Technology helps retailers scoop more profit
It’s not a secret that the United States no longer leads the world in manufacturing; China became number one in 2010 and has widened the gap since. Still, it’s not an insurmountable deficit: according to data from the Manufacturers Alliance for Productivity and Innovation and the United Nations, China in 2013 was responsible for 23 percent of the world’s manufacturing compared to the United States’ 17 percent (no other country had more than an 8 percent share).
More importantly, American manufacturers still enjoy an advantage in productivity – requiring far fewer workers – and still lead in manufacturing “high-value” goods (think aircraft and medical equipment) as well as certain specialty products.
Florida is home to more than 18,200 manufacturers. One of them is a Central Florida firm, leveraging 21st century technical innovation to take the lead in the manufacture of machines that help make life sweeter.
Statistics show that around 40 percent of us regularly eat ice cream, nearly as many as those who drink coffee (47 percent). This popularity means you seldom need to go far to find a retail ice cream vendor. Over the years, the ingredients and process for dispensing soft-serve ice cream or frozen yogurt haven’t changed much. However, Orlando-based Argosy Group International’s efficient, technology-driven systems now allow vendors an opportunity to keep a bigger scoop of the profits.
“We determined in our company’s early days that the prevailing technology for soft-serve dispensing was ripe for new innovation,” says Raphael Doromal, Argosy’s CEO. His company originally purchased soft-serve equipment from overseas suppliers to resell. He soon realized that, with a little ingenuity, his company could manufacture its own, higher-quality machines in Orlando that would be more reliable, less expensive to maintain and easier to operate.
“So we put together a team and created technology that’s simpler, more energy efficient and capable of producing more soft-serve product for less cost,” says Doromal.
By decreasing the number of moving parts, Argosy reduced the energy use, maintenance frequency and footprint of its machines. For example, a comparison shows Argosy’s flagship 8000i takes up 35 percent less space than larger industry machines. A countertop version uses even less.
“The smaller size means retailers have room to add other revenue-producers,” said Doromal.
In addition to being more compact and efficient, Argosy’s machines are also easier to use. “We put the first 4.5-inch touch display on a soft-serve machine. Built-in training eliminates the need for manuals, so retailers can very quickly train staff how to use them.”
Doromal says Argosy’s equipment can be used in many different applications, both full- and self-serve. It also recalibrates to dispense different types of frozen treats automatically. “Ice cream can be installed on one side and yogurt or another product on the opposite without having to spend money on a technician to change the settings.” It all adds up to greater profit for retail vendors.
Argosy’s equipment has already proven popular in convenience stores, supermarkets, hotels, restaurants and other high-traffic locations. Since Doromal founded the company in 2009, its worldwide service and support network has become the largest in the frozen yogurt industry.
In 2014 the company was honored by GrowFL in association with the Edward Lowe Foundation as one of the Florida Companies to Watch. GrowFL is a statewide economic development organization certified by the National Center for Economic Gardening.
Argosy’s expertise in commercial refrigeration has also enabled the company to expand its manufacturing horizons beyond frozen desserts. The company now markets unique ice and ice water dispensers that put a fresh spin on the older, bagged ice chests commonly found at many convenience and grocery stores. “This ice always tastes fresh, so consumers can drop it directly into their beverages, too,” said Doromal.
In a changing world, where some common assumptions (like U.S. dominance in manufacturing) can no longer be taken for granted, it’s comforting to know that not only are traditional soft-serve ice cream and frozen yogurt still as popular as ever but that American, make that Florida innovators are producing these treats more efficiently and at less cost.