Growing Lean Machine’s bottom line
Lean Machine CEO believes healthy eating is a lifestyle choice that’s here to stay
By Brandi Cowen
When she drafted her first business plan for a healthy vending company,
April Glavine was a Saint Mary’s University business student with a
passion for eating well.
When she drafted her first business plan for a healthy vending company, April Glavine was a Saint Mary’s University business student with a passion for eating well. Fast-forward a dozen years and today that ambitious business student is an award-winning entrepreneur with hundreds of branded vending machines operating across Canada.
Lean Machine Inc. launched in 2005 with a single machine selling wholesome products. At the time, Glavine was juggling several jobs to generate much-needed capital to invest in her brainchild. As the company began to post strong growth figures – roughly 300 per cent per year – Glavine transitioned into a full-time role.
Lean Machine currently operates with a three-pronged strategy. A franchising program allows entrepreneurs who share the company’s core values to bring Lean Machine to their area. A re-branding program is designed for existing companies that want to complement their traditional foodservice strategies with a niche, healthy vending operation stocking Lean Machine’s dietitian-approved products. The third prong is the Lean Machine Way entrepreneurial program. Launched in 2007, Lean Machine Way lets participating schools purchase a machine outright. Students run the machine, guided by a blueprint provided by the company. Once the initial investment is paid for, the schools begin to reap the benefits of higher profit margins. After recovering the initial capital cost, a school may see its return on investment jump from five or 10 per cent to more than 50 per cent.
This revenue can be funneled to athletics, arts and other extracurricular activities, bringing benefits to all students, not just those learning business skills hands-on. Glavine sees a bright future for healthy vending across Canada and around the world. Although the company has fielded inquiries from the United States and Europe, Glavine says right now they’re staying focused on building a strong brand here at home.
“I would like to see the company be known as the healthy vending company,” says Glavine. “We have the right partners and franchisees in place, now we really just need the market to start demanding more, which is what we’re seeing day to day.”
With the company poised to top the 500 machine mark this year and a target of 1,000 machines in operation inside the next two years, Glavine is betting big that healthy eating is here to stay.
“It’s the same as wearing a seatbelt, or not drinking and driving, or smoking around children, or recycling. All of those things became lifestyle choices. I believe healthy eating is the exact same.”