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Quarterly Meeting of the State Committee of Vendors

Embassy Suites, Jamaican Court
Orlando, Florida

Friday, August 19, 2016

The meeting was called to order at 8:45am by Committee Chairman Tom Spiliotis. Vice Chairman John Klindtworth called the role.

The following individuals were present:
Tom Spiliotis, Chairman
John Klindtworth, Vice Chairman

District Representatives: Lourena Mellott, District 1; Mike Renaud, District 2; Terri Bowen Lindstrom, District 3; Patti Fulda, District 4; Mitzi Tyler, District 5; Jose Quintanilla, District 6; Woody Matthews, District 7; Tom Saunders, District 8; Joel Rose, District 9; Daniel Ochoa, District 10 Alternate.

Bureau of Business Enterprise Staff: Bill Findley, Bureau Chief; Maureen Fink, Operations Manager; Alan Risk, Compliance Officer; John Ahler, Business Analyst; Don Meloy, Marketing and Site Development Manager; Brian Ashworth, Region 1 Business Consultant; Bernie Kaiserian, Region 2 Business Consultant; Greg Coon, Region 3 Business Consultant; Tony Arduengo, Region 4 Business Consultant; Alejandro Garcia, Region 6 Business Consultant, Janet Chernoff, Administrative Services Consultant.  Region 5 Business Consultant, Jim Carper was unable to attend.

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

Licensed Vendors:  Georgia Kellogg, District 2 Alternate; Randy Shuster, District 4 Alternate; David Kaplan, District 9 Alternate; Paulette Williams, Todd Bowen, Jim Warth, Ron Light, Mike McCrea, William McDermott.

Rehabilitation Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired:  Instructors, Steve Moss and Jill Richardson; Trainees, Colton Knight and Mark Wilkinson.

Guests: Marion Matthews, Tasha Doan, Shelly McDermott, Nancy Spiliotis, Joe Urbanek, Pepsi Representatives Joel Condra, Ned Vanbuskirk and Anthony Munroe; Xyience Energy Drink Representative Jimmy Piloto, Crane Representative Alberto Velez.

The Chairmen welcomed new committee member, Daniel Ochoa.  Daniel was recently elected as alternate for District 10 after the previous alternate, Lonnie Wilcox resigned.  Janet Chernoff read a synopsis of the minutes of the May meeting.  A full copy of the minutes was emailed to the members prior to the meeting.  Joel Rose moved to accept the minutes as written.  Seconded by Mike Renaud.  Approved without objection.

BBE Updates – Bill Findley

Bill Findley updated the group on vendors that are dealing with health problems.  One operator, Russell Brooks has decided to retire.  His location, Facility 426, I-10 EB rest area is currently closed for renovations and is scheduled to reopen on September 6.  The Type II panel recommended Kurt Ponchak for this facility.

The Division continues to work on securing locations in Veteran’s Administration (VA) facilities.  Bureau staff along with Committee Chairman Tom Spiliotis met with Bay Pines Medical Center staff on July 12.  Another visit is scheduled on September 13 to do a full campus survey.  To date the program has only secured a few VA locations. The program would like to get a stand-alone facility for one blind vendor in each of the major VA locations. The program will continue to contact the VA about opportunities and document when an attempt has been made.  Congressman David Jolly from 13th District has been supportive of our efforts.

Several states plan to unite together to file for arbitration regarding VA locations.  Texas has already agreed to join the group and they have an attorney, Peter Nolan on retainer.   Canteen Services utilizes profits to help veterans and the program needs to be careful not to appear to be against veterans.  Currently the VA gives prime locations to Canteen Services before advising the program of the opportunity.  The program will continue to take steps to try to secure more viable VA locations.

The BBE is scheduled to take over the vending at a VA location in Panama City and the selected operator is a blind veteran.  The location is objecting to this plan and would prefer to be able to select their own company.  Bill Findley suggested that the program have a veteran’s preference similar to the one used by the State of Florida.  Bill recommended that the preference be given to a veteran in a stand-alone VA facility when selection scores are tied. The veteran’s preference would be a good tool to use when negotiating VA contracts.  Alan Risk confirmed that the impact to the selection process of a veteran’s preference would be negligible.  Concern was expressed that the veteran’s preference would open the door for other preferences such as selecting a woman for a women’s prison. 

Vendor Bill McDermott spoke briefly about veterans and VA locations.  He is a blind veteran.  Bill indicated that the program has had only limited success recruiting blind veterans because most veterans have a pension.  He has observed that Starbucks has facilities in VA locations.  He has also noticed that VA in West Palm leases space to retail vendors to sell merchandise.  It was suggested that Canteen Services could contract with BBE vendors to run leased locations.  

The program was made aware of a military dining opportunity at the Naval Hospital in Pensacola in July.  The expected start date was to be October 1 and the program elected to offer the facility as a Type II because of the limited time frame.  The Type II panel selected newly licensed operator David Wermuth.  David immediately started working on selecting a teaming partner.  The Navy has extended the current contract for six months and the solicitation will not be posted until February 2017.  The operator is aware of the delay and extension will give both the teaming partner and vendor more time to prepare.  There was a brief discussion about putting the facility up as a Type I.  Bill Findley indicated that he prefers not to do that as the current operator has already selected a teaming partner.  There is no way to make the LOFA a Type I without going through the selection process but the Type II can be extended.

In Leon County, Facility 427, I-10 WB rest area has reopened and Facility 426, I-10 EB rest area is scheduled to reopen on September 6.  No new updates on rest area renovations have been received.  Tom Saunders indicated the Skyway Bridge rest areas are scheduled for renovations in the spring 2017 and will be done in succession.

The estimated cost for the Turlington renovations is $400,000. This is higher than expected and an itemized list of costs has been requested.  The higher cost is due in part to the age of the facility.  The Department of Management Services (DMS) and Department of Education (DOE) General Services directed the project and their involvement may have impacted the cost. Lack of communication with the BBE has been a problem we are hoping to rectify. The Board of Governors, we were led to believe, had agreed to reimburse the program for expenses incurred during the renovation of the 16th floor coffee shop.  The expected payment was for $127,000 and it is hoped this could be paid directly to the contractors for the 1st floor renovations.  To date no information is forthcoming on this payment. The program has put other renovations on hold for the time being. DOE General Services has indicated that they would like to discontinue management of DBS/BBE projects.  The BBE will look into dealing with DMS directly if that is possible or hiring someone as a project coordinator under contract.

Bill Findley, Alan Risk, Maureen Fink, Janet Chernoff and Tony Arduengo along with local vendors Gary Ernneus and Will Grignon presented at the Division of Blind Services (DBS) 75th Anniversary celebration in Ft. Myers on July 28th.  Attendees at the celebration included DBS staff and clients, BBE vendors and members of the general public.  Pam Stewart, Commissioner of Education also spoke at the celebration. The next event is planned for October 13 in Tallahassee. 

The program has been approached about hosting the 2019 BLAST conference in Florida.  The conference would be held in place of the Biennial Seminar and would cost an additional $40,000.  The extra money would cover registration fees for attendees and costs for speakers.  Bill Findley feels this would be an opportunity for all the vendors and staff to attend a BLAST conference.  The conference brings in national speakers and vendors that are not available for the Biennial.  Currently the program only reimburses operators for registration fees and only two staff members are approved to attend the conference.  

Bill Findley and Greg Coon attended this year’s BLAST conference in Chicago which included panel discussions, informative presentations and a large trade show.  Bill Findley attended Disney Business Training and participated in one of the panels.  In July, Chairman Spiliotis, Bill Findley and Alan Risk attended a National Association of Blind Merchants session during the National Federation of Blind meeting in Orlando.  Tom and Bill spoke about the challenges of working with the VA. Separately, Dennis Horn also presented about the growth of his business, Blindster refreshments.

As of June 30th there is $115,781.09 remaining in the state spending account which will be used to pay for both certified forward commitments as well as new purchases. There is $159,524.43 in the Bank of America account.  Overall the BBE is in good financial shape. The program has an average of $44,000 coming in each month.  $42,000 is from set aside and $2,000 is from third party income and newspaper racks. Certified forward commitments will need to be paid out by September 30.

Pepsi - Joel Condra, Ned Vanbuskirk, Anthony Munroe

Representatives from Pepsi spoke to the group about new equipment and product innovations.  Pepsi has a group of healthier for you products called “Hello Goodness”.  These products are sold in a machine that is not branded with the Pepsi logo.  Pepsi is offering training on machine maintenance and products in Lakeland and trainings may be set up in other parts of the state.

Xyience – Jimmy Piloto

Jimmy Piloto provided samples of a new energy drink with zero calories.  Local distributors could deliver once or twice a week if needed.  The company would provide vending machines at key locations and will be marketing the product heavily during football season.

Daytona Training – Steve Moss

Instructors Steve Moss and Jill Richardson attended the meeting with two students Colton Knight and Mark Wilkinson who started class in June.  No students are scheduled for the August class.  Steve and Jill have been assisting BBE staff with vendors in the area who needed additional training or assistance during times when there are no students.  Bill Findley advised the group of a plan to extend training by two weeks to include an additional week of training in both vending and food service. 

The plan to extend the vending module in training is being implemented in part due to feedback from the students during the exit interview.  Vending training will also be addressed with existing operators because some are paying for simple repairs that they should be able to do themselves.  Machines would be out of service for less time if the vendor does the repair. It was recommended that operators have spare coin mechs on hand. Additional training from Crane and A & M equipment was also recommended.  Lourena asked about having a repairman on staff.  It’s unlikely that the State of Florida would approve a position for a vending repairman and Florida would need more than one repairman to cover the state.  Bill Findley expressed concern that as the program expands and adds more machines this amount will increase.  He wants operators to take ownership of their businesses and treat repair expenses as if they were spending their money and not being reimbursed. 

Marketing and Site Development Updates – Don Meloy

For state fiscal year 2015-16 seventeen agreements and nine federal permits have been submitted.  One hundred and three machines have been placed not including the machines for locations in the Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) and post offices.  Three agreements are waiting for signatures and seven federal permits are waiting for a response.  Agreements with the Florida State Parks are in process and will include locations at Delnor Wiggins Pass State Park, Alafia River State Park, Homosassa Springs, Weeki Wachee and the Florida Caverns at Marianna.  The program is looking at expanding its presence in the Silver Springs State Park when the contract with the current concessaire expires. We are pursuing VA locations at the mental health center at Bay Pines and outpatient clinics in Jacksonville and Panama City Beach and Orlando. Six machines are scheduled to be installed at the Tallahassee VA clinic in mid-September. Other locations in the works include the Sunland Center in Region 1 which will include machines in the employee break area and give much needed storage to Facility 532, FCI Marianna.  Don has also prepared two proposals for Tyndall Air Force Base.  One that would have the BBE taking over all the vending operations and a second proposal that would be a cooperative agreement with Army and Air Force Exchange Services (AAFES). He is working on securing the vending at the Florida State Hospital at Chattahoochee and has done a proposal for the vending for the City of Tallahassee.  Randy Shuster asked about additional locations for the St. Augustine route, Facility 616.  Potential locations include the National Guard, Department of Children and Family (DCF) and the VA outpatient clinic.

Crane Merchandising Systems – Alberto Velez

Alberto Velez told the group about the advantages of Crane Media Machines.  These machines have a touch screen which allows operators to promote products and expand cashless options.  LED lighting on the coin slot, bill slot and credit reader also help draw the customer to the machine. There was a brief discussion about the pros and cons of the new machines.  Concern was expressed that older customers would not be able to operate the machines.  Alberto also talked about the Crane National factory training.  Classroom training is offered twice a year in South Carolina and is open to the vendors.  Another training option suggested was a quarterly training at the Daytona Rehab center which would be open to trainees and interested vendors. 

Division of Blind Service Director, Robert Doyle, III

Director Doyle spoke briefly to the group about the new online application for DBS clients that was launched the first of the year.  Clients can specify if they are interested in the BBE program.  He also confirmed that placing an operator in the BBE facility is considered a competitive intergrated outcome under the Workforce Innovation and Opportunities Act (WIOA).   DBS needs to confirm that a prospective applicant is qualified for services and when a client has been employed for 90 days their case is considered a successful closure. DBS has gone through a rules revisions and new regulations will be in effect in 30 days.

Type II Updates – Maureen Fink

Twenty-one facilities are under a Type II LOFA. Two will be on the September selection cycle and four will be on future cycles.  Fourteen facilities are being monitored to determine viability and one is under special circumstance with the operator out on medical leave.

Compliance Officers Report – Alan Risk

Three new operators have been licensed since the May Committee meeting for a total of six for 2016.  Two facilities were awarded in the May Selection Cycle, Facility 586, Orlando vending route to Sead Bekric and Facility 608, Tacachale vending to Heather Saunders.  Currently two facilities are projected to be advertised for the September cycle, Facility 426, EB rest area in Leon County and Facility 612, Broward County Sheriff’s Office Cafeteria.  Forty-two vendors have completed their CEU requirement for this reporting period, forty-eight have at least two CEUs, twenty-one have at least one CEU and 7 have less than one CEU.  There have been no grievances filed since February 2015. 

As recommended by the Committee of Vendors at the May 6, 2016 quarterly meeting, the Division tabled the following items and withdrew them from the proposed rule changes:

  1. Changes to the current Selection Cycle scoring.
  2. Required re-certification of blindness.
  3. Repayment of working capital.

The rules were approved as submitted by the State Board of Education on July 21, 2016.  They were filed for adoption and certified with the Florida Department of State on August 4, 2016.  They will become effective on August 24, 2016.  An updated Manual will be sent to RSA in Washington later this month for approval.  The BBE website will be updated accordingly.

The FDA Calorie Disclosure Law goes into effect December 1 for operators with 20 or more vending machines.  Vending items with front of the package labeling satisfies the law.  The calorie information needs to be clearly displayed with no obstructions.  It is recommended that vendors only buy products with the front of the package labeling.

Adjourned for the day at 5:15pm

Saturday, August 20, 2016

The meeting was called to order at 9:12am by Committee Chairman Tom Spiliotis. Vice Chairman John Klindtworth called the role.

Business Analyst Report – John Ahler

Sales for the third quarter of the federal fiscal year are at $15,762,000 which is a 3.6% increase over last year.  Forty-seven monitorings have been done in 2016.  Some of the issues that have been identified include paying sales tax on water and repairmen charging vendors incorrect sales tax amounts.  Operators need to review invoices.  Operators also should make sure to have their retail tax certificate when shopping at warehouse stores so that they aren’t charged sales tax.  John is recommending a session reviewing how to properly prepare a monthly report for the upcoming BBE road show. He also recommends that operators follow up with accountant to make sure that they are properly preparing the report. It has been determined that vending machines that vend perishable items such as ice cream and frozen food require a license from the Department of Business and Professional Regional (DBPR).  To date only a dozen of the effected machines are out of compliance.  

Vendor Reimbursements – John Ahler, Bill Findley

As of August 17th $152,000 has been reimbursed to vendors for repairs in 2016.  This is an increase of $2,500 over last year.  A balance of $16,000 has not been paid out yet because of issues with documentation.  Generally the reimbursement is missing proof of payment.  Proof of payment consists of copies of the front and back of cancelled checks, credit card statements or bank statements.  Vendors who pay in cash need an invoice signed and dated by the provider.  Vendors need to take ownership of their businesses and ask themselves if they would call the repairman if they weren’t being reimbursed.  Some suggestions to help lower repair costs include making sure you are getting the best value for your money, seeing if the consultants have spare parts or ordering parts separately rather than purchasing them from a repairman.  Vendors can call the repairman, Crane or another vendor and see if they can assist with the repair over the phone.  Preventive maintenance can help avoid costly repairs. Vendors need to get pre-approval on any repair that will cost over $400 and a justification is needed for repairs over $1000.  Records indicate that a small percentage of vendors have significantly higher repair bills than other vendors.  As locations and facilities are added to the program repairs expenses will increase and it’s important to keep repair costs under control so that the Division will be able cover these costs without raising set aside.

Committee meetings 2017 – Janet Chernoff

The August and December Committee meetings were moved to the Embassy Suites location at Jamaican Court because the Embassy Suites International Drive location is being renovated.  Overall the Committee members did not object to either location for 2017.  Both hotels will be contacted and the location will be selected based on price and availability.  The state of Florida will be changing how employees calculate the work time.  When attending a meeting on a Saturday BBE staff will be required to take a day off before the end of the work week which ends on Thursday.  It was requested that Committee meeting dates be moved to a Thursday and Friday to avoid a Saturday meeting.  Woody made a motion to move Committee meetings to Thursday and Friday starting in 2017.  Seconded by Joel Rose.  Passed without objection.

Regional Status/District Updates

Region 1 – Brian Ashworth
Gerald Sanders gave up Facility 609, Pensacola NAS vending route and Emmett Magee is operating it on a Type II.  James Robinson is doing well in Facility 532, Marianna FCI.  Georgia Kellogg has signed into Facility 427, I-10 WB rest area and Facility 572, 1-10 EB Jefferson County is scheduled to close on September 6.  Russell Brooks has retired and his location, Facility 426, I-10 EB Leon County rest area will be operated by Kurt Ponchak as a Type II when it reopens on September 6. Machines will be installed in the Tallahassee VA and the location is expected to be open the beginning of October. The opening of the micro-market for the Turlington is to be determined.  David Wermuth was awarded Pensacola Hospital on a Type II.  He is working with a teaming partner to put together a proposal. We were advised that the solicitation has been delayed until next year.

District 1 – Lourena Mellott
Lourena has nothing to add.

District 2 – Mike Renaud
Mike has nothing to add.

Region 5 – Maureen Fink for Jim Carper
Facility 352, Broward County Government Center Cafeteria has had the highest sales ever thanks to new manager Laurel Lyew Sang.  A Department of State location has been added to Facility 501, Broward Vending Route.  Customs and Border patrol location was added to Facility 547, Broward Vending Route. 

District 9 – Joel Rose
Joel confirmed that the Department of State location had been added to his route.  Everything is okay in his district.

Region 6 – Alejandro Garcia
Alejandro is recommending that the Miami vending routes be reviewed and that vending in Facility 584 be combined with other routes geographically.  He will provide information to the Committee on the reorganization so that they can vote on it at the next meeting. Facility 348, cafeteria in the Rhode building has been painted and repaired.  Work is planned for Facility 156, Dade County Justice Building snack bar.

District 10 – Daniel Ochoa
Daniel reported that both Lilian Pemberton and Robert Rodriguez have contacted Coca-Cola and requested new machines and have received negative or no response.  It was recommended that the operators may have to contact Pepsi as an alternative.

Region 2 – Bernie Kaiserian
Heather Saunders has signed into Facility 608, Tacachale vending and has added card readers to some of the machines.  Options for storage for Facility 608 are being investigated. The cafeteria in Facility 569 has been closed and the facility is now vending only. The Department of Transportation is looking to expand Sunpass sales at Welcome Centers by installing exclusive Sunpass vending machines.  Signage has been requested to advise customers that Sunpasses are available at rest area locations.  Multiple state toll passes are being considered which could impact the sales of Sunpasses.  Pepsi held a CEU class which focused on repairs and marketing.  A vending repair class with Stanley Benton with Crane is being planned and will be limited to 10 operators. 

District 4 – Patti Fulda
Patti had nothing to add.

District 3 – Terri Bowen
Terri spoke to Heather Saunders and thinks she will do well.  The Pepsi class was informative.

Region 3 – Greg Coon
A DCF office is being added to Facility 603, Ocala Vending.  The contract with the concessionaire at Silver Springs is ending September 30 and we are negotiating with Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to add more machines at this location.  Don Meloy and Greg Coon have surveyed a privately owned office complex that will have government offices.  Currently all the equipment the program is allowed has been installed in Facility 607, Lake Nona VA vending.  Vending in this facility probably surpasses three million by our estimates for the VA and $26,000 for our vendor. The facility has retail space that sell veterans merchandise and has a coffee shop that sells Starbuck branded coffee, pastries and grab and go foods.  The coffee shop space would make a good location for one of our vendors.  Locations at a new Transportation Security Administration (TSA) training facility and an army research facility have been added to Facility 586, Orlando vending.  Dennis Horn is using a new device called Blue Key by PayRange.  This system allows customers to use smart phones to make purchases.  It’s similar to the Square system which charges a percentage and has no monthly fee.  Changes at Facility 494, micro market at the George C Young Federal Building should help increase business.  Currently only half of building has direct access to the micro-market and this is expected to be changed by the end of year.  Additional staff is also expected.  Hopefully these changes will improve the sales enough to make this a good starter facility.  The current operator is willing to operate the facility for the foreseeable future.

District 5 – Mitzi Tyler
Everything is quiet and she has nothing to add to Greg’s report.

District 6 – Jose Quintanilla
Everything is going good in his district.  Jose had emailed Janet some suggested revisions on the questions asked of training applicants. The Assessment Panel will review.  

Region 4 – Tony Arduengo
Tom Loveday resigned from one of his facilities, Facility 272, Brooksville vending route and the route was awarded on a Type II to newly licensed vendor, Kevin Wheeler.  Two locations have been added to Facility 180, Ft. Myers vending route.  All the rest area facilities in Region 4 have card readers except one.  Once that location is rebuilt the card readers will be added.  The Clearwater snack machines that are part of Facility 500, Pinellas County route are doing well.  The current contract for the drink machines will end soon and the program hopes to get it as well as the safety building near the DJJ building.

District 7 – Woody Matthews
Two operators, Debbie Hietala and Kathy Warth, are requesting adaptive technology like an ID mate for use with trainees doing on the job training. He continues to have issues with service from Pepsi.  Sales have been good in the Clearwater locations and he has had success with the “healthier for you” products.  Facility 500 is showing increased sales this summer. 

District 8 – Tom Saunders

Everything is quiet in his district.  The Skyway Bridge rest areas are scheduled for their rebuild in May 2017. It is believed that they will be done one at a time.

Round Table – All

John Klindtworth will be handling some of the Chairman duties while Tom Spiliotis deals with some health issues.  Randy Shuster asked about putting cameras in his rest area.  DOT has advised us that vendors can install cameras if they are having problems with break-ins.  David Kaplan said that the DOT contractor is planning to install cameras at his facility.  Bill Findley asked to be kept informed.

Adjourned 11:30am.

Florida Bureau of Business Enterprise

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