5 Reasons Refurbished Vending Machines Work and Look Like New
An interview with Joe Nichols, owner of A & M Vending Machine Sales.
Joe Nichols- A Vending Veteran with over 40 years of vending knowledge explains how A&M refurbished vending machines look and act new.
We make our own polycarbonate trim, fronts, side and back panels for our refurbished vending machines.
Tom Shivers: I’m Tom Shivers with the Vending Business Show, here with Joe Nichols, owner of A&M Equipment Sales. Today we’re going to talk about refurbished vending machines, Joe, thanks for being here.
Joe Nichols: Thank you.
Tom Shivers: Well, what’s new in refurbished vending machines?
Joe Nichols: Well, there’s been a lot of different changes in the … in our refurbished vending machines, a lot of people don’t do it the same way we do it. When we refurbish a vending machine, we want it to look brand new, we like to remanufacture everything in the machine to where it would look and act like a brand new machine. What we have done to better remanufacture our machines is we make our own polycarbonate trim now, and what that does is it’s a black trim that we can put on, it stays on, you know, if somebody kicks it or bumps it, it’s got a little give power on it to where it stays on the machine, and it looks nice. With it being black trim, it doesn’t show dirt like silver and some other color trims. We are also putting on a front … polycarbonate fronts on the machines now called tough fronts.
Joe Nichols: What a polycarbonate front does is it’s also black and it doesn’t show dirt, it doesn’t show scuff marks, scratches, it’s a real durable type of finish. We also put … we manufacture our own polycarbonate side panels, back panels, and we put them on. There’s a trim that we put on the sides and the backs of the machines, and then 3M makes a product … looks like the old double stick tape but everything technology wise on adhesives have come a long way and it’s a roll of … looks like tape, it’s about a foot wide and we put them all on the side of the machine and then we stick this panel on and it’s just about like super glue, it’s almost impossible to pull off.
Tom Shivers: So … it kind of looked like a brand new machine then I guess when you’re done with that.
Joe Nichols: Yeah, once we get done with it, we have new side finishes, back finishes, front finishes, and everything outwardly … appearances look brand new and you know, if there’s a scratch piece or anything like that we replace it because we want our machines to look brand new. There’s a lot of guys out there that will say they are in the refurb business and they’re in the back of somebodies garage with a bunch of cans of spray paint and they don’t change any of the stuff out and when the customer gets it, it looks like a used car, you know. You’ve seen some of the used cars that don’t look that great and you know, have a lot of miles on them and everything else. On the inside we pull all the parts out, we paint the door, paint the inside of the machine, we’ve remanufacture the changer and validator because that’s where the dollar bills and the coins go.
Joe Nichols: Chances are that’s where a bulk of your problems are going to be, with those two pieces right there. So everything is remanufacture, you’ve got a years warranty on it, and we do it to the highest standards. What we’ve been doing lately is we’ve been putting new electronics on the machines and what that does is it brings the machine up to the newest standards, which is the MDB standards, which means we gut the machine as far as anything electronic, we gut the board, the main board, the disk lay, the touch pad, we put all new electronics on it. Brand new or remanufacture MDB changer, MDB validator, and we also put a thing called guaranteed delivery on the machine.
Joe Nichols: What that does is it goes right above the delivery bin where your products and your snack machine drop through, and this little force field that tells the machine that the product has been delivered to the customer in the delivery bin. Now if that product doesn’t drop through that force field, what it’ll do is the machine will say make another selection, you might have vended an empty selection, or it will give you your money back, whichever one you prefer. So you won’t … a lot of times … what it does is it makes it to where almost everybody gets what they want and with no refunds.
Joe Nichols: What you want is a happy customer, that’s what we want too. Another thing that we’ve come up with is we import LED lighting and I feel like ours is the best LED lighting in the business because it looks just like a fluorescent bulb, it’s real easy to change out, it’s got the transformer and everything built in, and what you do is you pull your old fluorescent bulb out with the starter. You put the new LED strip back in where the fluorescent light went and it comes on and it’s super bright, it makes your products look 3D to where it gives off a different color light, it’s like a white casting light, and it just makes your products pop. Anybody that walks by and sees your products, you’ll instantly want to buy more, and you’ll get about 10 and 15 percent more sales because of that lighting. Plus the light will usually … it will last between seven and ten years, so you don’t have to change your fluorescent lights as much.
Tom Shivers: What about energy efficiency for the refurbished machines?
Joe Nichols: Well, we don’t have as many things happening in that. There’s a few things that we can put on a machine, one is the LED lighting that we have, it can go on all the snack machines and it will … instead of pulling 100-110 volts, it pulls maybe 8 watts, so it can save energy. We also have a thing that we’re putting on the drink machines, if you want it, called a vin-mizer, and what a vin-mizer does on a drink machine, it goes on the back side of the vending machine, it’s a motion detector. There’s a board inside the machine and when the motion detector detects that there’s nobody in the break room and it’s been … nobodies been in there for a certain amount of time, it will cut your machine off for 30 or 45 minutes and then it’ll cut it back on to cool the drinks down, and it’ll keep doing that from time to time, say all night long or until somebody walks in the door.
Joe Nichols: Other than that as far as re-manufacturing machines, that’s about all we have. Now new machines we have boards that will also do that on food machines and snack machines and everything else to where they’ll cut on or do the same thing as the motion detector. The new machines also have a thing called a econo-cool, and you can get it on a drink machine, now you can get it on the new AMS food machines and the drink snack machines. What econo-cool is and I was just talking to the AMS engineer last week when we had a meeting up there is, instead of having a 5/8th horsepower compressor, you have a small 1/3rd horse power compressor and you have a board on that thing, on the compressor that instead of the compressor coming on real fast and having a voltage spike, it gradually comes on and goes off and the board monitors the compressor for energy efficiency. It also has an energy efficient condenser and an energy efficient evaporator fan motor, so it pulls a lot less power than a normal compressor.
Tom Shivers: Okay, and it’s econo-cool, is that what you called it?
Joe Nichols: Yeah, econo-cool.
Tom Shivers: Okay, well what else is new?
Joe Nichols: We’re coming up with the ADA regulations, it should be coming up in March, where all new manufacturers must come up with a handicapped accessible machines and what that means is a handicapped person shouldn’t … if he comes up to the machine, the height that he can put his coins in, his dollar bills, the touch pads, and everything else is 48 inches and the minimum amount is 15 inches, so he can come up to … with a wheel chair, put his dollar in, and be able to pull his product out with no problems. All the manufacturers are looking at that right now. I know AMS has come up with a new delivery bin, it’s kind of a roll type delivery bin where the product drops down in the delivery bin and he pushes the handle and the product comes up to where you can pull it out at a minimum [inaudible 00:10:35] of 15 inches. I heard that the Winner Group has got some kind of little elevator on theirs where you press the button and the product comes up and he reaches in and gets it.
Joe Nichols: So everybody is in the midst of trying to take care of those specifications right now so that’s one of the main things coming up. Everybody is looking at different colors of machines, I know the Crane Company come along with a silver, AMS has gone with a silver and black, the good thing about going with a silver and black instead of an all silver is people like to kick machines from time to time and if you have an all silver machine you get scuff marks on the machine and they are hard to get out. If you have a silver and black machine and you know, the bottom part of the machine is black, you don’t see the scuff marks as bad so I would prefer a silver and black or black or something like that compared to all silver.
Joe Nichols: It’s pretty at first but then after about six months to a year it starts looking a little haggard there.
Tom Shivers: Alright, well Joe thanks for sharing, tell us about your business and what you do?
Joe Nichols: Well, we’ve been in the vending industry for a long time, we’re some of the pioneers. My father started the vending business in Fort Pierce, Florida, in 1953. Of course I grew up in the vending business and started in 73. We were actually vendors, we went out and ran routes, build up machines and everything else and … 1981 we started buying tractor trailers of used machines, refurbishing them, and putting them on our routes and word go around town in Atlanta that we would sell used machines and we started selling them to different people, different customers, our competitors, and what happened was we’ve sold so many machines to so many different people that we couldn’t go out there and get new accounts because everybody was buying machines from us. So we decided about 10 years ago to get out of the vending business and just sell machines but we still have that … we still think like vendors.
Joe Nichols: We know that you’ve got to have parts very quickly if there’s a machine that goes down, you gotta have good quality commercial grade equipment in your locations, you don’t need any of the stuff from China or something where you can’t get parts. Anything that you buy from us, normally we have the parts in stock, we can ship that afternoon and you get them usually the next day or the day after. We have three what you might call technicians that man the phones from 8 to 5 Monday through Friday, they’ve been at it a long time. Like I said, we’re all old vending guys, we’ve seen just about everything good and bad in this industry. We know a lot and anybody that is thinking about getting in the business or is in the business and needs some help, we’d be glad to help you.
Tom Shivers: Okay. Well you’ve been listening to the Vending Business Show, a publication of A&M equipment sales.