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Smashburger Takes Bite Out of Energy

BY Marianne Wilson

Smashburger is getting on the right track when it comes to reducing its energy use. The fast-casual, fast-growing better-burger eatery has deployed a Web-based energy management system that helps it identify energy cost-savings while also providing a consistent level of comfort.

The system, EnTouch 360 from EnTouch Controls, Richardson, Texas, provides extensive support for facility HVAC systems, including synchronizing operation across multiple units, controlling timing between multiple stage systems and reducing system runtime. It monitors facility energy consumption, providing insight into energy usage and power quality, and, through its Web portal, enables 24/7 access to energy system data from remote locations. This allows Smashburger to monitor and track energy performance and change schedules as needed.

“We tested the system in two store locations in Houston so that we could get real-time data,” explained Justin Retzlaff, project manager, Smashburger, Denver, which operates more than 270 locations and expects to expand its unit count by about 30% in 2014. “We chose Houston because the weather is fairly extreme and also because it is home to some of our oldest stores. Those two components make for a good test situation.”

It didn’t take long for EnTouch 360 to prove itself.

“We tested it during the summer and the fall, and the energy savings and overall convenience (of the system) were quite apparent, even after just a couple of months,” Retzlaff said.

Energy bills for the test stores went down significantly, he added.

Based on the positive results, Smashburger decided to implement the EnTouch system in nearly all its corporate-owned stores and include it in the specifications for new locations.

“After we get past the whole corporate implementation, we anticipate offering it up to our franchisees,” Retzlaff added.

Smashburger is using EnTouch primarily to control the HVAC system in its corporate locations, along with energy monitoring.

“It provides visibility of our HVAC equipment operations,” Retzlaff said. “And we have found the system’s Web portal to be extremely convenient. It gives us real-time data on how the HVAC equipment in each location is performing.”

EnTouch’s energy monitors support a wide range of electrical panels and scale to monitor incoming power and critical branch loads.

“The wireless unit is placed inside our electrical panels. It allows us to monitor eight circuits per panel and gives us good visibility of energy use,” Retzlaff explained.

In another important benefit, the energy management system provides Smashburger with a way to ensure a more consistent store temperature, both from a customer and energy-usage standpoint, and the ability to set temperature standards across multiple locations.

“It’s very configurable,” Retzlaff said. “We have a schedule that we maintain, but we also give our stores a moderate amount of flexibility to respond to customer requests. We set the system up to allow the stores three degrees of temperature range from the set level. It alerts to stores that are performing outside the set range.”

EnTouch helped Smashburger set up regional schedules to accommodate different climates and humidity areas.

Ease of use is another benefit. The system, according to Retzlaff, is intuitive. In an unforeseen benefit, he added, EnTouch has become a valuable partner for Smashburger in the area of facilities management. The system provides the chain with insight on potential equipment failures (by detecting increased energy usage for the systems).

“When there is a problem, we’re able to go out to the site with more information than we had prior to the system implementation,” Retzlaff said. “While we value the input from the store level, HVAC operations fall outside their knowledge base and it was hard to get a true assessment of a problem. But with this system, we have a lot of information before we send out a tech.”

Smashburger is in the midst of putting together a comprehensive analysis to determine real-time savings data system wide.

“The system was retrofitted into our stores in fall 2013, so it’s still fairly new,” Retzlaff noted. “But based on the initial results in the test stores, we are feeling very positive.”

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Academy Sports + Outdoors gets its school spirit on

BY CSA STAFF

Sporting goods and apparel retailer Academy Sports + Outdoors has renewed multi-year contracts with Auburn University and the University of Alabama. The renewal means that it will continue to sell the universities’ licensed products in its 13 Alabama stores.

The retailer is currently an official sponsor of University of Alabama’s Crimson Tide and official sporting goods retailer for Auburn University’s Tigers, and has been working with the two universities for several years.

“We appreciate Academy’s continued support and shared values when it comes to our school and the community,” Auburn IMG Sports Marketing’s GM, Jon Cole, said. "They’ve played an active role in this community for many years and we are proud to have them as part of the Auburn family.

According to Crimson Tide Sports Marketing’s GM, Jim Carabin, Academy has “shown a deep commitment to the diverse interests of Tide fans, our students, their parents and our community."

The company is also adding a second store in Columbia, South Carolina, July 2014 and has renewed its multi-year partnership with the Univ. of South Carolina. The new 72,000-sq.-ft. store will be located at the intersection of Park Terrace Dr. and Bower Pkwy., representing approximately 150 new jobs.

"We’re thrilled about adding another convenient location for USC fans and active-minded families in the area to find all their sports, outdoor and lifestyle products at our everyday low prices," said Tammi Hysell, Academy Sports + Outdoors’ senior director of promotions. "We’re really excited to further our commitment to Columbia with this second store and continuing our partnership with the university."

Academy opened its first Columbia store in August 2011. This will be Academy’s ninth store in South Carolina and second store to open in the state this year. The first 2014 store opened in Florence in April.

"Academy Sports + Outdoors has been a great community partner since day one," said Univ. of South Carolina athletic director, Ray Tanner. "We really appreciate their support of our athletics program, the Columbia community as a whole, and being a great destination for Gamecock fans to get all their gear to cheer us on."

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Staples gears up for back-to-school season

BY CSA STAFF

Staples is getting a head start on back-to-school season, launching a price match program starting June 29.

Staples announced Tuesday that it would match a competitor’s price — including prices on Amazon and any retailer with both online and brick-and-mortar stores — on any items sold in Staples stores or on Staples.com. Customers will then receive 10% off the difference.

“Customers can be confident that with the back-to-school 110% Price Match Guarantee our prices won’t be beat all season long,” Staples SVP, North American stores and online marketing Alison Corcoran said.

In addition to the price matching promotion, Staples is also offering school supply mainstays like folders and index cards at low prices, while offering weekly sales and continuing its Staples Rewards programs.

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