The biggest vending machine vendor in the Southeast has a new leader.
Five Star Food Service, the Chattanooga-based vending machine and micro market operator in five Southern states, has named Richard Kennedy as president and chief executive. He succeeds Alan Recher, who will continue with the company as executive chairman after growing the company by more than five-fold through acquisitions, customer and product additions.
Since August 2018, Kennedy has served as chief operating officer of Five Star Food Service in leading the company's operations. Prior to Five Star, Kennedy served as a director of a corporate strategy and operations consulting firm where he assisted Five Star through a restructure and rebuilding process in 2008 resulting in a transition to and eventually becoming Canteen's largest franchise.
"We strongly believe the timing is right for this change in day-to-day leadership, allowing the company to move swiftly, diligently, and creatively into the future while maintaining and enhancing our distinctive culture that makes us Five Star," Recher said.
Kennedy said he was glad to return to Chattanooga "and I look forward to building on this success while continuing to provide our customers with unique, unsurpassed service."
From its start in Dalton, Georgia, in 1993, Five Star built its business on efficient operations of vending machines, supplying coffee at office work sites and operating company dining rooms. But most of the company's recent growth has come from a new type of vending sales, known as the micro market, and through the acquisition of rival firms.
The company was acquired last year by a Los Angeles equity firm, Freeman Spogli & Company, and currently serves more than 6,000 work sites in parts of Alabama, Tennessee, Georgia, Mississippi and North Carolina. Five Star had about 1,500 employees earlier this year before the coronavirus limited some of its operations, but company officials said nearly 90% of the work sites the food vendor serves are back in normal operations.