A business which has been keeping the region refreshed for 40 years is celebrating a milestone anniversary.
North East Vending was founded in 1974 to keep thirsty workers at factories, offices and workplaces ticking over with drinks and snacks.
In the decades that have followed, the Sunderland-based business has grown into a multi-million pound enterprise supplying vending machines to some of the region’s largest firms, universities, hospitals and community buildings.
Sarah Forster, Operations Director at North East Vending, said: “It’s a fantastic achievement to reach our 40th anniversary – so much has changed within the vending sector, but we have kept true to our core values as a family run business and making sure we always supply the best quality products. We have come such a long way since the days of tea trolleys being pushed around factories, to today where we have thousands of branded and interactive vending machines.”
North East Vending has been family-run since 1985 when Sarah’s father Ernie Johnson bought the business and quickly quadrupled its turnover. With a focus on increasing the variety and quality of products, the firm quickly earned the respect of both customers and the vending industry. Today, North East Vending operates from its Sunderland city centre headquarters with Sarah’s brother Phil Johnson as Managing Director.
The firm’s branded vending machines can be spotted at workplaces across the region from table-top units at small offices and businesses, to huge organisations across the manufacturing, housing, health and public sectors. Hungry students too are kept happy with dozens of vending machines in university buildings and halls across Sunderland and Newcastle. But rather than the offices, factories and leisure centres where the machines are situated, North East Vending views its customers as the people who actually put the money in the slot to buy a hot drink, chocolate bar or packet of crisps.
Sarah added: “It’s all about the people who buy the products and it’s really important to keep our offer fresh and contemporary with the times. They are the ones who quickly tell us what they want and how tastes are changing. People are a lot more selective about what they want from a vending machine, so if they want Fairtrade products or a selection from the huge array of healthy snacks and drinks now available, we can supply them. But branding is important too, so people know that there is a value associated with what we do. Some of the vending machines have touch screen technology to allow messages to be broadcast so the relationship with the customer is a lot more interactive.
“It’s all a long way from the days of tea-trolleys but I am pleased we are still very much at the forefront of the vending industry and look forward to what the next 40 years will offer.”