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365 Retail Markets surpasses 6,300 installations

Verii is a compact vending unit and a pay window for scanning and purchasing through smartphones.

A growing demand for high quality, automated food choices in office buildings is pushing Troy-based 365 Retail Markets into stratospheric sales. In the last year the company expanded into three global markets, added 15 employees, and hopes to enroll a private equity firm to grow even larger.
 
"The market is pulling us forward," says President Joe Hessling, whose firm ranks among the fastest growing in Southeast Michigan, offering tasty alternatives to Lunchables scarfed down at the desk. "As people spend more time in the work environment, they look for more amenities from their daily lives. Food service technology is how companies can compete with Google, Facebook, and LinkedIn. We're a benefit for employees."
 
Joe HesslingHessling, who skipped college and went straight into the food service business, started 365 Retail Markets in 2008. The company reached $23.5 million in revenue in 2015, up from $17 million in 2014; Hessling anticipates a 30 percent increase in 2016. For three years the company has enjoyed a funding boost from Plymouth Ventures. Their main product is its MicroMarkets technology, a turn-key, unmanned market, an updated Automat for the coffee shop/convenience store clientele. While other companies fulfill the merchandise, 365 Retail Markets provides the kiosks, coolers, freezers, shelving, and payment options from credit cards to thumb prints that allow 24/7 access and remote inventory management.

Hessling says his company recently surpassed its 6,300th installation and now services accounts in Canada, Italy, and the United Kingdom, as well as the United States. In 2005, Inc. Magazine called 365 Retail Markets the global leader in MicroMarkets technology and ranked it No. 321 in the 5,000 fastest growing private companies.

Having the right technology at the right time is everything. Hessling says his goal is to achieve ultimate flexibility in what customers can order and how the equipment runs seamlessly. Nearly half the operating costs, according to Hessling, is software development, systems that can provide data analytics on what customers buy and how often. The company started with an honor system for payment, and now has developed theft deterrent and security packages for seamless operation 24/7.
 
"The amount of change one good software developer can make on the company trajectory is worth it," Hessling says. His firm has 30 developers among its 140 employees and 10 contractors with offices in Troy, Provo, Utah, and Santa Clara, California. The software and customer service team work with clients to prepare a launch site, get equipment installed, and work to keep the market running smoothly.
 
This month, 365 Retail Markets is launching Verii, a compact vending unit and a pay window for scanning and purchasing through smartphones. Hessling believes his firm could enlist up to 200,000 small offices with 25-100 employees who would be ripe for this service. Just say cha-ching!

Maureen McDonald is a Metro Detroit freelance reporter who writes for Issue Media Group, Detroit Neighborhood News Hub, Crain's Detroit Business, and many other publications, and taught journalism at colleges around Metro Detroit.

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