Theresa and Dan Willis make a difference every day with their Naturals2Go vending business
U.S. Navy veterans Theresa and Dan Willis set out to make a difference as business owners. “We wanted people to know that we’re not just in it for ourselves,” says Theresa. And in the short time since they opened for business, the couple has already made an impact.
Theresa and Dan started their vending business journey in January 2020 and now have almost 20 machines installed and operating. Whether one of their machines resides at a nursing home, a call center, or a local gym, the couple gives the local manager an opportunity to partner with a favorite 501(c)3 charity or nonprofit agency. In fact, pairing each machine with a charitable organization is a mandate of their operation. They donate 10% of the profits to a charity of the location’s choice. “We give to all different types of groups, from local soup kitchens to national organizations. One of our favorites is the Tunnel to Towers Foundation, a non-profit that helps families of fallen 9/11 first responders,” Theresa says.
Both former U.S. Navy Operations Specialists, Theresa and Dan say their military training has given them the tools to build a vending empire. “Some people view vending as a side hustle — and it can be — but for us, it’s big business,” Dan says.
The couple has lofty goals, including opening 60 to 80 more machines in the next year. “Scalability is what attracted us to Naturals2Go in the first place,” says Dan. The couple also liked the high-end machines and the fact that they could customize the contents of each one to fill the needs of the customer. “We work closely with our locations to give them what they want— anything from energy drinks to bran muffins. For us, this business is all about building relationships,” he says. Part of that includes sending a two-person crew to each location to fill machines. “One brings the items in and stocks, and the other talks with the client. Our goal is to create a friendly experience.”
A high level of service comes through in every area of the business, from analyzing product sales to keeping machines stocked with fresh items. “We have a no-bad-food policy,” Dan says. “Traditional vending machines are notorious for selling expired items. We’ll never do that.”
Aside from their own full-time efforts, Dan and Theresa also have two full-time employees and are planning to hire more as they grow. “In the beginning, we did everything ourselves with the help of the team at Naturals2Go,” Theresa says, “They have been amazing. Their ongoing support has been the key to our growth.”