Five Star Food Service 2019 Year In Review

Feb 11, 2020
Optimized, Integrated, and Built for the Future

After a year filled with enormous growth fueled by acquisition, Five Star Food Service took a year to strategically build for the future. Hitting exciting milestones, giving back, and investing in business were a few 2019 accomplishments for Five Star. The following is a digest of some of the highlights from the year.

Topped 1,600 Micro Markets

The micro market concept continues to be a win-win solution for both workplaces and operators. Like recent history, demand for breakroom innovation drove micro market installation growth for Five Star. Entering the year, the company had 1,250 markets of various size installed and finished with 1,630 as they enter 2020. Five Star opened 145 new locations, converted 150 existing vending customers to markets, and added the final 85 through acquisition.

Completed Six Acquisitions

In a comparative “slow year” for acquisitions, the company indeed stayed busy building strategically via acquisition and integration. Beginning in May, the purchase of office coffee accounts and Canteen franchise territory rights from Lighthouse Coffee brought coffee service back to Five Star’s Macon, GA service area. In June, the largest of the transactions was completed in Vend Food Services (VFS) of Athens, GA. Southern Refreshment Services (SRS) owned VFS, which was acquired by Five Star in 2018. Like Southern Refreshments, VFS also operates under the Five Star brand.

August brought two tuck-in acquisitions in North Alabama Vending (Decatur, AL) and Captain Vending Services (CV) (Marietta, GA). The North Alabama acquisition added route density to Five Star’s Huntsville area business. Similarly, the CV Vending purchase built the company’s vending route density in Marietta, GA. Captain Vending Services retained its coffee accounts and will continue to operate in that capacity. In addition, October brought the final two acquisitions of the year – both tuck-ins as well. Hill & Brooks Coffees & Teas (Mobile, AL) brought coffee and tea service accounts to the LaGrange (GA), Macon (GA), and Jasper (AL) areas. Dixie Full Line Vending (Fort Payne, AL) bolstered Five Star’s northeast Alabama vending, micro market, and coffee service areas.

Recruited World-Class Talent

Strategically investing in the business and the people who manage and operate it is also essential to sustained success. Creating new leadership positions was possible by new business sales growth. In March, Jeff Lyons became the company’s first Corporate Director of National Accounts. Jeff brought 18 years of national account management experience at Aramark to manage Five Star’s large base of national accounts. Herb Modisett joined the company in April as Corporate Director of Office Coffee Sales to lead the coffee and water service sales team. Modisett is a 29-year industry veteran with previous stops at Aramark, Filterfresh, and Royal Cup.

Key additions to Five Star’s corporate and regional leadership teams began in August with Tammy Stokes rejoining the company after spending six years with Canteen as Southeast Regional Director of Coffee. Stokes’, an 18-year industry veteran, served as Five Star’s corporate Director of Office Coffee for four years prior to her time at Canteen. In October, one of country’s top young leaders, Paul Tullio, came aboard to lead the Atlanta region as Director of Office Coffee and Pantry Service. Bringing two decades of food and beverage industry experience, Paul’s experience comes from managing Orange County (CA) based refreshment services company, Gourmet Coffee Service.

Awarded for Business Excellence

Operating ethically every day, in every situation is the core mantra at Five Star Food Service. Furthermore, they were awarded by the BBB in 2019 for commitment to integrity. The Better Business Bureau also awarded the company with its most prestigious award, the Torch Award for Marketplace Ethics. The award is given to the company that best represents the principles that the BBB promotes such as ethical practices in daily business operations, hiring, community involvement and much more. In addition, a Five Star team member was fortunate to find himself on the Automatic Merchandiser 2019 Pros to Know list. The company’s corporate recruiter, Steven Vosika, was highlighted for his accomplishments in reducing employee turnover and attracting top-tier talent to the company at all levels.

Surpassed One Million Meals Donated

Feeding the Future, Five Star’s 501(c)3 non-profit private foundation, had its biggest year yet. As a result of the organizations fund raising efforts, it donated over $185,000 to eleven partner food banks. Those donations generated over 750,000 meals for hungry kids. Donations put the organization over the exciting milestone of one million meals donated since inception. Feeding the Future gains donations from over 370 Five Star employees who donate via the company’s payroll deduct program. Five Star provides a benchmarked match to each payroll donation.

Involved in the Industry

Similarly to its belief in giving back to the communities it serves, Five Star values supporting the industry as well. In addition, several of the company’s leaders are taking active roles in various levels of industry organizations. Greg McCall, the company’s Chief Revenue Officer was named to NAMA’s Board of Directors at the 2019 NAMA Show. In the summer, Scott Plaisted, General Manager from Atlanta, elected to serve as Georgia’s state association (GAMC) President. Vice President of Marketing, C. J. Recher, rolled off NAMA’s Emerging Leaders Network (ELN) after a 5-year tenure to take the role of Vice President for Tennessee’s state association (TAMA). Geoff Wilcox, Director of Marketing Operations, was selected to fill the vacancy left by Recher on NAMA’s ELN as Education committee chair responsible for planning ELN’s education sessions at NAMA’s major events.

Partnered with New Private Equity Group

In late March, the company announced it had partnered with a new private equity firm, Freeman Spogli & Co., after spending two and a half years partnered with PNC Riverarch Capital. Five Star had grown significantly under PNC’s partnership and a new partner like Freeman Spogli & Co. made perfect sense. The company’s new partners are continuing the pace of growth at which Five Star embarked upon with its previous partners.

Focused on a 2020 Vision

All vision and eyesight puns aside, Five Star is more focused than ever going into the 2020 calendar year. For instance, areas of customer care and company culture are at the forefront of its plans this year. The company is also focusing on leveraging technology, business intelligence, and data analytics. As a result, it will continue the growth in optimization of increased operational efficiency and same store sales growth.


Five Star Food Service, headquartered in Chattanooga, TN, is the Southeast’s premier on-site food and beverage solution provider. Five Star is a leader in micro markets, full-line vending, corporate pantry kitchen, coffee and water services, full-service dining, catering, and sustainable products across Tennessee, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Kentucky, and North Carolina. Founded in 1993, Five Star has grown to one of the largest privately held operators in the United States and is also a franchise of Canteen, a Compass Group company. Learn more at or join the conversation on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram.


Micro market with beverage coolers and snacks

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