Issue 1 - February, 2021 - Brian Martell

Coffee Corner: Preparing our businesses for the New OCS

Over the course of more than 20 years, I have had the privilege to write for a few industry publications, some with long lasting appeal, others that endured for nary a few issues.  During that time, many innovations, trends, studies, and incredibly interesting people have graced the unfolding story of our coffee business, adding to the richness and diversity so many of us find compelling.  To have known and worked with industry giants from the vantage of scribe; feel the tension of looming deadlines (when you said Monday, that really meant a few minutes before Tuesday morning right?...); and researched the creative people of our business has been an amazing journey.  As with all good stories, the pages must turn, and as the venerated Canadian OCS & Vending Magazine concluded its last issue after more than 50 years of publication last fall, a new chapter is (literally) being written by the association to our industry – CAMA.  Within the e-pages of this nascent Newsletter, the torch has been passed to serve the needs of our community – offering news and what’s new to the benefit of the members and the industry at large.

Perhaps there has never been more flux in the Canadian OCS & Vending Business.  Industry consolidation, a global pandemic, and the foreshadowing of looming supply chain disruptions in producer nations all add up to what the Chinese euphemistically call “interesting times”.  And with all change comes opportunity – to innovate, or to re-focus core competencies that translate to competitive advantages into untapped markets.   For close to a year now, we have been working under the reality of restrictive regulations designed to limit the spread of a disease that has claimed the lives of over 20,000 Canadians and about 2 ¼ million worldwide.  These regulations have had a deleterious effect on OCS and vending companies without exception.  The promise of a return to “normal” with a vaccine means that businesses will be operating without these limits, restaurants will open their dining rooms, and life that we took for granted a mere 12 months ago will once again return.  So now the focus turns to what we will need to do to plan and meet the new reality of what our market will demand.  Customer profiles may change requiring different logistical models to competitively service your accounts.  Equipment may also require a deep dive into what best fits your customer and prospects needs analysis.  Even organizational structure could require an overhaul or at least tweaking.  On this last point – many in our industry have done what needed doing in the last 10 months to right size human resources given the decline in sales; now may be the time structurally to add to the organization in anticipation of increased sales as the Canadian economy can breathe deeply again.

Canadian OCS and Vending companies will continue to adapt to the changes of our market, as has been the case for the better part of ¾ of a century.  Change is rarely easy, but it does offer the opportunity to strengthen us through testing our mettle as well as giving us invaluable insight through first-hand experiences.

Earlier in this article, reference was made to this new format for the benefit of all who read these pages.  Change also is the dominant theme of the column.  As a long-time contributor to the industry media, I am grateful for being offered the opportunity to pen an article in the inaugural issue of this Newsletter.  The format for this space moving forward will be one of many contributors who have experience in the coffee industry and will fill the “Coffee Corner” with their perspectives, wisdom, and insights.  To the readers who have enjoyed the back page of CVM – thank you for being my inspiration – it was a pleasure to write for you.  Should the opportunity arise to again take pen in hand (or would that be keys to fingers?), I will look forward to that too.

Brian Martell | The Heritage Coffee Company Ltd

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