.

Ms. Alger presented a draft motion that was discussed at length and revised on some points before being voted on. The revised motion reads as follows:

First-time managers accepting a Type I LOFA must commit to not less than a one year term of management of the facility. Failure to honor this term or any other material breach of contract shall result in the licensee being prohibited from applying for any BEP opportunity during the succeeding three bid cycles unless that failure results from documented illness, injury or circumstances beyond the manager’s control.

Mr. Saunders seconded the motion and with a roll call vote of five in favor, three opposed and one abstention, the motion carried. This will take effect on September 15th, 2008 after review by the DBS legal staff.

Mr. Elliott said that he wants to cancel the contract with Barney’s Coffee at the Capitol cafeteria because he doesn’t want DBS paying the royalty fees.  He and Mr. Warth will work together to review the contract.

Round table discussion:

Mr. Rose said that Don Felder’s facility in District Nine is being refurbished. DBS will not build a new kitchen.

Mr. Moore said that there are not many opportunities in District Ten. Mr. Chevalier responded that five new facilities have opened in the past five years. Ms. Murphey added that the Agency needs to look into finding more vending opportunities in the private sector.

Ms. Alger reported that District Eight is quiet except for the situation in the Manasota Post office where the operator abandoned the facility taking all the cash with him.

Mr. Saunders reported that the two revolving door locations in District Seven have revolved again. He also mentioned that we have no protection in county locations and that Pinellas would very much like to have those revenues for itself.

Mr. Bluschke said that District Five is quiet.  Ms. Murphey added that the new vending business in Mulberry is doing well and that new locations are being added.

Mr. Crosby said that a few new locations may open in District Six over the next few years, but that the retirement of the shuttle will eliminate many NASA jobs and this will have a negative effect on some of the Space Center facilities. He asked if there was any way to expedite the replacement of equipment. Ms. Murphey said that the Agency can’t warehouse equipment so probably can’t expedite to any great degree.

Mr. Tuell reported that most locations in District Three are down 10 to 12 per cent for the year so far and the managers are working to keep prices as low as possible.

Mr. Perrett reported that there are three new managers in District Four, two experienced and one newly licensed.

Mr. Schneider from District One reported that some of the machines at the FCI location in tally are exposed to high humidity and this is causing problems.  Mr. Spiliotis gave information about a new AMS machine built for outdoor use. It is called the Outsider and is available in two configurations, one chilled and one refrigerated.

Ms. Murphey said she will look into this as a possible option for some locations.

Mr. Moore asked how DBS managers know how to do their business paperwork. Ms. Murphey responded that if there are managers who don’t have this information we need to start doing damage control ASAP.

Mr. Newcomb asked for clarification of the policy re people in OJT applying for vacancies. They are allowed to apply but must be licensed by the date of the interview to be eligible for an appointment.

Mr. Spiliotis adjourned the meeting at 11 A.M.

Respectfully submitted,
Gyorke Alger, Secretary
rbacon@tampabay.rr.com

Appendix One

Mr. Schneider made the following motion, seconded by Mr. Saunders: to establish three new facilities, these being Milton East and West; Crestview East and Ponce de Leon; and Crestview West. The motion carried by unanimous roll call vote.

Mr. Rose moved to require DBS signage at all BEP locations using the wording previously approved. Mr. Bluschke seconded and the motion carried by voice vote without dissent. 

Ms. Alger presented a draft motion that was discussed at length and revised on some points before being voted on. The revised motion reads as follows:

First-time managers accepting a Type I LOFA must commit to not less than a one year term of management of the facility. Failure to honor this term or any other material breach of contract shall result in the licensee being prohibited from applying for any BEP opportunity during the succeeding three bid cycles unless that failure results from documented illness, injury or circumstances beyond the manager’s control.

Mr. Saunders seconded the motion and with a roll call vote of five in favor, three opposed and one abstention, the motion carried. This will take effect on September 15th, 2008 after review by the DBS legal staff.

Florida Bureau of Business Enterprise

Providing Tools and Support for Legally Blind Vendors in the Food Service Industry