When I complete my term in office, I’ll feel successful if I have left the association and industry in a stronger position than when I started, in terms of both strategic direction and growth potential. I am charged with continuing the good work of my predecessors, and my objective is to continue to develop and strengthen our strategic goals to ensure industry and association strength well into the future.
Our members would like to see NAMA continue to be a strong and effective advocate at the federal, state and local levels, protecting the industry against onerous regulation and taxation.
My strongest professional role model has been my father, a well respected member of the industry for over 20 years, who rose to the position of chief executive of a large vending, office coffee and foodservice company, known for his integrity, professionalism, fairness and good nature throughout his career.
My first job in foodservice was as a room service waiter in a large hotel in the Chicago area.
The most important career decision I ever made was 35 years ago, leaving the practice of law in Chicago after 3 1/2 years, moving to California, and together with my father and brother taking over a small portion of an existing vending company (music and games).
The biggest misconception people have about vending is that we do not promote health and wellness, when in reality our industry is in the forefront of providing informed choices, hallmarked by our keystone Fit Pick program, our support of the “Calories Count” program, front-of-pack calorie labeling by many of our supplier members, and our new Nutrition and Wellness Center microsite which showcases NAMA’s nutrition commitment providing information for members, public officials and consumers.
Looking ahead 10 years, the biggest trend I see facing our market is the incredible speed by which technology is advancing and reshaping our industry, evidenced by the introduction of telemetry that translates to efficient route service, cashless payment systems, flawless delivery systems and the continuing introduction of new state of the art equipment.
The best professional advice anyone ever gave me was nothing is forever: Be willing to adapt and change business models to meet the ever-changing demands of a fast moving economic environment.
My most prized material possession is my own personal golf cart, something I always wanted to own.
If I had to select my last meal on Earth, it would be an authentic Italian beef sandwich from my favorite place in Chicago, loaded with hot peppers, sweet peppers and dripping with beef juice, only to be followed up by a Chicago style hot dog.
Away from my job, I most like to play golf, enjoy a great meal with good wine and soak up the sunshine in my favorite place ....Palm Springs.
At a Glance
National Automatic Merchandising
No. of Members: 1,800 (companies)
20 N. Wacker Drive, Suite 3500
Chicago, IL 60606
President & CEO: Carla Balakgie
Phone: (312) 346-0370
To foster the growth and development of
the vending and refreshment services industry
Job: CFO/partner, Gourmet Coffee Service, Inc.
President, California Automatic Vendors Council (a NAMA state affiliate) 2006-07; NAMA Coffee Service Operator of the Year, 2006; NAMA Board Member 2007-present; NAMA Industry Person of the Year, 2013.
Education: Ripon College, BA; J.D. Northwestern University Law School