MannVend’s a small firm with a very big heart

Awards for Excellence presentations at the Claremont Hotel.'Tracey Leahy of MannVend with John Watterson of Isle of Man Newspapers

Awards for Excellence presentations at the Claremont Hotel.'Tracey Leahy of MannVend with John Watterson of Isle of Man Newspapers

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Isle of Man Newspapers’ Awards for Excellence 2014 is launching at the end of June, with the Awards Night on November 20.

Last year’s Awards attracted a record number of entries from companies, individual, charitable organisations and the public sector.

In addition to the 16 award winner, 32 finalists were chosen who had submitted entries of a notably high standard. Here we highlight MannVend, finalist in the Corporate Social Responsibility category.

‘Ours is a locally owned, family business, employing 30 staff, with all our customers based on the Isle of Man, so it’s hugely important for us to support the community we live and work in,’ says MannVend’s managing director, Tracey Leahy.

MannVend was established on the island 45 years ago by her grandfather.Her father, Brian, is chairman of the company, which supplies vending machines to a wide range of customers including schools, banks, government departments, offices, restaurants and even private homes. It is estimated that their machines dispense over 35,000 drinks every day!

‘We get involved in a wide range of community initiatives, some high profile some low profile: our Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) work is extensive. But, as a small family business we don’t enjoy the luxury of a large budget for donations so we have introduced strategies that utilise our team, our products, and our time to benefit others,’ says Tracey.

These include running a ‘feed station’ on the route of the Parish Walk for the last 10 years, to which they have, to date, donated over 15,000 bottles of water and 13,000 Mars bars, supplying team bags and refreshments to Union Mills football team for a trip to Blackpool and donating refreshments to farmers searching for sheep during last winter’s devastating snowfall.

Tracey and her father Brian are also personally involved in a hands-on way with a number of good causes: on Christmas Day every year both help with transport for guests attending the Salvation Army Christmas lunch; Tracey is a mentor for Young Enterprise and is on the advisory committee for the Dreamcatcher Appeal, and Brian, who was born and raised in Kenya, acted as team host for the Kenyan team at the Commonwealth Youth Games, helping out as an interpreter for Swahili and Pidgin English.

But Tracey explains that the project that she is most proud of is ‘Pinkie’ MannVend’s fundraising snack machine:

‘Four years ago we were personally touched by the devastation of breast cancer when we lost a colleague and also a family member to the disease. We felt compelled to do something worthwhile to raise funds for Breakthrough Breast Cancer. After much brainstorming and research, Pinkie was born!

‘Pinkie was a snack vending machine which was totally pink and branded with the Breakthrough Breast Cancer logos. It enabled us to raise money for the charity by donating all the profits from sales. The concept was extremely popular as it enabled people from all walks of life, irrespective of income, to contribute. By purchasing an item from the machine they made a donation to the charity, whilst also receiving something in return.

‘Pinkie moved around sites on the island, one month at a time for a 12-month period. Locations included the airport, the Sea Terminal, B&Q and many private workplaces. Our customers embraced the opportunity of supporting this charity by allowing the machine on their premises – some even welcomed it twice!

‘Our objective was to raise £2,000, but we doubled this, and we were able to present a cheque to the charity for £4,000.’

So successful was the imaginative project, the first of its kind to be created, that a number of vending companies in the UK have expressed an interest in emulating it.

The idea is also being repeated this year, using a vending machine to support the artisan co-operative, Mostly Manx, with the provision of a vending machine through which to showcase and sell their goods. The machine has recently been installed in the departure lounge at the Sea Terminal, offering a selection of gifts, souvenirs, snacks and crafts, including a cuddly toy cat with a Manx tartan scarf, chocolate Three Legs, Manx tartan tea towels and artisan-made Manx chocolate.

Corporate Social Responsibility also embraces wider issues such as the environment and sustainability, as Tracey explains:

‘We take our environmental responsibility seriously and that is why the majority of the coffee that we supply comes from Rainforest Alliance or Fair Trade certified farms. Local measure include installing a satellite navigation system to all company vehicles to ensure callouts are carried out by the most relevant member of staff closest to the site, thus saving on fuel.

‘We also encourage our customers to recycle their plastic cups and we have installed a recycling station at work for all recyclable consumables. We have installed solar panels to produce hot water and we ensure that computers and drinks machines are switched off at night.’

Summing up their CSR policy, Tracey says: ‘Our people are our most important asset and we pride ourselves that MannVend is a rewarding place to work, a professional reliable organisation for our customers to do business with, and a business that our community can be proud of.

‘We have worked hard to weather the storm of the economic downturn and we hope that we have also demonstrated that a small company like ours can have high CSR standards.’

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