Quarterly Meeting of the State Committee of Vendors
Embassy Suites, Jamaican Court
Friday, March 16, 2018
Committee Chairman James Warth called the meeting to order at 8:35 a.m. The Vice Chairman Alton Palmore called the role.
The following individuals were present:
James Warth, Chairman
Alton Palmore, Vice Chairman
District Representatives: David Wermuth, District 1; Mike Renaud, District 2; Mike McCrea, District 3 Alternate; Darryl Brinton, District 4; Phil Hubbard, District 6; Sead Bekric, District 7; Steve Barnes, District 8; Joel Rose, District 9; Lilian Pemberton, District 10. District 5 was not represented.
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; Alejandro Garcia, Region 6 Business Consultant; Janet Chernoff, Administrative Services Consultant. Tony Arduengo, Region 4 Business Consultant and Jim Carper, Region 5 Business Consultant were unable to attend.
Division of Blind Services: Robert Doyle, Director; Robin Goldstone Garcia, Deputy Director
Licensed Vendors: David Kaplan, Region 9 Alternate; Jennifer Hobbs
Rehabilitation Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired: Instructors, Steve Moss and Jill Richardson; Trainees: Clinton Aiken, Shannon Shelton, Kashif Ahmed, Joshua Kimrey, Paul Martinez, Thomas McCormick
Guests: Ronald Hobbs, Patricia Angel, Jose Cintron, Florida Vision Technology; J. Max Andre Jr., KC incorporated USA.
Review of the November/December 2017 Meeting Minutes – Janet Chernoff
Janet Chernoff read a synopsis of the minutes. The full minutes had been emailed to all Committee members. Mike Renaud moved to accept the minutes. Seconded by Joel Rose. Passed without objection.
Remembering John Klindtworth – All
Immediate past Chairman and longtime Vice Chairman, John Klindtworth passed away unexpectedly in December 2017. Bill Findley spoke about John and his contribution to the Bureau of Business Enterprise (BBE) program. John was hard-working and diligent in his business and always willing to help other vendors. Joel Rose, Mike Renaud, Jim Warth and Janet Chernoff shared their memories of John with the group.
BBE Updates – Bill Findley
The following goals have been established for 2018.
- Gross vendor sales - $22,500,000
- Seventy-five percent of eligible operators remain at their first facility for 12 months
- Place eight new vendors in their first facility
- Conduct six DBS District Office recruitment presentations and two transition student presentations
- Establish 2 new stand-alone facilities and substantially build up two smaller facilities to make them viable for a blind vendor
- Successful opening of Jacksonville City Hall Coffee Shop
- Successful opening of new Alligator Alley Rest Area
- Complete snack bar remodel at Broward Government Center, Ft. Lauderdale
- Complete FBI Building full line vending in Miramar
- Complete scheduled renovations of the Hurston Building cafeteria in Orlando
- Continue to pursue vending with the VA and place 12-15 machines.
- Conduct six CEU training workshops for the BBE operators throughout the state
- Complete and execute agreement to host BLAST conference in Florida in fall of 2019
- Create a more dynamic relationship with the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), which permits the BBE to reach 75% of its goal for Year 1 of Five Year Plan Draft, which has been presented to the Department of Education (DOE) Office of the General Counsel (OGC) for review
- Complete an effective agreement with the Florida National Guard and place machines in five locations
- Work out reasonable solution at NASA regarding direct competition with BBE vendors by the gift shops
- Continue to pursue both vending and food service opportunities at military bases and press Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA) to schedule arbitrations (Eglin, Tyndall, Hurlburt, others)
The program had vendor sales in excess of $22 million in 2017 and assuming no major problems, gross sales of $22.5 million is achievable in 2018. Three newly licensed operators were awarded their first facility in the January selection cycle and two eligible vendors will finish their first year within the next couple of months. The program should be able to meet the established goals for new vendors in 2018.
Eleven students and four teachers from the Florida School for the Deaf and Blind visited the Daytona Beach Rehab Center on Thursday, March 8, 2018 to tour the facilities and speak with BBE instructors and students. This is part of the program’s ongoing initiative to identify qualified applicants for the program. Planned district office and transition student presentations are part of ongoing recruitment efforts.
The new Alligator Alley rest area is scheduled to open in May 2018 and things are moving forward with the Jacksonville coffee shop, Broward Government Center remodel and the Hurston cafeteria renovations. Plans have been submitted to the FBI for additional vending.
Six CEU workshops will be scheduled later in the year. Dates and times will be determined based on staff and venue ability. The National Association of Blind Merchants (NABM) is having problems securing a location in Orlando for the BLAST conference in 2019. One possible location is available in early November. Early December 2019 is also a possibility.
A proposal was sent to DEP which they are reviewing. One issue is that the program is not notified when an existing contract ends. A response to our proposal is expected within the next couple of weeks. The program identified five locations at National Guard facilities. They are not responsive to our proposals and the program may need to get the legal department involved.
Gift shops at NASA are selling products and food trucks have been invited to the property in direct competition with BBE vendors. The legal department will write a letter and a meeting will be scheduled to discuss the issue.
The program filed for arbitration concerning the vending at Tyndall Air Force Base (AFB) and the panel ruled in our favor. Tyndall is reviewing the decision and a response is expected shortly. Bill Findley received the response later in the meeting and Tyndall has elected not to comply with the panel’s decision. The program plans to take the issue to Federal Court. The BBE has filed for arbitration requesting the Randolph-Sheppard Act be recognized in the solicitation for Tyndall food service and Eglin AFB vending. No date for a hearing has been scheduled and no convening letter has been received. The RSA has sent a convening letter for the arbitration for Hurlburt Air Force Base and a neutral party arbitrator needs to be selected. On February 15, 2018 the program was notified that Camp Blanding was cancelling our contract for convenience. The program has filed for arbitration. The program believes they did not follow the proper procedures and may also be using another contractor beyond the scope of their agreement. Program operation of the facility is scheduled to end on March 31, 2018. The current vendor applied for and was awarded the military dining facility at Pensacola Naval Hospital. Ruby Adams was awarded the military dining at Key West on a Type I in the January selection cycle. The program hopes to try to negotiate the new contract directly with Key West. A modification of the current contract is in the Commissioner’s office and this will need to be signed prior to proceeding with the negotiation.
Bill Findley attended the Sagebrush Conference in February. He and Charlie Garrett of the Georgia Business Enterprise program moderated the State Administrators session. Two of the subjects addressed at Sagebrush were healthy vending and the RSA approval process. The American Heart Association is actively lobbying for healthier products in vending machines. Florida vendors need to know that healthy vending is here to stay and plan accordingly. Robert Doyle confirmed that RSA has concluded that the Division of Blind Services (DBS) must improve its prior approval process for purchase or be out of compliance. This process was recently reinstated by RSA.
The proposed infrastructure plan suggests that tolls and rest area commercialization could be funding sources to pay for the improvements. The Kennelly Amendment would have to be repealed or ignored to allow rest area commercialization. Concerned vendors may wish to reach out to their congressman. NABM is planning a fly-in to Washington DC on May 22, 2018. Interested vendors can register on their website. Steve Schneider, Don Tuell and Randall Crosby all have been active on this issue.
DBS has a new fiscal manager, Dwayne Gordon who has been working with BBE staff on getting budget information. As of January 31, 2018 the BBE had $299,161.64 in the Bank of America (BOA) account that all the vendors pay their set aside into each month. The 2017-18 fiscal year began with $103,280.63 in that account. In the first eight months of the fiscal year we deposited $326,134.74 from set aside and other income. Two hundred and twenty-five thousand was transferred from the BOA account to the Treasury account. Our expenditures for the first eight months were $188,318.78 leaving a balance of $51,026.16 in this account. Funds will be transferred from the BOA account within the next couple of weeks. Overall program finances look good. Monies have been set aside for pending projects including Florida State Hospital at Chattahoochee and Department of Transportation (DOT) in Lake City. Mike Renaud asked about remodels of older facilities. The facilities at Hurston Building, Broward County Government Center, Dade County Justice Center and Capital Circle Office Complex are scheduled for renovations.
Florida Vision Technology – Joel Cintron
Joel Cintron from Florida Vision Technology spoke to the group about new adaptive technology that could help vendors in their businesses. Florida Vision Technology has put together a four hour presentation for BBE vendors. They did the presentation for District 9 vendors and are planning one on April 19 in Sarasota for the vendors from District 7 and 8. Vendors attending the sessions received .5 CEU credit. District Representatives interested in a presentation for their areas should contact a Florida Vision Technology representative.
Type II Updates – Maureen Fink
There are twenty-five facilities under Type II LOFAs. Ten of the facilities were offered on the January selection cycle. Five will be on future selection cycles. The two Orlando locations will be used to develop a second Orlando route. Citizens Insurance will eventually be added to one of the Tallahassee routes. The FBI location will be added to a Broward route once the operator gets clearance. The Ocala route may be included in the next selection cycle. The Lake City, Panama City, St. Augustine and Ft. Pierce routes are still being developed.
Sead Bekric asked that the Committee review the status of Facility 605, vending at the Veterans Administration (VA) in Tampa. Jim Warth left the room during the discussion. Joey Garcia was awarded the facility on a Type II in November 2013 but did not sign in until May 2014. The expiration date for this Type II was November 2014. The Division has been trying to develop this location for almost four years. When the Division received the invitation from the VA in 2013 it was expected to have three lucrative locations. Veterans Canteen Services (VCS) took some of the better sites and the planned bed tower has not yet been built. Jim Warth feels that this location should be added to his route, Facility 396. Sead suggested that Facility 605 could be added to Facility 396 with the condition that it could be removed if the VA vending location became viable as a stand-alone. Phil Hubbard expressed the concern about taking Facility 605 from the current operator without his input. He also suggested that if the Type II had expired it could be re-advertised. Jim Warth returned with the group following the lunch break. Jim offered that his route generates less income than the other Hillsborough County route. He feels additional income is needed to afford the staff necessary to properly service his route. Hillsborough River State Park is slated to be added to the facility but there is no guarantee how much money this location would generate. Jim suggested that closing the commercial kitchen would alleviate some of his problems. The Division is unlikely to approve the closure. Jim Warth ended the discussion.
Daytona Training – Steve Moss/Jill Richardson
Steve introduced the six of the seven trainees. One of the trainees, Orlando Ramirez was unable to attend due to illness. Steve told the group more details about the recent visit by the students from the Florida School for the Deaf and Blind. Eleven students and four instructors toured the facilities and spoke with current students and licensed vendor Kinesha Cole. The Daytona staff felt that the visit was successful and that future visits would be useful. They indicated that four or five of the students were interested in a career with the BBE. The BBE trainees asked the Committee members and BBE staff questions about the viability of food service facilities, the possibility of the program building their own facilities and the problems of inherited employees.
Marketing and Site Development Updates – Don Meloy
Since July 2017 we have performed 27 surveys, prepared seven proposals and eight federal permits and submitted twelve agreements. These statistics do not include post offices and many GSA facilities. Three agreements have been completed since the last meeting and two are waiting to be signed. Machines with a custom enclosure have been installed in Weeki Wachee with an additional machine scheduled to be installed at the boat launch. An installation is planned for the TSA at Pensacola International Airport. Five drink machines and six washers and dryers are scheduled to be installed at Hillsborough River State Park. Machines were installed at the Palm Beach County Tourist Council. The NAWCTSD installation is scheduled for June 2018 and the TSA at Sarasota installation is scheduled for May 25, 2018.
Current projects include the Florida National Guard, Florida State Hospital at Chattahoochee and the Secret Service in Miami. Projects with DEP include Silver Springs State Park and Werner-Boyce Salt Springs. Two concepts are proposed for DOT in Lake City. Vending or a micro-market have been suggested. VA projects in the works include locations in Bay Pines, Gainesville, Miami, Orlando, Tampa and West Palm Beach.
SWOT Analysis (Strengths, Weakness, Opportunities, Threats) - Bill Findley
Members of the Committee and BBE staff worked to identify Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats in regard to the BBE program. The group will review the list and discuss key points at the next meeting.
Phil Hubbard made a motion to adjourn for the day. Seconded by Darryl Brinton. Adjourned at 4:47 p.m.
Saturday, March 17, 2018
Chairman Jim Warth called the meeting to order at 8:39 a.m. Vice Chairman Alton Palmore called the role.
Business Analyst Report – John Ahler
John has conducted nineteen monitoring reviews since the beginning of the year. In the next couple of months he will work with new operators Marylynn Giles-Robinson, Barbara Hale and Jeff Estebo as well existing operators Kevin Nealey and David Wermuth. A spreadsheet has been created to help track liability insurance. Workman’s comp insurance is required for any operation with four or more employees. Operators and other family that are members of the corporation can request exemptions but need to reapply every two years.
John has been working with USA Technologies to identify card readers used by BBE operators. The program has approximately 1100 being used by vendors. The next step is to put card readers purchased by the state of Florida under one account to eliminate transfer fees. Operators who purchased their own card readers have the option of transferring them to the state to avoid fees. There was a short discussion about the advantages and disadvantages of operators transferring card readers they purchased to the state. Mike Renaud asked if the program could purchase the used readers or give the operator credit on their working capital. The program would be unable to do this. The group also discussed requiring card readers on machines and whether the fees could be considered a business expense on the monthly report. John recommended that card readers should be on all new machines.
KC Incorporated USA – J. Max Andre Jr.
This company offers an alternative for processing credit card payments for vending and in over the counter food service. The representative indicated that he could offer vendors a lower rate with the existing equipment on vending machines. He also discussed the Clover system as an alternative to the Square register system.
Performance Points for Operators in Military Dining – Alan Risk
Operators currently in a facility have the opportunity to get up to 25 points for performance during the selection cycle. Six points for experience, ten points for the consultant questionnaire and nine points for profit percentage. Operators in a military facility do not have a profit percentage requirement. Operators in military dining work with a teaming partner and negotiate a set monthly payment which is not impacted by sales. Options were considered on how to fairly evaluate an operator in military dining including consultant reports or military evaluations. Mike Renaud suggested eliminating the points for net profit from the selection process. Jim Warth suggested making the net profit requirement zero for military dining. The group discussed the impact an operator with the teaming partner has on these type of facilities. Alan Risk reviewed the rule which indicates that an operator is awarded profit percentage points based on the net profit requirement in their LOFA. Since the LOFA for military dining indicates that the net profit is not applicable, vendors in military dining are meeting the requirement. Phil Hubbard recommended that Alton Palmore and Jim Warth put together a subcommittee to further investigate the issue.
Compliance Officer Report – Alan Risk
Five new vendors were licensed in 2018 and all five participated in the January selection cycle.
Eleven opportunities were available on the January 2018 selection cycle including three cafeterias, one snack bar, one non-highway vending facility, two non-highway vending routes, two rest areas and two military dining facilities. Thirty applicants applied and sixteen applicants were interviewed. The applicants recommended by panel are being contacted this week.
One hundred and seventeen assigned vendors are required to achieve CEU compliance for 2017-2019. Twenty vendors have three or more CEUs, 27 vendors have at least two CEUs, 58 vendors have at least one CEU and twelve vendors have less than one CEU.
There have been two grievance hearings held since the last committee meeting. In the first grievance the claimant’s application for the January selection cycle was received one day after the deadline. The grievance was filed on February 6, 2018 and the hearing was held on February 9, 2018. The panel ruled 3-2 in the claimant’s favor, however the Director overturned the panel’s decision as the deadline rule is required by Florida Administrative Code. In the second grievance the claimant felt that the selection cycle exam was personally biased against him and structured in a way to insure he would fail. The grievance was filed on February 26, 2018 and the hearing was held on March 8, 2018. The panel ruled unanimously in favor of the Division. The grievance report is currently awaiting the Director’s review.
OJT Training Report – Janet Chernoff
The Training subcommittee, Selection Panel and OJT trainers are recommending a revision of the existing OJT report. The new report would give a better picture of the trainee’s abilities. A copy of the new report was emailed to the Committee members. David Wermuth made a motion to accept the new report. Seconded by Phil Hubbard. Passed without objection.
There was a brief discussion about the problems with the RSA buying group. The group is supposed to give rebates to its members, but vendors are having trouble receiving those rebates. Checks are either wrong or never received. There seems to be no accountability. It was suggested that the Committee put together a subcommittee to look into it. Phil Hubbard suggested that the vendors find another group or create their own. It was proposed that the Chairman reach out to vendors in other states to see if they are having the same problems.
Regional Status/District Updates - All
Region 1 – Brian Ashworth
Two machines have been installed at the Pensacola TSA. This location is on Facility 609, Pensacola vending route. Edward Spence has been awarded Facility 622, Pensacola military dining and new licensee Marylynn Giles-Robinson has accepted Facility 532, vending at Marianna FCI. Another new licensee, Barbara Hale has accepted Facility 371, cafeteria at FDLE. Charlie Richardson was awarded Facility 485, Southwood Cafeteria. Charlie is currently operating this facility on a Type II. Jim Perry will be taking over Facility 572, rest area on I-10 in Jefferson County. A new micro-market is scheduled to be installed in the Carlton building the end of March. This location will be on Facility 593, East Tallahassee vending route.
Region 1 – Janet Chernoff
Wanda Feldsteen has been running two facilities and will give up her Type II at the FDLE cafeteria in April. Steve Docie will be providing fresh food items for the new micro-market.
District 1 – David Wermuth
Nothing to report.
District 2 – Mike Renaud
Everything has already been discussed.
Region 2 – Bernie Kaiserian
The Jacksonville City Council approved funding for the coffee shop. This will be part of Facility 513, Jacksonville route and the vendor has contracted an experienced local contractor to operate it. Machines are being removed from Facility 610, non-highway vending at Northeast Florida State Hospital. The management has requested that all bottle and can machines be removed for safety reasons. Once removed the facility will only have 21 machines and will no longer be viable as a stand-alone facility. The operator participated in the current selection cycle. The contract for Facility 611, military dining at Camp Blanding has been cancelled effective March 31, 2018. The current operator is participating in the selection cycle and has been recommended for Facility 622, military dining at Pensacola Naval Hospital. Two concepts have been proposed for the DOT in Lake City, vending and a micro-market. If secured this location would be added to Facility 599, Lake City vending route. New licensee Jeff Estebo has been recommend for Facility 239, cafeteria at the Jacksonville Police Administration Building.
District 3 – Mike McCrea
All is good in his district.
District 4 – Darryl Brinton
All is good.
District 3 – Greg Coon
Vendor Kevin Wheeler has signed into Facility 586, Orlando Vending route. Kinesha Cole has signed into Facility 285, Daytona vending route. The three break rooms in Facility 459, post office vending in Orlando have consolidated into one room and new equipment has been installed. Vendor Chuck Fickett has completed his six month probation and has signed a Type I LOFA for Facility 415, rest area on I-4. The program is scheduled to take over vending at the Navy Warfare training center in June. A Type II will be advertised shortly as it may take up to two months for the selected vendor to get clearance. The location is expected to generate $60,000 in sales and is slated to be the anchor location for a second Orlando route. The Space Life science lab has been added to Facility 497, Kennedy Space Center vending route. Exploration Park is being developed at the center and the program hopes to have some involvement with this location.
District 5 was not represented.
District 6 – Phil Hubbard
Facility 466, Kennedy Center snack bar was not awarded during this selection cycle so he will continue to run it as a Type II. The first month’s sales are over $3000 higher than sales for the same month last year.
Region 4 – Bernie Kaiserian (for Tony Arduengo)
Facility 482, new rest area at Alligator Alley is expected to open in May. Construction is progressing on Facility 433, Skyway Bridge rest area and it is anticipated to reopen in November. Two new rest areas are slated to be built in Charlotte County and should open in 2022. Facility 272, Brooksville route is having issues with the location at Southwest Florida Water Management District. David Wermuth took this over as a Type II and has been recommended as the Type I operator. Locations at post offices are scheduled to be added to the route and an enclosure with machines have been installed at Weeki Wachee. Hillsborough River State Park will be added to Facility 396, Tampa vending route. This location will include five machines and washers and dryers.
District 7 – Sead Bekric
Vendor Kathy Warth is having plumbing and asbestos issues at her facility which have lowered her sales. Sead welcomed new vendor David Wermuth to District 7.
District 8 – Steve Barnes
All is going well in his district.
Region 5 – Alejandro Garcia (for Jim Carper)
The plumbing work has been completed on Facility 352, Broward Government Center snack bar and he is working on repairing the hood system at Facility 612, Broward Sheriff’s Office (BSO) cafeteria. Vendor Jesus Villeda is operating that facility as a Type II. Approval has been received to raise prices, change the hours and remove the salad bar in facility.
District 9 – Joel Rose
Joel expressed concerns about the BSO operation and recommended that the program consider leaving the facility. Hopefully this could still be a viable facility with the recent changes and the right operator. Joel asked about the status of the Department of Probation building on his route. He was told that the building wanted the machines removed. Alejandro will follow up.
Region 6 – Alejandro Garcia
Credit card readers have been installed on machines at a number of facilities including at Facility 510, Krome Detention Center. A new coffee machine has been installed in that facility. The county has agreed to install grease traps in facilities in their buildings. New machines have been installed in Facility 512, Miami FCI. Sales have increased 34% for the downtown Miami routes since the reorganization.
District 10 – Lilian Pemberton
Everyone is doing well. Lilian had a District meeting and organized a CEU event. Sales at her facility are slow since it reopened in November. She has installed credit card readers on machines in the lobby and guard breakrooms. Sales of personal items were stopped in January and her access into the facility without an escort has been rescinded. This happened after she contacted management about staff selling food in the facility.
Round Table Discussion – All
Jim Warth advised the group that Jim Lover has resigned as a member of the grievance panel. Jim asked committee members to look for interested vendors to serve on this panel.
The group discussed BBE policies versus rule. In some cases the wording in policy is different than the rule. The policies need to be reviewed and wording needs to be clear and consistent with the rule. There was a short discussion about the status of a vendor who resigns from a facility. It was agreed that a vendor is not necessarily leaving the program when they leave a facility. There is also nothing in rule that requires the vendor to give up their license if they move out of state. The rule states that a license is continuously valid as long as the vendor is actively participating in the program.
The meeting was adjourned at 11:23 a.m.