DuBOIS - Walk into
the home of Rick and Sue DeSalve and one will find an area that
looks a lot like a convenience store, with shelves of candy bars,
tea, juice, pop and snacks.
Visitors will also see 10-year-old Eric DeSalve enjoying a Twix
bar and a can of Pepsi as he has his pick of delicious snacks in
his home, something many children only dream about.
Their lives didn't always include shelves of sweet treats. It all
started because Sue DeSalve wanted to spend more time with her son.
and Sue have started a vending service called Hav-A-Snack.
For 19 years, Sue worked at a bank, but the time came when she wanted
to be able to take her son to school and be at home with him instead
of always finding a babysitter.
About two years ago, the couple had heard about an upcoming seminar
in Johnstown that would tell interested parties how to start a vending
service. The DeSalves decided to attend and find out what it is all
They were told they could buy three, five or 10 vending machines to
get started and the company would help them find a place to put five
of their machines.
The machines are complete refreshment centers with candy, beverages
and a dollar dill changer all on one machine.
The DeSalves could buy the machines from the company holing the seminar,
place them in local businesses and then fill them regularly with snacks
and drinks and reap the rewards.
They were told how the business would work and they received references
of other people who have started vending services.
"We called and asked everyone of the reference about how they
got started because we were really nervous." Rick said.
The seminar was held on a Sunday night. Tuesday, they had to go back
to Johnstown with a down payment in hand to be interviewed.
The interview would determine if the company was willing to work with
the DeSalves to get them started.
The person interviewing them owned one of the biggest vending services
One year and three months later, Sue and Rick bought 14 vending machines,
enough for Sue to give up her job at the bank.
"It was faster than we thought it would be," she said.
Today, that number has jumped to 22 full refreshment centers and four
just snack centers.
Sue can now take Eric to school and them head out to fill the machines
with lots of goodies and be back in time to pick Eric up from school.
"I started the new millennium in the vending service," she
If something goes wrong with the machine, Sue goes to the rescue.
"I fix them. I just get out my toolbox," she said.
Included with the information they received from the company was a
video on how to fix a machine when it's broken.
Being able to pick Eric up was a major goal for her.
Before going into the vending service, Sue would already be at work
when Eric woke up.
"Rick and Eric would call me at work to say good morning. I didn't
like saying good morning that way," she said.
By the time Eric finished school, she was still at work so she had
to rely on Eric's grandparents to pick him up."
"It's hard enough to get kids to talk to you and when they do
it's right after school that they tell you about their day. If you
don't hear it then you don't hear it" she said.
"I like it more that she's home because I get to spend more time
with her," said Eric, who is often jokingly referred to as the
CEO of the business.
Besides having more time with mom, Eric can always find something
good to eat in their vending supplies, something that makes his friends
a little jealous.
"His friends come in and ask their parents why they can't run
a vending service like Eric's do," Sue said.
In order to allow her to work at home, there is catch involved.
The days of taking long vacations have passed and there's a lot of
time spent on the road filling machines.
"There's no week-long vacation for us. We keep them to about
three days," she said.
Rick added that they usually just take vacations in Pennsylvania now
because the machines need to be filled regularly.
Part of the reason for the DeSalves' successes they are both used
to working with people.
Rick works as a salesman for Murray Ford and Sue was a bank teller
for many years before becoming a supervisor.
"Part of the reason we could make a go of it is we listed to
the employees at the businesses we service and we put in the items
that people ask for," Rick said.
When one item stops selling as well, they replace it with another.
They said it's also important to make sure the items are fresh and
their prices are competitive.
Sue said now that their business includes more than 20 machines she's
not sure that she wants to get much bigger.
"If we get any bigger, I won't be home as much and that was the
goal for both of us to be able to quit our jobs and run the business,"
However, the cost of medical insurance that isn't purchased through
an employer is just too much, so Rick is continuing to work outside
of the business.
Now that the DeSalves have started their own business, Sue has made
the most of it by being a homeroom mother for her son's class and
making sure to take him to Scouts, lessons and just enjoy being a
"It's what I wanted to do," she said.