Today we’d like to introduce you to Jennifer Fox.
Jennifer, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
My father started the business in 1962 with one cigarette machine and one truck. In 2000, after graduating from Columbia with a graphic arts degree, my father asked me if I had any interest in coming to work for him. Naturally, being that I had just gone to school for something totally different, the vending and coffee industry did not seem like something I would enjoy. However my dad and I are very close so I felt compelled, obligated really, to give it a try.
That was 17 years ago this past May 15th! I think what I fell in love with most is the personal pride that comes with running your own business. Of course when I started I wasn’t running anything except running around trying to learn! My first job after babysitting was washing hair at a salon when I was 13, and I’ve never not worked since. But I really had zero business experience. Working here has taught me everything and there is a lot more to running a business than most people realize. Some days are awesome and some are really tough but I looking back I wouldn’t change a thing.
Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
God no! No business owner would ever tell you that the road has been smooth. My biggest struggle has probably been working with my dad. Anyone who works in a family business would likely say the same thing; working with family is not easy. There is a lot of emotion involved, especially because this is his baby. As much as he wanted to step back and be able to retire, it’s also very hard for him to let go. You have the melding of old school and new school ideas and that’s not always easy to navigate. For instance, he thought spending money to build a website was a gross waste of money in the early 2000’s! I knew better and not only insisted, but also insisted that we invest in something that was really nice. So there have been a lot of fights…a lot of disagreements…and I’d be lying if I said there wasn’t a battle of the genders a little too. I’m his little girl, the social butterfly artist. I have two brothers and that is who he thought would come in to take over the business so it took a little getting used to for him to take me seriously. In the end we still have our moments, but we’ve come a looooong long way from where we’ve been.
Please tell us about Fox Vending.
We are a full line vending, coffee service and micro market operator and micro markets are my newest passion! Chicago is a very unique market in that there are A LOT of good companies to choose from here. I have a large group of operators that are actually friends – friendly competitors we like to call each other. We all basically sell the same stuff through the same equipment that we buy from the same places, so what sets us apart is our family friendly service. We take very good care of our customers, big or small, so that they don’t feel they have a reason to look elsewhere for service. Are we perfect? No, of course not. If I could promise a potential client that we’ll never have a problem we would be the only game in town. But it’s in the timeliness and manner in which we respond to problems that I think sets us apart. Our longest standing customer has been with us for 53 years, Concordia University in River Forest. I think that speaks volumes.
Do you look back particularly fondly on any memories from childhood?
This is a tough one. I’m going to say every Christmas morning that I still believed in Santa Claus. I absolutely loved believing in Santa Claus. The magic of it all was something you just don’t get as you get older. And my mom really knew how to make Christmas special for me and my siblings. In fact up until just a few years ago when she got sick she still bought us all gifts from “Santa Claus” and even tried to fake different writing when she wrote Santa Claus in the “from” part of the gift tag. When I found out there was no Santa Claus I was devastated! I was in English class in grammar school (I’ll withhold the grade I was in to save myself the embarrassment) right before Christmas break and the teacher says, “your assignment while you’re on break is to write an essay about how you felt when you found out there was no such thing as Santa Claus”. I think I felt physically ill – haha. Needless to say that was an interesting essay to write. My mom was none too happy when I got home and told her!
- Address: 9717 S. 76th Avenue
Bridgeview, IL 60455
- Website: www.foxvending.com
- Phone: 800-694-2800
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org