Prize Powerhouse A&A Global
Over 80 Years of Meeting “Today’s” Challenges, Adapting & Growing
Back in 1938, Irv Kovens turned his hobby of repairing coin-operated vending machines into his career. The company he founded is now known as A&A Global Industries, and almost 83 years later, it is still family owned and operated by the Kovens family.
A&A boasts itself to be “an ever-changing company uniquely equipped to adjust its business model to meet the needs of the industries it serves,” as it has done over those more than eight decades.
Today, its business includes redemption, bulk vending and confection goods. A plethora of product lines within those categories include redemption toys from bins to shelf, plush, merchandiser kits for machines, capsuled toys, candy, gum, candy crane mixes and everything a redemption operator needs to keep players coming back to win “TOYrific” prizes. A&A says it has prizes kids want with prices and customer service that operators love.
A&A Global’s philosophy is simple: to provide “an innovative approach to products, a traditional approach to people.” That’s a mission statement that the company still employs today. And for Steven and Brian Kovens, Irv’s grandsons and now co-presidents, this statement is more a family tradition rather than “just” a business philosophy.
In order to honor that innovative approach, they say they not only focus on buying products that are trend-forward or classically timeless, they procure licenses from major movie studios and television networks such as Cartoon Network and Nickelodeon and other intellectual properties that the redemption center customer craves like NFL, MLB and DC Comics.
To add to their robust selection, A&A has recently acquired companies like Store on Wheels and Play Time Toys, which they say helps “make a greater impression in the amusement and redemption industry.” They also say their in-house product development team made up of experienced industry professionals, create with the amusement and redemption industry in mind. Brian Kovens said, “We build a better mousetrap.”
A leader in the bulk vending, family entertainment and amusement sectors, A&A makes their products “for children of all ages and the kids in all of us.”
Through a merchandise line of over 7,000 products and an emphasis on technology, A&A says it’s constantly growing and focusing on customer needs. To do so, they provide state-of-the-art services like a robust website with tools for redemption centers, Digital Packing Lists and more.
Challenges of COVID
As of publication, like most of the industry, A&A is gearing up for a post-COVID-19 world. Instead of reporting how A&A is accelerating their online services (still in progress), increasing their product offerings and growing their business and relationships, the focus is on quick starting their business once this unprecedented time has passed.
“We haven’t gone anywhere,” said Gerry Clothier, vice president of sales. “Our sales team is working feverishly from home, have complete access to telephone and email and continue to do all they can to help our customers.”
During this “economic pause,” A&A is continuing to reach out to customers to keep them up to date on the status of the industry, relay helpful tips and just let customers bend an ear.
“‘How can I help?’ is the first thing we say to customers,” Clothier said. “You would be surprised how reaching out is a small gesture that is greatly appreciated.”
While the entire A&A team is practicing social distancing and adhering to all federal and state guidelines, they have not stopped taking pre-orders for new products and orders for customers that are preparing to re-launch their businesses when the time arises. A&A has shipping facilities in Baltimore, Orlando and Los Angeles.
“Whenever possible, a team goes to work to ship orders,” said Stacy Johnson, sales team lead for the company. “This is determined by the number of orders we have and verifying that the customer can indeed receive their shipment.”
Brian Kovens made it clear: “We know it will take some time for our industry to rebound as there aren’t any indicators that appear to the contrary at the time we’re talking to RePlay. The landscape may be a little different with locations having to put protocols in place to protect customers by providing hand sanitizers, regularly wiping down surfaces and employees may even be required to wear protective gloves. The truth is that is going to be our new normal everywhere.”
But families will still be families, the company reiterated, and will need a wholesome place for entertainment – with the redemption center being an important part of that dynamic. Clothier added, “They will open, and customers will come.”
A&A says it is resilient and has over eight decades of success as proof. In good times and bad, the company has always been there for their customers and will do the same in a post-COVID-19 environment.
In the past, the company relied on its ability to adapt by increasing their product offerings and expansion into related novelty industries. Today, that ability to adapt is focused on how to help lead the redemption industry back on its feet to build a powerful foundation, not only to restore previous levels of business – but to exceed them. They say they’re “PRIZEtively” certain that we will get through this together.
People, products and service is what drives A&A. Simply put, Clothier added, “When it comes to our customers, they’re winners every time.”