Passing Great Value to Operators
Gaines Butler Reflects on Recent Expo
Q: Most of AMOA’s members are street operators. How well do you think the recent show served their interests?
A: I think this year’s Expo provided great value to route people. It always has, but in recent years, with the expansion of the education program and a greater focus on the FEC, bulk vending and laser tag segments, there is much more for traditional street operators to see and learn about.
Simply put, it’s not your grandfather’s Expo anymore! The show has changed and evolved, especially since the new spring event was created in 2010. You’ll remember, the former ASI show was more FEC-oriented, whereas the AMOA Expo in the fall was primarily aimed at the street side of the business. Now, it’s a blend of both, and when you add the bulk vending and laser tag colocations to the mix, there’s more diversity — and more opportunities — that route operators are exposed to at their annual trade show.
That broader scope was reflected in the lineup of this year’s education program — covering everything from redemption, ATMs, cashless payments, small footprint FECs, human resources, salesmanship, roundtable and management sessions for route operators and several other topics.
There was also a lot of new equipment on the show floor. We had more entries this year –– 24 –– in our Innovator Awards program than we’ve had at the past several Expos, signifying a higher commitment to R&D in our industry, which, to route operators, should be very welcome news. There were also more new applications for existing product as well, which again, is a good thing for route operators, and everyone else, too.
And of course, there’s the networking component, where operators facing the same issues on their routes — regulations, new equipment opportunities and business trends — get to gather and compare notes. With so many together in one place at one time, the interaction is one of the most valuable benefits of being at Expo, and whether it was at the education program, the welcome gala, the show floor, the AMOA breakfast or in the hotel bar, it was nonstop at this year’s show.
Once you come to the Expo with the mindset that you are going to be engaged in the event and look for new ideas, you’ll be surprised at what you’ll find. Those who go to Expo waiting for someone to show or tell them something simply don’t get as much out of it. That’s unfortunate because it means they’ll likely be late to adapt to an opportunity that could be a game changer for their routes.
After 40 years in the business, I have seen a lot of changes and those who think they know or have done it all are the ones who will find themselves left behind when the next change comes. So, for those operators who went to the show in search of new ideas, contacts, innovative equipment and ways to improve their routes, there absolutely was plenty to be found at this year’s Expo in Las Vegas!
Involved and working up through the ranks within AMOA since 2000, Gaines Butler has a great deal of passion for the coin machine industry and its main operator association. Himself a route operator (Metro Distributing in the Atlanta area), Gaines isn’t afraid of new ideas or taking the company in new directions (he’s added camera and alarm systems to the mix). During his presidency, Gaines has clear goals: “What I want to bring to this position are my passions for education and state involvement,” he told RePlay. “Every state can benefit from the AMOA, as can every operator and everyone in this industry. If you’re not a member, you should become one for the simple fact that it lets you know what is going on.”