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Home improvement retailer launches VR-based training

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy
Lowe’s is expanding its commitment to virtual reality — this time, internally.
 
Tapping the VR and AR expertise of its Lowe’s Innovation Labs division, the home improvement giant has launched a new VR-based training program. Called Holoroom How To: Red Vest, the platform is designed to teach associates how to use specific in-store equipment through virtual reality.
 
The program was designed on the success of Holoroom How To, an experience that gave customers confidence to begin their next home improvement project. This next phase of virtual learning gives employees the knowledge they need to help better serve customers, according to a blog entry on the company’s website.
 
The program, which is focused on the window department, delivers greater project knowledge, which provides more motivation and increased confidence to help address customer’s window fashion needs. The platform projects a life-like simulation that teaches associates every step of the process as they advance through the module. Associates learn from potential mistakes without waste of materials or dissatisfied customers, the blog explained.
 
The program launched in November 2017, in 10 markets nationwide, including Tampa, Philadelphia and Knoxville. More than 400 associates have tested the experience, and more than 90% have reported virtual reality training would help them to better serve our customers, according to Lowe’s.
 
“We’ve done more work in AR and VR than pretty much any other retailer,” Josh Shabtai, director, labs productions and operations, Lowe’s, said in the blog’s video. “One thing we learned is that VR is amazon for education. We’re using the power of VR to train employees and make what could be a cumbersome process more fun.”
 
Other processes that are improving the productivity of the workforce includes the company’s “LoweBot.” Resembling a kiosk on wheels, this sleek robot can take over inventory management processes to free up associates to spend more time with customers. It can also help pinpoint available merchandise — and escort customers to the correct aisle.
 
Lowe’s is also using a soft robotics-based exosuit that can assist associates with the physical demands of their job — and perform tasks more safely, such as reducing fatigue of repetitive motions.
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HBSDealer Stock Watch: Stock slide accelerates

BY HBSDealer Staff

On the worst day for the S&P 500 since 2011, industry stocks tumbled across the board.

Big losses were par for the course, with HBP down 11.7%; SHLD down 5.5% and HD down 5.6%. Of the 30 hardware and building supply stocks below, the smallest percentage decline belonged to TREX, down 1.7%.

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Investment firm acquires Ply Gem

BY HBSDealer Staff

Clayton, Dubilier & Rice (CD&R), a New York based investment firm, has acquired building products manufacturer Ply Gem Holdings.

Under terms of the deal, CD&R acquired all of the outstanding shares of Ply Gem common stock in a go-private transaction valued at approximately $2.4 billion. Ply Gem’s board of directors unanimously approved the agreement, which provides a payment of $21.64 per share in cash to all holders of Ply Gem common stock. The cash purchase price represents a premium of approximately 20% over Ply Gem’s closing stock price on January 30, 2018.

CD&R has also entered into an agreement to acquire Atrium Windows & Doors. The manufacturer will be combined with Ply Gem to create an exterior building products company with total revenue of more than $2.4 billion in 2017. Terms of the Atrium deal were not disclosed.

Both transactions are expected to close in the second quarter of 2018, CD&R said.

 The new Ply Gem will continue to be headquartered in Cary, N.C., with Ply Gem chairman and CEO Gary Robinette continuing to serve as lead executive. John Krenicki, a CD&R operating partner and former vice chairman of General Electric Company, will become lead director of the Ply Gem board, CD&R said.

For its third quarter 2017, Ply Gem reported net sales increased 6.5% to $564.7 million. The company also reported a net income of $27.5 million.

Ply Gem’s product lines include windows and patio doors, vinyl and aluminum siding and accessories, designer accents, cellular PVC trim and mouldings, vinyl fencing and railing, stone veneer, roofing, and gutterware products, used in both new construction and home repair and remodeling.

 

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