Variety FoodServices began in Detroit, Michigan in 1928, on the verge of the Great Depression. Where thousands of businesses went bankrupt, millions of people lost their jobs, and countless families went hungry.
Norman Nowak recognized that many business were going bankrupt due to an inability to collect payments. Norman recognized that vending machines would solve this issue since products had to be purchased prior to their dispensal. Norman also believed that the streetcars of Detroit would make a great place to test his idea. All he needed now was the machines but he didn't have any money to buy them. He had lost his job and home and he and his wife and to move back in with her parents.
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.