Smooth operators

If a grocer’s merchandising display looks shabby or the cooking equipment breaks down so often that customers can’t always count on getting a chicken for dinner, shoppers are turned off. That’s why savvy supermarkets are still squeezing equipment and design up­grades into their budgets.

“We’re seeing a bit of a turnaround, and customers are looking six to nine months out,” says Jason Moles, field marketing manager for Eaton, Ohio-based Henny Penny. “They’re even more likely to go ahead with an investment if they can get a payback, like saving on energy costs.”

Dave Morrow, president of North Prairie, Wis.-based Zero Zone, agrees. “What grocers are looking for are ways to do it better, cheaper and with less energy,” he says. “While new construction is down, we’re seeing an uptick in remodels.”

The deli and prepared foods counter are areas where grocers continue to invest as there are handsome margins to be made as shoppers dine in more often. “They need the right equipment to create restaurant-quality meals and keep shoppers coming back even when they have the money to venture back into restaurants,” say Jack Scott, vice president of sales and marketing for Menomonee Falls, Wis.-based Alto-Shaam.
Here’s a look at some of the equipment and design offerings that are inspiring supermarkets to invest:


Gumee, Ill.-based Corrigan’s “Thunder Wash” sanitizing systems for produce, seafood, meat, poultry, misting and humidity equipment address food retailers’ food safety concerns.
The system uses ozone—which company officials call “nature’s cleanser”—making it very cost effective compared to other sanitizing methods. 800-462-6478,,

The ICS from Cincinnati-based Hydro Systems Co. is a fully portable battery-powered sanitation cart that delivers cleaner, safer stores by foaming, spraying or misting accurately diluted chemicals for cleaning restrooms, shopping carts and refrigerated cases. According to company officials, recent studies have quantified the ICS’s cleaning superiority for  sanitizing shopping carts and public restrooms. 

The ICS eliminates cross-contamination issues by dispensing fresh chemicals on demand while using significantly less water and chemicals than traditional cleaning methods. 800-543-7184,


According to officials for the Menomonee Falls, Wis.-based manufacturer, the Alto-Shaam Combitherm is the only combi oven offering complete smoking capability in addition to standard combi cooking modes.
The patented smoking feature gives grocers the ability to smoke any product, hot or cold, with real wood chips. Retailers can expand their deli offerings—and profits—by adding real hardwood smoke flavor to many traditional items. Plus, the Combitherm will clear all smoke residue with just one cleaning cycle., 800-558-8744.

Individually built with precision and care by the most experienced stove builders in America, equipment from Quincy, Ill.-based Comstock-Castle Stove Co. is securely delivered in one to three weeks, company officials say. Sturdy welded frames and quality stainless steel with attractive hand-polished finishing are standard.

Globe’s premium slicers are unmatched for quality and reliability, built of stainless steel, which is unbeatable when it comes to sanitation, durability and appearance, according to officials for the Dayton, Ohio-based manufacturer. The slicers feature a rugged gear drive system—not belts—for  improved durability and reliability.

The Evolution Elite electric open fryer from Eaton, Ohio-based Henny Penny is able to cook the same amount of product in 40% less oil than standard 50 lb. fryers while significantly extending useful oil life. The cost savings and environmental benefits of the Evolution Elite are enhanced with the available heating format of natural gas or liquefied petroleum gas, according to company officials.

The Evolution Elite was well-received by the industry, winning the 2009 Kitchen Innovations (KI) Award presented at the NRA show in May.

The Hi-Yield 16-5000 Meat Saw from Countryside, Ill.-based Hollymatic Corp. is designed with exclusive safety and operational features, which officials say make it a must-see for safety directors and buyers.
The quick-stop brake electrically stops the blade in one second. Double-flanged wheels and safety-interlocked doors, three-speed operation and swing-open tables provide additional safety and time-saving features at a competitive price.

Operated by an innovative touch-screen controller, the Commander Automatic Wrapping system from the Columbus, Ohio-based Mettler Toledo allows users to weigh, wrap and custom-label product from one compact and easy-to-use system, according to company officials.

Grand Rapids, Mich.-based Oliver Products recently introduced its Duo-Slicer. The Duo-Slicer, which loads and bags from the front, uses 25% less space and delivers a 50% energy savings when compared to two slicers, according to company officials., 800-253-3893.

The SP-650, a gas-fired wood-burning BBQ pit and convention smoker oven from Marion, Ill.-based Southern Pride, features a stainless steel interior, digital roast and hold control, two interior Teflon coated lights and a pneumatic rotisserie advance foot switch as standard equipment.

Company officials say the design of the SP-650 incorporates a new access panel for easier maintenance of the convection fan motor and blades.

According to officials at Marion, Ill.-based YieldKing, the company’s YieldKing 200 is a true electric combination oven as it roasts, steams, smokes, retherms and holds with moisture, all within a small 25.5” by 33” footprint. The YieldKing 200 comes with 40 preprogrammed menus.


Fairfield, Ohio-based CIP Retail Impact is a leader in the design, manufacture, delivery, and installation of retail environments for those seeking to be in the forefront of the marketplace, according to officials for the design firm.

The company works with many independent retailers to present a unique experience that incorporates departmentalization while encompassing the local flavor of the community. 800-899-9575,

According to officials at D|Fab, the company’s CoreLite replaces costly architectural features with environmental elements that are easily changed for future updates—at significant cost savings. CoreLite has many possibilities for shape, thickness and surface texture. Ease of installation and customization make CoreLite an appealing architectural alternative for interior décor, retail signage and branding graphics.

The Madison Heights, Mich.-based firm offers retail store design, graphics and décor fabrication, installation and rollout fulfillment, along with sustainable solutions for store interiors. 800-968-9440,

Marlite Plank is a wall panel system with interlocking 16” wide tongue and groove panels used primarily for wainscot with inconspicuous joints when used in conjunction with scorelines. According to officials for the Dover, Ohio-based firm, the result is a distinctive look that is both durable and economical. 800-377-1221,

Store Design Services, a Minneapolis-based provider of end-to-end store development services, has worked closely with supermarket operators for nearly 40 years, helping them to better serve their customers and grow their businesses.

According to company officials, the staff at Store Design Services is experienced in new construction and remodels, offering a full complement of services under one roof. The firm provides independent project management, store planning and merchandising, architecture and engineering, visual merchandising, interior design and equipment services., 952-914-5670.

Experts in retail and foodservice, Dublin, Ohio-based WD Partners has 40 years of experience designing multi-unit locations that engage customers, reduce capital expenditures and lower operating costs, according to officials for the design firm.

The company helps grocery and CPG brands innovate at the store level with services that include design and branding, consumer insights, operations engineering, labor management systems, architecture, MEP and structural engineering and sustainable design, along with fabrication and implementation.
Clients include Safeway, Supervalu, Price Chopper, Stop & Shop, Whole Foods, Wal-Mart and PepsiCo.


American Digital Signage, based  in Normal, Ill., started offering its technology directly to grocers. Whether grocers want to promote departments or use digital signs as video extension reinforcing shelf tags and secondary displays, the company’s Digital Displayer supports retailers’ digital promotion needs. According to company officials, digitial signage minimizes the effort needed to deliver the desired message to consumers, generates sales lift and decreases perceived customer wait times.

Columbus, Ohio-based Amtekco is a full-service manufacturer, providing design services and brand fulfillment, sales and service, fabricating and shipping functions.
The company has multiple plants in various locations, providing the ability to ship from the point closest to the retailer., 800-336-4677.

Lozier offers a variety of shelving op­tions to answer grocers’ needs for dy­namic center store and specialty department merchandising challenges. The Omaha, Neb.-based manufacturer offers a variety of merchandising solutions, from high-end wine and liquor displays to customer engaging private label displays.

A portable display fixture from LaGrange Park, Ill.-based MEI expands to hold from one to five buckets of flowers in such a way that it always look full and lush, company officials say. Called the 5n1, the display supports five large buckets and needs a footprint of only 17” by 17” closed and 48” by 48” when fully opened. 800-352-7220,

The Allura Undershelf Light, the latest addition to Southern Imperial’s Allura Lighting System, accents and illuminates merchandise below the shelf edge. The 3- or 4-foot wide fluorescent light kits from the Rockford, Ill.-based supplier can easily be installed in the front or rear perforations of gondola shelves, according to company officials. Up to ten lights can be linked together in a chain to reduce number of power sources needed. Each lighting kit features four lights, a 12-foot power cord, four 2-foot linking cords, eight undershelf mounting clips and zip ties. 800-747-4665,

Structural Concepts’ new floral Wave Series combines captivating curves with alluring open reach-in and glass-door cases to create an enticing display. According to officials for the Muskegon, Mich.-based company, retailers can easily mix and match popular styles and sizes with inside and outside curves to create a floral display to fit any available space.

Wave units feature the Fresh Flow gravity-fill watering system, ensuring that cut flower stems are never out of water.

Trade Fixtures/New Leaf Designs, a Little Rock, Ark.-based provider of bulk food merchandising systems, can design, create, and deliver custom millwork projects. With its talented engineers, state-of-the-art CNC machines, and in-house shop, the company can turn a retailer’s vision into reality, according to company officials.
Trade Fixtures is a member of the U.S. Green Building Council, and the Columbia PureBond Fabricator Network.

The Trion WonderBar EWT breaks new ground in retailing family packs of gum, candy and cough drops from pusher-fed, bar mounted trays, according to officials for the Wilkes-Barre, Pa.-based supplier. Extended height product stops (as shown) are optional for tall products. Universal bars mount to all gondola systems. The units’ billboard selections add up to 25% more facings and can increase sales 10% to 20%.

The system continuously feeds and faces product, reducing labor. Trays remove for easy rear loading, enforcing stock rotation and reducing shrink. WonderBar EWT organizes the department, improves presentation, and allows 48 facing resets in as little as 15 minutes. 800-444-4665,,

VKF Renzel is an international producer and supplier of innovative display and point-of-purchase solutions, including indoor and outdoor banner displays, brochure holders, aluminum snap frames, acrylic products, price labeling and shelf management systems, standoffs, shopping baskets and exhibition products.
In addition to its full-line product catalog, the Arlington Heights, Ill.-based company introduced six specialty catalogs, including shelf management, shopping baskets, sign frames, brochure and poster displays, aluminum and banner frame systems., 866-736-9351.


Founded in 1932, Chase Doors offers a wide range of specialty doors, including impact traffic doors, cold storage doors, strip doors and insect curtain doors. Officials for the Cincinnati-based company say it offers more products for use in grocery stores than any other door manufacturer.

REMIS America offers retrofit refrigeration doors and covers to grocery retailers and OEM case manufacturers that significantly cut energy costs and reduce the retailers’ carbon footprint. Officials for the Elkhart, Ind.-based company say its full range of temperature insulated glass doors and bunker freezer covers can reduce energy consumption up to 60%.

Officials for Lexington, Ky.-based Big Ass Fans say its architectural models work in tandem with HVAC systems to distribute conditioned air and are the perfect complement to any commercial space. Available in diameters of 8- to 20-ft., a single 12-ft. Big Ass Fan moves more air than 36 small ceiling fans at only 25% of the operating cost. 

The fans uses electronically controlled, gearless motor technology, which ensures silent operation that never interferes with electronic equipment such as computers or PA systems. The company’s innovative line of 6- to 24-ft. industrial-grade fans is the preferred air movement solution for thousands of warehouses and distribution centers worldwide.

Desert Aire’s TotalAire MSP dehumidifiers are superior indoor environmental control systems specifically designed to provide significant energy savings to supermarkets and big box stores.  Officials for Desert Aire, based in Germantown, Wis., say this was achieved by combining its refrigeration-based TotalAire dehumidifier with the patented MSP heat exchanger module, which is manufactured and exclusively licensed by the company, MSP Technology.

This hybrid design delivers air at a dewpoint (DP) between 44° and 50° F, while still supplying the air at a neutral leaving air temperature (LAT) to prevent overcooling.  Most importantly, the efficiency of the TotalAire MSP system reduces the required compressor capacity upwards of 25% to 50%.,

ProAct software, part of the Intelligent Store architecture from Kennesaw, Ga.-based Emerson Climate Technologies, provides insight for retailers to measure, manage and optimize their facilities. Company officials say recent enhancements allow retailers to remotely detect critical equipment failures, participate in demand response programs and benchmark energy consumption.

Helping retailers lower their operational costs, ProAct is a managerial tool developed for facility, maintenance and energy executives in the supermarket industry.


The APG Series 1150 short-depth, high-capacity cash drawer is ideally suited to supermarkets, according to officials at the Minneapolis-based supplier. Mounted on the checkout deck directly at the point of payment, the Series 1150 enables ergonomic, efficient, space-saving and customer-facing checkout designs.
Scanning, bagging and payment transactions are efficiently integrated along the same work axis, eliminating uncomfortable twisting and turning to side counter cash drawer locations.

Cummins-Allison Corp. added the FastPay small currency and coin dispenser to its wide line of self-service coin kiosks. Customers simply pour their jar of mixed coins into the Cummins coin machine and instantly receive cash back. According to officials for the Prospect, Ill.-based company, customers no longer have to wait in line for their cash and can begin shopping immediately. The FastPay dispenser can be added to existing Cummins self-serve coin kiosks.

Ergolane, the first major design change for checkout lanes in more than 40 years,  enhances worker comfort, helps achieve outstanding throughput levels, decreases checkout transaction times and uses less space than conventional lanes, according to officials at Bowling Green, Ky.-based Pan-Oston.

Officials note that it is the only checkout lane that provides full ADA accessibility for cashiers and customers and is LEED certified. Ergolane is ergonomically designed with a low profile and contemporary inviting contours. Its unique “cashier cockpit” accommodates any POS hardware and ensures the cashier always faces the customer. 270-783-3900,

Founded in 1972, Tomra is a global provider of advanced solutions for the collection, sorting and compaction of used beverage containers. Officials for the Shelton, Conn.-based manufacturer say the reverse vending machines provide supermarkets with a complete solution for handling the return of deposit beverage containers.

Officials at St. Louis-based BAERO North America Inc. say the company has extended its CANOPUS line of light fixtures to include the innovative BATWING reflector technology. BATWING technology allows for exceptionally even top-to-bottom illumination of shelving displays and makes fixtures spacings of up to 16’ possible in general lighting applications. Constructed with steel and aluminum and available in three different mounting options (track, canopy and rail), the CANOPUS fixture can be easily incorporated into any store design.
With the introduction of the 70º and 90º BATWING reflector options, in addition to the original broadbeam design, BAERO can offer a single fixture with incredible versatility, allowing for a consistent appearance of fixtures throughout the store. The company offers a line of lighting fixtures specifically designed for supermarkets.

Philips’ Affinium LED Refrigerated Display Lighting systems are a brighter and more energy-efficient way to light up sales of refrigerated and frozen food in glass-door and multi-deck cases, according to officials for the Rosemont, Ill.-based firm.
Featuring the latest LED technology, the Affinium systems deliver value to shoppers and supermarket operators. Customers get a much better visual impression of the merchandise on display, while supermarket owners benefit from excellent total cost of ownership—a significant reduction in energy consumption and in lamp replacement—with very attractive payback times., 800-322-2086.

AHT, based in Hanahan, S.C., is a global manufacturer of highly energy efficient, environmentally friendly plug-in refrigeration and freezing concepts. AHT officials say the company’s solutions are adjustable to customer needs and focused on cost savings, high quality, minimum heat emissions, low sound, high food quality and excellent product presentation.

Many U.S. customers have reported increases in sales and significant cost savings through the use of AHT’s Paris wide island and Malta shop-around model, company officials report. The U.S. division is now introducing the Athens model to provide retailers with more than 20% additional display area and more than a 30% increase in net storage capacity.

Using the Isla concept for flexible island displays from Bridgeton, Mo.-based Hussmann Corp., retailers can design their own merchandising islands to create centers of excitement throughout their stores, according to company officials. Isla uses a modular design to allow flexibility.
Retailers can choose modules to be used as end and center sections of the completed island, creating a variety of unique displays in their stores.  For example, one island can display several types of complete meal solutions, including entrées, side dishes, breads, wines and desserts.  In other areas, Isla can be used as a soup and salad center or a customized seafood, meat and deli display.


With its 74” CoolView doors, the Zero Zone Crystal Merchandiser from North Prairie, Wis.-based Zero Zone gives shoppers an unobstructed view of up to 35% more product facings and as much as 11% more packout, according to company officials. The merchandiser’s narrow footprint allows for 5” to 7” more aisle space than most multi-decks. Additionally, replacing open multi-decks with the Crystal Merchandiser can decrease annual energy costs by as much as 81%, according to research.


Officials at St. Louis-based Advance Lifts say with a concrete pad and an electrical power source, retailers can create an instant dock that will service any height truck or provide dock-to-ground access. The unit is completely self-contained and comes with a two-year parts and labor warranty. 800-843-3625,

The Crown RR 5700 Series of technologically advanced reach trucks from Crown Equipment Corp. is intended to deliver greater material handling productivity, efficiency and safety, according to officials for the New Bremen, Ohio-based firm. Specifically engineered for the challenges of a narrow-aisle warehouse environment, the Crown RR 5700 features the industry’s first traction control system, company officials add.

Oconomowoc, Wis.-based ORBIS offers plastic totes and pallets for the efficient picking and handling of packaged grocery items, health/beauty care products, pharmaceuticals and general merchandise for distribution into grocery and big box retailers. The FP171 distribution container features an internal clearance that allows more product to be packed per container., 888-307-2185.

Based in Twinsburg, Ohio, The French Co. provides business solutions to regional and national companies in every state.The company provides preventative maintenance services, facility and equipment assessments, vendor audits and its T4 equipment leasing program.

The Numina Group,  based in Woodbridge, Ill., brings smarter, faster and better automation to material handling in all phases of order fulfillment, distribution, and shipping operations, according to officials.
Pick Execution is a fully integrated RF, voice-directed and pick-to-light solution using wireless scanners, voice, pick-to-light, or the combination of all three technologies, to increase picking and shipping productivity 30% to 150%, officials say.


The Amigo ValueShopper motorized cart from Bridgeton, Mo.-based Amigo Mobility has a narrow, 30” turning radius and a uniquely engineered sealed gear drive allowing quick and easy service. Officials say the “Green Business Certified” company has more than 41 years of experience in manufacturing and a talented customer service team for ready support. Amigo has products for every retail environment—from the ValueShopper Ltd to the ValueShopperXL to the SmartShopper.


MART CART, the electric shopping cart, now comes with a new, faster 7-amp charger. The MART CART charges fully in less time, leaving more time for shopper use, according to company officials. In late 2009, the Rogers, Ark.-based manufacturer will begin offering a quick-change battery feature that allows a battery change in store in seconds without tools. MART CART’s Model 63 is certified 100% recyclable. MART CART provides a two-year warranty on parts, including the battery. MART CARTS can ship in one day when needed. Parts can ship same day if ordered before noon. 800-548-3373,                   


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