Self-Service Trends

How Quality Vending Expanded with PPE and Ecommerce

June 26, 2020 | By Elyssa Steiner

How Quality Vending Expanded with PPE and Ecommerce

In a candid interview with Dean Prather, Vice President and co-owner of Quality Vending & Coffee, he shares how COVID-19 has impacted his company’s business and the opportunities that they quickly adapted to in order to meet new consumer demands. We share his story, in the hope that it helps operators learn ways they can adapt, communicate, and expand as the industry continuously changes.

Responding to the pandemic early on.

When COVID-19 started, Dean and his team quickly pivoted to understand what the potential impact was going to be on their business. As soon as the government released the PPP loan, they jumped on completing all paperwork and were funded right away. This ultimately enabled them to retain their employee base during these challenging times.

“We took this opportunity to start projects we had previously only ever dreamed of doing,” said Dean. While the pandemic emphasized deep cleaning practices, they were able to take it one step further and conduct deep sanitization across every location they could access. This included removing all products from the machine, cleaning and pulling out spirals, along with ensuring that they rolled out updated employee cleaning practices – both in and outside of their facility.

Expanding services to clients and end-consumers.

“At first, it started with customers calling us asking if we could source hand sanitizer, and of course we said yes – then it turned into cleaning products along with PPE items for their employees,” said Dean. One of the big benefits Quality Vending and Coffee had was that one of their clients they serviced was a producer of cleaning and sanitization products, so they quickly pivoted to work in partnership with their client and support local businesses in need. Dean’s team started adding PPE products to both vending machines and micro markets, along with supplying directly to their clients who wanted to buy them in bulk.

Quality Vending and Coffee also leveraged an E-commerce website to make it more efficient for their existing customers to place orders online. “If you wanted to order products today, you could go to our website, place an order, and I’d ship it to you, no matter if you’re out of state or not,” said Dean. Quality Vending and Coffee now offers surface cleaners, hand sanitization, and other related products beyond traditional food and beverage, all located on their E-commerce platform.

“Being able to help our customers and clients with additional products has not only strengthened our relationships with our customers, but it has provided new opportunities for them to rely on us as their local service provider,” said Dean.

Proactive communication lead to increased sales opportunities.

Quality Vending and Coffee found that leveraging social media became a game changer in how they directly engaged with their clients and customers, specifically LinkedIn and Facebook. They used posts to inform, engage and update people on expanded services, cleaning measures they were taking, and how to easily order products online. “We have never been in more direct contact with our customers than we are now,” said Dean. They are taking the time to continuously stay connected and engaged with clients to ensure they are supporting them in every way possible during these unique times.

“Direct to consumer was always a part of the plan, we just accelerated it,” said Dean.

“We’ve recognized for years that Amazon has a successful direct to consumer model and we knew that we had to continue to evolve as local service providers to our clients.” Dean reminds us all that there was a day when 20oz. soda wasn’t a vending product, so the industry has evolved whether people recognize it or not. The plan for Quality Vending and Coffee is to sustain and continue leveraging these new opportunities for expanding services to their communities and their customers.

Dean’s advice to operators.

“If you aren’t pre-kitting, you need to be by now, and credit card readers, if you don’t have them on all your machines, you need to get on it as soon as possible,” said Dean. If there is anything to learn from Dean it’s the simple fact that we must always be evolving as a business, otherwise we will have no business left. “Pay attention to what consumers want and be prepared to deliver – PPE is just an example of that. Ask yourself, what does the consumer need and do I have the supply chain capacity to provide that to them? If you’re answer is yes, then do it,” said Dean.

About Quality Vending & Coffee

Founder Don Miceli established Quality Vending, located in Gladstone, Missouri, in 1991 after a successful 30-year career in the vending industry. With his late wife JoBeth, they launched the company from home, with the two-car garage serving as a product warehouse, right alongside the family’s washer and dryer. Don’s son Carl was with him from the start, and son-in-law Dean Prather joined shortly thereafter, making this truly a family-inspired endeavor. Today, Carl and Dean lead the state-of-the-art operations from an expansive warehouse space, providing the latest digital technology in vending equipment, barista-quality office coffee, convenient micro markets, and office pantry services. To learn more about Quality Vending and Coffee visit their website.


Elyssa Steiner

Chief Marketing Officer

Elyssa has over 10 years in the self-service retail industry and was among the first to be a part of launching the micro market concept into the vending channel. She is passionate about sharing both her knowledge in self-service retail and marketing with industry associations such as NAMA and Frost and Sullivan’s Marketing professionals.

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