After a year filled with growth fueled by acquisition, Five Star Food Service took a year to optimize and strategically build for the future. However, by no means did the company take a break – 2019 was a year filled with hitting milestones, giving back, and investing in the business. The following is a digest of some of the highlights from the year.
Topped 1,600 Micro Markets
The micro market concept continues to be a win-win solution for both workplaces and operators. Like recent history, demand for breakroom innovation drove micro market installation growth for Five Star. Entering the year, the company had 1,250 markets of various size installed and finished with 1,630 as they enter 2020. Of the 380 new market locations, Five Star opened 145 new locations, converted 150 existing vending customers to markets, and added the final 85 through acquisition.
Completed Six Acquisitions
In a comparative “slow year” for acquisitions, the company stayed busy building strategically via acquisition and integration. Beginning in May, the purchase of office coffee accounts and Canteen franchise territory rights from Lighthouse Coffee brought coffee service back to Five Star’s Macon, Ga. service area. In June, the largest of the transactions was completed in Vend Food Services of Athens, Ga. VFS was owned by Southern Refreshment Services, which was acquired by Five Star in 2018. Like Southern Refreshments, VFS now operates under the Five Star brand. August brought two tuck-in acquisitions in North Alabama Vending (Decatur, Al.) and Captain Vending Services (Marietta, Ga.). The North Alabama acquisition added route density to Five Star’s Huntsville area business. Similarly, the CV Vending purchase built the company’s vending route density in Marietta. Captain Vending Services retained its coffee accounts and will continue to operate in that capacity. October brought the final two acquisitions of the year – both tuck-ins as well. Hill & Brooks Coffees & Teas (Mobile, Al.) brought coffee and tea service accounts to the LaGrange (Ga.), Macon (Ga.), and Jasper (Al.) areas. Dixie Full Line Vending (Fort Payne, Al.) bolstered Five Star’s northeast Alabama vending, micro market, and coffee service areas.
Five Star’s sales leadership team grew as new positions were created to spur continued new business sales growth. In March, Jeff Lyons became the company’s first corporate director of national accounts. Mr. Lyons brought 18 years of national account management experience at Aramark to manage Five Star’s large base of national accounts. Herb Modisett joined the company in April as corporate director of office coffee sales to lead the coffee and water service sales team. Mr. Modisett is a 29-year industry veteran with previous stops at Aramark, Filterfresh, and Royal Cup. Key additions to Five Star’s corporate and regional leadership teams began in August with Tammy Stokes rejoining the company after spending six years with Canteen as southeast regional director of coffee. Ms. Stokes, an 18-year industry veteran, served as Five Star’s corporate director of office coffee for four years prior to her time at Canteen. In October Paul Tullio came aboard to lead the Atlanta region as director of office coffee and pantry service. Mr. Tullio brings two decades of food and beverage industry experience most of which was spent managing Orange County (Ca.) based refreshment services company, Gourmet Coffee Service.
Awarded for Business Excellence
Operating ethically every day, in every situation is the core mantra at Five Star and in 2019 the company was awarded for its commitment to integrity. The Better Business Bureau awarded the company with its most prestigious award, the Torch Award for Marketplace Ethics. The award is given to the company that best represents the principles that the BBB promotes such as ethical practices in daily business operations, hiring, community involvement and more. Additionally, a Five Star team member was fortunate to find himself on the Automatic Merchandiser 2019 Pros to Know list. The company’s corporate recruiter, Steven Vosika, was highlighted for his accomplishments in reducing employee turnover and attracting top-tier talent to the company at all levels.
Surpassed One Million Meals Donated
Feeding the Future, Five Star’s 501(c)3 non-profit private foundation, had its biggest year yet. As a result of the organizations fund raising efforts, it donated over $185,000 to 11 partner food banks in four states. Those donations generated over 750,000 meals for hungry kids putting the organization over the exciting milestone of one million meals donated since inception. On top of the organizations 5K run and golf events, Feeding the Future is incrementally funded by over 370 Five Star employees who donate via the company’s payroll deduct program, to which Five Star provides a benchmarked match.
Involved in the Industry
Similar to its belief in giving back to the communities it serves, Five Star values supporting the industry as well. Several of the company’s leaders are taking active roles in various levels of industry organizations. Greg McCall, the company’s chief revenue officer, was named to NAMA’s Board of Directors at the 2019 NAMA Show. In the summer, Scott Plaisted, general manager from Atlanta, was elected to serve as Georgia’s state association president. Vice President of Marketing, C. J. Recher, rolled off NAMA’s Emerging Leaders Network after a five-year tenure to take the role of vice president for Tennessee’s state association. Geoff Wilcox, director of Marketing Operations, was selected to fill the vacancy left by Recher on NAMA’s ELN as Education committee chair responsible for planning ELN’s education sessions at NAMA’s major events.
Partnered with New Private Equity Group
In late March, the company announced it had partnered with a new private equity firm, Freeman Spogli & Co., after spending two and a half years partnered with PNC Riverarch Capital. Five Star had grown significantly under PNC’s partnership and a new partner like Freeman Spogli & Co. made sense. The company’s new partners are poised to continue the pace of growth at which Five Star embarked upon with its previous partners.
Focused on a 2020 Vision
Five Star is more focused than ever going into the 2020 calendar year. Investments in the areas of customer care and company culture are at the forefront of its plans this year. The company is also focused on leveraging technology, business intelligence, and data analytics to continue growth in integration and optimization for the benefit of increased operational efficiency and same store sales growth, said officials.