Marcus Gram is the CEO and founder of Joyner Vending, which owns 21 vending machines spread across the United States, including Philadelphia, Baltimore, D.C and Detroit. The vending machines include both snacks and drink machines.
“I had a friend who saw a woman take cash out of a vending machine and it kinda sparked the idea about maybe we should get into it,” Gram told CNBC Make It about how he started his business in 2018.
According to him, it cost him around $4,500 to start his business between two machines and two credit card readers. In 2018, he realized $4000 from his vending machine. The next year, he made $25,000. In 2020, he made over $200,000 while in 2021, the business posted over $300,000. Gram said he is projecting to make over $500,000 in 2022.
Life has not always been rosy for Gram. Recounting how he moved from poverty to making six figures, he noted that he used to make only $30,000 a year. He tried becoming a music producer but he failed. With limited economic opportunities, Gram said he was forced to live with his mother so as to save the little he earned.
“I used to try to be a music producer. That didn’t work out so I moved back home and my goal was to live with my mother for a period of time to save money. I stayed with my mother for 9 months so I was able to save something,” he said.
According to him, he was able to save up to $10,000 but he wasn’t quite sure of the business to invest in as he contemplated moving to Philadelphia. Nonetheless, he moved to Philadelphia, and invested in a vending machine but operated it as a side hustle.
Soon, what started as a side hustle became a full-time business, Gram said. “I went from making $30,000 a year to $300,000 a year.”
Typically, Gram starts his day early in the morning by checking the vending machine sales. He would later contact the staff to see what machine they are going to stock while he also shopped for projects for the machines that he services.
According to him, 30 percent of his revenue goes towards buying products for the vending machine, 10 percent goes into salaries of his staff, another 10 percent goes to miscellaneous things like gas and the other 30 percent is profit.
Gram noted he loves his job and the flexibility that it comes with. According to him, he works when he wants to work while providing a need for people. Nonetheless, running a business like this also has its own risks.
According to him, one of his challenges is “vandalism,” adding that someone tried to break into his vending machine to steal cash. “Fortunately for me, they were not able to do so,” he added.
Grams said his medium to long-term goal is to expand to multiple states and have more vending machine locations around America and hire more staff. Eventually, he wants to open a vending machine warehouse to sell vending machines and other accessories.