Variety FoodServices began in 1928, on the cusp of the Great Depression. The United States was in the midst of a severe economic recession as many businesses went bankrupt and thousands of people were forced out of work. Bread lines filled the streets as desperate men searched for a means to provide for their families.
Founder Norman Nowak recognized that the increasing inability to collect payment from customers was a contributing factor towards business insolvency. Intuitively, Norman recognized that vending would be an excellent solution to this receivable issue since coins had to be inserted before products would dispense. Norman also believed that the streetcars of Detroit would make an excellent location to place his new idea. All he needed now was the machines and money to buy them.
Norman found an ad in the local paper about a Chicago based vending company. He then decided to write a letter to the owner of the business about his idea to which the owner shipped him three machines to test his theory. The machines were placed on streetcars that ran throughout metro Detroit and the venture proved so successful that Norman founded what would later become known as Variety FoodServices. The venture quickly expanded to implement vending machines in gas stations, small shops, and offices.
After Norman's initial success, the next decade proved to be more of a struggle. The vending business, in its early days, was not publicly accepted as business owners believed that vending machines would decrease productivity within the workplace. It was not until the end of WWII that studies proved that a light snack in the late afternoon actually increased productivity. From that point forward the business changed tremendously.
Since those rather humble beginnings, we have grown to become Michigan’s largest independent vending and cafeteria service provider and are now ranked in the top 5% of all vending and food service companies. We are and always have been dedicated to Michigan serving over 400 Michigan clients (industrial, institutional, and public) and employing hundreds of Michigan residents. We continue to be a family-owned and operated business now in our fourth generation with eight Nowak family members. Our headquarters is located in Warren, Michigan. That’s why we say “saying yes to Variety is saying ‘yes’ to Michigan.”
Perseverance - The Story of Variety FoodServices (watch below!)
Perseverance. It has been the foundation to our success ever since we opened our doors in 1928. From that time we have and continue to operate as a family owned and operated company. Below is our story, where brothers Ken & Don Nowak, sons of founder Norman Nowak, share their stories and memories of our companies expansive history.