Canadian Vending

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CAMA turns 60

This year marks the association’s 60th anniversary

September 24, 2013
By Karly O’Brien


This edition honours CAMA as we celebrate the 60-year-old association’s history, milestones, traditions and members. 

This edition honours CAMA as we celebrate the 60-year-old association’s history, milestones, traditions and members. 

Winning the 2003 Don Storey award is Andre Labee of Andre Labee Inc. with fellow employees.


In 1953, the association was born with Alan King of V.K.I. Technologies leading the way for the first four years. After King, a system was put into place whereby each president held his/her title for one year.


Until CAMA was formed, there was no communication bridging the gap between people in the industry and government’s regular monetary changes. It was a booming industry with no help.

“Our mission has been and will continue to be promoting and advancing the office coffee service and vending industries so that they have the education, the support and help that they need,” says Marie Saint-Ivany, the trade show manager for CAMA.

Vending may be older than you think. One of the earliest records of a vending machine was documented in 215 B.C. when Hero of Alexandria published a book titled, Pneumatika. Inside, he describes and illustrates a coin-operated machine to vend holy water; however, no one is sure whether or not this vending machine was ever used.

Moving into the 18th century, the first vending machine was used to sell “snuff” and tobacco at taverns in England. Fast-forward to when the association started up in the 1950s, and vending machines were becoming commonplace in schools, universities and recreation centres.

One vending machine that got approval in 1926 had a relatively short-lived history when a private member’s bill was put forward outlawing all cigarette vending machines in early 1993.

From left to right, owner and president of Standard Change Makers Jim McNutt is standing next to Canadian sales manager Paul Thompson and director of sales Barry O’Brien.


A document from CAMA dated Jan. 21, 1993, states, “There is little cause for alarm since private member’s bills are seldom picked up in Parliament unless the motion is commonly supported,” writes a surprised Annette Maclean, who used to be with the National Board of Directors for CAMA.

Despite the association’s long history, it is only in the last 10 years that it has taken more initiative than ever by solidifying important relationships with the Royal Canadian Mint about nine years ago, and more recently with the Bank of Canada.

It started with the decision to involve a professional management company, BB&C Management Services, in the organization’s operations. This became official in 1998 after the board of directors at the time approved the change.

Following this, Amanda Curtis, who is now the executive director for CAMA, was hired to manage policy, handle government relations, and achieve long- and short-term goals the association had established via its board of directors, president and members.

“The management company helps associations achieve goals, specifically in areas of policy and relationship building with the government,” she comments. “It’s not that what was in place was wrong, it’s just that this suited the association’s needs better.”

Saint-Ivany adds that the association wanted to go in a more professional direction and gain the expertise needed to grow in the future. “It made the most sense to better ourselves,” she says, based on her knowledge of events since she joined the association’s staff in 2006.

A few years after the association began, it started to host trade shows for its countrywide members in the Toronto area.

Greg (above) and Jeff Suitor (absent) founded Brokerhouse Distributors Inc.


From there, the shows eventually branched out to Quebec for a two-year rotation, but it wasn’t until 2007 that a western show was added.

“In 2007, we didn’t host an annual show; instead we ran a mini-show to test how many people from the industry would be willing to attend,” Saint-Ivany says. “After the show, we were wowed by the response from everyone, so then we decided to add a third leg to the show’s rotation.”

The association has started to provide different locations for its trade shows, such as Quebec City, Niagara Falls and Calgary, to give attendees a new travel destination.

In the 1970s, CAMA introduced two new awards that would be presented at trade show dinners to honour those who stood out. When the best booth award was launched in 1971, Navend Industries was the recipient. Then again in 1975, Navend Industries had its own Al Gallent take home the first-awarded best salesperson. Seven years later, CAMA decided to host Canada Night in conjunction with the National Automatic Merchandising Association (NAMA) to welcome Canadian attendees that come out to the American show.

Three more awards that are recognized as the industry’s most prestigious awards are CAMA’s Customer Service Award, and the Stuart Daw and Don Storey awards.

The Don Storey award recognizes “outstanding service to the industry, community, and the association’s activities,” according to a CAMA pamphlet from 1996. The award was first given out in 1967 with George Carter as the recipient. 

More recently, the association inherited the Stuart Daw award when it blended with the Ontario Coffee and Vending Services Association (OCVSA) in 2007. The award recognizes success in the coffee industry and began in 1966.

“We blended with OCVSA a few years back and that is when we began representing the coffee industry as well as vending, and we updated our mission statement to reflect that,” Saint-Ivany says. The last trade show the provincial association held was in 2005. As for the customer service award, it began in 2011, and was first awarded to Albert DeNovellis in his honour. 

Passionate members
The association’s membership numbers have declined over the years, with companies merging into larger ones and diversifying. The membership currently sits at slightly more than 200 members, but as Saint-Ivany points out: “Every one of those members is dedicated, helpful, and passionate about what they do. That’s the most important thing.

Brian Martell, vice-president of sales in Canada for U.S.-based Heritage Coffee, is seen with CAMA’s special recognition award for excellence in the industry.


“There is a very large entrepreneurial spirit, and a great deal of pride is taken for the people that are in this industry,” she says. “It’s fantastic.”

One example of this is when Saint-Ivany got off the phone with an anticipated speaker at the association’s show a few years ago. He was sick, and couldn’t do his promised presentation, which was scheduled to go on in 20 minutes.

“I was panicked, I mean there were attendees waiting to go hear this presentation that wasn’t going to happen,” she says of the fast-approaching presentation for coffee roasters. She spotted two attendees in the OCS industry, and rounded up two more for an impromptu roundtable discussion. “We have a great membership,” she says. “I honestly can’t think of any other industry that would come through in the way that the CVOCS industry did.”

She adds that no one seemed bothered by the change in speakers and the presentation was well received.

Saint-Ivany also works with several other associations to plan trade shows.

Another passionate CAMA member is Canadian Vending’s columnist and this year’s Don Storey winner Kim Lockie.

He became a member in 2004, a year after purchasing McMurray Coin in Fort McMurray, Alta.

“This is a great association with a rich history of supporting its members, and building upon the $5 billion industry.” He recalls the quarter changing to plated-steel silver, which was one of his first challenges as owner. Five years later he served his first term as president of the association, and again from 2010 to 2011.

While president of the association, Lockie made it one of his goals to forge a better relationship with the Bank of Canada to give operators enough lead time to change the machine’s monetary mechanisms.

“A lot of the trips I made to Ottawa were made on my own expense, but I did it to promote the industry,” he says. “You don’t get any benefit individually, but it helps the entire industry and I think that is what a good president does. The things I helped to push through helped my company, but it helped every other company just as much.”

The future
With all of the changes happening in the industry, and CAMA’s budding relationship with the Bank of Canada and the Royal Canadian Mint, the future is looking bright for this still blossoming association.

Two CAMA members, John Bragoon of Brewmaster Automats and D.E. Parnell of Parnell Vending, at one of the association’s first trade shows in 1962, are analyzing the insides of an early vending machine. 


Despite this progress, Lockie points out a few areas that need work.

“CAMA needs to get in touch with all of the operators that have never heard of the association before,” he says. “There’s still a lot of people out there in the vending industry that do not know there is a national non-profit organization out there to help them, educate them and further them in the vending world.”

The association wants to dedicate more of its time to recruiting new members in the near future, as well as to providing more education.

“We are developing plans to address this, but it’s just a matter of actually reeling everyone in,” Lockie continues.

Saint-Ivany agrees. “We want more people to join our association to make a point, and get more recognition from the government that this is a lucrative industry just like any other, and that we need to be involved more often with monetary changes.”

Paul Thompson, Canadian sales manager of Standard Change Makers, which is based in the U.S., says he is a proud member of CAMA.

“The association has always done a great job to keep their members together as new ones join,” says Thompson, who won the Don Storey award in 1995. “I’m proud to be a part of it.”

Congratulations CAMA on 60 years of success!

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