Mark Vend Co. Customer Story: How All-Electric Truck Bodies Help Meet New Convenience Distributing Challenges

A Mark Vend. Co trailer, manufactured by Great Dane

Mark Vend Co., a leader in Northern Illinois’ vending industry, believes a happy customer is one with choices. To meet rising demands for more variety than what a typical vending machine offers, Mark Vend has diversified into the micro market and pantry service segments, and this new strategy depends on Great Dane truck bodies to keep the goods fresh.

Micro Markets Are a Natural Progression

“It’s the evolution of the industry,” Daniel Stein, Co-Owner of Mark Vend, explained. Vending was designed around the manufacturing style of the World War II era and the years that immediately followed. But as manufacturing plants have evolved, so has the vending industry. Micro markets provide options that today’s customers demand.

Micro markets and pantry services share the same look and feel: They are collections of refrigerated coolers stocked with things like beverages, yogurts, and cold sandwiches, together with kiosks of snacks like fruit and energy bars. The purchasing process is where they differ: micro markets employ self-service checkout stations, which customers use to pay for the food. Pantry service is typically set up within a business office where the cost is covered by the company.

The Right Refrigerated Solution Can Diversify Business

According to Stein, Great Dane truck bodies have been a major component of their success in delivering the freshest goods safely and efficiently. Mark Vend currently fields six Great Dane truck bodies to tackle its micro market/pantry service tasks — two of which are 100% refrigerated, while the other four feature refrigerated compartments (one-third refrigerated and two-thirds dry).

Meeting New Obstacles with Innovation

The key component of the truck bodies, Stein explained, is the use of Great Dane’s Johnson AE Series all-electric cold plate refrigeration systems. The AE Series includes traditional free-hanging cold plates and cold plate blower systems with automatic defrost for steady temperature control, delivering consistent temperature ranges in each zone for fresh, frozen, and deep-frozen applications.

“With perishable fresh food, it’s the Goldilocks scenario — we don’t want it too hot, we don’t want it too cold, we want it just right. In our application, cold plate works better because we don’t have to keep the truck running,” he said.

That capability is essential because when a truck goes to a dock where Mark Vend Co. has three or four markets, that truck could be sitting still for more than an hour. “With cold plates, we never worry about the temperature inside the truck,” he said.

Mark Vend: In It for the Long Haul

For Mark Vend, a decision today is a decision for tomorrow. The company intends to keep its truck bodies in the field for at least 15 years, often outlasting the truck chassis to which they were originally fitted. That means the equipment has to meet the job requirements, stand up to a decade of workload demands, and fit the company’s new Isuzu FTR cab-overs like a glove.

“We know the reputation of Great Dane truck bodies,” he said. “The engineers are experts. We talked with them about our equipment needs and they worked with us to spec them properly. They’re great listeners, and the Great Dane truck bodies definitely meet our needs.”

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