Friday, January 28, 2011 12:00 am
People looking for something a bit healthier than a candy bar from a vending machine have a choice at seven Billings locations.
Jerry Copp spent most of Wednesday and Thursday installing 10 Fresh Healthy Vending machines at seven locations — the first of what he hopes will be many.“I think Billings really is a health-conscious community, and what really got me interested in this was the unique concept, a new little twist, on something that has been around forever that everyone is accustomed to,” Copp said.
Copp spent time in San Diego in September training how to own and run his own franchise of the parent company Fresh Healthy Vending. The company offers foods and drinks with lower amounts of sodium, fat and processed ingredients.The offerings are up to the location.
“We can tailor the products to what each facility would like,” Copp said.
While most of his first machines will offer the most popular foods sold companywide, Copp said the options are many. The company offers 400 products.
Copp and an installation crew were filling two machines at the Billings YMCA on Thursday morning. One, near the children's gym, had more kid-friendly treats.YMCA CEO Tina Postel couldn't be happier with the new snack choices.“We jumped on it,” Postel said. “It's all about healthy living, and kids are always wanting snacks.”
With three kids of her own, Postel is glad she'll have something healthy nearby to curb their hunger.
“People come here to work out, but it's nice to add that second component,” she said. “If we are going to have anything installed here, it's got to be healthy.”
Snacks cost $1 to $2, and the machine takes cash, debit and credit cards. The dual-climate machines hold multiple items, including chips, cookies, apple sauce, yogurt and sports drinks and juices.
The most popular product is Pirates Booty White Cheddar — a rice puffed snack, for $1.25. Behind that is Hanson's Back to Nature apple juice, a high-end soda for $1.Copp can monitor his inventory from afar.
“I can access them daily through remote monitoring so I can confirm inventory and make sure expiration dates are still within guidelines,” Copp said. “I can also find out if there is anything wrong with the machines or find out if things need to be stocked.”The machines are at the YMCA, Billings Clinic, St. Vincent Healthcare, West High, Skyview High, Central High and St. John's Lutheran Ministries.
The machines don't cost the business a dime. They get a slice of the profits.“I purchase the machines and install it in their location, and I share a little bit of the profits, too” Copp said. “They get a sales report from me and a check.”