Talking Shop with… Mike Steele

The national sales manager for REMIS America says the company is expanding to meet increasing retailer demand for doors on coolers and cases.

Grocery Headquarters: What is new at REMIS America?

Mike Steele: In a word—growth. In 2011 we went from producing one line of doors, our RemiSafe product, to now producing four styles of doors right here in Elkhart, Ind. In just two full years of producing doors here in the U.S., we have installed our products in more than 300 U.S. retail stores and in late 2011 we completed our first store north of the border in British Columbia, Canada. We are also working closely with OEMs so that retailers not only have the option of retrofitting existing cases but ordering our products on new cases direct from the manufacturers. We are well-positioned for continued growth and are excited about what the future holds.

Some grocers have been hesitant to put doors on coolers and cases because they feel they may impede sales. Is that changing?

Based on the increased demand for our products, I’d say yes, it is changing. Everyone knows the energy savings will be there when doors are added; the concern has been how doors will affect sales. Several studies have confirmed that doors on cases do not impede sales. At the FMI Energy + Store Development Conference this year a retailer cited that after the addition of doors in its stores, sales actually increased across all product categories, a change that was attributed to longer shopper dwell times. The logic is this: customers rush through the cold, open cased aisles just grabbing what they know they need. With doors on cases, aisles are warmer, encouraging customers to shop longer. In our own surveys, shoppers have said that they love the doors and that they do not interfere with their shopping habits.

How much can grocers save by putting doors on cases?

We have seen energy savings of up to 80% for multi-deck retrofits and 60% for island cases. Every store is different, but no matter what the application the savings are clear.

Another concern that some grocers have is that it is a lengthy and possibly disruptive process to retrofit cases with doors. What is involved?

Depending on the number of cases we are retrofitting, a typical multi-deck retrofit takes only two to three days. We take extra care not to disrupt a store’s flow by coming in whenever the retailer tells us works best for them, which is usually when the store is closed or outside of peak hours for 24-hour stores. There is no need to remove the product from the cases; we place tarps over it to protect it while we work. Also, we do not require any forklifts or dumpsters on site. We take all of our trash with us in our reusable shipping crates when we are finished, leaving nothing behind other than attractive, more efficient cases.

REMIS recently installed its first black RemiSafe doors. What is the significance of this installation?

The first black RemiSafe doors are significant because they were brought about by retailer demand. We listened to what retailers told us they wanted and responded quickly to produce what they were asking for. We can supply any color door if there is enough demand for it and we are happy to take retailers’ suggestions and work them into our designs.

What else can REMIS do for retailers?

We handle rebate facilitation for our projects in-house. Most utilities offer incentives for installing energy-saving equipment. We work directly with retailers and the utilities to take advantage of those potential dollars. With the rebate dollars that are available, an already attractive ROI becomes even more so.

In addition to adding doors, we are also swapping out old T8 and T12 lights for more efficient LEDs.

What is the next innovation?

With our doors and covers, we are constantly working to maximize product visibility while achieving energy savings without needing anti-sweat heat running through our products.

Up next for REMIS is bringing island cover production to our Elkhart, Ind. facility from Germany as we did with doors a few years ago. We currently produce a variety of styles of covers in Germany and with demand growing here in the U.S. and Canada it is time for domestic production. We are also working with our German partners to develop a frozen food door as well as some other specialty door products for a variety of cases. We will continue to strive for stylish, sleek designs that are as functional as they are aesthetically pleasing. The demand for glass is growing and we will continue to develop products for all kinds of cases that enhance the shopping experience and save energy.

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