GREENSBORO, NC - Jeff Whitacre of Food Express/Atlanta Vending is building a network of vending and foodservice operators. USConnect launched with 14 members who operate about 16,000 connected vending machines, micromarkets, and corporate dining facilities in 20 markets. Whitacre is planning to take the program, which offers members exclusive territories, nationwide within a year.
Whitacre, who is chief executive of USConnect, said like-minded operators who have seen margins erode in recent years need a business model that adds value. A year in development, the program′s systems and infrastructure provide fully integrated and "consumer centric" services in the vending, micromarket, and dining segments. The network employs technology from Streamware and Cantaloupe Systems, and it has a "contractual relationship" with Unified Strategies Group (Arlington Heights, IL), a purchasing cooperative.
Cashless payment is a key component of the program, which includes own card. The USConnect Card is backed by loyalty and rewards programs and charitable contributions with the benefit of a hosted balances network providing no-cost card services.
USConnect members also benefit from a dietitian-directed "healthy" initiative, a sustainability project, a national account program, sales training and support, corporate Web branding, and financial benchmarking services.
"We have built a system that will enable vend operators to move rapidly and affordably into the future and guide and help them along the way to greater success," Whitacre added. "Vend operators who want to survive in the current industry landscape need to band together and create a premium national image based on transparency, optimized operations, and providing enhanced consumer value."
Food Express/Atlanta Vending is headquartered in Greensboro, NC, and has branches in the Carolinas and Georgia.