Newberry & Company, Optimistic About Industry Recovery, Keeps Evolving Right Along With It
This year marks Venco Business Solutions’ 53rd year of operations, and owner John Newberry said, “It’s been great, considering the ups and downs of our industry.” The main thing that has helped them is to keep changing with the times. And while Covid-19 might be presenting different challenges in 2020, since the 1960s, Venco has been constantly evolving.
Fresh out of high school in 1966, Newberry opened a service station. Soon after, he decided it should have a pool table and some games. Then, not too long after that, he expanded into supplying jukeboxes and pinball machines to local businesses, delving into street operations.
Today, Venco Business Solutions is a regional coin-op powerhouse, with 17,000 sq. ft. of warehouse space and an amusement business comprised of about 20 routes that extend 200 miles and into five states from Bland, Va., where the company is based.
Newberry was an early adopter of skill cranes and ATMs, which bolstered his business at the time and still does today. More recently, they’ve diversified into mini FEC redemption areas.
But, the ability to adapt doesn’t always mean an easy road ahead. That’s never been truer for Venco (and many others in the industry) in the midst of Covid-19.
At the outset of the pandemic, Venco laid off 16 full-time and part-time employees, and put everyone else on 40 hours a week. “During that time, we were able to get a lot of equipment ready in the shop and set up some to go to auction,” Newberry said. “Our income dropped a lot, but the ATM business in the convenience stores and smaller retail outlets picked up, which helped.”
Today, Venco still has several locations that remain closed and they’re waiting to see what the future brings. However, they’ve since been able to secure a PPP loan, enabling the company to bring back all of their employees. The company has always kept on top of its accounting, too, closing out the books by the 18th of each month and hold a staff meeting to go over the numbers. Newberry said, “This has been very helpful in making management decisions.”
On the ATM side of things, business started down 50% nationwide but it came back relatively quickly. “July was a very good month even though a lot of locations were still closed,” Newberry noted. “One thing we noticed was withdrawal amounts were up 20%. The ATM industry still thinks cash is king and not going anywhere soon.”
He continued: “More and more people are receiving EBT cards and using them to withdraw cash from ATMs. Cashless is a long time off for most locations. Today there are more unbanked people than ever before, and that number is growing.” This means ATMs are more than “just” conveniences, but they are necessities for an increasing number of Americans.
Venco’s operations have always focused on efficiency, which is more important than ever these days. Newberry explained that the company has a route management program that monitors all meter readings and collections, plus ATM software that helps with cash loads and the amount in each machine.
“That keeps us from putting too much money in the machines,” he said. “We normally try to do a 25% head room depending on weekly withdrawals. When it comes to filling ATMs, most operators load in $1,000 increments, but we do even loads of $2,000. The reason is that since the cash comes in bundles of $2,000 from the bank, our route people can save time by not having to count out an extra $1,000 and there’s less room for mistakes.”
Vehicle tracking has also been helpful over the years. “Not only does it let us know where our people are, but if they speed, an email is sent to them, though we don’t see that very often now,” Newberry reported. “It also helps to know where everyone is for service issues. The system also sends information to the driver when the vehicle needs service. All service calls are logged and sent out by email to ‘Game Support’ and to the route person.”
Again, especially as the industry digs out from under Covid-19, efficiencies and streamlined operations are more vital than ever to the bottom line.
John Newberry has seen a lot in his 53 years in the industry and weathered both good times and bad. One thing’s certain, it’s “steady as she goes” at Venco. Its diversified operations and penchant for transformation should keep them ahead of the times.
On the future of the amusement and ATM business, Newberry is fairly optimistic. “We see the ATM business still growing and doing well,” he said. “I think the amusement side will start back slow, but we might be able to change some things around with commissions in order to make a profit. I also think the competition most likely won’t be as aggressive as before.”
Learn more about the company at www.vencosolutions.com.