Final notes on an extraordinary mission for the sale
This is my last column as editor of Automatic Merchandiser. Over the past year, my mission has been to try to live up to the journalistic standards of the magazine during a historic inflection point for the vending machine and office coffee service industries. I’m fortunate to have had the opportunity to help guide the magazine and its online sister brand, VendingMarketWatch.com, through the COVID roller coaster of 2021. That responsibility weighed heavily, almost daily. This was not only a challenge for the industry we cover, but also for B2B publishing itself. But it turned out to be a period of pronounced progress for both of them.
Personally, it has been a great honor to help lead the groundbreaking magazine (originally American Automatic Merchandiser) founded in 1958 by Ben Ginsberg and Mike Michaels through this period of prodigious change. The founders both came from the bottling industry, a precursor to modern full-line vending. Today, AM is the only independent newspaper in the convenience industry that provides valuable information to audiences both online and in print.
I got to know Ginsberg later in life, after he started Vending and OCS, a bimonthly trade published between 1991 and 2009. He was its editor for 18 years. A longtime participant and observer of the vending industry, Ginsberg was among the first journalists to identify the office coffee service business that emerged in the late 1960s. I think he would have approved this issue’s OCS focus with Seattle’s Pot O’ Gold coffee service on the cover, BostonbeaN’s Kamden Mauser as Highway Driver of the Year and a timely pantry tip.
He would also agree that there has probably not been a time in the modern history of the industry when the role of commercial media was more important than today. Last year, we had the daunting task of publishing two studies looking at the performance of vending machines and OCS sales in the first year of the pandemic. And we understood. AM’s annual state-of-the-industry reports showed that sales in the vending and micro-market segment fell 45%, while OCS sales fell more than 75% . After a decade of steady revenue growth, more than half of industry revenue has been wiped out in 10 months. Still, most operators survived. Initially, we thought the 2020 losses would be a blot on the radar. But the effects of the pandemic and resulting supply chain bottlenecks, rising inflation and labor shortages are likely to drag on for several years. Still, most operators will survive.
I enjoyed informing you, challenging you, supporting you, channeling you and, on occasion, annoying you. Operators have a story to tell and we give them a voice. This mission continues. Molly Rogers, a talented reporter at Endeavor Business Media, owner of Automatic Merchandiser and VendingMarketWatch.com, is the new editor. Rogers officially took over editorial responsibilities on March 1.