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Guitar Center contest is a big hit

BY CSA STAFF

Guitar Center's annual drumming competition has crowned another winner, drawing celebrity musicians and music lovers from all over the United States for the big event.

Each year, legendary musicians from the drumming community return to theGuitar Center's Drum-Offas performers, judges and guests. This year featured Greg Bissonette as host along with performances by Taylor Hawkins (Foo Fighters), Mike Mangini (Dream Theater), Clyde Stubblefield (James Brown), Robert Spurt Searight (Snarky Puppy) and Gil Sharone (Marilyn Manson). The night also honored Vic Firth and Jim Keltner with two special inductions into Guitar Center's RockWalk. Drum Channel and DW founder, Don Lombardi, joined Red Hot Chili Peppers drummer Chad Smith to introduce Jim Keltner as he stepped onstage to be inducted into the RockWalk. Vic Firth's posthumous induction was presented by Remo Belli to Craigie Zildjian on behalf of the Zildjian and Vic Firth family.

This year's winner was Tony Taylor Jr. At only 18 years old, Tony has been drumming for most of his life and hopes to be able to continue developing a career as a professional touring musician and honing his skills as a producer and audio engineer.

"I didn't go into this competition half-hearted – I knew what a big deal it was and I really wanted to win," says Taylor. "In the weeks leading up to the finals I practiced and prayed constantly, and when I heard my name come through that loudspeaker as the winner, it was a true moment of awe and gratitude. All I could think about was how this was going to change my life for the better in such a drastic and meaningful way."

Guitar Center is the world's largest retailer of guitars, amplifiers, drums, keyboards, recording, live sound, DJ, and lighting equipment. It has more than 270 stores across the U.S. and one of the top direct sales websites in the industry.

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Walmart to hike pay of most U.S. workers; adding free short-term disability

BY Marianne Wilson

The largest single-day, private sector pay increase ever will take effect Feb. 20, when more than 1.2 million Walmart U.S. and Sam’s Club associates receive a pay increase.

The salary hike is the second phase of the company’s two-year, $2.7 billion investment in workers. But it is broader than the original plan, which was announced last fall.

Under the plan announced on Wednesday, all associates hired prior to January 1, 2016 will earn at least $10 per hour. Associates hired after January 1 will earn $9 per hour, but will be boosted to $10 an hour after successfully completing the chain’s training program. Associates already earning more than $10 per hour will receive an annual pay increase in February rather than waiting until their anniversary date.

As a result of the pay increases, Walmart’s average full-time hourly wage will be $13.38 per hour, the company said, and the average part-time hourly wage will be $10.58 per hour.

The chain also announced it is implementing a new short-term basic disability plan that will take effect this year at no cost to full-time hourly employee and pay 50% of a worker’s average weekly wage, up to $200, for up to 26 week. It’s also launching a simplified paid time off (PTO) program that will make vacation days more readily accessible.

“We are committed to investing in our associates and to continuing to simplify our business. When we do so, there is no limit to what our associates can accomplish,” said Judith McKenna, COO for Walmart U.S. “Our customers and associates are noticing a difference. We’re seeing strong increases in both customer experience and associate engagement scores. Five straight quarters of positive comps in our U.S. business is just one example of how helping our associates grow and succeed helps the company do the same.”

Here are more details of the Walmart announcement:

• Walmart is raising the starting rate of its non-entry level hourly pay bands. Anyone earning below the new minimum will automatically move up to the new minimum. Associates at or above their pay band maximum will receive a one-time lump sum payment equal to 2% of their annual pay.

• Walmart and Sam’s Club are launching a new, simplified PTO policy, effective March 5, 2016 that will streamline paid vacation, sick time, personal time and holiday time into one category. Also, the one-day wait to use sick time will be eliminated, as promised. When the plan rolls out in March, both full- and part-time associates will earn PTO based on tenure and hours worked.

• In addition to providing a new, short-term disability basic plan, Walmart is also offering a short-term disability enhanced plan, which costs less than the company’s prior voluntary plan and provides more coverage. Associates would receive up to 60% of their average weekly wage with no weekly maximum for up to 26 weeks.

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H-E-B to open convenience store format

BY CSA STAFF

Citing a Virtual Builders Exchange report, the San Antonio Business Journal last week reported H-E-B would be opening a pureplay convenience store operation with plans to construct a 7,500-sq.-ft. convenience and fuel center.

"The convenience store market in San Antonio has become increasingly competitive over the past few years, made even more so with local CST Brands agressive expansion plans," the business journal reported.

"But with H-E-B's buying power, existing pool of fuel stations as well as its own real estate development arm, it may not have the [same] business model as CST, but it appears to be targeting the same customer – and has the infrastructure in place to do it."

Click here to read more.

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