Tuesday, February 07, 2017View Showroom
Stop me if you’ve heard this one. What do you get when have two guys, an RV and a bunch of ATMs? Apparently, a very successful business. You see, it all started...
...twelve years ago when two New Jersey brothers, Mike and Evan Almeida, had the brilliant idea to start an ATM company. While they had both found success in their respective careers – as the owner of a landscape architect firm and a commodities broker, an ATM company would provide the opportunity to work together...without the fertilizer or stiff office setting.
And, when they started seeing profit, they began to think about what came next. How could they grow the business? As chance would have it, their church found out they ran an ATM company and asked them to place an ATM at the annual fair. While the Almeida’s had never run an event ATM, they figured they could do it. They ended up scrounging up an old WRG machine and fished a phone line from inside the church for communication.
"It was a crude operation but it worked...and even though the profits were donated to the church, we knew this was an untapped market we wanted to explore," said Mike. So, the brothers began looking into other mobile ATM opportunities. When local events proved to work, they expanded to bigger events throughout the state – always pushing themselves to go further, think bigger and have better solutions.
But What About the RV?
Over the next few years the Almeida’s business expanded to handling events out of state and though out the country. The team used a sprinter van as transport and base of operations, often checking into hotels for the duration of the event – some lasting as long as two weeks.
In 2012, their accountant made an interesting observation – for the amount they spent on hotel rooms, they could almost purchase a new RV every year.
An RV? No one used an RV for ATMs, right? Except...why NOT?
So, Mike and Evan started doing some research. If an RV was going to work, it would have to operate as the transportation vehicle, a hotel and base of operations. Eventually, they found a good candidate – a 2012, 34-foot Thor Fourwinds RV.
“It was an easy sell for us and we picked it up for a great price. It was also a write off for the company," said Evan. "You can't beat that.”
“Sure enough, our accountant was right,” said Mike. “ We used that RV for the next two years and it made our lives so much easier.”
No Laughing Matter
Running events with an RV saved Empire time and money – making their mobile ATM operations more efficient. With the RV serving as base camp, they were able to park in the special area set aside for visiting/featured artists and technical operators – keeping the team onsite to more effectively manage their machines. The business has saved on trade shows too, using the RV to transport and house staff as well as the booth.
In fact, using an RV has been so successful they upgraded to a newer version in 2015. This time they knew exactly what they were looking for and they went bigger. “Our new one is 37 feet long, sleeps eight and can fit up to 12 units inside its rear garage," said Mike. "We don’t usually like to put more than eight ATMs inside, though, so we have space to haul a motorcycle for transportation while at the event.”
For larger events that need more than eight units – some require as many as 60 – they will pull a trailer or have multiple vehicles on site. And now that they are expanding their mobile fleet, they are looking to purchase another RV or a race trailer with living quarters and a storage area.
Today, the Almeida's handle a little over 200 events a year – sometimes working as many as five events in one weekend – and are very conscious of their branding. "Every unit that is sent to an event now goes through a thorough checklist to ensure uniformity," says Mike.
Evan notes, “we've come a long way since that first church fair."
So what's next? For the Almeida's, who are both licensed pilots ...there is talk of an airplane in the near future.