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In Honor of Boss’s Appreciation Day an Interview with Our Founders

Jim Variglotti and David Karley founded Cuyahoga Vending October 1988- 33 years ago with a few vending machines and the desire to take care of the customer. In honor of National Boss’s Day (October 16), we thought it would be fun to share the story of our roots with an interview with our founders.



Q: How did you get into the vending business?
Jim: I got into Vending business by going to refrigeration school. I studied with an older vending mechanic and he got me a job as a mechanic with Canteen. I gave up a job as a welder making a lot more money, but my heart was not into it.

Dave: I was hired into the vending business by Jim, who at the time was my girlfriend’s uncle. He needed a route driver, and it sounded interesting.

Q: Can you speak to the The Cuyahoga Group’s (TCG) core values – quality, integrity and family – and how they’ve shaped your working relationships?

Jim: Core values is really common sense – treat customers how you want to be treated. Value your customers, treat employees with respect and try to understand all parties.

Dave: Quality of service is key. Anyone can sell Snickers, but it’s service that makes the difference. Integrity is so important. When you promise something, you must deliver. And as far as family, we are all a big family working together.

Q: What was the biggest business lesson that being a founder of TCG taught you? A funny memory or story that helped shape the business?

Jim: Most of my lessons were learned the hard way and all were expensive! – LOL (I don’t want to be negative, but I hope this brings a smile to everyone).

The stories are endless. I could write a book and I smile about all the great times in the vending business. Here are two of my favorite stories:

  • The first week of business it was just Dave and I. Dave was on the vending route and we had just bought a used truck that needed new tires. We went to pick up the truck mid-afternoon and I was driving back in front of Dave. Dave was in the truck with the tires, but quickly learned the tire store didn’t secure lug nuts while driving over the Detroit bridge. All of sudden two tire wheels passed Dave up!  The tires bounced off a brand-new BMW—Dave almost went over the bridge and the company almost didn’t make it week one! (I had to buy Dave a drink that night)
  • Dave and I worked together at two other companies before starting Cuyahoga Vending. Dave got stuck in an elevator between floors – he called me on the elevator phone so we spoke for a couple of hours. Needless to say, he was pretty upset.

I have hundreds of stories with hundred’s people – most are cherished.

Dave:

  • The biggest lesson I’ve learned is everybody is important, from the person cleaning bathrooms, to the President of the company. They are all important people.
  • The stories are endless. There was the time I almost accidentally blew up Jim and myself, starting an acetylene tank on fire.
  • Rebuilding vending machines on Saturdays, while drinking Bloody Mary’s that Dan Hurley’s wife Mary Beth made.
  • Hiring the late Marlene Kosakowski to start our commissary. I trained her for 20 minutes and said have fun! She looked at me like I was nuts, then proceeded to build the commissary into a professional running unit. She is sadly missed.
  • 23 years ago, I asked a girl from the commissary out on a date. Her name was Cindy. We have been together ever since. Her last name is now Karley.


Q: What is your advice for the next generation

Jim: Stay humble and know you didn’t achieve success by yourself, it it takes effort by a lot of good people every day!!!   Understand business is like baseball you don’t get a hit every time you’re up, but you keep swinging.

Dave: My advice for the next generation would be… Work hard, treat people fairly and remember “Better Days are Coming!”

Q: What makes working in a family-owned business so special?

Jim: Working with family is challenging but even more rewarding.  Family businesses have a hard time transitioning to second generation – however it has worked for us. I expect positive results and taught good work ethics, which seems to work with our family and team. Real grade of company is when times are tough, like with this virus, and everyone has done fantastic. I’m a very proud parent and employer.

Dave: Working in a family business makes it feel like home. I often mistakenly call work “home”. 


Thank-you Dave and Jim, for the insight and time. We appreciate your efforts, without the both of you, we would not be here.

As Jim always says, “Take care of the customer and the customer will take care of you.”

Chef Appreciation Week

This weekend marks the end of Chef Appreciation Week, which takes on special significance this year. Across all our lines of business, the team has quickly adapted to serve our customers during this challenging time. We are incredibly grateful for all our team members dedication, creativity and passion to nourish and connect us to our customers.


Chef Appreciation week tied nicely into the introduction of the new  Elevated Food Program for our micro-market clients. Andy and his team officially launched our new executive bowl program Elevate – Your Dining Experience To A New Level this week. Taste the Difference with this fresh spin and addition to our hot lunch line. Contact Catering Experience for how you can serve your employees these innovated and delicious cuisine.


We couldn’t do it without the seasoned talents and passion for food of our Executive Chef, Andy Yanak, who brings more than 30 years of catering experience to our customers.

9/11 Day of Remembrance

Today, September 11, 2020 marks the 19th anniversary of the horrific attacks on the United States- Our country lost 2,983 men and women that day. I was just starting my naval career and the attacks changed the trajectory of my service.  At the time I was about to graduate from a follow on Officer School in Rhode Island and I was desperate to get ahold of my girlfriend (now my wife) at the time. I am sure you remember exactly where you were that day as well.


In the depths of the tragedy, a light of courage shone from our first responders: The firefighters, paramedics, police officers, military personnel, and bystanders, who sacrificed their own safety to save the lives of others.   


The Cuyahoga Group is a veteran-owned and operated company that honors those who lost their lives were lost on 9/11 and the brave selflessness acts of our first responders and air crews. Their service and sacrifice will never be forgotten.  


Let’s have a moment of silence for all the people suffering today in the US., as well as for the continued bravery of all of our essential workers.


Be Safe,
Vince Variglotti,
President, The Cuyahoga Group


“If we learn nothing else from this tragedy, we learn that life is short and there is no time for hate.”  Sandy Dahl, wife of Flight 93 pilot Jason Dahl, Shanksville, Pennsylvania Memorial, 2002. 

Happy Labor Day!

Nothing has been ordinary in 2020, except for the hard work, commitment and tenacity of each of our Cuyahoga Group team, members . This Labor Day, we want to take the opportunity to express our gratitude for each of you. We would not be where we are today without our team, our greatest asset and truly essential.


We also want to take the time to honor and express our gratitude to the workers who came before us—the men and women who built this country and who risked their personal safety and their jobs to stand in solidarity and demand fairness and dignity in the workplace.


For most of us, this weekend marks the unofficial end of summer and a three-day weekend to gather around the grill with family and friends, but this year, it means so much more.  We hope you take the day to relax and enjoy a stress free day with your loved ones.


From the Cuyahoga Group family to yours, we wish all of you a safe and happy Labor Day weekend. 

Refreshing Water Choices = Happy, Healthy Staff

August is National Water Quality Month.  We all understand that water gives life and sustains life—and pure, clean water is not only vital to our health and wellness, it is key to the survival of our planet. That’s why The Cuyahoga Group provides the very best in water brands and products in our Vending and Micro-Markets.

Quick Access to Refreshing Water = Happy, Healthy Staff

Pure water is the center of workplace healthy initiatives, and we have the variety of water products that your employees want! From Deja Blue® and Aquafina®, to LifeWater® brands, to many more water brand options, The Cuyahoga Group makes it quick and convenient for employees to maintain healthy choices by keeping pure water stocked just a short walk away, in your office break room or on your warehouse or plant floor.

Still or sparkling, flavored or not—it’s your earth-friendly choice!

We’re Committed to Earth-Friendly & Sustainable Practices

The Cuyahoga Group recycles, reuses and prioritizes environmentally sustainable initiatives at our offices, warehouses and culinary centers—and we also strive to support the health, wellness and ‘green’ programs at your company. We provide your employees with natural and refreshing water, while supporting environmentally friendly practices in your workplace—making it a cascade of wins for all of us!

Pure Water for your Employees is just a Click Away!

For more information on The Cuyahoga Group’s selection of pure water products, including our Bevi® pure water system, click here.

“Elevating” Your Catering Experience!

Our catering team with Catering Experience has launched a new executive bowl program Elevations – Raising Your Dining Experience To A New Level!  Taste the Difference with this fresh spin and addition to our hot lunch line.

The bowls combine superfoods, grains and wide variety of toppings to create a healthy and filling experience. Featured are bowls from our Asian Fusion line pictured below.

All Bowls are garnished with Fresh Micro Greens & Edible Flowers, truly Raising Your Dining Experience To A New Level! Contact Catering Experience for how you can serve your employees these innovated and delicious cuisine.

Snack Safely

Convenient access to fresh grab-and-go meals will eliminate the need to leave the office for lunch.

The Cuyahoga Group is committed to helping consumers #SnackSafely. In addition to intensifying our cleaning and disinfecting procedures, we have also equipped our associates with PPE (face masks and gloves) and have implemented daily wellness and temperature checks.

Quick trips for lunch down the street won’t be so easy, or for some, worth the hassle thanks to precautions like social distancing and temperature checks on your return. Healthy grab and go options will give consumers the quality of restaurant take-out with the convenience of on-premise dining.

Planning for the future in uncertain times is tough. However, we are confident that when you make it through the temperature checks and follow the directional signage to the break room, you’ll be entering a safe space to connect, collaborate, and refuel. The Cuyahoga Group is committed to helping you snack safely.

Cuyahoga Group Catering offers onsite boxed BBQ for your Employees!

The tradition of the outdoor BBQ rolls back through the eons, and while other culinary fads have come and gone, our love for grilling seems to be forever. We know that with this coming holiday weekend, BBQ will be center stage.

Whether vegan or carnivore, there’s something for everyone, and there’s nothing like outdoor grilling to raise the taste meter of any food type—from sizzling veggies and savory seafood, to scrumptious cheeseburgers or grilled chicken—a barbecue lifts any food item onto a plane of sweet, spicy or smoky deliciousness.

At The Cuyahoga Group, not only do we specialize in the very best of workplace vending and market options, our Catering Division chefs have years of experience and talent in bringing the all-American BBQ right to your workplace parking lot!

Want to instantly raise employee morale? Have a cookout in your parking lot!

We can provide outdoor catering for all shifts!  So, make your associates happy this summer with our top-rated BBQ fare—right outside your door! Forgo the buffet and indulge in our fresh lunches boxed on site.
Liven up corporate lunches, meetings or any event – leave everyone in the office full and satisfied!

Whether your staff loves savory brisket, seared veggies, baby back ribs, good old fashioned hot dogs, brats and hamburgers—or all of the above, our Catering group has you covered: We do all the set-up, grilling, serving and clean-up—and all you have to do is make sure your employees show up!

For more information on bringing a hot lunch boxed barbecue to your business or organization, please contact Andy Yanak, Head Chef with The Cuyahoga Group Catering Division: AYanak@CuyGroup.com.

Click here for more information on a variety of indoor and outdoor Catering options at The Cuyahoga Group.

Let’s get grilling!

Employee of the Quarter: Ivelisse “Eve” Nieves – Congratulations!

The Cuyahoga Group has selected Ivelisse “Eve” Nieves as the Employee of the Quarter. Eve works as Prekit/Prepack Lead at our North Ridgeville Branch for the last three years.

“Each morning I walk in and see her face and I know it is going to be a good day,” says Darrin Terry. Throughout these past few months, Eve has been flexible while maintaining a great attitude and with determination. Eve is quick to think on her feet and always reliable. She arrives early every day on time and shows leadership in making sure no one on her team slacks off. No matter what is thrown her way she adjusts on the fly, no questions asked.

When the country shut down day care, she quickly found another alternative for her two children, never complaining. We cut her team in half and she took on the challenge becoming a one woman wrecking crew, getting the job done. 

Eve truly embodies the word essential. She is absolutely necessary and extremely important and critical in our day-to-day operations. She has made life easy during a tough and challenging time and that is greatly appreciated. 

Congratulations to Eve on being selected as The Cuyahoga Group Employee of the Quarter! We appreciate your many contributions and we are grateful that you are part of our team. Your kindness and willingness to always help out your teammates whenever needed, is an inspiration and role model to us all. Thank you Eve!

A Personal Mother’s Day Letter to My Mom, Sherry Variglotti. Happy Mother’s Day! By Carla Variglotti

I have the most amazing mom and best friend.  My mom, Sherry Variglotti,  is the best gal I know. When you are sick- she cooks chicken noodle soup, when you are happy she celebrates with you, and when you need a hug she gives the best hugs. 

As Mother’s Day approaches, I want to say thank you to Sherry Variglotti. Many of you know her as the mom of Vince and I, and as Jim’s wife. What you may not know is that she is a nurse who supported our family when the business got started. She has always been the CEO: Chief Emotional Officer. She is the one who nurtures our family’s traditions and beliefs, sets the tone for family interactions—and she is the glue who keeps us close together.

There are so many good things about her, too many to list. When I was a kid, her hugs and butterfly kisses fixed everything. Her sense of humor is contagious and her heart is huge. When I was little she always smelled so pretty- Obsession by Este Lauder was her fragrance. Her home-cooked meals brought our family together to share stories, laugh and appreciation.  Words cannot adequately express how much I appreciate and respect you. I love you mom, and I am so grateful and happy to be your daughter.

I know that your mom is as special to you as mine is to me, and I want to honor the significant mother-child bond of every daughter and son who reads this. I’d also like to take a moment to honor and remember the moms who are no longer with us—their love and care will forever have an immeasurable impact on their families, and they live on in the hearts and memories of their children—and will never be forgotten.

To all the working moms, I just want to take a moment to congratulate and honor you on Mother’s Day. Juggling work, home, and family is really hard, and you deserve major kudos for ALL you do. Your dedication to both work and family pays off. And one thing’s for sure… you are appreciated.

So, to my mom—and to every mom, I hope you enjoy this holiday—dedicated just to you!

Happy Mother’s Day!