It’s never ending

Vending machines date back over 120 years, since the day when US innovator Richard Carlise invented a coin-operated machine that sold books. Alex Lee spoke to some of today’s leading vending companies about how they are coping in the modern era of 24-hour shopping and what the future holds for the vending industry.


Originally founded by Jose Luis moleon in 1970, Laiv started as an operation with small gum machines sited throughout the south of Spain. The manufacturing side was set up in 1991 with a move to larger premises. The company currently owns 5,000 sq.m of warehouse and manufacturing, assembly and preparation of orders are all done on site in Malaga.

      Christine Wate, who is in charge of Laiv’s export activities, is a 19-year veteran of the vending industry, having been trained as an interpreter previously. She told InterGame that her company’s business streategy for this year is to try to reduce overheads and maintain prices and well as widen the range of products on offer. Laiv covers countries throughout the world and employs approximately 25 direct employees, but will not be taking on any new staff this year. The first will visit the following shows in 2006 – ATEI, ENADA Rimini, ENADA Rome, FER Madrid, Feria del Recreative Malaga, EXPOJOGO Batalha, DA Paris and IMA Nurnberg – if it happens!

      Wate is confident that Laiv can offer a wider range of machines, capsules and novelties than its rivals. “Since we manufacture machines and capsules in Spain, and import the toys direct from China, we can offer lower prices than are generally available. Despite being in the south of Spain, and having to add transport costs to anything sent to the rest of Europe, Laiv is still competitive. ”
      Wate predicts that in the future the biggest change in the international vending machine market will be when the eastern European countries join the euro. “This will give us many more options in these countries, currently limited by the value coins (not the exchange rate, but the value of the largest value coin   in circulation – our machines are mechanical, and the price of the product cannot be increased). ’

      Additionally, Wate believes that the concept of capsule vending will remain for a good few years yet. “There will always be new designs, but the concept of capsule vending remains the same. Capsules larger than 100mm are not viable, so it is unlikely there will be changes in that respect. ”
      Wate finds that Laiv sells different machines in different countries, ‘but this may well be due to the tastes of the operators rather than the public,’she offered. “As far as the products in the capsules are concerned, there are fads and fashions, but they come and go. Obviously, can machines (for cans of nuts) sell better in countries where bars do not offer snacks. ”

      Since Laiv was founded, the size of the machines and capsules has changed. Initially the capsules were small (32mm). Now the best sellers are 90mm and 100mm in diameter. Also, the products inside the capsules have altered. “Now there is a much wider range available (due to the increase in size), at better prices. The fact that there are no longer import restrictions makes life much easier,” Wate added.
      She claims the secret Laiv’s success is the fact it offers the best price/ quality ratio on the market.
Thanks to Christine Wate and all at Laiv

OM Vending

OM Vending was founded 10 years ago by Ramon Olloqui who has been in the vending industry for more than 20 years. The company started manufacturing mechanical dried fruit and nut vendors and now has moved on to manufacture electronic machines from its 2,000 sq.m. manufacturing plant in Navarra, Spain. It is looking to consolidate its present customer base by offering them more new and existing machines in more different areas of the vending industry and introduce our products into newly emerging markets. The firm is looking to move into eastern Europe and the middle East.

      OM Vending, which currently employs 10 staff, presented a Stickers and Tattoos vending machines and a Hot Meals vending machine at the ATEI London 2006. The company hasn’t ruled out taking on new staff or setting up new offices this year. Show-wise it will visit Torremolinos, Barcelona, Rimini and possibly Dubai.
      The firm sees companies that focus on the same strategy as itself as its biggest rivals. Guy Shardlow, from OM Vending’s sales and marketing department, told InterGame: “Our company is relatively small and specializes in manufacturing small series of personalized machines for companies that are interested in promoting their name and brand names. ”
      The firm sees companies in the vending industry becoming more specialized in their field to meet the needs of their clients, who in torn can then better cater for the needs of their customers. Shardlow added: “In determined countries, the crane is still seen as a novelty or amusement machine, however, its actual use in reality falls in the category of a vending a machine. ”

      He reckons that remote control over all aspects of the machine, its use and its products will be commonplace in the near future. “We develop client-specific products which transcend country boundaries as we have clients in many countries,” he told InterGame.
     “Operators want machines that meet their particular needs and solve their particular problems and these needs and problems involve attending users in a global marketplace that thankfully still retain, and will retain their major cultural differences. ”
      Shardlow, who has been in this line of work of over 10 years, believes that legislations on what and where you can and cannot vend has probably changed the most since OM Vending started out in business.

Thanks to Guy Shardlow and all at OM Vending

Benchmark Games

Benchmark Games, whose manufacturing plant is located  in Hypoluxo, Palm Beach County, Florida, brings   131 years of experience in just three people – AI F, Kress-51 years, Ron Haliburton – 45 years and Rich Long – 35 years. It was founded by Kress and Haliburton in 1993, on a mission to bring innovation into the  redemption gaming business.
      Benchmark’s business strategy is to continue to invent games that are addictive to the end user, profitable to the vendor and technologically superior to the competition. “Possible? Yes! Easy?  No! Obnoxiously addictive?  Of course! It’s a Benchmark!  Benchmark games are the world’s premier games!” barked Rich Long.
      New products include Slam-a-Winner X-treme. “Slam-a-winner X-treme is the most impactful game on the market today, standing 11ft tall and with a base of 54ins,” said Long. Benchmark’s Slam-a-Winner merchandiser will be next in line for the 2006 year and will be just as addictive as the other Slam-a-Winners but will dispense prizes as the player wins .

     “Benchmark’s Ticket solution will revolutionize the concept of tickets,” he claims. The Ticket station takes the player’s   tickets, counts them and issues a redemption ticket. It has a self-cleaning mechanism (patent pending) that sends a blast of air every 300 tickets that keeps the unit dust free. Ticket station includes a fail-safe back-up system, with dual power supplies and a separate computer for each station. The operator doesn’t have to clean it, it never breaks down and it’s 40 per cent faster than anything on the market.
      Ticket x-change takes the player’s tickers, and exchanges them for a prize directly to the player, never needing a redemption counter or personnel!  Ticket x-change holds over 1,200 prizes and its efficient scissor cutters, self cleaning mechanism, fail-safe systems, and self destruct protection makes it one of the most reliable machines of its kind on the market today. “Did I mention it’s also 40 per cent faster than the competition?”  enthused Long.
      Last but by no means least is Benchmark’s Intell-dual retro-fit ticket dispenser. “With Intelli-dual you’ll never run out of tickets again,” claims Long. “Intelli-dual fits in your machine’s existing hole, easy installation, never needs cleaning, never needs lubricating, never jams, never has static electricity and is 40 per cent faster than any machine on the market. ”
      Benchmark Games will be attending ASI, aMOA, aTI, NAIO, IAAPA, bulk vending, bowling and host distributors ’ shows this year. It currently has four of the top 10 games in the US and is forecasting six of the top ten in 2006. long identifies Benchmark’s rivals as ICE and Bay Tek and sees the world’s vending machine markets moving away from video games and pinball and towards skilled redemption games. If the company could change any single law it would be in regards to taxation and regulation for the industry as whole to allow the operators more profit.
      Benchmark games machines has global acceptance with adjustment to coinage, payouts and voltage and Long feels there are no cultural differences in vending machine operators, “they want machines that fill up the cash box… profit!’
      He reckons that pinball and video games have declined, while redemption machines have increased in popularity. “The secret of Benchmark Games ’ success is innovation,” he concluded.
Thanks to Rich Long and all at Benchmark Games

Saint-Fun International

Saint-Fun International was founded in 1987 and since then it claims to be ‘the leading amusement and vending machines provider in Taiwan. ’  In addition, the firm is also the agent of Sega, Taito, Konami and Namco in Taiwan. Its home base is in Taipei, Taiwan, however, in order to satisfy the future demand, it acquired land in China last year, and a new factory of 36,000sq.m is under construction, it should be ready by this year.
      Saint-Fun has successfully developed several tupes of vending machines, such as redemption machines, coin changer, card dispensing machine, and coffee vending machine. Our quality and competitive pricing have already earned a good reputation and credit in domestic as well as international markets.
      This year, Saint-Fun intends to invest more resources in R & D and hopes to increase its own products ’ share up to 40 per cent of its annual income. The firm will also attend more international trade shows to gain more exposure internationally and let the international markets know more about Saint-Fun’s products.

      Vice chairman Victoria Lee, who has been in the vending industry for 14 years, told InterGame: “We have established a very strong customers base in Europe and America and will continue to expand our market size in these areas. Meanwhile, we will focus our marketing efforts on fast growing markets, such as Brazil, Russia, India, china and Middle East countries. Accompanying with the increasing income in these areas, we anticipate the demand for vending and amusement machines will escalate in the near future and would become the main sources for our international sales.
      In 2006, Saint-Fun, which currently employs 80 people, will launch up to five redemption machines, one change machine and a coffee vending machine. “We are going to attend The World of Games Expo in Russia, as well as several international exhibitions worldwide. We see an emerging marker demand for amusement and vending machines in those fast growing markets, and gain more international exposure. Saint-Fun can only get bigger and stronger as time goes on. ”
      Lee identifies quality and after service as the keys to Saint-Fun’s success. “For all these years, we have endeavored to provide the best quality products to our customers, meanwhile, our customer service team are always standby to provide the best after service to our clients. ”
      She sees more and more technology being integrated into all kinds of vending machines, which means the investment in R & D is essential to ensure product innovation. “By integrating state of the art technology, new generation vending machines can provide more choices to the customers, more ease of access, simpler payment methods and easier logistic operation, the market will provide more chances for operators who are really serous about this business. ”
      Lee is adamant that nothing is more important than the after service. “When   doing business with our clients, we are not just selling the products, but also take care of the customer service. Buying Saint-Fun’s products means you don’t have to worry about the after service, and that’s why we have many loyal clients in both domestic and international markets. ”
Thanks to Victoria Lee and all at Saint-Fun.


LAI Games ’ Alan Freimuth told InterGame that its business strategy for 2006 and beyond is to continue to focus on producing new, innovative, prize vending games that will ‘hook’ players and will work well with high value merchandise items. His firm already sells its games all over the world into the major markets. This year, LAI is to open a second R & D department in the Phillippines to increase its product range.
      Generally, Freimuth visits the ENADA and Malaga shows, but because they are too close to the ASI  show in Chicago this year he will miss them. He is, however, going to Russia and Dubai in April and then later in the year back to Spain and Italy and the US for AMOA and IAAPA.
     “I go to the shows to support our distributors,” he told InterGame, “to make sure the prize games are well displayed and to answer product specific questions form local operators, I also always come back with good ideas and suggestions for improvements that you only hear about and pick up by networking with others at these events. ”

      In relation to coin-op games, Freimuth sees the prize vending market as the biggest market in the world: “There are hundreds of thousands of cranes out there and millions of potential locations but most locations still haven’t got a Crane, Stacker or Lighthouse – so there is plenty of room for growth. ”
      Freimuth added: “some countries consider vending games as vending machines dispense drinks, food, etc. The laws need to be changed to get prize vending games out of that category. Right now, operators circumnavigate the law by installing a capsule vendor that dispenses a capsule when the customer inserts a coin- that way it makes it vending machine with the bonus of playing a game. ”
      He envisages players demanding increasingly better prizes for their money. “I think that players want to play these games for prizes that are worth playing for, so the prizes need to be good. Operators who use high value prizes like iPods, Mobile phones, mp3 players and so on get very high returns from their machines. Benchmark makes its games for the international market, but from time to time it writes the player instructions in the local language. Freimuth hasn’t seen any major cultural differences in vending machine users. “Operators want games that take good money and are made to last. ”

      Freimuth has spent 40 ‘fantastic years ’ in the vending industry, starting in 1965 working in Hamburg with AMI jukeboxes and Gottlieb pinballs before landing a job at LAI in Australia in 1975, initially establishing the FEC operations, then moving to Singapore in 1999 to build the LAI Games brand and sell its products worldwide. He is currently general manager.
Thanks to Alan Freimuth and all at LAI Games.


SET up approximately 10 years ago by managing director David Hawthorne, Intermatic started life by producing poker machines. Then, ‘after some inspiration,’ the firm added a fully automatic, stand-alone candy floss vending machine to its production.
      In his words, Intermatic Manufacturing had a prosperous 2005, securing lucrative orders for its ‘unique and innovative’ candy floss vendor. Its fully automated coin-operated candy floss machine whirled up great interest. To cement its standing in the vending industry, Intermatic launched a new mall model at this year’s London show.
      Intermatic is now working with a new distributor in the UK, who will take over the selling of its candy floss vending machines, and let Hawthorne and co concentrate on building the ‘huge quantities ’ ordered so far.

     “The world is our oyster,” Hawthorne told InterGame. “We received firm orders and interest from countries all over the world when we exhibited at the recent ATEI show, including Israel, Kuwait, Australia, Italy, US, to name but a few. We already have small, but essential customers in Gran Canaria and the Netherlands, who are looking to expand now after having very successful results from their first candy floss machines. ”
      Intermatic’s updated model of its fully automatic Candy floss vendor is more suitable to be sited in the middle of the floor, not just against a wall. It has enhanced lighting and sound features, and the firm can personalize the outside decorations and also the music to its customers ’ requirements.
      Although Intermatic is a relatively small firm, employing four people, it is set to expand very shortly and the company will be creating a new training center at its current premises this year.

“We will be visiting Malaga and Rimini at the start of the year, as we have received invitations to exhibit on other companies ’ stands. These invites came from people who expressed a firm interest in wanting to be manufacturers or distributors for us, in their respective countries,” revealed Hawthorne. “We produce something that no-one else has, which puts us at the top,” he added.
      Intermatic’s manufacturing plant is at Linden Technologies, based just on the outskirts of Belfast, 15 miles from its offices. It will soon expand to accommodate the orders Intermatic is placing, and will be able to produce 40 machines a month.
     “Candy floss may be called different names in different areas, but the product is universal. We do supply our program in a different language on request, and label the switches, etc., in the same. We are willing to attempt any country specific changes that are suggested. We use a multi-use coin mech that already accepts euro coins on the flick of a dips witch,” Hawthorne told us.
     “Operators want new, innovative machines, that make selling the things they already stock simpler,” believes Hawthorne. “We are now seeing more different machines, vending batteries, DVDs and even mobile phones, taking any product that is regularly required by the masses, and giving customers an supply, with a special product that everyone loves!”

      Hawthorne cites last year’s ATEI as the reason for new business in Gran Canaria, the Netherlands, Ireland and throughout the UK. On a health note, there are only 70 calories and no fat in Intermatic’s candy floss, which is actually much less than in a slice of white bread!  Marcus Sheehan of Happy Days Vending currently operates candy floss vendors with Georgica, the largest bowling operator in the country. Sheehan is currently working with IML on various   advertising concepts : “Sugar has always been wrongly associated with certain diseases, such as obesity, diabetes, and behavioral problems. It is a natural product, containing to additives or E-numbers, but that doesn’t mean it won’t damage your teeth. We are keen to remind kids to brush their teeth after their treats,” he said.
      All working surfaces of the Candy floss vendor are made entirely from stainless steel and food grade plastics. “Maintenance is minimal but cleaning important,” stated Hawthorne. “It takes about 20 minutes to thoroughly wash all working surfaces on a weekly basis. All parts conform to EN regulations and safety standards. The hoppers within hold 1,000 sticks and 12kg of sugar, which will deliver around 400 vends before it requires replenishment. ”
      Sugar is listed as a non-hazardous material in the EN regulations. Paper sticks are used ‘as we are able to control the dimensions and ensure compatibility with the equipment each time. ’  Also, Intermatic has found paper to be much safer than wooden sticks.   The candy floss is made in a   conventional bowl and collected by rotating a paper stick in the floss flow. On completion of this phase the floss and stick are withdrawn into a delivery chamber, safety flaps are closed isolating the chamber from the moving parts in order that even a small child can collect the candy floss in complete safety. The three years that have been mainly spent on development and site testing the Candy floss vendor look to have been well spent