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tw vending

TW Vending

TW Vending

TW Vending

Todd Westby is an innovative operator who uses a winning combination of a do-it-yourself attitude and mastery of technology to excel at his work. Located in Hudson, Wisconsin, just across the river from Minnesota, TW Vending’s warehouse sits in a picturesque field. It has a certain flair of architectural uniqueness, trimmed by Minnesota Vikings’ purple. Todd Westby, along with the help of his brother Tim and others, hand-built the warehouse from scratch.


Todd Westby got into vending by an epiphany. “At the time I worked for a student loan company. Once while on vacation in Huatulco, Mexico I was sitting out in the hot tub with a margarita. All of a sudden an idea hits me and I ask the waiter to bring me a calculator. I punch in some numbers – 50 cents times 24 cans times 10 cases – just simple numbers – and I said ‘wow’. We had about 200 people at the place I worked and I asked if I could put in some vending machines. After about six months I had 50 machines in different places.”

Being the founder of TW Vending, Todd has gone through the whole gamut of responsibilities, from taking care of routes, to fixing machines, to doing sales. Now he is the visionary of the company. “My day-to-day is basically thinking ahead six months to a year. I’m constantly working on things for the future.”


TW Vending is unique in many ways. Most of their vending business is done in jails. “90% of our business is jail vending. We started out originally in business vending, and were randomly approached by a jail. We decided to try it out – we put vending machines in and purchased some software from a third party. It went very well. The inmates liked the idea of having food available, and we were filling the machines three to four times more than our normal business. So we decided to add another jail. It worked well there too.”

Having a do-it-yourself attitude ensures that TW Vending stays ahead of the competition. “Our software was a little behind so we decided to get into the software business – so now we have a software division that writes software for our jails and other parts of our business too.” TW Vending also runs TurnKey Corrections which supplies cash control and kiosk services to jails.

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Todd, fulfilling his role of the visionary, steered his company toward wireless machine monitoring stemming from some practical logic. “We were letting our lowest paid employees ultimately determine TW Vending’s revenue. Amongst all our office personnel and management, our lowest paid people were determining what was going in the machine, if it was filled, and when it was filled – they were ultimately determining our outcome. And because we had a couple issues where machines weren’t getting filled, we started looking into software to help us monitor these issues.”


“After some searching, we found a company. We started working with them – got their system into our machines, and long story short, it was a nightmare. It wouldn’t work, wouldn’t stay connected, and their software was beta, which they didn’t tell us. We ended up telling them what to do, and basically wrote the program for them. It just wasn’t working. We knew we didn’t want to give up on the concept, and we wanted to find something that was working and tried and true. We talked to Debitek, and they told us we should give Cantaloupe Systems a call. We gave them a call right away – I was showed the website and an online presentation. I liked what they had, and they sent me 25 units.”

Once he received the seed® units, Todd got to installing them immediately. “We had 18 units at one facility and the remainder at another facility. We had the units installed within two hours – every single one of them. And within those two hours they were all pinging and reporting – I couldn’t believe it. With the other system we tried for four months to make it work. Seed Cloud was working within two hours.”

“The website is so easy to use. We had all our machines set-up, and we had a good understanding of how it all worked thanks to the training that was included. Within 30 days I said, ‘this is it, we’re going with it.’ I then ordered another 20 to 30 units, set-up one location, ordered 40 for another, and I think we have about 120 machines online right now. We’re going to have every single machine on Seed Cloud. That’s about 380 machines.”

“What we’re doing with our business side is something that’s unique and different. With any new accounts we move into, we’re putting seed® units on them for 30 days to get a feel for how the volume moves. We’ve got some schools and centers where the service fluctuates. We put a seed® device on the machine and go when it needs service. It’s so neat, to spend a couple hundred dollars per machine and to avoid going to sites so when they don’t need service – and when it costs $50-60 just to go there, it’s more than paid for itself.”


Todd mentions other benefits he’s seen from using Seed Cloud. “Where do I start? [laughs]. Seed Cloud is so easy to manage, it’s almost scary – it’s so powerful. Rather than having only one planogram sheet like most operators have, with seed® we have a different planogram for every single machine. And why? Because we can.”


“When I found out about the pre-pick functionality, I was literally shocked that software could forecast at eight in the morning what I would need the next day. Instead of bringing the warehouse to the machines, we bring the product to the machines. We don’t drive a truck with all the products in it, pushing around a cart with the candies packaged in the same boxes we bought them in. We bring the exact amount of product to the machine. You can have somebody at night fill your pre-pick bins for the whole week if you wanted to. And we’ve been able to cut our costs by hiring somebody who’s paid less, not a route driver who is paid almost twice that amount. Now the driver just brings the stuff to the machines, fills them, hits the button, and leaves. You have a $225 pull that took you fifteen minutes to fill and zero minutes to pull from the truck. Then we have an empty truck at the end of the day. Seed Cloud’s pre-pick has been huge – it’s a bonus. Seed Cloud has been way above our expectations. And I really, sincerely mean that.”


Todd points out that having Cantaloupe has helped him immensely in the highly competitive bidding process. “Anybody can come and promise you a commission, and promise you that they’ll fill the machines. But what seed® allows you to do is ten more things. It allows you to come in and say, ‘here’s the website that allows us to track everything that’s sold in the machine, here is the login if you want to view the dollar sales that are happening so you know that I’m not cheating you. You’re going to get what we promise you and nothing less.’ Most vendors will come in and tell them the same things, and within 15 to 20 minutes they’ll have made promises, half of which aren’t kept. We go into the presentation and we’re in there for an hour and a half because they cannot believe the technology that we have. We’ve even had them give us the account on the spot. Sure you spend $1,000 dollars to rig four seed® machines but that account now is going to bring $3,000 a month that you didn’t have before. It takes money to make money.”

When asked what else he sees seed® doing in the future, he responds, “what else can I see it doing? It does damn near everything.”