Age 37 | President and CEO of Vending Services Inc.
Spencer Cox left a cushy job as a financial consultant at Smith Barney to pursue his entrepreneurial dreams during the worst financial crisis in decades.
“My wife and I figured we’d rather try out our entrepreneurial spirit and fail at 29 than wonder ‘what if’ when we were 50,” he said.
The gamble paid off. Cox is now the president and CEO of Vending Services Inc., a full-line vending machine operator that serves Greater Des Moines. His company has about 600 vending machines and several hundred coffee and water systems throughout the metro area.
At first, Cox worked two jobs; for about a year he would drive a delivery truck at night only to come home and change into a suit and tie before going in to work at Smith Barney. He eventually took the plunge and focused solely on his vending company, which has since quadrupled in size.
Cox loves athletics; he played tennis when he attended Central College, and his wife, Stephanie, played softball. The two have four children: Logan, 10, Kennedy, 8, Tatum, 5, and Harper, 2. He now coaches youth sports teams and is working with a kindergarten girls’ basketball team.
He’s also a board member of the Gabe Fleming Memorial Hockey Scholarship Fund, a nonprofit organization named in honor of a hockey teammate’s brother. The group holds events to raise money and award scholarships to young hockey players in the Des Moines area.
Cox also has spent the past nine years on the board of the Greater Des Moines YMCA and Y Camp, the branch of the YMCA that conducts summer camps, outdoor education activities, conferences and retreats. He was recognized in 2009 as Y Camp’s volunteer of the year, and has just assumed the vice chairman responsibility.
But Cox doesn’t only do good in his spare time; he also strives to spread the spirit of giving with his business. This year’s charity of choice is Lance Armstrong’s Livestrong campaign, which he said he picked in part because his mother is a cancer survivor.
“So we’ve committed to giving away 1,000 bands this year,” he said.
Five reasons he’s a 40:
• 2009 YMCA volunteer of the year and YMCA board member.
• Strong involvement with Y Camp, which serves more than 20,000 people from Central Iowa annually through summer camp, outdoor education and retreats. Cox has served in many different roles, including member at large, treasurer and chair of the development committee.
• Former national account manager with All-State Industries Inc. and financial consultant at Smith Barney.
• Co-founded Vending Services Inc., which he calls the largest family-owned and -operated full-service vending company in Central Iowa.
• Board member of the Gabe Fleming Memorial Hockey Scholarship Fund, a nonprofit group that holds events to raise money and award scholarships to young hockey players in the Des Moines area.
Cox calls himself a huge Frank Sinatra buff. A fan of big band music, he said he has listened to all of SiFun fact: Cox calls himself a huge Frank Sinatra buff. A fan of big band music, he said he has listened to all of Sinatra’s music and read several books about him.