Delivering the Spice of Life

For Mark Vend Co., a leader in Northern Illinois’ vending industry, a happy customer is one with choices. Vending is requiring more and more variety to meet demand. Realizing that this demand was requiring more than what a typical vending machine offers, Mark Vend Co. has diversified into the micro market and pantry service segments and leans on Great Dane truck bodies to keep its goods fresh.

“It’s the evolution of the industry,” Daniel Stein, co-owner of Mark Vend Co. explained. “Vending was designed around World War II and post-World War II manufacturing, but today, manufacturing plants are different. Micro markets provide variety that today’s consumers demand.”

What is a micro market?

Pose that question to Stein, and his passion for the industry punctuates a rapid-fire rundown of the services Mark Vend Co. provides. Essentially, a micro market and pantry service is a collection of refrigerated coolers stocked with things like beverages, yogurts and cold sandwiches coupled with kiosks of snacks like fruit and energy bars. Micro markets employ self-service check out stations, which customers use to pay for the food.

A pantry service is typically set up within a business office where the cost is covered by the company.

Providing these services presents a distinct challenge versus stocking vending machines. According to Stein, Great Dane truck bodies have been a major component of Mark Vend Co.’s success in delivering the freshest goods safely and efficiently.

Mark Vend Co. currently fields six Great Dane truck bodies to tackle its micro market/pantry service tasks –two of which are 100 percent refrigerated while the other four feature refrigerated compartments (one-third refrigerated and two-thirds dry). 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,” Stein said. “If our truck goes to a dock where we have three or four markets, then the truck could be in that dock for more than an hour. With cold plates, we never worry about the temperature inside the truck.”

Durability is another big plus for Mark Vend, which looks to keep its truck bodies in the field for at least 15 years, often outlasting the truck chassis to which they were originally fitted. In spec’ing its truck bodies, Mark Vend worked closely with the Great Dane truck bodies engineers to ensure that the bodies meet the job requirements, stand up to a decade’s worth 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,” Stein said. “The engineers are experts. We talked to 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.”